10 tips for marketing your local business using the instagram app

10 Tips for Marketing Your Local Business on Instagram

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As a local marketing agency and digital magazine we love to connect with our community here on Vancouver’s North Shore. Throughout the years of experience we have on our team and in operating this magazine, we have developed key areas for you to contemplate improving upon generally. Consider reading and implementing the concepts below into your marketing workflow for Instagram. It’s important to not to do what everyone else is doing and definitely do not copy your competitions approach. Be unique, have fun and focus on the sincere connections you get with each person who follows you. After all business is about people and relationships.

Profile Description: always have your geographic location and business offering front and center on your profile. That way people know where you are based and what you are selling and why they should care. Consumers love to support local businesses now more than ever before. Plus you have to take advantage of the few seconds you have when people glance at your profile to see if they want to follow or message you. This is one of the most critical components to market penetration and clarity of brand positioning.

Respond to Messages and Comments: any time someone leaves a comment on one of your posts, and especially if they ask a question, always respond in detail with a sincere answer. This not only helps you with that specific interaction, but others who see this level of care browsing your content will be left with a sense of trust and professionalism. This is equally as important in responding to direct messages, do not respond with a ‘thumb emoji’ or be blunt and boring with people, that is the fastest way to push customers away from you. If you don’t have time for a sincere chat with your community, they won’t have time for you.

Clear and Unique Profile Icon: when you scroll through the newsfeed of instagram the icons of each profile stand out if they are designed correctly. Try to use a unique colour and design combination that is not available anywhere else. If you have trouble with this area you may want to consult with a design agency, as your profile icon is an extension of your brand which is what people are left with in terms of a feeling when interacting with you. In the same way that a brightly coloured bird would be easy to spot in a tree filled with brown coloured birds.

Search for Related Content: a few times a week use the search feature of the instagram app to browse through hashtags and geotags related to your business, in terms of your industry, but also geographic location. Spend time to comment and ask questions, like posts and occasionally follow people you find interesting. If you only use instagram to post content and don’t take time to engage, it’s somewhat like standing on a box in the middle of a busy street talking at people and when they ask you questions you just speak over them and ignore the conversation. Remember, you are not the centre of the universe, and your job as a business owner is to add value through communicating.

Follow People You Genuinely Like: when people follow you, take the time to look at their profile and get to know them. Send them a message and ask a question, and if they don’t respond then you know you shouldn’t follow them back. Unless you really like their posts and content. If you focus on building a community of followers that you like content from and you can chat with, then you know you can build trust with them. Which is where the value of social media really exists. Following a celebrity or influencer who doesn’t have the time to speak with you is literally wasting your time. Plus it can effect your mental health.

Do Not Use Automated Messages: when you send a direct message to a business profile some of the time you get an automated response. Not only is this action against the terms and conditions of instagram, but if you grant access to a third party service to your profile it can be a security issue. As well it’s insincere having an automated response, it tells people you are too busy for them. Instead, take 15 minutes a day and allocate this to responding to your direct messages using voice message. This helps you be thorough while saving time and gives a very personal feel as people can hear your voice.

Stop Doing Giveaways and Freebies: this kind of marketing is the lowest hanging fruit possible and dilutes your brand value. There is nothing about giving something away for free that tells consumers to spend money with you. As well when you do giveaways with influencers, you send them your followers as part of the contest, and then in the future when they do a promotion with a competing business, all of your community gets diluted and sent to your competition. Try offering exclusive products on your menu or a discount of say 10% for instagram followers. Never in the history of being a business owner has doing what is easiest resulted in the best net results. And if your instagram marketing consists mainly of giveaways, you are doing it wrong.

Follower Count vs Engagement Rate: it’s easy to get consumed with worrying about follower count. But what is most important are connections and engagement. If you are only focused on building your following, you will never have time to connect with them directly. Plus you can buy millions of followers from risky service providers, but that doesn’t mean they care about you or your business offering. 1000 people who love you and respect you is infinitely more valuable to your business then 10,000 people who you never speak with. Use instagram like a channel of customer service instead of broadcast marketing.

Instagram is a Google Competitor: it’s important to keep in mind that the app is owned by Facebook, which is partially owned by Microsoft. And they are competitors to Google. Which means the content you post and share on instagram will not necessarily help you with seo in Google. Ultimately google is the top driver of new customers of any online medium to focus on. In that way, channel your followers from instagram to become email subscribers and add value to your organization in that way. As you will get way more engagement and open rates on email, then you will on instagram.

Focus on Compelling Unique Content Posts: the worst thing you can do as a business is post content daily just because you feel like you have too. If what you are sharing is not interesting or unique, over time, your followers will tune you out and unfollow you. Instead, take the time to consider how interesting what you want to share will be, and even take days where you don’t share anything. The days where you don’t post anything you can focus more on listening to your followers and communicating with them directly. All businesses are in a battle for peoples time and mental bandwidth, and if you abuse that you will lose their trust.


  1. Dianne Hartwick

    Excellent article re: marketing advice and information.

    Thank you – enjoy this soggy Sunday . . . inside with luck! (I just made pancakes!)

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