A Brief Guide to Instagram for Local Business

Instagram is relatively new to the social media scene, but we’ve noticed that many small businesses don’t give it the effort that it deserves because they’re not quite sure where to start.

Instagram is the fourth most download app in America, and it has over 500 million active users, so it’s well worth trying, even if the model is really different.

At Kangaroo Rewards, we’re in the business of helping small businesses profit and grow, so if you’re looking for an overview of some general best-practice tips for a business Instagram, read on!

1. Set up your account correctly 

Make sure that when you’re setting your Instagram up, you link to your older, more established accounts.

You can connect your Instagram and Facebook accounts, and suggest on Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest that your followers check your account out. Be sure you have at least one post on your account to welcome them to your new profile.

2. Use your bio 

Your bio section is an important asset, so don’t neglect to write a one sentence business description and add a link to your website. Get as much contact information in your Instagram as you can, and be sure it’s accurate.

Nothing is more wasteful than an incorrect link.

3. Keep track of what’s working

In either a formal or casual way, track what kinds of content performs the best. This can be as simple as noticing what times of day or what content gets the most engagement, or as formal as a running Excel spreadsheet with the details.

You can also use Instagram analytics to check on your content on a single dashboard.

4. Hashtag it up 

Remember that on Instagram, you must have a hashtag to show up on search results. This is different than sites like Facebook or Twitter, where a search term will show up with or without a hashtag.

So take some time to do some keyword research within your industry and make one specifically for your business.

5. Engage with videos

Videos are really easy to make on Instagram, and the 1minute time limit keeps it low pressure in terms of coming up with ideas. Just grab your cell phone and snap a few videos!

Some ideas:

  • Share a brainstorming session
  • Instagram your newest dish or product
  • Give some heartfelt advice
  • Do a quick product tutorial.

6. Regram!

When you first make your account, generating some traction with other users is your biggest goal.

An easy way to build some connections is to regram another user in your industry’s content. Tag them, of course, and describe why you love the content.

It’s flattering to the other business, and it will draw some attention to your account.

You will want to download a third party app to do this, because Instagram doesn’t have a built-in sharing feature.

7. Have a contest

Everyone loves free stuff! Contests let you share the love and grow your audience by offering a free gift to anyone who meets certain conditions.

Most commonly, you’ll want to have a theme for the contest, rather than a “follow me to enter” sort of deal. Challenge people to do something fun, post it on their Instagrams, and use a custom hashtag.

A few tips:

  • Require that users tag a friend to enter
  • Start promoting your contest at least a week in advance to build interest
  • Collaborate with another business to double your audience!
  • Be sure to read through Instagram’s promotion rules so you don’t get flagged.

8. Have a discussion

Share an interesting image, thought provoking quote, or piece of advice, and use the caption to ask a question. This will help you build your network, share your expertise, and dialogue with your followers.

If you pull an image from somewhere else, be sure and credit the artist!

9. Creep on your competitors 

Read through this list and still feel daunted? Take a minute to look at what your competitors are doing. Compile a list of your top competitors and see what they’re posting. Which account has the best content? Why?

Follow 100 of their followers, since they’re already interested in your niche, and start to woo them by posting content that they already enjoy.

Then, experiment!

Instagram is a fun and beautiful social platform, and you don’t have to follow a set of regimented rules. If you have a general sense of where you’re going, it’s not hard to get your feet on the ground and the followers rolling in.

You’ll be a pro in no time!

** This was a blog post original written for my client Kangaroo Rewards