Getting the right followers on a local small business Instagram account is a whole ordeal in and of itself, isn’t it?
As a local business, you need specific followers and not just anyone and everyone following you. Sure, it’ll boost your numbers and ego to get followers from around the globe and that’s especially awesome if you ship products, but if you don’t then it’s unlikely that those followers will actually translate to revenue (which is important, since you’re spending time and possibly $$ on Instagram!)
Instagram for local businesses can be kind of a pain compared to using it for online businesses, so let’s break down a few of the ways that you can get found by locals on Instagram and start growing an audience of the right people.
Geotag your content
Geotagging is pretty simple, you just want to make sure that you’re tagging your location in each of your posts and stories. Try to vary this a little bit so that you have more of a chance of being discovered by people checking out photos in different locations. For example, I might tag myself in Colorado sometimes, then Colorado Springs, because that’s where I live, and then if I’m posting a photo that was taken around town somewhere, I’ll tag that location.
When I tag myself at a local coffee shop, Garden of the Gods, or a boutique downtown I usually get some new local Instagrammers over to my profile because they recently visited one of those places and they were scrolling through photos tagged in one of those locations. You definitely want to actually be posting a photo in a location when you tag it, so don’t go tagging different locations if you don’t have photos there, but this is a good way to get new locals over to your account.
Use local hashtags
As someone who used to think that hashtags don’t work to grow your account, let me tell you. Hashtags do work. You just need to do some hashtag research and find hashtags that are likely to benefit your account. After that, it’s all about testing hashtags out and staying relevant and consistent. Let me break that down for you quickly while still keeping it brief.
1.) Search for local hashtags using different keywords that might be relevant to your account. Here’s some examples:
- Local colleges, churches, groups, interests, or teams (#kansascitychiefs #coloradoyogis #coloradodogs ##coloradocoffee)
- Keywords related to being a business owner (#coloradosmallbusiness, #coloradomade #coloradospringsbusiness)
- Related to your industry (#coloradospringsrealestate #coloradospringsphotographer #elopementnyc #kansascityhairstylist)
2.) Group together hashtags with varying densities. You don’t want to load your posts up with super-competitive hashtags (500k+ posts in them) but you can include a few of those. Try to keep the majority of your hashtags lower-density. Using hashtags with under 50k posts on them will make you more likely to land in the top posts for that hashtag. I always try to include at least 5 hashtags that are super small, with under 20k or even 10k posts in them.
To find out how many posts a hashtag has in it, search for a hashtag and you’ll see the number of posts pop up right below it:
3.) Try to vary your hashtags when possible instead of copying and pasting the same hashtags on every single post. It’s fine to repeat a lot of them pretty regularly, but you should try to mix it up a bit to avoid looking spammy to Instagram. I’d recommend posting with the maximum number of hashtags (30) and just to make sure that each hashtag is truly relevant to the post.
Instagram can tell when you’re just hashtag stuffing somehow and they supposedly don’t like that. If you can have a master list of 50-100 hashtags that you use depending on what you’re posting about, and then make sure that every hashtag on a post is related to the post, that’s an awesome start.
Use the Instagram highlight funnel method to get the right people on your email list
With email marketing, it’s quality over quantity! You want the people who sign up for your list to truly want to hear from you. One of the best ways to cultivate that kind of audience is to purposely attract highly engaged customers (or future customers) by using Instagram stories and highlights.
With the Instagram highlight funnel strategy, you’ll have calls to actions peppered throughout your highlights in a non-spammy way that will pique the interest of people on your profile who are binge-watching your highlights. It happens a lot more often than you think!
With the IG highlight funnel method, you want to create 3-5 highlights (you can always add more later if you like) on your profile that will help turn new followers into warm prospects or customers. If you do this right it doesn’t feel spammy at all and it’s pretty authentic feeling. It’s awesome!
Start by deciding which highlights you’ll make and then tackle 1-2 at a time over the span of several days or weeks. Add a few IG story slides to a highlight one day and then jump in a couple of days later and add a few more. You can always add to them and delete them as new stuff comes up or old stories become obsolete.
I’d recommend making some of these kinds of highlights. Pick the ones that would be most relevant to your business:
- Client results/customer wins
- Behind the scenes
- Freebies and coupons
- How to (insert thing you do or teach here – you could do multiple of these, just keep them clearly labeled)
- Location-based highlights
- Keep stalking us (Promo other platforms here, your email list, website, etc.)
Throughout these highlights, you’ll want to mention a few things that they can get by signing up for your email list. Keep your calls to action friendly, brief, and clear – make sure to tell them to check out the link in your profile bio to grab the freebie/coupon/recommendation/video/whatever you’re offering. Then, make sure you link to that resource in your bio.
If you’d like to create a landing page with multiple things to link from in your Instagram bio, I recommend building a quick, custom page on your website and adding that link in your bio. This is what I do. 🙂
This whole Instagram profile view to highlight-watching to email-signup flow acts as a mini sales funnel and it’s been working amazingly to get more people on my email list as well as for a few of my clients.
Tag other local businesses and engage on their posts
Engagement is the name of the game on Instagram (next to posting genuinely helpful/interesting content!) so make sure you’re engaging as much as you have time for. Lots of businesses hire an Instagram engagement specialist to do daily engagement on their profiles because it really does work when it’s done correctly.
If you’re not wanting to hire right now, I’d recommend spending 20-30 minutes per day posting genuine comments on other local business’s posts, answering your DMs, commenting back to all of the comments left on your posts, and posting to stories. This amount of time might fluctuate a bit depending on what your following looks like
Commenting on other business’s posts does a few good things for your account:
- It creates a connection and rapport between you and that other business (future collabs, maybe?)
- By complimenting them and commenting on some of their posts, you’re sharing the love and showing that you/your brand is a positive, supporting community member.
- The other business’s followers can discover you through the comments you leave. There’s a big chance that if a follower of another local business notices that you’re local too, they’ll go ahead and follow you.
- It might boost you in the Instagram algorithm a bit because Instagram likes accounts that engage on the platform.
Include your location in your profile
Not much to say here, but what you do need to know is that people will actually find you when your location is in your profile. People care about local businesses!
Instagram users get pretty specific with their searches. If your location is in your profile and they’re looking for a business like yours near you, you’ll show up at the top of their searches. Also, people visiting your area will use Instagram to find places to eat, shop, stay, and visit.
Host a giveaway with other local businesses
Here’s a fun one that you may want to consider to help boost your following. Keep in mind that not all businesses will be open to this kind of thing, but if they’re active on Instagram it’s worth reaching out to check.
If you’ve been engaging with other local businesses ‘ profiles and you’ve built a little bit of a rapport with some of them, I’d reach out to those guys first to check in and see if they’d be up to hosting a local giveaway with you.
Ideally, collaborate with 3-6 local businesses. Each of you can add one item to the giveaway and ask people to follow all of the businesses, like the photo, and tag 1-2 friends in the comments to enter the giveaway. Let people know when you plan to announce the winner. Then, all you have to do is put all of the entries into a random winner picker or giveaway tool and it’ll select a winner for you. After that, it’s just a matter of getting in touch with the winner in the DMs and comment section and letting them know where and when they can pick up their loot!
You won’t keep all of the followers from the influx during your giveaway, but you will keep a good chunk of them if you’re posting good content. Doing small giveaways on a regular basis is a great way to build up your following and support your community!
Putting it all together
Let’s recap real quick because using all of these things in your Instagram strategy will help you grow your Instagram account organically as a local business. Here’s what we covered:
✅ Using local hashtags and geotags because Instagram users frequently search for hashtags and filter posts by location
✅ Instagram highlight funnel strategy to get the right people on your email list
✅ Tag other business owners in your posts + engage with their profiles during your regular IG engagement sessions
✅ Include your location on your profile
✅ Try hosting a giveaway with other local businesses
These are all strategies that work super well for local businesses on Instagram, but make sure to look into some more general Instagram strategies as well. Figuring out how to get more engagement on Instagram or how to write better Instagram captions, for example, will help you out a ton in the long run.