7 Ways to Grow Your Local Business through Your Instagram Presence (and Have Fun Doing it)

Two days ago, I got up earlier than usual, preparing to get some work before the day officially started.

I stumbled out to the kitchen, noticed an odd noise migrating from the coffee pot, like it was gasping for breath. Even though the automatic starter had gone on twenty minutes before, only a small amount of coffee was in the carafe.

I stopped. My coffee pot was dying.

Or, it was dead. Hard to tell, but after percolating about four cups of coffee, it had ceased transferring the water from the container to the filter and was now breathing its last breaths. After examining it for a few minutes, I sighed, thankful it had at least produced a few cups, unplugged it and went back to my room.

The coffee pot dilemma shaved off minutes from my productive working time, but I resolved to use what time remained. I opened the computer and started working, tapping the keyboard quickly.

Moments later, the power went out.

I sat there for a few minutes, wondering if this was a precursor to the rest of my day. What’s the point of getting up early if all this is going to happen? I thought to myself. Maybe I should just go back to bed! I opted to go for a run and let my good intentions of a productive morning fall to the wayside.

How many of us feel that way about social media? We get pumped and excited about growing our reach, meeting new people, maybe even connecting with new customers! We’re told we should use it, it’s a great tool for connecting with potential customers, creating an online portfolio, share our work, build community, and so on.

But once we get into social media, Instagram in this case, it’s harder to connect and we’re not quite sure how to grow that engaged audience.

But like my early morning intentions, it’s easy to get delayed.

Growing anything is hard. It’s even harder to build momentum.

But building a presence on Instagram, while intimidating at first, can become part of an effective way to extend your reach to your community (those who already know, like and trust you and future enthusiasts) and share your work with the world. See this post for why you should use Instagram.

Here are some tips for how to grow your presence on Instagram and have fun doing it!

  1. Just start + Decide to Have Fun with It.

Make a goal to start posting a certain amount a week. It doesn’t need to be a lot. Having more than a few posts a day is typically considered too much on this platform.

And have fun. We (and by ‘we’ I’m talking to myself!) take things too seriously. Instagram is a fun, happy platform and it’s not as if we’re investing thousands of dollars into web designers and product prototypes, etc. etc.

So let’s have fun with it.

Having fun will help us avoid overthinking and the lethal paralysis by analysis.

Beware of getting sucked into the vortex of the Instagram rabbit trail! To avoid that, I may set a timer. Five minutes to post a picture, fifteen minutes to connect, comment and respond to comments left on my photos and then I’m off to other work.  Do this five days a week and you’ll start to see engagement and growth (and your feed will expand!)

  1. Collaborate with other people and businesses where you live.

People who collaborate are more likely to be ‘found’ than people who are lone rangers. How can you integrate other businesses in your Instagram feed?

Again, this makes life more fun. Plus, it’s a great way to get out from your business and find others to talk with, collaborate with, bounce ideas off of.   If you attend local business events, look to see who you  might complement.

  1. Be consistent. Your voice, the style of images, the colors, how often you post.

Grab your phone and pull up your favorite Instagram profile. Go to their profile page and look at the top 9-12 pictures. Then scroll down.

Most likely, you notice themes that come out. Themes come in all shapes, sizes and colors. There is no “rule” for a theme, except that being consistent is essential. Having a theme in posts will create everything from comradery to admiration to inspiration.

  1. Be social! Make friends!

Social media is a fun way to connect with people. The more we reach out and (and show ourselves to be real people), the easier it is for people to connect with us.

Do leave kind and thoughtful comments on other people’s feeds and pictures.

Do respond when people leave comments on your pictures. At the least, tap the heart icon next to comments. It shows people you saw their comment and took the time to appreciate them.

It can be a little off putting to see feeds where the business owner/designer/artist/creative doesn’t take the time to respond to comments and questions or engage with people.

  1. Decide what the primary goal is with your IG feed: inspire, educate and/or entertain.

I forget who I first heard this from. I think it was from Holly Becker who taught a course on Instagram (not currently offered, but you can jump on her list for Blogging Your Way upcoming courses).

It’s been how I decide what to post and how to post.

  1. Let people get to know you.

Instagram feeds with absolutely no personal pictures feel a bit cold and distant. It’s understandable if you want to put in your logo for the Instagram public picture, but in the feed, put a picture of yourself in occasionally!

It doesn’t need to be a headshot. Action shots work great on Instagram. Show a picture of you behind the scenes of your work, in your workplace, at an event. This is not Linked In, enjoy the opportunity to be creative. Instagram feeds off the creative and imaginative.

  1. Make sure your profile is set to public.

If your is private, people must request to follow you.

And they probably won’t ask, since they can’t get a feel for who you are and what you’re about! Make it easy for people to become comfortable with you. Turn your feed to public and let people get a glimpse of what you’re about.

  1. Identify where you are.

This is essential for local businesses whether you’re a brick and mortar or an artisan. (You do not need to put on an address, the city and state is fine).  Knowing you are close in proximity helps people feel more comfortable with you.

How a Beauty Professional Could Use Instagram

If you’re a manicurist, you can begin to increase people’s affinity to come to your nail salon through sharing photos of nails you’ve done. Most manicurists do that.

But what else can you do? You can have a ‘customer of the month’ and feature her on Instagram.

You could educate clients- current and potential- by adding tips of the foods to eat for healthy nails or how to care for nails in between appointments for longer lasting healthy nails.

Share specials for local customers. Invite them, via Instagram, to come in for a special event.

Answer questions on Instagram.

Partner with the Fashion Stylist; perhaps do the nails for a local event. Take “behind the scenes pictures” and put them up on Instagram Stories. Perhaps you can share your favorite “beauty professional” tips on Instagram.

Doing these things consistently over time helps you to become not only known as a beauty center, but as someone who cares about their customers and is a source of education.

This could work for a manicurist, a makeup artist, a hair stylist, a fashion stylist. How can you collaborate with other beauty professionals in your area?


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