Last year, I discovered Jennifer Snyder of the Create Your Own Path podcast. Much to my delight, as I listened to her podcast, I discovered she lived in the same city I did! At the same time, I found Jennifer’s podcast, I was looking for an event space for a workshop I was hosting.
In an episode, Jennifer talked about Common Space, an event place in Sacramento where she had attended a workshop. Because I was looking for a workshop space for an upcoming event, my ears perked up!
I jumped on Instagram, found Common Space, found their website and reached out to the owners. Common Space is fun, energetic space and I’ve used it for workshops and photo shoots.
I never would have found Common Space if Jennifer hadn’t been talking about some of the creative spots and people here in Sacramento.
When you’re online, doesn’t it feel like everyone is far, far away?
In one way, the internet has made the world smaller. You can find information about all sorts of things from all sorts of people from every imaginable place in the world. But it also feels that we’re farther apart. So many of the sources come from faraway places.
Isn’t fun when you discover someone you’ve gotten to know online – whether a business or a person- is in your local town?
Instagram can be a great tool to bring attention to your business to your local town and help others to discover that you are in their own backyard!
I’m all about Instagram. It’s by far, my favorite social media platform. I’ve met so many wonderful people on Instagram, discovered local businesses and been able to stay “in the know” on events that are happening around me.
In this post, I overview reasons why anyone, a local business or not, can benefit from having an active presence on Instagram.
Why Local Businesses to Start Using Instagram:
- It’s a way to develop your voice through micro posts.
Don’t know what to say? Nobody does until they start practicing. Some of us will be more wordy while others of us will have fewer words and rely on the images. Others of us will discover our humor and wit connects us to others and others discover we can encourage and teach.
- Connect with others in your local community and allow them to find you.
One of the best pieces of advice I received from a business coach was to “talk about your business to one person every day.” Instagram can be one way you “talk” about your business with other people.
- Creates an easy way for people to know you without committing to anything…yet.
Email remains as the most important online tool we have to connect with our most enthusiastic clients. Instagram is a great way to create a connection to those people who are curious, but not ready to hand over an email address!
Instagram allows you to open the proverbial curtain to your professional/creative/personal life and let people have a look inside. Some will discover that you are even more intriguing than they thought! Others will decide you are not for them and disconnect. Both responses are helpful since they allow us to reach out to the people we can serve the best.
- Instagram is a non-threatening way to build community, rapport with the people in your circles and develop friendships!
I’ve met so many wonderful people on Instagram. Many of these people were met in person at an event and then we connected on Instagram and stayed in touch. Some of them I’ve connected with again offline, but that was because we had that existing relationship on Instagram.
- Create a portfolio on online
This is especially important for creatives who rely on visuals to gain the attention and admiration from customers and clients. Instead of having to have a bulky physical portfolio on hand, you can open your Instagram feed and show interested people several examples of your work, whether it’s photography, fashion or jewelry.
(This is why it’s important to curate your Instagram feed and make sure it’s true to the feelings of your business and promotes the emotions you want to invoke in your customers. More on that in a future post).
- Share (and even sell) products and services directly.
Selling is not the primary reason to use social media. I think we’ve all seen those people in the feed who only seem to exist to hock their products and services. Don’t be those people! But, if done well and with a desire to serve others, selling from Instagram can be a natural thing.
I appreciate Gary Vanderchuk’s approach to selling/marketing online. He promotes a “give, give, give, ask” approach. Some of us ask for too much. Others of us don’t ask at all! Balancing that out as a business owner takes time, practice and refinement. Don’t be too discouraged if it feels awkward at first.
- Test out branding ideas and develop a strong seasonal brand on your Instagram feed.
Let’s say you’re thinking of infusing your website with a forest green? Start incorporating that color you’re your Instagram feed. How does it look? Does it invoke the emotions you thought it would? How does it feel against your products or the images?
Playing with social media is a great way to test out if certain colors, pictures, styles will resonate with people and reflect your business well.
And it’s a LOT more cost efficient than hiring a web designer!
To learn more about color psychology and how different colors and feelings play out in each season, check out this post. Remember that using all the colors will turn into a muddy mess, but selectively choosing colors that work together will create a look that is cohesive, organized and visually (and emotionally) appealing!
- It’s one of the easiest social platforms to find others and others to find you!
We’ve all experienced the frustration of our Facebook posts and pages dipping into oblivion due to algorithm changes and paid advertisements.
There are algorithms on Instagram that direct what people see and when. If you’re consistent with posting and gain engagement, it is still fairly easy to create community and connect with others without a lot of interference from Instagram.
For the time being, Instagram remains the cool kid on the block when it comes to social media, it’s easy to use and honestly, it’s a lot of fun, and it’s fairly organic. Plus, Instagram doesn’t feel sale-sy, a big bonus!
In future blog posts, we’ll get more into the how. Just like any other sharing platform, growth and change doesn’t happen immediately. There are tactics to help move things along more quickly, but like all growth, it happens incrementally. More on using Instagram for your local business effectively in upcoming posts.
I hope this post inspires you to see how you can expand your presence on Instagram, get to know more people and grow your business!