So now we’ve got your business profile up and running. Excellent! Now what?
Luckily, Instagram is one of the easiest and most effective social media platforms to connect with your audience. Remember, connecting with people online is the first step in piquing their interest enough to check out your business in person. Once you build a following, others will hop on the bandwagon to try and find out what the hype is about.
Here are just a few ways you can get your social media momentum going.
1. Hashtags, formerly known as the pound sign.
Hashtags require some research on your end to see which ones are most popular but are one of the most useful tools to connect with others in the world of Instagram.
There are two main ways to utilize the power of the hashtag.
You should be using your unique hashtag in every post and encouraging customers to post using it as well. You can do this by providing an incentive (BOGO drinks, anyone?) or simply displaying it on your menu or specials board.
A custom hashtag like this promotes your business without spending a dime and also gives others a chance to do the promoting for you. Be sure to hit the follow button for your personal hashtag so you can respond and track its use.
Popular hashtags like #foodporn will reach a HUGE audience–we’re talking millions here–but local hashtags, like food + name of your city, will reach a more targeted audience of people searching for food in your specific area.
Using a hashtag that has at least 10,000 posts ensures it’s active and not a dud. You are able to use up to 30 hashtags in a post, but it isn’t required. We suggest starting with 10, testing the waters.
To see which hashtags are the most popular, click View insights in the bottom left corner. Scroll down to Impressions and you will see the number of people who viewed your post through the hashtags.
2. Ads, affordable and effective.
Instagram ads are easy and get your business out there for your targeted audience.
You can implement this feature by going onto your business profile and clicking the Promotions button located right next to Edit profile. It will then walk you through selecting a post to promote.
Choose a post that has the most activity and be sure to have a clear call-to-action. A post advertising a new promotion or happy hour special could work (for example, “try our signature appetizers, half off from 4-6 every weekday”).
You can choose whether you want these ads to direct people to your profile, website, or direct message. We suggest directing the audience to your profile so they will be inclined to hit that Follow button.
You are then able to select a target audience, using the automatic Instagram algorithm (which finds people similar to your existing followers) or creating your own.
While the Instagram algorithm is pretty effective, taking the time to create your own will give you the biggest bang for your buck. You can choose location, interests, age, and gender.
Once you select your audience, you set a budget and duration the ad will run (for example, $5 a day for 6 days). Instagram will give you an estimate of how many people your ad will reach depending on your budget. A $30 budget will reach anywhere from 2,100-5,600 people.
Not bad at all, especially considering those people will be local and interested in popular food and beverage spots!
3. Engage with the Instagram community.
We cannot stress this strategy enough. Responding to your followers is imperative in building connections with potential customers as well as established regulars. It makes people feel like their input is valued and will keep them coming back to contribute to the conversation.
Take it one step further and reach out to business and individual pages who may be interested in your restaurant.
Search #(your location)foodie and follow the local food critics in your area. Invite them to your restaurant for a chance to be featured and endorsed by them.
Like, follow, and participate in posts about your local community. Don’t shove your establishment down their throats, but simply support their content and 9 out of 10 times, they will reciprocate.
Be sure to respond to people who go out of their way to mention your establishment. If it’s positive, thank them for coming. If it’s negative, accept the criticism gracefully. Thank them for the honest feedback, ask how you can improve, offer apologies or a chance to change their mind.
Engage the crap out of your community and watch how quickly your following grows.
4. Partner with Influencers.
Influencers are exactly what they sound like. They promote products and places to their followers and have the power to affect purchases decisions of consumers. There are 4 types of influencers:
- Celebrity: 1 million followers +
- Macro: 100,000 followers +
- Micro: 5,000 followers +
- Microscopic: 50 followers +
The first three types of influencers have followers scattered all over the world. This makes their endorsement ideal for commercial brands or online enterprises.
Microscopic influencers are ideal for local businesses because the majority of their followers will be friends or family and approximately 70% of them will live in your local area. These influencers are everyday people and do not need big financial incentives to promote your business, like a macro or celebrity influencer would.
Their followers will also take their recommendations more seriously because they aren’t getting paid to show their support and know them on a personal level. Small incentives (like 10% discount on the bill) will usually get microscopic influencers on board.