Social media marketing is online, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t play a big role for brick-and-mortar businesses IRL (in real life). First, we’ve looked at Facebook marketing tips, and now, we’re moving onto Instagram. 

Ever since the first photo was published on Instagram in 2010 (of an adorable puppy no less), the social media channel has been a popular channel for sharing updates with friends through dazzling photos. As Instagram reaches its 10th birthday, it still looks young. Of the 1 billion monthly active users, more than 70% are under the age of 35. 

Instagram can be used to connect with fans online and drive them to your brick-and-mortar location. This hyper-visual channel can be a big promotional tool for your brand. 

Check out these eight tips on Instagram marketing for brick-and-mortar businesses.  

8 Tips on Instagram Marketing

It may take some trial-and-error for you to find your niche and start growing your brand on Instagram, but you will start to notice increased fan engagement and foot traffic once you hit your stride. 

To get a head start, follow these best practices that will set your brand apart from other companies trying to catch the attention of your audience.  

1. Invest in High-Quality Photos

Instagram is the most image-centric social media site. While photos perform better than text on Facebook, you can’t post an update on Instagram without a photo. Because this channel is so image-focused, you need high-quality photos if you are going to stand out. Generic brand images or low-quality shots will send the wrong message about your brand – namely that it doesn’t understand social media. 

Either work with a graphic designer to create branded content, hire a photographer to take professional photos, or do both.  

2. Focus on Photo Quantity as Well as Quality

While the quality of your photos is essential to launching a successful campaign for brick-and-mortar, you also want to make sure you have a large quantity of photos at your disposal. 

Your fans will notice if you keep sharing the same collection of photos. While you can occasionally repost a popular image, no one wants to see the exact same thing over and over again. Try to focus on photo depth as you build out a roster of what you are going to post. 

3. Do Your Hashtag Research 

While hashtags aren’t popular on Facebook and are used in moderation for Twitter, they are the bread and butter of Instagram. You can use more than a dozen hashtags and will only increase your overall engagement.

The key to hashtag use on Instagram is to find the right ones. Add hashtags that are popular, but also attract the right audiences. You want to connect with local people who are interested in your brand. Research your competitors and companies in your area that use Instagram well. You can mimic their hashtag use and see if your brand has similar success.  

4. Create a Giveaway Using Instagram Promotions

Once you start building up your following, you can launch Instagram promotions with your fans. Ask fans to share their favorite photos of your brand and tag you. Then pick a winner featuring the best picture. 

Or, launch a scavenger hunt in your store and challenge fans to find certain items. These games and challenges get your brand in front of others to help you grow your following.  

5. Look at the Big Picture of Your Brand 

Because Instagram is so photo-heavy, you don’t have much of an opportunity to talk about your brand. Your audience will judge your brick-and-mortar store by the photos you share. This means it’s incredibly important to take a big-picture view of your brand and make sure the photos you share align with how you want to be perceived. 

Look at a few of your competitors’ profiles and notice their branding to see how multiple single photos come together to form one whole look.  

6. Test Different Instagram Stories

You can market your business on Instagram in different ways: through static photos that live on your profile or through short-term stories that disappear after 24-hours. Consider testing both of these options to see which ones gain more traction for your brand. 

Instagram stories can be more flexible and informal. For example, you can use them to give a tour of your location or just create a Boomerang of a new food item. You track your success with these posts by the number of views and by the engagement rate of people reacting and commenting on them.   

Posting Instagram stories is a great way to get noticed outside of the main photo feed. Users can quickly flip through dozens of stories and will eventually come across yours.  

7. Brainstorm Cross-Posting Partnerships

If you want to grow your exposure in your area or your niche, look for vendors that you work with or similar businesses that you can cross-post with. In a cross-post, you create a high-quality post highlighting another business and then they do the same for you. 

Through this type of partnership, their brand gets exposure through your following (and vice versa). Create a list of potential brands you can cross-post with, including your vendors, your store neighbors, and community organizations that you support.  

8. Emphasize the In-Store Aspect

Many companies that have an eCommerce and brick-and-mortar presence focus on using social media to drive website traffic. They try to get clicks on sales and on-site products, even though Instagram marketing is also good for driving traffic to stores. 

The key to success is to create demand. Post items that customers can only get in-store or host sales specifically for in-store customers. You can also create time-sensitive sales to encourage customers to take action. Let people know that they’re missing out by not visiting your store and watch your foot traffic grow. 

Recommended Reading: How to Integrate Social Media Into the In-store Experience

Go Beyond Instagram Marketing for Brick-and-Mortar Businesses

The digital world offers multiple opportunities to connect with fans online and turn them into in-store customers. Then, once they’re inside your store, you can take extra steps to win them over and turn your new customers into regulars. 

Check out our Resource section to explore everything you need to know about the customer experience, including how to audit your retail location to connect with shoppers. We’re here to help you grow.  

And check back to our blog soon to read next pieces in our series on using social media marketing for brick-and-mortar businesses when we discuss engaging the Twitterverse and Gen Z Snapchat users.