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Yes, small businesses on the high street are struggling for traction. But recent reports suggest that small independent outlets are more likely to survive the decline than most. Because the consumer is looking to live the lifestyle – and using the indie high street option appeals to the desire to be cool and niche.
However, you still need to match your bricks and mortar outlet to your online presence. The business that can work across channels is the one that will experience the most growth.
Consequently, to be sure of your space in the consciousness of the high street shopper, you need to make the most of social media. Instagram might be much smaller than the giants of Facebook and Twitter, but the number of active users is substantial on the portal. A thousand followers on your small business Instagram account could make a significant impact on your success. But how do you attract these followers?
#1 – Open a specific business Instagram account
More important than anything is the quality of the profile and the brand you create. It might be tempting to use your personal Instagram account. However, your personal pics amongst your business posts are not going to help create the consistency you need. Therefore, you need to commit to a business optimised Instagram account.
When you have signed up for your business, you need to consider seeking the help of a professional marketer. You have one opportunity to include a clickable link to your company website – and this is in your profile. t will sit just below your profile picture and near your biog. Therefore, the profile pic needs to be of high quality. It also needs to look good when it is minimised into the thumbnail that will accompany each of your posts.
#2 – Images are crucial
When you post, you have a matter of moments to grab your customer’s attention. People process images 60,000 times faster than writing. When skimming through any text, never mind social media, humans get 90 per cent of their information transmitted to the brain through pictures.
Your pictures need to capture the lifestyle that the consumer wants to live. You can take photos of your products, but you do not want to get involved in hard selling. You will sell more on Instagram when you don’t try to sell. Suggest the connection between the product, your outlet space and the hopes of the user. You need to provide an experience in today’s retail space and even beyond. The customer or client needs to feel there is a payback for the investment in effort in visiting you.
If you want to stay longer in the feed of the user, you can create Instagram stories. You can be a little more informal in your imagery in these feeds and tell some of the background stories of your small business. The stories stay only for 24 hours and then disappear from your feed and the feed of your customers. However, for those 24 hours, the story will appear at the top of the feed and not disappear down the chain amongst other posts.
#3 – Post consistently
Ad-hoc posting will do nothing to support your business. If you post three images one after the other in quiet times, they will sit together and create an overload. If you post pictures once or twice a month here and there, you will fall into irrelevance on Instagram. Therefore, you need to use analytics on the site to find when your target audience is most likely to be browsing. If you are unsure what the analytics are saying to you, use the common sense that has made your business so successful. For instance, if your target demographic are young mums, then hitting their feed while they are waiting outside school for the children to be let out could be perfect timing.
Your brief takeaway
All of this may seem like a lot of work. However, the benefits of 1,000 followers to your business could be significant. So, in short, you should have a business profile, with quality images, posted consistently, and with no more than five relevant hashtags to help the user find you. Easy.
Laura McLoughlin is a digital marketer working with Dubai-based digital branding agency Omnia