Ask yourself this question, ‘What is my goal with Instagram?’ Is it to get as many followers and likes as possible? Or is to find and engage with a local Instagram audience of pet parents that might need your services in the future? As a local pet business owner, it is important to focus your time on local engagement. Stay focused and avoid wasting time on people who don’t fit your customer profile. Relationships are essential to building a success business in the pet industry, and Instagram is the perfect platform to engage with your target customers.
Find the best local hashtags
Tap into existing local audiences by doing hashtag research to see which hashtags your target audience use actively. How do you find them? Start by listing 10 to 20 Instagram accounts who have a similar audience to you. Check out which relevant local hashtags they list then search Instagram to find pet owners who also use these hashtags. When searching, try entering different keyword combinations, Instagram will then list suggested hashtags for you.
From your research, make a list of relevant local hashtags and save this list in your notes app on your mobile phone. Copy and paste these hashtags to the photos and videos that you post, by adding them as a comment to avoid clutter in your caption. Stay away from overused and broad hashtags; you will get lost in the noise.
Additionally, engage with the individuals using those hashtags by liking and commenting on their posts. Make sure that your comments are genuine. Avoid leaving generic ones like ‘so cute’ or ‘love it.’ Make an effort and show off your personality, this will increase the chance that they follow and engage with your business.
It’s all about location
Tag your location when posting photos on Instagram! If you are walking a dog, tag the neighborhood you are working in. Whenever you are at your boarding kennel, tag your business address. When you search for a location on Instagram, you will see all of the other posts tagged at the same location. Searching by location is an excellent way to see who has tagged photos at local dog parks or related businesses in your area on Instagram. Voila, now you have a pre-set targeted audience to begin engaging with!
Try this: Search for your business. You will be able to see all photos that have been tagged with your location. You might find some posts you weren’t even aware of or a customer’s profile that you haven’t followed on Instagram yet. Follow, like and comment on the photos tagged at your location to increase engagement and exposure.
Share engaging content
Posting great content is the most important aspect of getting and keeping relevant followers. You can do the research and engagement, but if you are not producing entertaining or valuable content consistently, you will have trouble gaining new followers organically. Share interesting behind-the-scenes photos of your business, fun videos, advice and tips, pictures of you and your staff, etc… Be creative, be personable and think outside of the box.
Attract new followers and new clients by giving them an inside look into your business. Use Instagram to convince local pet owners that your business is the best pet care option for their beloved furry friend by telling your story. Furthermore, try using Instagram Stories to share real-time footage so your followers can get to know you.
Using Instagram to launch exciting contests is a great way for your business to gain exposure on Instagram. Running an Instagram contest is a fun and easy way to promote your business and gain followers.
Find another local business or influencer, with a similar target audience, to partner with and organize a multi-day giveaway. Encourage Instagram users to enter the contest by following both accounts and tagging three friends in the comments. By getting users to tag their friends in the comments, it draws more attention to your contest and increases the awareness for both businesses.
In conclusion, there are many ways to increase your following on Instagram. The best way to grow your audience is through creating excellent content and engaging with local pet parents. Be genuine and don’t be afraid to show some personality in your posts.
Erika Godwin is the President of Barketing Solutions and the Co-Founder and CMO of ProPet Software, an industry-leading kennel management software. Erika has over 8 years of experience with WordPress and graduated from Elmira College in 2009 with a BS, Business Administration- Marketing and Management.