There’s a strong case to suggest that Instagram is not exactly the most local business-friendly social network around and that its focus on beauty, high-end brands and a younger demographic tends to shut out the ability of local brands and businesses from gaining a following.
Acting global when you’re local
The first problem with focusing on Instagram for a local business is that it’s a platform notorious for fake followers and followers that not in your market. Instagram is a global platform with a global footprint. That means that targeting your message to local friends and local people isn’t quite as intuitive as it is on, say, Facebook or even LinkedIn where the invitation processes are much more directly based around location. Instagram, though, is an excellent platform for launching a local business in to a place where it can market to the world. And there are countless stories of bush businesses and home-based artists and creators who have gone huge from very humble beginnings in small towns – all because of Instagram. And for a regional business that is reliant on local customers, this is something to bear in mind. If you sell physical retail items, you’ll struggle to sell to that international market unless you have the time, money and push to turn your cottage industry to a global powerhouse.
You’re just not visual enough
Another problem with Instagram for regional Aussie small businesses is that Instagram is not a great platform for brand messaging, as opposed to brand imaging. What I mean here is that if your products and services aren’t particularly visual, then it’s hard to make them look good or even interesting on Instagram. Try as you may, you’ll never be a good enough photographer with your Oppo XYZ to produce a quality of shot that’s enough to make burst pipes and blocked toilets look engaging and beautiful on Instagram. A shot of installed air conditioner units down the side of the house may be good for getting you a job with a air con installation company, but it’s not going to inspire the average householder to book you for a job. Not everyone in business is selling gorgeous dresses, high end vegan leather shoes or giant cheeseburgers with a side of KitKat topped thickshakes in a 50s themed diner. Some businesses just don’t photograph well because what they do is highly functional, sometimes hidden behind covers and walls, and is felt or smelt… not seen. If you’re not a visual business with a highly visual product you’re actually better off not being on Instagram at all.
We have NFI
A huge mark against Instagram for a lot of regional Aussie small businesses is, that sometimes we just have no idea what we’re doing, so we copy what someone else who has no idea what they’re doing. The result is a whole lot of NLP practitioners posting photos of brains with lightning bolts coming out of them along with a list of 100 hashtags about brains, memory, happiness, success and Victor Harbor, South Australia. And within a few weeks every NLP practitioner in Australia is screaming bloody murder about Instagram being run by Big Pharma trying to hold back the greatest new technology to set people free from their demons since palm reading and goat sacrifice. The reason why no one is liking your posts is because they are terrible. Not because Big Pharma took over Google and Facebook. If you don’t know what you’re doing on Instagram and you’re not willing to get a professional to help you out, then you shouldn’t be on the platform at all. In fact, the first thing a real Instagram professional will do is help you work out whether your business should even be on Instagram at all.
Insta is not for everyone. If you’re selling physical products that are beautiful or at least can be made to look interesting and beautiful, then you may be better off staying away and concentrating your time and money on the platforms that handle non-visual services better; like Google, LinkedIn and Facebook.