Instagram is a fun and lucrative way to connect with audiences from all over the world. But what if you’re a local business that can only serve local clientele?

If you’re a massage therapist in LA, a small café in Miami, or a hairdresser in Seattle, it won’t help you to find new fans in Paris or Tokyo. How do you target the people in your immediate area who can actually become your customers?

Here are a few strategies for reaching out to local audiences on Instagram.

Use local hashtags

Reaching new audiences on Instagram is all about the hashtags. If you’re targeting locals, you’ll want to include hashtags specific to your location. And we don’t mean just #[name-of-city]. Include at least three local hashtags, and try a variety of different ones. For our Miami-based café, for instance, you might try:

#miami
#miamicafe
#miamifoodie
#miamifoodporn
#miamibeach
#ilovemiami

Or use even more specific hashtags that mention your neighborhood or area within Miami.

As always with hashtags, research each one before you use it to see if it’s striking the right chord. See our earlier post on tips for building your hashtag strategy for more on choosing hashtags.

Tag your location

When you post a photo or video to your Feed or Stories, you can tag your location. Take advantage of this feature! Location-tagged Stories and Feed posts show up in relevant searches.

To tag your location on a Feed post, tap “Add Location” under the caption editor when adding a post. Instagram will suggest locations, but if you can’t find your location in the suggestions, you can start typing to pull up a list.

To tag your location in a Story, add a Location sticker. You’ll be able to choose your location from a list as you would on a Feed post.

Target local audiences in your paid ads

One of the great things about paid advertising on social media is that it allows you to select your target audience by geographic region. You can choose to show the ad only to people in the area that’s relevant to your business, whether that’s your city, your neighborhood, certain postal codes or addresses, or your whole state.

Partner with other local influencers and businesses

Partnering with other influencers and businesses is both fun and mutually beneficial. By teaming up with other local businesses, you can boost your exposure, create new leads, and strengthen your ties to the local community.
The first step is finding potential partners. You can do that by searching hashtags and locations relevant to you and browsing the content that comes up. Look for local businesses or influencers that have some connection to your field.
For a massage therapist, for example, that would be businesses and influencers in the fields of health, wellness, and bodywork. For a café, that might be other eateries, local food producers, nutritionists, or entertainers. A hairdresser might partner well with other professionals and businesses in the field of beauty and fashion.

  • Here are some ideas for partnerships:
  • Partner with the influencer or business for a giveaway.
  • Offer the influencer a free service or product in exchange for posting a review.
  • Create content together that promotes both of your services or brands.
  • Arrange an “account takeover” where they take over your account for a set period of time, or vice versa.

The possibilities are endless.

Post content of local interest

Leverage the visual factor of the Instagram platform. In addition to original content related to your field, post photos of beloved locations or scenes in your area (and make sure to location-tag and hashtag them as mentioned above). This will draw the eyes of people who are familiar with those scenes and who have memories associated with them.

Don’t just post — engage!

All this tagging and targeting won’t be nearly as effective if you’re not an active part of the local Instagram community. Search the hashtags and locations you’re posting and interact with local users. Simply “liking” someone’s post may lead them to check out your profile, but if you leave personalized, meaningful comments on their posts and follow them, they’re more likely to follow you back.

Engaging meaningfully with local Instagrammers will help you find potential partners for promotional activities as well as new customers — and it’ll help position you as a contributing member of the community. As a result, you’ll develop a loyal following that will hopefully translate into revenue.