Patronizing local businesses is not only convenient, but it also gives people an opportunity to support local creators and keep money flowing within their communities.
With more focus on neighborhood economies, there’s now higher competition among local businesses, so it’s no wonder that practically every local business wants to find a great marketing channel to attract new customers and interact with existing ones to increase online bookings.
Many are finding success by using Instagram for business.
With 2 billion users, Instagram is one of the fastest-growing social media networks, and its user base is engaged. As we can see in Meta’s own data, 83% of users discover new products or services in-app, and 79% of people search for more information after seeing an interesting business on Instagram.
Just imagine: 25 million businesses see potential in this network to market their products or services, connect with existing and potential customers, and increase sales. When it comes to local businesses that operate within a certain area, Instagram has all tools and features to gain exposure and increase online bookings.
Interestingly, one study found that 38% of bookings happen outside of normal business hours. By maintaining an Instagram presence, you give your local customers an opportunity to learn more about your business and make an appointment at their own pace.
Why Does Instagram Help to Increase Online Bookings for Local Businesses?
At first blush, Instagram isn’t the most obvious marketing channel for local businesses. However, here are three main reasons to increase online bookings with Instagram.
- Your local customers are active Instagram users: The number of people who actively use Instagram is constantly growing and people are interested in brand communication. In fact, 90% of users follow at least one business profile in-app, so it means you can connect and interact with your local customers on the platform.
- People discover services in-app and read online reviews: Instagram has become a valuable tool for customers on gathering information about businesses. Local customers also do research and read online reviews for local businesses before making an appointment. Since people often post about their experiences on the platform, Instagram is a good source of unbiased reviews.
- Instagram has in-built features for local business promotion: From hashtags and geotags to local business profiles and action buttons like “Book Now,” Instagram offers a wide array of features that help local businesses market their services and help interested customers make online bookings in-app.
Now that you know about the importance of using Instagram for local businesses, it’s time to check out seven ways to increase online bookings with this platform.
Create a Descriptive Instagram Bio
The Instagram bio is a small section under the username with a limit of 150 characters and one clickable link to tell about your business and products or services.
By crafting a descriptive Instagram bio, not only can you tell about your products or services, but you can also make a great first impression on people who visit your profile and encourage them to make online bookings.
Plus, a well-optimized Instagram bio can also improve Instagram discoverability to make sure that your profile attracts the local community and therefore you can interact with people who live within your neighborhood.
Here’s a good example of a good Instagram bio for one local business that can help to increase online bookings:
To create a similar descriptive Instagram bio, consider taking the following steps:
- Write about the service and the location as a name
- Choose the right category that represents your services
- Tell about your local business and break down the text for better readability
- Encourage visitors to make an appointment with the call to action
- Add a website link where people can book services online
Make it Easy to Book Appointments on Instagram
Having an Instagram presence isn’t enough to increase online bookings for local businesses. Not only should you spark interest in your services, but you also should make it easy to book appointments on Instagram. The easier the process is, the more bookings you can get.
For example, you can tell about your services to spark interest in your business and write about booking options in the caption. Cosmo Secrets includes their contact information in the caption to help interested users book their appointments via phone:
Obviously, not all potential customers are ready to call your business to make an appointment–they may avoid phone calls at all. To attract more customers and increase online bookings for local businesses, it’s important to speed up the direct booking experience, so the process should be quick and simple.
Whether you have a website or not, you can use vcita’s scheduling solution to make it easy for customers to book service appointments themselves.
Here’s what a vcita-powered landing page for booking looks like:
With this software, you add your services, sync all calendars, and display availability to help customers schedule appointments and prevent overbooking. What is more, vcita offers valuable features for local businesses to send automated confirmations or meeting reminders, which helps to reduce no-shows or last-minute cancellations again – just populate your available services and either link to your offers from your Instagram bio or as an “Action Button” associated with your profile.
Turn Out to Local Instagram Influencers
In the last decade, when people find and follow opinion leaders on social media, the power of influencer marketing has grown. Today, 92% of consumers trust influencers more than brand ads.
Local businesses also see potential in working with local Instagram influencers who have built a solid following of people who live within the same area. To increase online bookings, you can turn to opinion leaders who match your brand’s values and principles and ask them for endorsements.
As a restaurant owner, you can team up with local food bloggers who can visit your place and review it, telling followers about the dishes, prices, and atmosphere. With a variety of video tools, it’s easy for influencers to create engaging and dynamic videos that spark interest in your business and encourage viewers to make an appointment. Check out a good example of this strategy in action from one food blogger:
To provide your followers with social proof, you can also repost these influencer endorsements to your feed and therefore help worried potential customers make an appointment. With custom comments from your target audience, you can also encourage other customers to share their experiences on Instagram and spread the word about your business for more bookings. Win-win!
Collaborate with Other Local Businesses
Business support matters. If you have another local business that operates at the same location and within one community with you, it’s a good idea to collaborate and co-promote your services to help your customers find relevant and useful services with ease.
One idea is to work on a shared offer and tell about it on Instagram. For instance, one restaurant in Brixton teamed up with a local brewery to serve their dishes with beverages.
When promoting other businesses, make sure to include relevant Instagram hashtags that hint at the location. It helps to attract customers who search for a particular hashtag that represents their area of living and it also helps followers find out more insights about the promoted business.
If you need help finding relevant hashtags for your location, you can rely on Keyhole, software for hashtag tracking and analytics. Apart from location-based hashtags that represent your area, you can also find trending topics that resonate with your local business to stay relevant and ahead of the competition.
Tell About Discounts and Special Offers
Practically every customer loves discounts. Being limited in time, discounts and special offers add a layer of time sensitivity and give customers an opportunity to save money when buying something they are interested in. One study has found that discounts create a strong emotional desire that leads to impulse buying.
When it comes to online bookings, people also seek out discounts. To encourage people to give your local business a try, it’s a good idea to talk about discounts and special offers. Here’s how one beauty studio uses discounts to increase bookings for its services.
Putting information about your offer on the image is a great way to draw attention to it from users who scroll the Instagram feed as it doesn’t take much time or effort for them to learn about your discounts and get interested in it.
Encourage Customers to Promote Your Business
Modern customers pay close attention to reviews before choosing a local business. With the growing importance of word-of-mouth recommendations, happy customers are the lifeblood of any business. When done right, your customers can become brand advocates who increase online bookings for your local business.
Giving your customers a solid reason to share their experiences on social media, you get a chance to reach a wider audience of potential customers who are ready to make an appointment and generate social proof for your profile.
Case in point:
Having a hotel in an Instagrammable place, Fox Homes encourages visitors to take photos of themselves and tell their following about the experience. Then, the company reposts these visuals to its business profile to provide visitors with social proof. Check out an example below:
Another good idea to encourage customers to spread the word about your business is to create custom merch and therefore help satisfied customers recommend your business online and offline. Hard Rock Cafe has t-shirts that are quite popular among their visitors. People buy this merch, wear it, and take photos of themselves, tagging the business profile.
The company knows about the importance of digital privacy, so it always reaches out to fans and asks for permission to use the best images on their business profile, just like in the example below:
Set Up a Local Business Ad Campaign
Instagram has over 2 million advertisers who constantly create and run ad campaigns that help these companies get through the noise and promote their products or services among target audiences.
Paid ads give local businesses an opportunity to set up ad campaigns that reach customers who show interest in a particular area and therefore these people are more likely to make an appointment.
To increase online bookings at its salons across the UK, TreatWell showed off the variety of its services with a collection ad format and included a strong call to action that encouraged visitors to make an appointment.
With eye-catching and informative visuals, TreatWell was able to achieve great results. The campaign resulted in 19% more bookings than its primary goal and it had a 7% lower cost per order price compared to other campaigns.
It’s Time to Get More Online Bookings Now
A great number of Instagram users discover and research services in-app. Plus, Instagram has all tools and features for local businesses to reach and interact with the local community. This gives local businesses a solid reason for having an Instagram presence. When done right, it can also increase online bookings.
From optimizing your bio section for local discovery to running paid ad campaigns, there are several proven reasons to increase online bookings for local businesses with Instagram and find a new source of promotion for your services. Don’t miss this opportunity if you want to stand out from your competitors in a local area.