What if I told you there was a place on the internet where you could see hundreds, if not thousands, of customer-posted photos of your business? Odds are you already visit this spot often, but didn’t realize that it’s a treasure trove of user-generated location data.
Social media app Instagram allows users to tag locations to the photos and videos they upload. This tag does more than let their followers know where the photo was taken.
There are two interesting ways that marketers can take advantage of this publicly available location information.
First, the obvious — your actual business location. Look for the photos and videos taken there and engage with the people who posted them.
- Like – This one is easy! Like all of the photos taken at your business. People will see your brand is on Instagram and might follow you.
- Comment – This takes a little more thought. But talk to the people taking photos. Ask how their experience was, or if they enjoyed their meal, stay, etc.
- Thank/Congratulate – If it’s apparent the people in the photos are celebrating something, take the opportunity to thank them for doing so at your business. Wish them a happy birthday, or congratulate them on getting engaged. You can’t get more personal than that!
- User-Generated Content – If you see photos you wish you’d taken yourself, just ask for permission to use them. I ask all the time, “Cool photo! Do you mind if we re-share it on our social media pages?” I’ve never been told no. The original poster is excited to have been noticed, and to see the photo shared with more people.
- Respond to Issues – This one isn’t so fun. You may occasionally come across a complaint on Instagram. Use it as an opportunity to correct the issue and hopefully salvage a customer relationship. Calmly ask for more information, and handle it just like you would if they were standing in your store.
Now, instead of thinking about photos taken at your business, how could you engage with other locations and public venues?
- Tourists Passing Thru – Is your business along a major highway that travelers drive down? What if you could get them to stop in by commenting on their Instagram photos? Browse the photos of any nearby tourist attractions and invite recent visitors (probably same-day only) to come by while they’re in town. You might even offer them a free or discounted item to entice them.
- Conferences & Trade Shows – If you’re manning a table at a conference or convention, check out photos tagged at the venue where the event is being held and invite people to stop by and see you. Don’t be pushy or creepy. But just genuinely engage with them and ask how they’re liking the event. Don’t have an exhibitor table? You can still use the opportunity to network with other attendees. Ask someone if they want to meet for coffee or a beer during the next break.
- Monitor Competition – Places are completely public on Instagram. There is nothing stopping you from glancing in to see what’s happening at your competitor’s place. But be careful! You may want to maintain a policy of “Look, but don’t engage” here. If a competitor catches you trying to lure their customers to your place, you’ll likely make them angry and leave yourself open to retaliation.
BONUS: HOOTSUITE MONITORING
If you start regularly watching more than a handful of places on Instagram, you’ll quickly find that checking them on your phone every day gets to be cumbersome. Consider checking out Hootsuite to keep your locations organized. The social media management tool has free, pro, and enterprise level plans.
Connect your Instagram account, and then you add as many location streams as you want. This is a must if you want to look as several places at a glance, or have multiple store locations to track.
Good luck exploring Instagram places! Be sure to let me know if you find any fun or beneficial locations you’re keeping an eye on.