At first glance, Instagram appears to be just an endless stream of pictures, filling up your home feed based on a few decisions you made when you signed up.

But if you look a little deeper, you can see that it is a gold mine of visual information, and users who can have a big influence in your locality, or within their industry – and in turn maybe a big influence on your business if you make the right kind of relationships.

As business owners, we can sometimes forget that these sites and apps are supposed to be social places where things are shared, and relationships are built.

With that in mind, these local minor celebrities can really help your business, especially if you have a limited marketing budget to play with. Here are 10 steps that you can follow to get some extra exposure just by scrolling through your Instagram newsfeed…

  1. Perform a search on your local area (the location of your business)
  2. Scroll down to the most recent posts, there will be some from the last few hours
  3. Start scrolling through, looking at the numbers on each post – number of likes, number of followers of that profile, number of posts made by that profile
  4. Depending on where you are, these numbers could be quite different – a large city with a denser population is likely to have bigger numbers to look at than a smaller town or more rural location, but what you are looking at should all be relative to your location
  5. Find up to 4 or 5 posts that have been made within the last couple of hours, and which have received a higher amount of likes relative to the other posts in your area. Take a look at how many posts that account has made, and the number of followers they have to their profile. You want the numbers to be quite high, at least in the high hundreds or low thousands of followers
  6. It is probably better to find individuals, rather than other businesses, but that depends on you because in the next step…
  7. You will need to contact each of these people and ask if they would like something free from your business
  8. Whatever it is you do; the aim is to offer the people you contact something to get them to become interested in your business. Free main course. Free haircut. Free cup of coffee. Free car service. It doesn’t really matter what it is you offer; the aim is to get that person to relay your business to their followers. To try and gain some local exposure without breaking the bank
  9. Write a courteous message, saying that you like their latest picture/video, and if they were passing your business in the next few days, they could just show this message and enjoy their gift
  10. You can sign off by asking that if they enjoy their freebee, could they post a picture of their experience to Instagram

Now not everyone who accepts your gift will respond with a glowing review on their Instagram page. And not everyone you message will bother to reply. But when the outlay is a little bit of time, and the cost of goods for whatever it is you are willing to give away, it is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to get some great exposure for your business.