There’s a feature on Instagram that many people either don’t know about, or don’t really understand how to use. This feature is geotags. And the benefits of using geotags on Instagram can actually be really valuable to your business if you learn to use them properly!
First, in case you’re not aware, let’s make sure you know what a geotag is. Instagram defines it as: “Geotagging is a technical term for storing the latitude and longitude of your current location with your photo. This data is collected by the GPS device in your phone or tablet and is accessible to Instagram if you grant permission.”
Basically, when you take a photo, the coordinates of where you were are attached to that photo. If (and only if) you tell Instagram to publicize this location, you can tag your photo with the location where you are. To be clear, Instagram will not post your location data on any photo until you choose the “Add to Photo Map” during the upload process.
As a user, if you choose to add your location to a photo, when you click the slider to activate the geotag (the Add to Photo Map button on the upload screen), you have the option to choose the location of your photo. When you tap the “Name this Location” option, a list of local businesses, events, locations, and attractions will appear. You can select the option that represents where you are and that location will now appear in your post when uploaded to Instagram.
For example, I went out for dinner the other night and I tagged the post with the restaurant location:
You can also choose to customize this location option. If you want the name the location something different, or create your own custom location name, in the top search bar of the locations list, type in the name of the “location” and choose “Add [location]”. This will add the location at this geographical position to your list of options, and put a custom geotag in your post. You can see I do this to tag photos when working from my “headquarters”:
Now, a word to the wary here. If you work from home and you don’t want people to know where you live, do not post your location as a geotag in your Instagram posts.
If you want to see all of your geotagged posts (or those of someone else), go to the little location button on the Instagram profile (second from the right just above your first row of gallery images). This will open up a map of the world and show you where are all of your photos are tagged. You can zoom in and see individual photos from all of the locations you’ve geotagged.
You can also go back and add a geotag to an image after you’ve uploaded it, if you want to. Just find the image in your gallery and click the 3-dot button on the post. When you click “Edit” from the pop-up menu, you will see the option to “Add Location”. Tap that and add the appropriate location to the photo. If the location is not “nearby”, use the search function to find the name of the business and any matches will appear.
Ok, so now that you can see how these geotags work on Instagram in general, let’s talk about how they impact you as a business!
Having Your Business As A Location Option
This is extremely valuable to location based, or brick-and-mortar type businesses.
Instagram has typically relied on the Foursquare app’s API for location results in the geotag list of businesses. Instagram is (or has) played with the option of switching this data to Facebook’s information on business locations.
If your business is registered as a location on either of these platforms, you should find that your business appears as a listing for geotagging. Remember, if you create a custom location, that’s only available to you on your account. It doesn’t make it public to everyone.
But obviously, having your business listed as a location means people can “check-in” at your business through Instagram.
Here’s why this is so valuable. First of all, others who click that geotag location can see all the other posts that people are uploading to the geotag. This can be beneficial in showcasing your products or services but also reaching new customers. Tourists or people new to the area can search the geotags to determine if they want to do business with you.
Secondly, these geotagged images allow you to source user generated content (UGC). All of these posts are content created by your audience and customers. If they are publicly sharing their experiences, you can regram that content (if it’s in line with your strategy and branding) to your account. This acknowledges your existing customers and shows them appreciation but it also shows you audience another perspective of your business.
Custom Geotag Locations
Much like you can create a gallery or “hub” around hashtags, you can create a gallery around your custom geotags. If you have created a custom geotag location name, whenever someone clicks on that, much like the business location geotags, they can see all of the images tagged at that location. This allows you to create a very specific gallery of information to share with your audience.
This takes the custom geotags one step further and is only (currently) available on iOS devices. To create a mock geotag (something in the geotag location on your post but that isn’t hyperlinked to an actual location), you need to disable your location services from Instagram. Then you can create your custom geotag name. This can be a website link (but remember this isn’t clickable or hyperlinked to an actual website), an instruction or call to action, or any other description of your choice. You can include symbols and emojis to add flare, color, and intrigue to your posts.
When you create the mock geotag, it will appear gray in your post (rather than blue) indicating that it isn’t hyperlinked and will not actually appear on the Instagram map. It also helps for those who don’t want to geotag their home location!
But, like I said, this is only available on iOS devices. Us Android lovers can’t disconnect the location services from Instagram and still upload a geotag.
I hope these tips and suggestions help you find some fun and beneficial new ways to boost your Instagram strategy and reach new audiences!