Is Instagram the next discovery engine for large local businesses?

Instagram has launched a new map search feature to help users discover local businesses more easily. The new feature allows users to browse a map, explore famous places and explore local businesses. The map promotes a more engaging experience, where users can upload and view tagged stories in each location.

How the new Instagram immersive map works

The map, provided by Apple, has been around for some time, with photos available to view at each location. However, with this new update, users can explore areas and businesses throughout the map, finding important locations through scrolling search. Users can filter locations based on restaurants, cafes, landmarks, hotels, parks and gardens, bars, and more.

A search in San Francisco was filtered to show only cafes.

The new feature is now more of a discovery engine, where users can explore geographic areas by tapping marked locations on posts, stories, and videos. Once tapped, you will be shown a map of the area with a list of businesses to discover.

The information you will see about each business location on this list includes:

  • Business category
  • number of Instagram posts the company has
  • opening time
  • an idea of ​​how expensive the place is

Each location features three main images, which are collected from the second, third, and fourth most liked image tagged in the location. The most liked photo is used as the location profile photo, as is the pin photo displayed on the map. This suggests that Instagram is adding authenticity to the experience, through real-time user-generated content, rather than relying on official logos or profile pictures used by each company.

New Instagram Map Lists

A list of businesses displayed when searching in San Francisco.

For users with public profiles, stories and posts tagged in the location will be shown to others on the interactive map. This seems like another way the platform is pushing for content creators to become discoverable through local area searches.

You will notice that the main posts consist of many influencer selfies and portraits. An interesting aspect here is that Instagram is the ultimate influencer platform and is now making the most of this new map feature, which shows influencers in famous places for more users to see.

Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram he said recently:

“We want to do our best from creators, especially small creators, and we see recommendations as one of the best ways to reach new audiences and grow their following.”

By clicking on each business location you have the option to “see related guides” that lead you to user generated guides that characterize the selected position. The benefit of this is that if users create a local guide that introduces you, your business is more discoverable on the map.

Locations also show a CTA button for “Contact” or “Call” the business if the business has this setting on their profile. This could mean an increase in clicks to call directly from Instagram, made by users who want to book with you from this in-map experience.

Instagram map update attractions

The full view of an activity when you click on its location.

You can also see a “View Info” CTA showing the full business listing. The list includes the website and phone number, a drop-down menu for daily opening hours, address, category and price.

It is now even more essential to ensure that your Instagram listing is up to date, based on the discoverability of your business through the new map update.

What Makes a Business Function Higher on the List of Locations?

According to Search Engine Journal, the only way to appear on the map is to have a professional account filled in with your contact information. Localogy also found that the only trigger on the map is location relevance, along with social cues like relevancy tags. We do not know if there are any other factors or algorithms to be included higher in the list of positions.

What does this mean for Instagram and local businesses?

Instagram’s new immersive map puts user-generated content, authenticity, and creators at the forefront of the map search experience.

This update coincides with a recent discussion point by Google Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan on how “40% of younger users were conducting local searches on TikTok and Instagram instead of Google”.

This data point suggests that users in this demographic are watching closely authenticity of search results, with creators approving of the position they tag in their content. It could also be that younger users trust user-generated content more than Google’s algorithm.

Greg Sterling of Near Media suggested that this new map is a competitive local search feature and “has the potential to achieve significant user adoption based on existing user behavior. Users are very used to spending time on Instagram, so this new update won’t be anything completely new to them.

What can local businesses do with this update?

With this update, it’s really important for businesses in a variety of industries, especially hospitality and tourism, to keep their business profiles on Instagram up to date.

If your business is “Instagrammable” (meaning your location, product or service is curated to be visually appealing and aesthetically pleasing), then you may find many benefits with map search. You could gravitate towards influencer marketing e User-generated content strategy to encourage more people to share their experiences of your business on Instagram and, in doing so, allow more people to discover it through map search.

By increasing brand awareness in this way, there is an opportunity for the Instagram Immersive Map to become a boon to the visibility and growth of your business.

Jenny Bernard

Jenny cares for the BrightLocal community, through managing our social media channels, connecting with our community and producing our online webinars.

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