Instagram for B2B Companies
Instagram can be a strong visual marketing channel for your brand and an opportunity to build a following that helps grow your B2B business. In fact, more than 25 million companies across the world are taking advantage of Instagram for Business.
This channel is often overlooked by B2B companies—even though it is clear that the masses (1 billion users a month) are using it. Many people think that Instagram is just for B2C, but according to TrackMaven’s research, B2B companies experience their largest engagement ratios on Instagram—meaning that of the major social sites, Instagram fosters the highest number of interactions per number of followers. Not only does Instagram promote engagement through commenting, but it hosts text, photos, and videos directly on the platform so your followers don’t have to click elsewhere to see the content.
Instagram introduced business profiles in 2016; since then, many businesses have switched from personal accounts to business accounts. .Still, lots of B2B marketers claim that Instagram is too lifestyle-focused, full of cat photos and vacation snaps. The comment I’ve heard the most is, “Our audience is not there.” But unless your target market is extremely niche, your audience is on Instagram. The decision-makers you’re selling to are probably using Instagram. That’s where Instagram for Business comes into play.
Instagram for Business allows a company of any size to create a business profile, get detailed data about their followers and posts, and promote their content in order to achieve their goals—all within the Instagram app. If you are a B2B marketer looking to use Instagram to grow your business in 2020, keep reading. I’m going to share a lot of information that you can use to get started successfully on Instagram.
Main Benefits of Instagram
- Building Trust with your Audience. Instagram encourages engagement—we’ve already established that. One of the benefits of engagement is that you’re able to build trust as you interact with customers. Instagram also allows you to share casual, day-to-day glimpses of life at your company, adding a personal touch to your public image and promoting transparency. Build trust by sending a DM to thank potential customers for liking your photo. People will appreciate you taking the time to message them and will feel motivated to come back.
- Increase in Traffic to your Site. With higher levels of engagement than other popular platforms, Instagram can be a powerful driver of traffic. Use the link in your bio to send followers to your home page or a product page.
How use Instagram?
- Create an Instagram Strategy. Achieving success on Instagram takes a lot more than posting content. To help you develop a strong Instagram strategy for your B2B marketing,
- Define your target audience. Before you decide what type of content to create, you need to think about who you want to view it. The majority of users are under the age of 35, with nearly even numbers of female and male users. The United States has the most Instagram users, followed by India. This information is a good starting point; however, you need to dig beyond these demographics in order to understand your audience:
- Study your current customers. Who are they? What characteristics do they share? Conduct competitor research. Examine analytics from your other social media channels to learn who follows you. Once you’ve defined your audience, think about the content they want to see. What kind of content are they sharing? How do they engage with competitors? What B2B businesses are they following?
- Commit to a posting schedule. Once you begin building a following, fans will expect to see posts from you on a consistent basis. It is key to keep your followers aware of your business and engage with your content—without overwhelming them. There is no single best time to post for all B2B businesses. Hootsuite, with the help of Unmetric, analyzed posts from 11 different industries and found that the best time to post differs from industry to industry. For example, if you are in the technology sector the suggested time to post is at 2 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday. It is also important to remember that your audience may not be in the same time zone. But, by using Instagram Insights, you can see when your followers are visiting each day and time your posts accordingly.
- Share Great Content. Instagram is all about visual content, but sourcing that content can be a challenge. Coming up with B2B marketing ideas and finding the right images or videos is easier said than done. Not only does the content need to align with your goals and objectives, but it also needs to be appealing. First, you need to think about what you want to showcase in your posts. There are lots of great types of content to share. Here are some ideas that are perfect for B2B businesses:
- Thought leadership: Provide insights from somebody who is viewed as a thought leader for your B2B business. This type of content creates brand awareness and builds trust among consumers looking to you for answers. Thought leadership is also great for starting a conversation with your followers and growing your engagement.
- Corporate culture: When you share a positive, behind-the-scenes look into your business, you are illustrating to potential employees as well as customers that you are not just getting work done, but enjoying the work environment.
- Announcements: Instagram is a great platform to keep your followers up to date on sales, new hires, and product or service launches, as long as you accompany the announcement with an interesting visual.
- Take Photographs. To make Instagram work for your B2B business, you MUST have great pictures. However, you don’t need to be a professional photographer with fancy equipment in order to take great photos. Your cellphone is your friend when taking photos for Instagram, as you can post directly from the device. To take the best photos, keep these tips in mind:
- Try various angles: Crouch down or stand on your tippy toes. Do what it takes to get the best shot.
- Use natural light: Nobody looks good with a flash in their face—you’ll get lots of weird shadows, washed-out colors, red eyes, the works. Natural light makes photos softer and easier on the eyes.
- Use the rule of thirds: This rule is used to balance a photo. Even though your instinct may be to center the subject every time, that doesn’t make for a compelling composition. Your phone’s camera has a built-in grid to help you place your subject so that your photo is off-center, but still balanced.
- Leverage Hashtags. Using hashtags has become important for B2B businesses on Instagram to gain a wider reach for their content. Choosing the right hashtags is similar to choosing SEO keywords for a website. For your B2B business, using the right hashtag could be the difference between finding success on Instagram and remaining unknown. Like Twitter, Instagram groups together all the posts that are tagged with the same hashtag. You can create your own hashtags for your brand or use ones that are already trending. Not sure how to use them? When you open Instagram, search for a word that seems relevant to your business, such as #entrepreneurship. Instagram will show you a range of content that can give you inspiration and help you understand what your audience wants. Creating branded hashtags is also a great way to let your followers and fans participate in your conversations on Instagram.
- Tell Stories With Instagram Stories And Instagram TV.
- Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories is a feature that allows users to post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours. This feature appears in a bar at the top of your feed, where you can also see stories from other accounts. When a new story appears, that user’s profile picture will have a colored ring around it. More than 500 million people use Instagram Stories each day. Instagram Stories can help B2B businesses tell bigger, more exciting stories than a series of individual photos or videos. Posting content is good, but you don’t want to overwhelm your audience. With Instagram Stories, you can post as many photos or videos as you want without overcrowding the main feed. This platform is well-suited to tutorials, behind-the-scenes videos, time-sensitive content (e.g., special offers), and announcements.
- Instagram TV. Instagram TV (IGTV) is a feature for sharing and viewing videos. The format is similar to Instagram Stories, but with IGTV users are able to upload long-form content—up to an hour—and the videos will not disappear after 24 hours. For B2B businesses, IGTV is a great platform for more detailed tutorials, in-depth videos about your product or service, interviews, and tours of your office or work site. You can access IGTV from the Instagram app or by downloading the Instagram TV app. In the Instagram app, you will see it as a TV icon in the top right that will be highlighted when new content becomes available. When you are ready to start posting videos, tap your avatar from the IGTV page and choose the “+” in the right corner to select a video from your camera roll. Then simply hit “Post” and you are done.
- Engage Your Audience. One of the challenges with any social media platform is getting your audience to engage with your content. A good engagement rate on Instagram is key to growing your following and is the number one priority for many Instagram users. But as Instagram’s feed algorithm changes, so do the rules of engagement. The company has said that their algorithm prioritises posts in users’ feeds based on their engagement, meaning your followers will see more of your posts if they often engage with your content. To increase your engagement—and therefore your reach—you need to be interactive, and that takes time and effort. If you want your audience to be engaged, you need to acknowledge them. Every like or comment you receive means somebody took the time to read your post and share their thoughts. Why wouldn’t you want to respond? Ask questions, respond to comments, and reply to Instagram Stories. Do this, and the algorithm will reward you.
- Respond To Comments And Mentions. Remember: This is social media. Don’t ignore the social aspect. That means you should be responding to comments and mentions of your brand on Instagram so that your followers are encouraged to keep engaging with your B2B business. Schedule some time to respond to comments and mentions. It will show that you are authentic and you care.
- Cross-Promote Across Other Channels If you have a strong following on other social networks, let those followers know about your Instagram business account. Tell them what type of content you are sharing, so they know why it’s worth following you in more than one place. Also, if your B2B business has a website or blog, embed your Instagram feed directly into to your site to showcase your content and attract more followers.
- Utilise Instagram Ads. Instagram can be a great source of organic traffic, but investing in Instagram Ads will help you get your content in front of more people. Instagram Ads include features such as call-to-action buttons that allow users to take action right away, minimising the number of steps required to get to your website.
- Leverage Influencers. As David Alson says, “Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage and build relationships.”By day, it’s getting more and more difficult for brands to build trust and reach out to new audiences. This is where influencer marketing comes into play!Influencers promote products and services to your targeted audience on your behalf, via their own channels. With bigger, bolder and much stronger storytelling, they help businesses build trust and further drive brand awareness.
- Instagram Insights. Once you begin using Instagram to promote your B2B business, you need to check in regularly to see whether you’re progressing toward your goals. Instagram Insights is an analytics tool that provides follower demographics and data about the success of your content. This tool makes it simpler to see what kind of content is working and to measure the effectiveness of ads. You can find this data in three places in the app.
5 B2B Instagram Marketing Tips
- Determine How You’ll Define Success. You can casually open your Instagram account and have a good sense of who’s liking and following your posts. But having day-by-day and post-by-post analytics allows you to see what’s resonating most. Define your goals for Instagram, then define the KPIs you’ll use to measure those goals. Socialinsider’s Teodora Lozan said: “Constantly review your data and see which types of strategies are working best. Analytics tools are your best friend.”
- Start With Nine Posts. Once you have an Instagram business profile and have defined your audience, goals, and KPIs, it’s time to start planning your content. I recommend planning ahead and creating your first nine posts as a grid. Then, post them all at the same time—before you start following others and promoting your page. This way you will have a cohesive page that’s more likely to appeal to people who will visit for the first time when considering following you. Danny Peavey of One Week Website suggests “using scheduling software or a Photoshop custom layout to visually plan a 9×9 Instagram grid. This way, you can shuffle posts and create a visually impactful layout.”
- Post Unique and Authentic Content. You save to stand out on Instagram, so turn heads with something different—not the average post in your industry. “Get rid of your stock photography and staged promotional pictures. On Instagram, your prospects and leads want authentic content that offers a personal glimpse into your company’s culture and product,” says Patricio Quiroz of Code Authority. Quiroz also provided a few suggestions for how to build authentic Instagram content: “Real-time content, such as live video/live streaming, is unfiltered and 100% you. It adds that much-needed human element to B2B businesses and helps you form a genuine connection with your audience and potential customers. “Tell your company’s story. Describe why or how you started it. People love to listen to stories and will even be more inclined to purchase your product or service if they can relate to your story.” “When creating content, keep your brand personality in mind,” says Ashley Graham of Brandesso. “How do you want visitors to view your business? What do you want them to know? Post photos that are relevant, and only share content that amplifies your brand!”
- Embrace User-Generated Content. Embrace user-generated content. Etsy does a great job of this. Its platform is filled with creators who make incredible handmade goods every day, so they fill their Instagram feed with incredible works of art. This both attracts new B2C customers to purchase things on Etsy and encourages creators to create an account with Etsy and start selling their own products. They’ve really got it figured out. Your in-house team can’t necessarily keep producing amazing visuals all year, so don’t be afraid to rely on your users to help you build content for Instagram.
- Target the Top of the Funnel. The best tip I can give for B2B marketers looking for ways to get results from Instagram is to build a clear social media sales funnel for top-of-funnel traffic. You can do this for a brand, product, or even an individual like sales team members or consultants. If you’re trying to get direct sales from Instagram, you will probably struggle. That’s because Instagram users aren’t there to buy your services or products; they’re there to browse memes and photos. Instead of pitching them directly, it’s far more cost-effective to get them into your sales funnel with a free lead magnet that addresses their primary pain points and introduces them to your brand and solution. Once they’re on your list, you can educate them on why your solution is right for them. Text Request’s Ramey Miller agrees: “Give more than you ask for: helpful tips, good wishes, fun visuals, etc. Most of your posts should have little to do with your product or service. Gain their trust, and then you can sprinkle in a little ‘Try us out’ or ‘Grab a demo.’ It’s all about trust.”