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.
Don’t know what Instagram is? Now is the time to learn.
Instagram is a social networking app that is made for sharing photos and videos from a mobile phone. Everybody who creates an Instagram account has a profile and newsfeed. When you post a photo or video, it becomes visible on your profile, and those who follow you see the post in their own feed. That means you’ll also see posts from the people you decide to follow.
Recently, Instagram reached an exciting milestone. The Instagram community has grown from 90 million monthly active users in 2013 to 1 billion monthly active users as of 2018.
This channel is often overlooked by B2B companies—even though it is clear that the masses (1 billion users a month, remember) are using it.
Given Instagram’s popularity, the platform presents B2B businesses with an opportunity to market their products or services to a targeted audience without spending a large amount of money on paid advertising.
Wait, you say, I thought Instagram was just for B2C!
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.
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 2021, keep reading. I’m going to share a lot of information that you can use to get started successfully on Instagram.
Let’s get to it!
Why B2B Businesses Shouldn’t Ignore Instagram
Instagram is a visual storytelling platform. It was created to show rather than tell. It’s the ideal place for a business to showcase their story to a target audience in a compelling, memorable, and engaging way.
B2B businesses can and should be on Instagram—they just need to understand what kind of content to post and how to best communicate their message.
Over 200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile every day.
Some B2B brands use Instagram as a window into their company. A member of the marketing team runs the account and shares what’s happening within the business, and prospective clients appreciate the transparency.
In fact, there are over 25 million businesses on Instagram.
B2B brands have begun to incorporate Instagram into their marketing plans. If you are ready to jump on the bandwagon, you have come to the right place.
ZenDesk: Showcasing Corporate Culture
Millennials love social media, and they are using Instagram more than any other platform. Research shows that 60% of Instagram users fall between the ages of 18 and 29, with 42% of those users visiting the app at least once a day.
If you are a B2B brand looking to hire a bunch of fresh talent, take advantage of the platform where all that fresh talent is hanging out.
That’s exactly what ZenDesk is doing.
View this post on Instagram
The company posts photos that celebrate new employees and emphasize corporate culture. Followers—especially job-seekers—appreciate this peek into life at ZenDesk.
MailChimp: Leveraging Content In A Unique Way
Video is one of the most engaging types of online content. Embrace video in your own way—and don’t be scared to get creative. B2B marketers often think their videos have to be professional and to the point.
Have fun with Instagram. Put your own spin on it and make something that will leave your audience coming back for more.
If your B2B business is not taking advantage of Instagram, you’re missing out on an easy, effective way to reach a large audience.
Whether you’re looking to show off your corporate culture or showcase your products and services, Instagram can add depth and creativity to your marketing efforts.
Two Benefits Of Instagram For B2B Brands
Let’s look at two ways that Instagram can help you engage with your audience and grow your business.
- 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.
- Pro tip: 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.
- Pro tip: Use the link in your bio to send followers to your home page or a product page.
How To Set Up An Instagram Business Account
Instagram introduced business profiles in 2016; since then, many businesses have switched from personal accounts to business accounts. The change seemed inevitable once Facebook bought Instagram. In a sense, Instagram acts as an extension of Facebook that focuses only on visuals.
Read on to learn how you can set up your own account for your B2B business.
Create an Instagram account from scratch
- Download the Instagram app for iOS, Android, or Windows.
- Open the app and select “Sign Up.”
- Enter your email address and select “Next.” If you want to merge your Instagram account with your business’s Facebook page, make sure to use an admin email address or choose “Log in with Facebook.”
- Create a username and password, fill in the information you want in your profile, and hit “Done.”
- Congratulations! Your personal Instagram account has been created. It is now ready to convert into a business account.
Convert your personal account to a business account
- Log into your Instagram account on the app.
- Select the profile icon to go into your profile.
- Open the menu by tapping the three lines in the top right corner, then tap “Settings” and then “Account.”
- Choose “Switch to Business Profile.”
- If you are interested in linking your Instagram business account to Facebook, follow the various prompts (optional).
- Add contact information—you must provide a business email address, phone number, or physical address (or all three).
- Select “Done.”
- Way to go! You now have an Instagram for Business account.
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, I’ve put together some key steps:
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?
My favorite goal-setting framework is S.M.A.R.T.: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. With these guidelines, goals are easier to accomplish because they have been tailored to your needs.
Who doesn’t want to be S.M.A.R.T.?
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.
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.
Create Great Captions
It’s something most people overlook.
You need to have great captions to hook your audience and leave them double tapping your content or tagging their friends.
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.
Tell Stories With Instagram Stories And Instagram TV
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.
For example, General Electric had been using Instagram Stories to show the exciting work they do around the world—one such story allowed users to see inside a volcano. Each story gave their followers a picture of the work GE does, changing their audience’s perception of the brand.
To create an Instagram story, tap your profile picture with the “+” on it at the top left-hand corner of your feed, or you can reveal Instagram Stories by swiping left.
Once Instagram Stories is open, you can take a photo or video, just as you would on Instagram. After you have created your story, you can add filters, text, or drawings to your content.
Have fun with it. The more memorable your content, the more followers you will get and you can be sure that they will keep coming back for more.
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 prioritizes 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.
Luckily, Instagram makes it easier than most platforms, and with these tips, you can become a wizard when it comes to engagement:
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.
Utilize 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’s in-app ads include features such as call-to-action buttons that allow users to take action right away, minimizing the number of steps required to get to your website.
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. Check out these tools & strategies brands use to find influencers, broaden their audience… and gain impressive returns!
Once you begin using Instagram to promote your B2B business, you need to check in regularly to see whether you’re progressing toward your S.M.A.R.T. 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. To access Instagram Insights from your account page, tap the bar graph icon at the top right. If you want to see data for an individual post, go to that post and tap “View Insights” in the bottom left corner. Or if you want to see data for a story, open the story and select the names in the bottom left corner.
The Insights homepage offers a more in-depth analysis of the content you’ve shared over the last week. To find this data, click the three lines (aka the menu) and then “Insights.” There, choose the “Audience” tab to see how many followers you have and how many you have gained.
Wrapping it Up
There is no denying the power of Instagram when it comes to B2B marketing. It’s an especially important tool for reaching younger decision-makers; however, if you’re not familiar with the platform or you’ve only used it for personal photos, getting started on Instagram for Business can be overwhelming.
That’s why I created this guide—use it to lead your own B2B marketing efforts on Instagram, and you’ll be able to grow your business, engage your audience, and win new customers.
To learn more about Instagram and how you can utilize it for your B2B business, check out this video.
Still, not convinced? This list of 33 mind-blowing Instagram statistics will convince you of Instagram’s importance and popularity.
Now get to work! You got this.
[Updated Dec 11, 2020]