Many B2B businesses may know the importance of using Instagram as a marketing tool, yet struggle to market their brand on a platform that is heavily dominated by B2C companies.
However, it’s important for B2B marketers to remember that people do business with people, not with other businesses.
As B2B marketers, your business can benefit from the storytelling and community building that Instagram so nicely lends itself to. Here are 10 strategies you can use to market your brand effectively on Instagram.
1. Focus on the Solution Your Brand Provides its Customers
It’s common for B2B businesses to shy away from Instagram, especially if they consider themselves too “boring” for the everyday Instagram user to enjoy. However, as Carolyn Miller says, “there is no such thing as boring brands, just boring marketers.”
With that in mind, think back to why your company came into existence in the first place. Maybe your brand, like IBM for example, was born to "create innovation that matters." Or maybe you’re a financial services company that simply wants to help small business people become better business people. Whatever your story, use it as a source of inspiration to create engaging visual content.
For example, NASA, born out of the innate desire to “explore the new ocean” that is outer space, engages its followers with educational content on technological advances in aeronautics and aerospace research. NASA achieves this with video content that is short, to the point and also visually stimulating, like this animation featuring two neutron stars.
Round and round they go - then BOOM! This animation begins with the final moments of two neutron stars (the super-dense cores of exploded massive stars), whirling around each other in a galaxy 130 million light-years away. Gravitational waves (rippling disturbance in space-time, shown here as pale arcs) bleed away orbital energy, causing the stars to move closer together and merge. As the stars collide, this explosive event emits light across a series of different wavelengths - first gamma rays (magenta), then ultraviolet (violet), then visible and infrared (blue-white to red) and once the jet directed toward us expanded into our view from Earth, X-rays (blue). Our Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope witnessed this event on August 17, 2017 and we watched it unfold over multiple days with a variety of other telescopes, including the Swift spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope (@NASAHubble), the Spitzer Space Telescope, our Chandra X-Ray Observatory (@NASAChandraXray) and our NuSTAR mission. The detectors at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) received a gravitational wave signal just 1.7 seconds before the first light was seen by Fermi, making this the first event observed in both light and gravitational waves. Credit: @NASAGoddard/CI Lab #space #nasa #universe #galaxy #stars #astrophysics #astronomy #science #gammarays #ultraviolet #infrared #xrays #gravitationalwaves #neutronstars #hubble #chandra #spitzer #nustar #fermi #swift
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Instagram should be viewed by your organisation as a platform where you can share your story, connect with your audience and build your brand.
2. Know Your Customers
Understanding your customers is essential because you need to create content that adds value to them.
If you’re adamant that your customers aren’t interested in engaging with your business on Instagram, or you assume that the channel is only the realm of millennials, consider these statistics:
- The fastest growing demographic on Instagram is 30-49-year-olds.
- 80% of users follow a business on Instagram.
If you’re marketing to an audience between 25-54 years old, then you should be engaging with them in a way they appreciate. Think of Instagram not only as a platform to engage personally with your customers, but also as a tool to nurture and create long-term and mutually beneficial relationships.
American Express brings a relatable personality to their brand by documenting life through the lens of an Amex cardholder.
We were in #London this weekend, exploring the snow dusted capital with @thedanicheese and @briancason for #AmexTravel. A cosy breakfast at Fine Hotels & Resorts property Ham Yard Hotel ( @firmdale_hotels ), was followed by a series of city experiences, from the splendour of Kensington Palace to the dizzy heights of @duckandwaffle. Check out our Story for the full adventure.
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3. Showcase your Brand's Identity and Personality
A defined brand identity is a powerful asset to any business, and particularly important in presenting consistency on social media. If you haven’t given due thought to your brand identity, ask yourself these three fundamental questions:
- What is your tone of voice?
- What are your core values?
- What is your mission statement?
MailChimp excels in presenting a strong brand identity on Instagram. Their mantra of being ‘a little weird’ permeates their social content and allows their audience to connect with their personality. Their Instagram is a true reflection of this, showcasing artistic and out-of-the-box content with a playful personality.
4. Tell a Visual Story
Your visual story should be an extension of your brand’s story. When a prospect visits your feed, they should see visual consistency and get a feel for the type of content they can expect by following you.
This can be achieved by building content themes like the advertising agency Grey. Their Instagram feed cleverly ties back to their brand name, with every post treated with a greyscale filter and including a strong reference to their location in New York City.
Images, creative graphics and short videos should all be used together to help project depth into your brand's character and build trust. When considering how often you should be posting content to your feed, go with the age-old adage “less is more.” It’s ok to post three times a week as long as you remain consistent.
5. Utilise Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories are at the top of every user’s feed and offer a great way to stay top-of-mind with your audience.
Your Stories don’t need to be elaborate. Use them to showcase your internal projects, product updates and launches, and company culture. Consider trying:
- Showcasing your company culture: e.g. behind-the-scenes content like a day in the life of your employees.
- Sharing your events: don’t forget to add geographic locations and tag your collaborators.
- Making promotional offers: capitalise on the 24-hour lifespan of Instagram Stories to make exclusive offers.
- Creating engagement: use Stories to start discussions with your community, for example by making a poll.
- Drive engagement to other channels: remind your followers to visit the latest blog on your website or content offer on a landing page.
Instagram stories are also measurable. You can document the names and number of people who have engaged with your content and adjust your social strategy accordingly.
6. Utilise User Generated Content
B2C brands are prolific in sharing user-generated content because they know that consumers base their purchase decisions heavily on recommendations from friends and family.
As the name suggests, user-generated content is created by users and consumers about a brand or product. It usually isn't paid for, which lends the authenticity that consumers look out for when making a purchase decision.
User-generated content can also come from your employees. For example, IBM encourages staff all around the world to use the ‘#IBM’ hashtag, which communicates the diversity and human side of the company.
Although you may not have the thousands of employees and global offices of IBM, you can still showcase the human side of your brand by sourcing user-generated content from your employees.
7. Showcase Your Workplace Culture and Employees
As touched on above, showcasing your employees can allow your audience to connect on a deeper level with your business. Not only does it humanise your brand, but also promotes your company culture to potential candidates.
Showcase what a day in the life of your company looks like, your culture, people, in-house events and work perks. Highlighting a great workplace culture also builds a strong brand identity and personality.
Hootsuite, a social media automation program, loves to showcase their employees, especially when it comes to hiring.
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8. Showcase Your Customers
If you have great customer testimonials, take advantage of them in your social content. The more that you can demonstrate the success of your product with real-life customers, the more relatable and viable your brand will be to potential customers.
Consider creating simple graphics to highlight their success stories, or even sharing relevant content from their own social media feeds. Celebrating your customers in the public forum (with permission, of course) can be a great tactic at the Delight stage of the Inbound Marketing Methodology, even creating advocates and promoters of your business.
9. Utilise Your Instagram as a Mini Landing Page
With the right content, your Instagram can act as a landing page with a strong call-to-action. Your posts can encourage your audience to click on a link in your profile, drive traffic to your website, to a recent blog post or a product offer.
Your Instagram bio section can also be a functional way to drive traffic, engagement and conversion on other channels. In 150 characters or less, you can explain:
- Who you are
- What you can do for your customer
- A Call-to-Action
10. Connect With Your Brand Community
Instagram boasts the highest engagement rate compared to every other social network. However, due to Instagram’s new algorithm which focuses more on past page engagement, 70% of posts on Instagram won’t be seen by your intended audience.
To combat this challenge, several businesses are investing in paid advertising on Instagram. Brands have a number of advertising options on the channel, including simple in-feed ads with prominent calls-to-action and Instagram Story placements, all with advanced targeting capabilities.
Use paid Instagram advertising to not only showcase unique brand experiences but to also further your reach to an audience that otherwise would have remained untapped.
The Marketer's Takeaway
B2B companies should view Instagram as an opportunity to tell their story, engage their audience and complement other channels.
The 10 strategies above highlight the ways your B2B brand, no matter how "boring" you assume it to be, can relate to its target audience just as effectively as a B2C brand.