Karthik Sridharan is the Co-founder & CEO at Flexiple, an exclusive network of the best freelance developers & designers. A big believer of remote working, he is building Remote.tools for the remote community.
It is a common misconception that Instagram is a platform suited only for B2C companies, as it comes off as too ‘lifestyle-focused’. Quite naturally this leads to entrepreneurs concluding that people would not be interested to read about their business on this platform.
However, the reality is that unless your market is extremely niche, your audience is very likely to be present on Instagram. In fact, the decision-makers you’re selling to are probably using Instagram regularly.
Further, given Instagram’s popularity (500 million monthly active users as of 2019), the platform presents B2B businesses with an opportunity to market their products or services to a vibrant audience without spending a large amount of money on paid advertising.
Starting the Journey on Instagram
Instagram for Business allows companies to create a business profile, get detailed data about their followers and posts, and promote their content. Any company looking to explore Instagram for Business should look at profiles of companies such as Buffer, Hootsuite, Pay-Pal and The UPS Store, which extensively use this platform for B2B marketing.
However, it is key to note that a strategy that works on Facebook or Twitter, wouldn’t necessarily work on Instagram. One needs more patience and creativity, while gradually adapting to the various aspects of the platform. Let’s explore.
1. Make the Right Posts
Contrary to popular belief, B2B content doesn’t have to be boring regardless of the industry. If your brand is venturing into Instagram for the first time, your priority should be to make it as interesting as possible.
These are a few tried and tested engagement posts by many B2B firms.
- User/Employee-generated content: A great example is IBM’s Instagram account. A photograph taken by an IBM employee to showcase her opportunity to work while traveling was re-shared by IBM and this post gained almost 1600 likes.
These kinds of posts allow individuals to give a personal touch to their content. All you need to do is to regularly urge your employees to share interesting stories, which you can later re-share. Overall, this becomes a great way to highlight your company’s culture.
- Insights of top leaders: Share insights of popular personalities who are viewed as thought leaders of your B2B business. This paints the right picture of your company in the audience’s mind, while also being a great way to stimulate conversations with your followers.
- Showcase your customers: Often, brands that are successful on Instagram are the ones that tell their customers’ stories. Motivate your customers to share their experience of working with your company.
This can drive a pretty good virtuous cycle; i.e. as these posts get more popular, other customers are naturally incentivized to share their content too, in the hope of being featured on your feed!
2. Leverage Hashtags
You can use up to 30 hashtags on each Instagram post. Leveraging this effectively is critical to gain a wider reach for your content – similar to Twitter, Instagram provides users the functionality to view all posts with a particular hashtag.
Some very helpful tools that let you effectively leverage hashtags:
- Sked Social: The tool will list out several recommended hashtags based on the hashtags you’ve already used and also tells you how popular they are.
- Display Purposed: It lists out suggestions and also tells you how relevant they are to your posts as well as their popularity in percentages.
- Hashtagify: This tells you everything from the hashtag’s popularity to its top influencers, who uses them and which countries are engaging with them the most.
Further, you can create your hashtags for your brand too. While these might not help in getting more reach in the early days, they allow users to identify with your company posts. Users who like your company’s content might start to regularly follow it.
3. Instagram Stories
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, and announcements.
For example, General Electric has 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 gives their followers a picture of the work GE does, influencing the audience’s perception of the brand one post at a time!
4. Engage Your Audience
A good engagement rate on Instagram is key to growing your following on Instagram.
The algorithm prioritizes posts in a user’s feed based on her/his past engagement on similar posts. This means that 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 proactively execute the following:
- Respond to comments and mentions: The best practice is to reply to comments and mentions promptly. However, if that isn’t possible, allocate some time each day to respond to comments and mentions. This will speak for your authenticity and reflect that 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 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 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.
5.Evaluate Your Engagement Using Instagram Insights
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 a comprehensive guide to effectively use the tool, here. The insights homepage offers an in-depth analysis of the content you’ve shared over the last week. You can modify and improve the content you share, accordingly.
Get Started with Instagram!
Given its popularity and reach, Instagram is a platform that you should not miss out on to market your B2B business. Once you ideate and decide on the kind of content that your company can share, it is a great way to engage with your existing customers and thereby attract the attention of others who might be interested.