As of November 2017, 25 million businesses were using Instagram – a 12 million increase from July of 2017. Yes, you read that correctly. An additional 13 million businesses started using Instagram in just four months. Further, 80-percent of Instagram’s 800 million monthly users follow a business, with 200 million visiting a business’ profile every day. But, it isn’t just about those users who are following a company on Instagram. Instagram reports that two-thirds of visits to business pages come from those who aren’t following the company’s page.
In a visual world where humans battle information overload on a daily basis, and the attention span is only a few seconds long, businesses are tasked with grabbing audiences’ attention as quickly as possible. And, once they grab it, they have to work hard to maintain it. So how can businesses in the B2B space replicate the monumental successes that many B2C brands have achieved by marketing through Instagram?
Demonstrate a keen understanding of your audience
For Nike, showing that product fuels performance yields Instagram success, as does showing pro athletes embracing the brand. For Starbucks, products beauty shots and seasonal flavor teaser announcements are a recipe for success.
While each has a unique audience to whom they are catering, they focus on sharing the types of photos and videos that generate the highest levels of engagement. When you know what your audience is looking for, and you serve that content up on the right platform, you can deepen engagement, expand your audience and yield marketing ROI.
Embrace community-generated content
What’s better than a great photo of your product at work or a team benefitting from your services? Having the person or firm benefitting from the product or service posting the photo themselves, on their own Instagram. Many companies in the culinary industry, in particular, understand the power of sharing user generated content. Whether they repost their favorite Instagram photos from their community on their own channel, or share a roundup of top images in their email marketing, demonstrating that they are both paying attention to what their clients/customers are doing, and showing appreciation for their engagement, community recognition is powerful.
Try something new
Stories, stickers, you name it. B2C companies are often eager to be among the first to test one of Instagram’s newest features. Case and point: when Instagram unveiled its polling feature in stories during 2017, do you remember an influx of either/or questions populating your favorite brand’s Instagram Stories? I sure do.
Road testing something new isn’t limited to recently unveiled features. New can apply to the types of content you share – maybe an employee takeover would work well to showcase your culture for a day – and the ways that you package it. Maybe it’s time to step beyond photos and test video. Something as simple as a “Boomerang” can mix up the content in your company’s stream.
When King Arthur Flour unveils their latest monthly “bakealong” recipe, they ask people to share photos of themselves making the recipe and the end product. For a brand like REI, who has established a following for its Black Friday #optoutside campaign, something as simple as asking people to post photos showing how they #optoutside can bolster audience engagement (all the while increasing brand and campaign awareness).
Whether it’s your employees, conference attendees or event partners, there are opportunities to mobilize your stakeholders to amplify the reach – and success – of your Instagram content. It could literally be as simple as asking each of your employees to share a photo on their personal Instagram using a dedicated hashtag from your teambuilding event. Start small and scale accordingly.
Packaging is half the battle. You can have the coolest concept, the most compelling copy, the most innovative offering. If you don’t package in a way that will resonate with Instagram users, it can be as (in)effective as a billboard in the desert. Remember, high quality, vibrant, square images bode well for Instagram content. On the video side of things, think short, thought-provoking and unique. Remember, while one or more of your competitors may already be reaping the rewards of effective Instagram marketing, replicating their approach may not be the most effective way to engage your own stakeholders.
While some businesses are inherently more visual than others, Instagram offers an opportunity to showcase everything from products and services to culture and inspiration. Once your company identifies the purpose of its Instagram marketing efforts (e.g. talent recruitment, product sales, thought leadership, etc.) it’s a matter of implementing a consistent content strategy that is well-aligned with your overall business and marketing plans.