With over 1 billion monthly users worldwide, Instagram is the fastest-growing social media platform right now. Consumers and brands alike are flocking to the platform to engage with each other and build audiences.
But because Instagram is such a visual platform, many B2B companies tend to shy away from using it, sticking instead to text-based platforms like LinkedIn, or Facebook. Without a colorful retail item or consumer product, many B2B stakeholders feel they lack the content needed to attract audiences.
The truth is, whether you sell trendy Etsy products or cloud software, there’s a way to make Instagram work for your company. With a little creativity, you can leverage this visually-driven platform for more sales and a bigger reach. Here are 10 ways B2B companies can use Instagram to their advantage.
1) Engage users, partners, and prospective employees with user-generated content
User-generated content (UGC) is the lifeblood of Instagram, and you can make it the driving force of your feed as well.
UGC can be any post from an employee, partner, customer, or anyone who posts a photo that touches on themes related to your business. Reshare these photos to give followers a sense of what’s important to your company. Whether it’s traveling while working or beautiful views from the office, users will likely create plenty of content for you. Reshare your favorite quotes that summarize your company’s ideas and create reasons to start a conversation among your customers.
2) Share customer stories to let them explain your business for you
As a B2B company, you succeed when your clients succeed. Showcase the most inspiring, compelling, motivating, and otherwise unique customer success stories you can find in order to demonstrate the value you to bring to prospective customers.
These posts don’t have to be difficult to produce. Remember, captions also help tell the story on Instagram, so share a portrait of a CEO and let them expound on how using your service helped their business grow in the space provided—it’s that simple.
3) Get nostalgic and take advantage of #tbt
Who doesn’t love a good throwback? One of the most liked hashtags on Instagram is #tbt (for #throwbackthursday), and your business can join in by posting photos from your storied history.
If you’re still a startup, don’t forget that your team members have histories of their own—and adorable baby pictures are not only guaranteed to get likes but will quite literally humanize your brand.
4) Give a glimpse into your company culture
Take photos around the office. Capture group interactions at company outings and parties. Showcase your most outgoing and personable employees (and show love to the shy ones as well).
By giving your customers a glimpse into your office life, you can give users a sense of the people who work at your company and how they contribute to the culture. This is the perfect example of “show, don’t tell”: Rather than tell people that your employees have fun at work, show them with photos and videos.
Plus, this works as a bonus for recruiting. By showing perspective employees what it’s like to work for your company, you can help attract the team you need to succeed.
5) Go behind the scenes with video in Stories
More and more companies are seeing the value of Stories—posts that disappear after 24 hours. The ephemeral nature of Stories appeals to its 400 million daily users, and gives brands a platform to experiment with less polished (and thus easier-to-produce) content. That makes Stories a great place to go behind-the-scenes with video.
One idea is to give your Stories over to a new employee each week and let them document a day in the life. Potential employees will love getting to see what life might be like for them if they join, and customers will build a stronger bond with the brand by seeing what goes into creating a product they use and love.
You can now add links within Stories if you have a business profile on Instagram, so be sure to place links in your Stories to take users to external landing pages.
6) Advertise—especially in Stories
Instagram is useful as an advertising platform as well. Right now, the best deal for businesses is to advertise in Stories: Rates are reportedly much lower on a cost per click basis in Stories than in the main feed, and the feature’s popularity is surging. A well-placed and well-done ad may be how you draw users to your increasingly creative IG page or business website.
7) Create Highlights as a recruitment tool
Speaking of Stories, Instagram introduced a “Highlights” feature that allows you to save Stories and pin them to your profile for future viewing.
Use these highlights as highlight reels: If a series of Stories does particularly well—you get higher-than-average feedback or engagement—save it to let future audiences consume and share it. Or use them as recruitment tools: Create Stories about different roles, products, or company get-togethers that anyone curious in your company can access.
8) Get creative using theme and voice
Marketing your business on Instagram can be as much about the themes and voice of your business as your product or service. Grey Advertising posts artful shots taken by employees—but every post has a black and white filter. MailChimp does email marketing, but the themes of their business include design, individuality, and grabbing attention—themes that are explored in the zany, colorful, clean posts of their feed.
Think of the themes of your business and how you can use your platform to champion those themes. The creativity and the likes will flow from there.
9) Play along with other brands and businesses
Another way to get your handle in front of prospective customers or employees is to engage with the larger Instagram community. Like and comment on the posts and pages of related brands and partners. Even a well-placed fist bump emoji on a popular post can catch the eye of other users and bring them your way. Instagram isn’t a one-way street—it’s an entire online world for you to take part in.
10) Develop a new business personality
Social media is where brands come to show off a different side of themselves. Technology brands can explore style and fashion; banking companies become storytellers. Even the TSA uses Instagram to crack jokes and post pictures of dogs. You can be something completely different on Instagram then you are in the boardroom—so embrace the opportunity.
11) Post when your audience is online
Now that you have some concepts in hand, create a plan to deploy and test these tactics to see what resonates the most with your current and future followers. Measure not just your likes and follows, but the overall engagement with your posts, Stories, and ads, which will tell you which posts work and which need work. This is how you build an Instagram that captivates users—as well as develops leads and sales.
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Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business. Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.