As Thanksgiving has been approaching, I’ve been reflecting on what I’m thankful for. There’s no doubt family, friends and health are top of mind. In the marketing world, we have a lot to be thankful for. We work in an industry supported by technology designed to make our jobs easier. When I look back at the marketing landscape of 2016, it’s dotted with HubSpot updates, new Google algorithms, and numerous social media platform improvements. And one social channel I’m particularly thankful for this year is Instagram.
I arrived late to the Instagram game. Many of my friends started their IG accounts in college (5+ years ago for me). And yet I stayed true to my forever love…Facebook. I stopped using Myspace kicking and screaming. I wasn’t ready to give up the pretty customizable background and top 8 for Facebook’s more streamlined design.
I had the same response as I slowly started transitioning from Facebook to Instagram. But I’ve come to appreciate the simplicity of Instagram’s design and its ability to distill social media into the two elements people really care about: pictures and video. As they say in the social media world – Pics or it didn’t happen.
Instagram has seen a lot of changes in the last year. They’ve forgone some of that simplicity to compete with other emerging social channels like Snapchat and Vine (RIP Vine!). It now features “stories” that mimic SnapChat’s disappearing images. And in fact, just a couple of days ago they announced a new live video function that comes in direct competition with Facebook’s similar feature.
This year, I’ve had the opportunity to help build a brand new Instagram account and strategy for one of my clients (shameless plug for Wolfers Lighting). At PMG, we tend to work with B2B businesses, but Wolfers actually caters to both B2B and B2C audiences, showcasing beautiful fixtures that make for perfect Instagram “eye candy”. This project has taught me how valuable Instagram can be for all businesses – especially if you have a product or service that can cross over into both the B2B and B2C worlds.
Sometimes the hardest part of adopting a new social platform is knowing where to start. To help you generate a few ideas, I’ve put together a list of both B2B and B2C examples that make the most of their Instagram presence.
B2C Businesses Get Creative on Instagram
#1: Soda Scene: Coca-Cola’s Bubbly Instagram
Follower Count: 1.6 Million
Coca-Cola has an undeniably bright and engaging page. They boast 1.6 million followers and anywhere from 15,000 to 50,000 likes per post. Additionally, they employ a mix of both social and video content and update the account a few times per week. There’s no doubt Coke has a sizable budget to match their sizable profits. But one element that’s very steal-able, no matter the size of your business, is the way Coke ties its products into other products, namely the food you’ll be enjoying your drink with.
As marketers, we can sometimes forget that it’s not all about us! Coca-Cola is an expert at co-marketing, and I love the posts that feature the iconic glass bottle next to food “parings”. Your product or service probably isn’t stuck in a silo either. Explore the different applications for your product and how it may be paired with other complementary services. Don’t be afraid to reach out to partners to help make the most of your marketing efforts.
Follower Count: 60.7K
Hotel Tonight is one of my favorite apps, and this is certainly not the first time I’ve featured them in one of my posts. I don’t think there’s another industry more Instagram-worthy than hospitality. Hotel Tonight does a fabulous job featuring the hotels in their app and some of our favorite elements of traveling… food and sightseeing.
Again, not every industry will be as photo-worthy, but all businesses could learn from their campaign strategies. Check out Hotel Tonight’s Thanksgiving post giving away $500 in hotel credit. I love their use of storytelling, and there’s no doubt their image choice will grab your attention. When used properly, Instagram can be an amazing lead generation tool. Hotel Tonight’s campaign is certainly a great example of “thinking outside the box” with visual marketing.
#3: Apparel and Altruism Go Hand in Hand on the Anthropology Page
Follower Count: 2.6 million
Raise your hand if you would like to give up your home and live out your days in a well-designed Anthropology store. Clothes, furniture, and beautiful design make Anthropology a heavy hitter in the Instagram world. They beautifully feature all the different items they sell, capturing images from inside their stores (in addition to highlighting their products being featured in other locations). Plus, they showcase their in-store teams on occasion!
One powerful element B2B and B2C companies alike can replicate is the promotion of their charity or donation programs. Many businesses give back to their communities throughout the year in various ways. Instagram is the perfect platform to promote your involvement with the community. Make sure to share photos from the events you attend and your volunteer days. This type of content helps humanize your brand and ultimately builds loyalty.
B2B Social Content Doesn’t Have to Be a Snooze!
#1: It’s About More than Just a Package on the UPS Instagram Page
Follower Count: 31.4K
UPS is a nice example of a brand that caters to both businesses and customers. Their posts are a mix of brand-oriented content and candid images. They often repost their follower’s images and encourage engagement through tagging, or the @ symbol for those unfamiliar with Instagram.
Puppies and babies are a perfect combination for Instagram, and UPS utilizes that imagery quite often. Their page elicits a “feel good” quality that makes the brand more relatable. It’s about more than the package on the UPS IG page. This is a lesson for all B2B marketers. You don't have to be working in a classically pretty industry to find ways to connect with your customers.
#2: There are “Stranger Things” than Pop Culture References on the HP Page
Follower Count: 531K
The HP Instagram page features bright images that still manage to be solidly “on brand”. They’re not afraid to go discuss topics outside of the technology industry. The image below speaks for itself (at least for all the Stranger Things fans out there)! They ingeniously tied one of their products to an incredibly popular Netflix show.
Creating content around pop culture references can be tricky, especially for B2B businesses in not-so-exciting verticals. It’s important that you fully understand the conversations around that piece of entertainment. When done appropriately, pop-cultural posts are a fun way to liven up your Instagram page and engage with new audiences you might not otherwise connect with.
#3: Oracle Employees Keep Their Heads in The Cloud
Follower Count: 68.8K
I don’t know about you, but nothing says “sexy” to me quite like cloud technology. Right? ...Okay, so Oracle boasts an Instagram account that can give all B2B service industries hope for more engaging social content. Oracle’s posts range anywhere from a couple hundred to 1,000 likes per image! And there’s one area that Oracle excels at even more so than the examples I’ve already listed. Employee engagement.
Instagram isn’t just for prospective clients. It's also for employment marketing. Use your Instagram channel to feature employees and put on display great examples of your workplace culture. You may be surprised to find that clients and prospects enjoy this type of content almost as much as your employees.
Get to Gramming!
Instagram, like all social media, doesn’t have strictly defined rules that you must follow. If you're having fun with your content, so will your audience. In 2017, stretch yourself to experiment with the different examples I discussed in this post. No matter what tactic you decide to utilize, just make sure you’re paying attention to the analytics and making educated decisions with your marketing dollars.
There are so many things to be thankful for this November! If you’d like to learn a little more about Instagram marketing, check out the related blog posts below. And don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions.
- Share and Share a “Like”: Why & How You Need to Attract Social Signals
- Instagram for B2B Marketing: 4 Awesome Lead Nurturing Ideas
- 7 Social media Questions You Must Answer