Instagram is unlike any other social media platform out there today. At first glance, it looks like the last place a small B2B company might fit in. It doesn’t allow you to link. It doesn’t let you include a full bio. What’s more, it’s largely used as a mobile app – the online website is just a formality. But since it’s not exactly a sales tool, it could actually be one of the best things you could do for your brand.
By far, if I had to tell companies where to start with social media, Instagram would be at the very bottom of the list. It’s simply not sales-driven. It’s a branding tool. And if you’re already secure in your brand, why would you need to create an Instagram account?
Here’s the thing…
Instagram is a sneaky tool for lead generation. In fact, users love it. It has 15 times more user engagement than Facebook, and 40 times more user engagement than Twitter. Plus, year over year, it’s had a 350% increase in brand engagement. It’s not just a photo sharing application. It’s a place to tell your story. Plus, out of Facebook, Google+, and Twitter, Instagram has the highest brand-user interaction rate. Bottom line: GET YOUR BUSINESS ON INSTAGRAM.
To put it another way: what is it you respond to immediately on a good website? Visuals. It doesn’t have to be a picture. But if something is pleasing to the eye, you’re already roped in.
Instagram harnesses the power that visuals have for storytelling. And anyone knows that building an effective narrative greatly contributes to good business. So how can you make Instagram work for your company and build a narrative that will keep your prospects scrolling?
1. Keep your branding consistent.
This isn’t a crazy one. If you’re all over the place with your business’s social media accounts, your customers and prospects will feel confused and unsettled. And where there is instability in branding, there is also an assumed instability in services. Imagine if Coca-Cola randomly decided to go without the curving red script they’ve used for over 100 years? It’s a universally-recognized symbol that they have remained loyal to despite billions of dollars annually in branding efforts. That’s because they know that consistency keeps them recognizable. When you’re first starting an Instagram account, it’s important to have a plan in place that will foster consistency. So what is it that you’re about? What are you committed to? And how can you convey that visually?
On Instagram, your company name, profile, links, profile picture and corresponding imagery must all have some sort of consistency. If you already have a Twitter or Facebook account, use the same name you have for those as your Instagram handle. That will make it easier for followers to find you.
2. Use hashtags & giveaways. Get creative!
Hashtags are little words or phrases that can be tracked, connecting people and pictures together online. When you put a hashtag symbol in front of a word or phrase on social media, it automatically creates a link that is connected to all other hashtags of the same word or phrase. They allow for more visibility when users are looking for something, whether that be celebrity gossip with #jelena or world issues like #blacklivesmatter. And hashtags are really good for business, too.
So if you want to create visibility on your Instagram account, utilize hashtags. For example, you can use them as tools for giveaways or create a following for specific campaigns. Just come up with a unique hashtag to track all posts related to that giveaway or campaign. Then ask your followers to post pictures and label them with that hashtag, and offer them something in return. It’s just another way to create a dialogue with other businesses and customers and make people want to interact with your brand.
Make sure to check out these wildly successful hashtag campaigns, too…they show what can happen when you engage users.
3. Share photos of your team, but…
Instagram is all about storytelling. With it, you get the unique opportunity to tell the story of your brand and company visually, on your own terms. Sharing pictures of your team is important – these types of photos humanize your B2B business for your prospects. What WON’T humanize you, however, are pictures of your team that don’t reflect your company culture. If you’re not a formal company, or your best team members are a bunch of goofball creatives that march to the beat of their own drum, don’t post a picture of them in suits looking all serious and “professional.” Conversely, don’t try to make your team do silly stuff in pictures if they’re typically more formal. It will look forced and straight-up creepy.
Instagram is a perfect tool to show off what your team members value when it comes to doing business. It’s people-driven, and can help you get much more personal with your clients. One of my favorite accounts for storytelling is Humans of New York. While not a business, it shows how Instagram can generate engagement and leads through fostering conversation and sharing human stories. Your followers will want to see the human side of your company. Sharing stories like HONY is just another way to show them who you are.
4. Show off.
Further humanize your brand and your company by sharing photos of you engaging in the community and putting your skills to good use. This is the perfect time for “Show, don’t tell.” This allows you to reveal to your prospects the kind of work that your company does after hours. It makes you more likeable, which makes you more trustworthy.
As always, if you have a product, award, or new initiative that you’re proud of and would be of value to your customers, then by all means post a picture of it. Tell the story of your successes!
Instagram is an unconventional yet truly up-and-coming social media tool that B2B marketers are only just starting to appreciate. It adds another facet to your social pool. Where Facebook and Twitter help you promote your content, Instagram can help you promote your brand and engage with both potential and current leads, thus nurturing them little by little down your sales funnel.
IG helps harbor an idea of what prospects should think about your company. So instead of tossing Instagram to the side, start thinking about how your customers would benefit from seeing the inner workings of your company. As with all social media, you must make a plan and commit to consistent posting. Engagement will come with time and careful honing of your brand, so start slowly and enjoy the process!
Like what you read? Check out our white paper 7 Social Media Questions You Must Answer for additional social media guidance.