10 Engaging Ways B2B Marketers Can Use Instagram

Posted on 22 May, 2014 in Social Media

There are 55 million photos shared each day on Instagram. Believe it or not, not all of these are #throwbacks, #CatsOfInstagram, and foodie pics with “nom nom nom” in the caption.

This is good news for me, and not just because I was a really awkward kid and am more of a dog person. I’m also a B2B marketer, and B2B companies and Instagram are better suited for each other than you may think.

But as I’m sure you’ve heard before, people do business with people, not businesses. Developing a B2B Instagram presence can help you stand out on a network that not enough brands are utilizing to its fullest power, and give your company a little bit more of a human touch. Here are a few ideas to fuel your new Instagram strategy:

1. Show your company’s history

A company’s past is just as important as its present and future. Highlighting your brand’s history helps your audience learn more about your journey, add context, and perhaps drive an emotional connection.

Share pictures from your business’s archives to engage in storytelling and show people how you got to the place you’re at today. You can celebrate anniversaries, company milestones, awards received, anything of significance to your company’s past.

Have a random picture from the past that’s just too good not to share? #ThrowbackThursday, or #tbt, might be one of the biggest memes on Instagram and its reach has spread to several other social networks as well. No one said it’s limited to sharing photos of your awkward middle school years and adorable baby pictures. Throw back your business, instead.

2. Provide demos and tutorials

Don’t forget that the instant success of Vine led Instagram to roll out a video feature last summer. Instagram Video is just like Vine, only you can post up to fifteen seconds of video, and posting video on Instagram doesn’t require building up a whole new audience on a different network. Fifteen seconds is just long enough to quickly show how a certain feature or tool can be used.

Let’s say you work for a software company that just rolled out a new feature. To help users adapt easily, record a short video of how the feature works. Take a look at how Sprout Social demonstrates their product’s features on Instagram:

3. Nurture thought leadership

Fifteen seconds is also enough time to say something really smart and thought-provoking. To establish your business as a trusted source of information in your industry, prepare a list of questions and start an interview series. Go to your coworkers and employees, ask them the questions, and hit record right before they start their answer. Slap a branded hashtag on the caption and you have an excellent educational campaign.

For a more user-generated spin on this idea, ask your customers to submit questions or ask for advice, and post your answers. Customer service can be a content marketing strategy all on its own when you help them publicly.

4. Share company news

The days of the announcing news via a press release, and a press release alone, are behind us. Now, a PR campaign needs a press release, blog posts, tweets, Facebook updates, and visuals. Lots of visuals. Photos and videos.

Did your company just win an award? Move to a new office? Create an exciting new partnership with another business? Launch a redesigned website? Snap a photo, take a screenshot, or create a graphic announcing your news for your Instagram followers. You can also power up your more traditional announcements by sharing or embedding the Instagram photo in your other content.

For example, take a look at how MailChimp announced their company winning an award earlier this year. More interesting and easily digestible than a five+ paragraph press release, don’t you think?

5. Promote content from other channels

After publishing a new blog post, launching the landing page for a new ebook, or kicking off a new campaign on Facebook or Twitter, think about how you could promote it on Instagram. Not only will it expand the reach of the campaign or piece of content, it can also help turn your Instagram audience into followers of your other marketing channels and help bring them further through the marketing funnel.

Take a look at Constant Contact’s recent Facebook chat. Most likely, they have Instagram followers that don’t also ‘Like’ them on Facebook. The followers might love to participate in this chat, but wouldn’t have known about it had the company not cross-promoted it.

6. Enhance your event marketing

So you’ll be attending a trade show next week. It will be anything but your average day at work. Surrounded by hundreds of companies (including your own) going all out to decorate their booth, collect business cards, and give away s.w.a.g.

Post pictures of your experiences at marketing events, regardless of whether or not it’s a trade show. Using the event hashtag, you can connect with attendees on Instagram. Your followers can also get an inside look at your event marketing without being there in person.

Take when Scoop.it was at Social Media Week in NYC. While they were still prepping for their presentation, their community manager gave their Instagram followers a sneak peek at what they’ll be talking about.

7. Highlight your employees

Employees are the heart of a company. They need to be appreciated, and taking that public proves how much you value them. One company that does this excellently is Vocus. They have a dedicated account for their HR department, which shares pictures of recruitment efforts like career fairs, information about job openings, and general HR and career advice.

They also promote their weekly employee spotlight feature that’s on their HR blog. In addition to posting a picture of the employee of the week, they post a bit of info and the URL of the blog where the full post can be found.

8. Run contests

Instagram is a great place to run contests and collect user-generated content. Through a simple hashtag, a few guidelines, and a promising prize, you can generate a ton of engagement and new followers for your company’s Instagram account, especially by promoting the contest on other marketing channels.

For example, when Adobe launched Adobe Social back in 2012, they launched an Instagram contest with very simple rules. All participants had to do was upload a picture of them doing something social. European participants had the chance to win a gift card to Ticketmaster.

9. Give company culture insight

Every business is a unique ecosystem. A group of people comes together and becomes something that wouldn’t exist without that particular group uniting to achieve a specific set of goals. There can be two companies that offer the exact same product or services at the same price points, but still offer a different experience for customers. That’s often a result of its culture.

Formstack, an online form builder, frequently uploads pictures of their employees hard at work and at play. From photos of gnomes to videos of ping-pong tournaments, their followers always know what’s up at the Formstack office, and it gives them a sense of knowing the company better on a personal level.

10. Have fun!

Finally, the most engaging social media posts are so engaging because they’re fun! Show your human side, make your audience laugh, and they’ll love you for it. Once a week, I look forward to the A/B testing company Unbounce’s dance move Instagram video. From the YMCA to the hustle to the Spice Girls, they show their followers that they’re not stuffy businesspeople that only care about the bottom line. They want you happy, too.

The best B2C or B2B Instagram strategy is experimental, trying different tactics and using metrics to see how they work for you. You’ll likely find that your marketing sweet spot will be a mixture of promotion content and entertaining, “just for fun” posts, but the details depend on what your business is and, more importantly, who your customers are. Just remember that there’s no magic formula, and to be consistent once you find something that works for you.

How does your company use Instagram? Comment below!

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