May 15, 2019
Instagram is a beautiful place. It’s full of the most swoon- and gram-worthy photos of everything from exotic locales to delicious food to cute animals to... business technology? Yes, you read that right, and no, that’s not a typo. There’s so much more to Instagram than what we commonly deem fitting for a platform full of perfectly-filtered images. While not everyone turns to their Instagram feed for the latest happenings and action shots from B2B and tech companies, there’s a misconception out there that the Instaverse is reserved only for brands that are able to put an aesthetically pleasing product or service in front of their social media followers.
B2B companies can, and should, get in on the Instagram action, too. The level of a company’s involvement on the platform can vary from an ads-only presence all the way to a full-blown Instagram strategy with tons of custom creative, depending on the assets and time available. It all comes down to having a solid strategy and being able to convey that messaging in a visual way.
If your B2B brand has a presence on Facebook, you should be running ads on Instagram. Even without a profile, ads can be served within the Instagram feed using Facebook ads manager. That means you get to use all of the same sophisticated targeting options that Facebook has to offer, while being able to reach your audience on yet another platform. You can go the quick and easy route by running the same creative you’re already using for Facebook ads, but if you really want to maximize your impact and optimize for conversions, it’s best practice to run creative that looks a little more natural within the Instagram platform. At the very least, resize your ad images to a 1:1 aspect ratio (square shape) since that’s what Instagram users are used to seeing. Take it a step further by incorporating shorter, direct copy since the caption area is smaller on Instagram than it is on Facebook.
Ads are a great place to start your B2B Instagram journey, but to really take advantage of the platform, it’s important to create a profile and commit to a regular posting cadence. It’s completely fine to start small, experiment with different post styles, and find what works best for your brand.
Start by claiming a username that’s the same or very similar to your brand’s other social media handles. From there, lay the foundation for a strong Instagram presence by completely filling out your profile. This includes:
Creating and Curating Content
Perhaps the biggest hurdle that any business faces on Instagram, B2B or not, is figuring out what to post. Unlike other social media platforms, you can’t really rely on sharing articles, blog posts, and web pages. Instagram is driven by visuals, so it’s key to determine what you want your brand to communicate and how you can do that through the use of photos, graphics, and maybe even videos.
Regardless of your business type, you should be able to post confidently about your product or service and the industry you’re in. For example, it’s expected that a makeup brand would post about its products, but it might also post about general beauty routines, highlights and pain points of women’s lifestyles, skin care, and so on. In the same vein, a customer success platform might post about its functionalities as well as general customer success tips, the industries it supports, and so on.
Some B2B companies choose to have a different content strategy for each platform. They might share some of the content listed above exclusively on Twitter or LinkedIn, while reserving Instagram for behind-the-scenes or company culture content. These kinds of posts are crucial when trying to attract new talent, as many of today’s job seekers turn to Instagram to learn more about the companies they’re applying to. Other types of exclusive company content to share on Instagram include:
Using “Fun” B2C Tactics on B2B Accounts
So what about holidays, those random “national day” celebrations, and pop culture references? Can B2B companies create that content, too? The answer is yes… as long as it’s done in the right way. Generally speaking, in today’s social media-centric world, there has been resistance to brands who try to post this kind of content just for the sake of posting or wanting to “join the conversation.” However, when it’s done in a clever way that legitimately relates to the company, the response is usually positive.
Let’s take Valentine’s Day for example. The San Diego Zoo’s Instagram account, which is objectively fun and cute (follow now, thank me later), could have simply shared a picture of an animal couple with the caption, “Happy Valentine’s Day!” and been done with the post. However, they related Valentine’s Day to the animal kingdom, thus making the post more interesting.
I know what you’re thinking, “That post is cute and clever, but my company has NOTHING like that to post for Valentine’s Day.” To that I say think about the various themes and concepts surrounding Valentine’s Day and how you can relate them to your industry. Take a look at what IBM did without the help of any cute, furry animals.
IBM had so many clever Valentine’s Day ideas that they posted five images. Keep this one in your back pocket the next time someone tells you B2B accounts can’t have a little fun on Instagram.
A Note About Visuals
Sourcing images for a B2B Instagram can be tricky, but not impossible. Once you decide on the kinds of content you’ll be sharing, think about how that content can be conveyed in a visual manner. Around-the-office photos are easily capture with a smartphone, just keep general Instagram photography best practices in mind.
While they should be used in moderation, stylized text photos can be both interesting and impactful. If you have an inspiring quote from one of your executives or a surprising stat from a recent survey, consider sharing that text on an image. You can templatize these photos with certain colors, fonts, or background images for easy use as an ongoing series.
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And don’t forget about animations! You can create even more Instagram series using fun animations, especially if your company logo or mascot lends itself well to those kinds of posts.
While a profile and the feeds it contributes to are the bread and butter of Instagram, there’s a lot more that can be done beyond the feed. When used creatively and effectively, Instagram can refer traffic to your website.
As mentioned before, other than the profile URL, the only way to add clickable links to your content is by gaining 10,000 followers which enables the “swipe up” feature in stories (more on stories to follow). But, you can still share links and encourage people to visit your site. One of the easiest ways to do this create a micro-landing page that links out to multiple key pages on your site. You just place the main landing page link in your bio, and let people navigate to the page that has your additional links. Linktree is tool that allows you to do this without having to create a new page on your site. From there, you can promote anything from blog posts to media coverage in your captions and direct people to the “link in bio.”
Stories tend to be the last horizon for many business Instagram accounts because they require entirely new content. Admittedly, if you’re just now testing the waters with Instagram and still working on solidifying your content approach, I’d recommend holding off on stories for a while. Stories expire after 24 hours, but your feed is permanent, so it should be your first priority.
If you’re ready to dive into stories, they’re a great way to show more of that behind-the-scenes content in a more casual, unfiltered way. Stories are not meant to be as deliberate as posts, so you can have more fun with them. Take a quick video of the office cornhole challenge or a boomerang of some your employees visiting a booth at a conference. Or, use it as another way to get eyes on your content. Use stories as another avenue to promote that mico-landing site in your bio. There are so many possibilities!
At the end of the day, your Instagram presence should be an accurate reflection of your brand. Test and apply some of the tactics mentioned here to tell your company’s story, and have a little fun with it (unless your brand is strictly anti-fun).
Ready to get started on Instagram but need a little more social media guidance? Contact us to strategize today!