B2B marketers should consider Instagram

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Instagram. Pretty pictures of food, right? But there is so much more that B2B marketers really can’t afford to ignore it. Here’s why.

LinkedIn is the biggest B2B platform, but Instagram is where B2B brands see the most engagement – TrackMaven’s Social Media Impact Report for 2016 looked at engagement levels on different platforms, by measuring number of interactions per post per 1,000 followers. This ratio was a massive 22.53 on Instagram, compared with just 1.09 on LinkedIn and 0.86 on Twitter. Fewer followers, perhaps, but significantly more engagement. The second most popular platform was Pinterest, suggesting that visual content is much more engagement-worthy.

Instagram has more than 400 million active users per month, and it’s also the fastest-growing social network – No company, whether B2C or B2B can afford to ignore those kind of numbers. There are a lot of people using Instagram. And although many of them are using it for leisure, not work, that still gives plenty of scope for raising brand awareness, and interacting with customers in a more entertaining way.

Certain audience groups are particularly active on Instagram – Pew Research suggests that 53% of those aged between 18 and 29 years old use Instagram. This is more than twice as high as the next biggest age group. A higher percentage of women also use Instagram, 29%, compared to 22% of men. This allows B2B brands to segment their marketing more effectively: it is, as always, about knowing your audience and where they are.

People use Instagram to have fun – Most people use Instagram for fun, not for business. But business customers are ordinary people outside work. And people want to do business with people. Engaging with people in a more quirky, interesting way via Instagram means that you start to build relationships with potential customers at an early stage.

You don’t have to have glossy photos of your product to use Instagram – Instagram is not really about advertising, exactly. Instead, it allows you to build a relationship with your customers, and a brand image, and to tell your story. MailChimp, for example, posts photos of what’s going on behind the scenes at its offices. In other words, it uses Instagram to put human faces to the brand, and build a strong brand image.

Instagram enables storytelling  – With storytelling becoming more and more important to B2B marketers, Instagram has been described as embodying storytelling. Why? Because with such limited space for a bio, you have to get creative in how you tell your story. And of course the more you think about how you tell your story, the more effective that telling is likely to be. It’s telling without selling, and ensures that the story is at the heart of your message.

Your followers may not necessarily be your customers – Not all your social media presence needs to be aimed specifically at your customers. Boeing, for example, has plenty of followers outside its customer base of private companies and government agencies. People follow its Instagram account for the photos of planes, and all the time, Boeing is building up its public profile. This is never going to hurt any company.

Instagram is a good platform for employee engagement – A good many of your employees are probably on Instagram, so it’s a good opportunity to engage with them actively. Employee engagement matters because your employees are probably your best possible advocates: via Instagram, they can engage both with you and with your customers.

You can use Instagram to share ‘soundbites’ in the form of quotes from key company figures – A photo of a senior executive together with their key message from a recent conference or event can be a very effective Instagram post: visual, but with wise words attached. It puts a face to the name, and also showcases thought leadership.

You can use hashtags to improve the impact of your posts in Instagram – Like Twitter, but unlike Facebook (because of its privacy settings), hashtags work very well in Instagram. If you have developed good hashtags for events or subjects, you can use them to maximise your impact on Instagram, and to focus your posts to the right audience. A word of warning though: you can use more hashtags in Instagram than Twitter, but five should be your maximum.

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