Instagram has become an effective social network with its appealing visual content and there are many ways a B2B brand can benefit from its usage.
Instagram may be extremely popular among retail brands, but this doesn’t mean that it cannot be effective among B2B companies. In fact, it has been observed even the most “boring” brands can be attractive, provided that they are creative enough.
51% of B2C marketers use Instagram, but only 33% of B2B marketers head to the platform for the promotion of their brand, which means that there’s also less competition for a company that manages to succeed in it.
Source: Social Media Examiner
If you’re still wondering how B2B brands can use Instagram, here are some suggestions to start with:
Reach a new audience
Instagram can be useful when trying to reach a new audience, helping a B2B brand expand its reach, by even targeting an audience they wouldn’t normally do. Instagram is not always about direct promotion, in fact, it can become even more effective, always depending on the set goals, if used creatively and new followers will appreciate that.
- General Electric numbers 240k followers on Instagram and it’s among the best examples to show how appealing photography can transform any industry into an appealing Instagram presence.
Instagram may not be the first social network a brand may use, but its engagement rate is impressive, and according to TrackMaven, it is coming first in engagement for B2B brands, with Pinterest coming second.
- IBM has 86.6k followers on Instagram and it may have a smaller audience comparing to its competitors, but its engagement rate is among the best in its industry.
A B2B company can increase brand awareness by using Instagram creatively to appeal to a new audience and promote its presence without directly focusing on its commercial goals.
This is the stage of “discovery” where new followers can learn about the brand, or even if they already knew about it, the content may be appealing enough to turn them into followers.
- Cisco counts 79.8k followers and it’s promoting its brand with the right balance of professionalism, creativity and product placement, while there were some moments of impressive creativity, like the specific post below.
There’s no “boring” B2B industry if you are creative enough to create the right visual content. In fact, even a company that wouldn’t normally have enough visual content can succeed in Instagram, provided that it understands the platform and its audience.
Whether it’s user-generated content, creative hashtags, appealing images, or even curated content, there’s always a new way to grab the audience’s attention.
- Adobe has 205k followers and it’s no surprise that it’s creative content attracts new followers every day. As it focuses on curated content of high quality, it manages to showcase its brand by also featuring the creators that grabbed their attention.
- Squarespace has 47.3k followers on Instagram and it offers a consistent and creative minimalism with high quality photos, along with featured stories from creators, leading to a very appealing feed, reflecting exactly what the brand represents.
By the time a brand manages to increase its brand awareness, there’s the aim of brand affinity, or else the engagement that is created among the brand and its followers which started from the shared values and interests.
It’s the first step to relationship building and a further bond that can lead to the highly desired customer loyalty.
It’s not always easy for a brand to find the right formula to build brand affinity, but authenticity is appreciated, along with the creative use of branding that will help users associate the brand with a shared interest, a feeling, or even a memory.
- MailChimp is probably among the most creative Instagram feeds among B2B brands and its 35.1k followers enjoy a creative, fun and unique feed that manages to blend its branding in the most appealing and authentic way. This makes it easier for the audience to feel closer to the brand, strengthening their bonds in the most genuine way.
Instagram users are eager to be part of a community, based on their tastes, their preferences, or the visual appeal and many brands have managed to use Instagram effectively by relying on their audience and the feeling of inclusion their feed created.
Furthermore, relationship building may also offer the opportunity to focus on other B2B brands and expand the professional opportunities in the least expected way.
- Paypal counts 57,700 followers on Instagram and it has created a feed that blends high quality images, storytelling and engagement, while user-generated content is also present, encouraging its followers to share their stories along with the hashtag #paypalit.
Showcase company culture
It has become quite popular for brands to use Instagram to showcase their company culture and it’s even more useful in B2B companies, as this is a quick and effective way to find new content that blends storytelling with branding.
- Oracle is focusing on its company culture on its Instagram feed, using the hashtag #lifeatOracle to promote its professional and consistent message to its 58,900 followers, offering a sneak peek to the company and its employees.
- Hootsuite is offering a look inside the company to its 28,500 followers with the use of #hootsuitelife contributing to its consistent message, helping the recruiting process and the increased brand awareness for the company.
Storytelling in the B2B industry may be seen as the right opportunity to create a consistent and original message, which can ultimately build trust among the brand and the followers.
What’s more, it can also create a stronger bond between a brand and its followers, by encouraging users to send their own stories and feel closer to the brand.
- Xero is among the companies that understands the power of storytelling and its 10,200 followers enjoy many different stories from small business owners and their background stories. What’s more, the hashtag #beautifulbusiness encourages followers to share their own stories, leading into a bigger community full of inspiring posts.
- Microsoft wanted focus in storytelling to encourage its followers to “break boundaries and achieve more” and judging by its number of followers (565,000 in total), it manages to win people over with its high quality images and the interesting storytelling.
Microsoft is among the lucky companies to have a diversity of topics and content to cover, but its focus on storytelling allowed the brand to promote its human element, bringing it closer to the audience.
There are many B2B brands that deserve to be featured for their creativity, the integration of branding with engagement and their unique feeds.
- HP is among the most popular B2B brands on Instagram with 398,000 followers and it has a very unique presence as it manages to win the audience with its diverse and appealing photos and the videos that lead to a great number of views. Product placement is common, but it’s performed in a way that it’s not over promotional, or annoying.
- Buffer is proud of its remote working culture and it’s also reflected on its Instagram presence, with 13,100 followers enjoying high quality photos of places all over the world, serving both as an insight to the “company culture”, but also as a creative way to boost its brand awareness while engaging with its audience.
- FedEx has a consistent product placement on its Instagram feed, but it is performed in a discreet way, in order to ensure that its 48.3k followers focus more on the appealing photography and the high quality images.
As it prepares for a 2017 IPO that could be the largest in the social media space since Facebook went public in 2012, all eyes are on Snapchat.
What would we do without social media?
Facebook isn't just the world's largest social network. In the past two years, it has also become one of the world's most popular online destinations for consuming video content.
If your responsibilities have anything to do with marketing, advertising, PR or social media, you can’t afford to be camera-shy in this day and age.