By Lauren Dichter, Marketing Coordinator at Heinz Marketing
For a while, I just couldn’t choose a topic for this month’s blog post. So I swallowed my pride and asked our president, Matt Heinz, if he had any ideas. He said, “You know what, I actually have been really curious about Instagram. Can you write about that?”
My immediate thought was “Uh, YEA, I look at that app way too often!” which I luckily didn’t say out loud. I quickly realized that my boss, who is the head of a B2B sales and marketing firm, must be suggesting I research and write some sort of ‘How-To’ for B2B Instagrams.
It may feel more natural contributing to my own Instagram account than to company ones, but the fact is, I’ve been drafting social media posts for other people and companies since I first started here as an intern. Now, as a full-time employee, there’s a lot more time in the day to type, type, type like there’s no tomorrow. 8 ½ months and a few hundred social posts later, I might just have some B2B Instagram insights to share.
In all honestly, social media has become second nature to my generation. Specifically, we’re experts at branding ourselves via Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc..
We are accustomed to curating images that tell our personal stories in the ways we want others to see us. Before launching an Instagram post into the world, we ask ourselves questions like, “What do I want people to think of me when they see this?” or “Does this represent me well?” Many millennials—and especially Gen Z—even ask themselves, “How can I get the most likes? The most comments?”
Either everyone is a photographer, or no one is. Social media has made it hard to tell the difference! The popularity of Instagram can either be our generation’s curse or it’s advantage, depending on how you want to see it; regardless of your perspective, we can all agree the tool is extremely powerful for navigating a highly-connected world.
A new and ever-increasing wealth of artistic ability is literally at our fingertips. But the ease with which one can create and maintain an Instagram account isn’t the main motive behind the B2B industry’s recent awakening to it; what’s putting it on the map as a social marketing channel for B2B companies is that it’s extremely rewarding, for organizations of all shapes and sizes.
As long as a B2B Instagram has a purpose, and those in charge of it are driving with that purpose in mind, your company will see results. That said, you can never go wrong with some tips n’ tricks…
A Guide to Instagram for B2B Businesses
Steps to Setting it Up
• Create a Business Instagram account and connect it with a business Facebook account
• Write a 160-word bio including a link to your company website
• Add relevant info like location, website URL, and what this Instagram is all about
• Choose a quality version of your company logo that will look good in Instagram’s small circle icon
• Queue up 6 visually-appealing images to post one after the other, so that the page seems put together even though it’s new
• Brainstorm a list of hashtags and save it to have at-the-ready for future posts
Do’s & Don’ts
- Keep it consistent… in two ways (especially if your end goal is to convert Instagram surfers into prospective customers). The first is to stagger the timing of your posts along a certain frequency. This doesn’t mean you should post every day, or even every other day. Rather, you should plan posts with care, making sure you don’t overwhelm or underwhelm your followers. The second is to post during the best times; there are specific time slots throughout the day that have been proven to garner more attention. For the B2B companies researched here, the best times for social posts to go out, in order of engagement levels, are:
- 3-6 pm
- 12-3 pm
- 9 pm-12 am
- Delegate tasks. To maximize efficiency, give the members of your team different responsibilities. It makes most sense for the one queuing up or publishing to crop the image, choose the filter, write the caption and add hashtags. But, a great way to get multiple people involved in your company’s Instagram is to create a shared folder that employees can drop images into. This diversity of ideas will help your account flourish, and the shared effort ensures your employees will only be taking tiny amounts of time out of their days to run the company ‘gram.
- Establish content buckets. Don’t let people label your B2B Instagram as “boring.” Keep your Insta exciting and relevant by prepping unique ‘buckets’ of content topics. You’ll always have options that are different from the last post. For example, you can create folders within the shared image folder with labels like:
- “Team at Work”
- “Team at Play”
- “Behind the Scenes/Day in the Life”
- “Community Service”
- “Employee Spotlights”
- “Job Postings”
- “Latest Blog Posts”
- “Wise Words” (quotes by famous people)
- “Our Portfolio”
- To showcase customer success stories or unique product/service offerings
- “Team Pets”
- “Quotes by ___”
- Your company’s own team members
- Industry influencers
- “Client Testimonials”
- “Tips & Tricks”
- “Stats & Numbers”
- “New Developments in ___”
- For Heinz Marketing, this could be developments in MPM, ABM, Demand Generation, Sales Enablement, etc.
- Compile “evergreen” images. These are exactly how they sound—eternally relevant regardless of what’s happening in the industry or the world at large. Grab one of these when you’re short on time or creative energy. These could be:
- Branded images with quotes that represent your company’s core values
- Images of completed projects or testimonials from past clients
- Utilize Instagram’s Stories and Highlights features. Post a video of someone on the team “At Work” or “At Play” to the company story. Create and post Highlights by employee, topic, or event!
- Be professional. Unless your entire brand personality is intentionally unpolished, professionalism always applies. However, professionalism doesn’t equate to bland or dispassionate content—put your best food forward in the B2B Instagram sphere by:
- Choosing compelling design, composition, and typography with an eye toward avoiding a messy look.
- Checking spelling, grammar, and punctuation… especially on hashtags!*If you’re going for an extra clean look, push the hashtags farther down in the post, under the caption and not within it.
- Embrace UGC (User-Generated Content). UGC is any kind of content created and shared with the world by ordinary, unpaid people. Most often these individuals are fans of a brand and their content reflects it. At first, it may seem like UGC only makes sense for B2C companies, but top B2B brands have shown that’s not the case. Free promotion isn’t the only benefit; experts agree that UGC is a crucial element of a B2B Instagram marketing strategy that leads directly to increased brand awareness and sales conversions. It’s successful because it weaves a human element into a B2B brand’s marketing, therefore facilitating genuine connections with potential customers. UGC is by nature more raw than curated content, and that authenticity speaks to prospects on a personal level.
- Show off your employees and work culture. This is yet another way to convey your B2B company authentically. After all, employees are what make a business go ‘round. MailChimp does a great job of filling it’s Instagram account with human-centered images, videos, and stories that reflect the spirit of the brand. Transparency like that is bound to build trust with prospects.
- Showcase your customers and what they’ve achieved with your company’s product or service. This strategy kills two birds with one stone! With just one Instagram post, you can communicate gratitude for a customer and demonstrate the value your brand brings to that same customer.
- Geo-tag your Instagram posts to make it easier to connect with local businesses and prospective clients. Adding a location is particularly beneficial when a B2B company is at a trade show or other industry event; it lets other businesses know you’re in attendance and could potentially spur an effort to link up.
- Create your own hashtag. Original hashtags provide your company the opportunity to brand itself, and also provide a way to see who is engaging with your content.
- Tell a story with each post. Visuals can bring an exceptional degree of nuance to a story, as long they’re incorporated with explicit objectives in mind.
- Follow through on engagement. If you’ve designed your Instagram page for maximum engagement, likes and comments will grow until they become a common occurrence. But receiving that engagement isn’t enough. What separates the top B2B Instagram accounts from the rest is reciprocity. Engaging right back is what leads to conversions:
- Monitor who likes each post—if they’re not in your company’s database already, they probably should be! You can then tailor subsequent marketing efforts to what that like tells you about the prospect.
- Engage back by either liking comments or replying to them in a timely manner. This lays the foundation for a close connection with your company’s followers.
- Measure engagement and adjust tactics accordingly. Monitoring likes, comments, and mentions is the only way to understand how well or how poorly your B2B Instagram is performing. Instagram-specific analytics tools can do the work for you, but it’s up to you to improve your Instagram strategy for better results. Additionally, marketing attribution and website analytics can provide other useful information, like how people who were referred to your company website via Instagram have engaged with content.
- Post ugly images. We can’t all be artists, but we can use common sense and typical conventions of good photography to guide our posts.
- Post photos of flyers. They won’t translate well into a square image. Instead, design a version of the flyer specifically for Instagram.
- Place URLs in the caption. They won’t work that way, but they will lead to a web page if placed in your company’s Instagram bio. If that’s not your style, another option is to design a relevant visual and then reiterate key points of the subject of the URL in the Instagram caption itself.
As you can see, there are a lot more do’s than don’ts when it comes to running an Instagram for your B2B business. I hope that knowledge gives you the confidence you need to jump into your B2B Instagram feet first. And if you’re ever stuck, just refer back to this guide.