Over 400 million potential customers, a faster growing audience than Twitter and exponential brand growth in the last two years: Instagram for B2B companies is a no-brainer. Here are the 5 ways to grow your Instagram following and develop a devoted customer base ripe for conversion.
Any business which doesn’t already have an account full of tasteful hashtags and quality content needs to change it. The value of Instagram for B2B companies is growing every day, but much of the app’s potential is still untapped. Wondering how you can make the most of Instagram marketing for your company?
Wonder no more. Here at Photoslurp, we’ve collected our 5 best ideas on how you can grow such a following, keep users interested and make your business stand out above the social media crowd.´
1. Instagram for B2B #1 – Invest in Organic Growth
Start by realising that a large following is an invested one – users stick around more when they care about your content. Your following has to grow naturally for this to happen, a process known as ‘organic growth’. Growing this way may seem slower than throwing money at traditional advertising, but the ‘organic’ Instagram marketing route is both free and more engaging for the user.
This increased engagement in turn drives your conversion rates upward. It’s worth noting that even ‘dry’ businesses like FedEx (without a vibrant product to market) can work wonders with Instagram:
You don’t need a flashy brand to make the most of Instagram
Company IBM FEDEX MAERSK
Engagement Rate 4.04% 3.49% 2.78%2.78%
Followers 9.265 11,053 29.406
If 4% seems like a low engagement rate, remember that:
a) Those engagement levels are 15x higher than the Facebook average and 40x the Twitter average
b) Instagram marketing is still completely free!
Whilst shipping may be less glamorous than your B2B SME, Maersk can get around their lack of an ‘obviously’ appealing aesthetic, bringing more creative marketing into play – and that’s where we hit step 2.
2. Instagram for B2B #2 – Humanise Your Brand with Workplace Socialising and Community Projects
‘Photographs help to humanise a brand, which is just as important for B2B as it is for B2C’
This quote from Allyson Scott highlights how much any B2B company can benefit from sculpting a company story on Instagram through positive visuals. Displaying your product/service in action is always great, especially if you deal in favourite Instagram topics like exotic holiday destinations and cute animals.
However, this can be made to work for every business, even if what you provide can’t be photographed easily. Take a look at this post by General Electric, an industrial corporation hardly renowned for beauty and elegance:
One endless vista and scenic backdrop later, and the otherwise everyday locomotive in the foreground becomes one beautiful Instagram centrepiece. Following up with consistently likeable, comment-able posts will pique users’ interest, provoking a genuine interest in your business and pushing them to hit that ‘Follow’ button.
This kind of visual storytelling creates a story around your company, a process Allyson Scott calls ‘storyshowing’ . This style of post ensures users will go beyond simply liking your posts – they will follow you and come back for more, hooked on your engaging posts.
Instagram shows its worth here not through direct marketing but by creating a more ‘human’ face to generate enthusiasm. It doesn’t matter if you don’t market to consumers – even ‘ugly’ corporations like General Electric can create organic growth this way. Local businesses can do better still, reinforcing their relatable ‘story’ by engaging with community events like food markets, charity fun-runs or arts festivals.
It may sound counter-intuitive, but focus on creating engaging content before actually marketing your product/service on Instagram.
3. Instagram for B2B #3 -Use Every Employee to their Full Potential
Don’t forget your employees when creating that ‘human’ face for your B2B company: use their full potential when exploiting this side of Instagram. Highlighting their achievements both within and without the workplace is the best way to do this.
Some companies are so dedicated to this strategy that they have a dedicated HR account for this very purpose. For this strategy, use photos like this Australia Day example from HubSpot to show off your upbeat and likeable company culture.
It doesn’t have to be such a special, one-off event: smiling with a cup of coffee is as good as any endorsement. Do you or any of your employees have a favourite local business you visit, or a scenic view from an office window?
Be as creative as you can with this strategy – show how you can relate to your everyday users (like the example below) and they will come flocking to your account.
Don’t forget to maximise all the small gains each individual employee can make. Whenever they interact with business partners or friends, ask them to refer to your company Instagram as much as possible. LinkedIn is full of B2B interests, so it makes for an especially useful way to expose your Instagram account to new business partners.
Such small gains can rapidly accumulate into a further swell of followers, exposing more and more people to your engaging content. Your company will spread like wildfire across your employees’ unique connections and social networks, all of them interested in what your business has to offer on Instagram.
4. Instagram for B2b #4 – Use Your Bio and Hashtags Alongside ‘Traditional’ Advertising
Reaching more potential followers shouldn’t be done by traditional forms of advertising. To see why, take a look at Instagram’s broadening demographics.
B.I. Intelligence found that whilst 18-34 year old women remain the largest single group on Instagram, the platform is diversifying as it grows.
Instagram marketing isn’t limited to photogenic B2C companies (I’ve made that clear already) but it’s worth knowing that any B2B company can find interested partners to target on Instagram. In this respect, Instagram is superior to other social media like Facebook, despite sharing the same advert targeting data. Avoiding Facebook’s restrictive algorithms which limit post visibility to certain followers, you can take advantage of how many more potential followers will see your engaging new content.
As for classic paid advertising campaigns, these are maybe a better idea if you’re an established high-street brand like Burberry.
Despite having such an extensive following, big B2C companies like this can become complacent, failing to taking advantage of Instagram’s unique user-friendly search tools. Look at the example above – although they have a large existing following (established over time), it won’t find new customers and grow the company’s following in the same way a smarter post would.
What would such a smart, well-structured post look like? Editorial company Comanegra provides a good example of an effective alternative to paid adverts on Instagram:
An editorial company showing off photography techniques is immediately relatable and engaging: every Instagram user is a photographer by default. Despite Comanegra having a far smaller following than Burberry, their engaging post is actually far smarter for a small B2B company. Consistently relatable and engaging posts like this will yield far better organic results over time.
Indeed, companies using these advertising alternatives can grow at a staggering rate. For example, Foundr Magazine gained 400,000 followers in their first year, with heavy user engagement levels like 30,000 CTA (call to action) clicks per month.
The above example shows how Foundr use the often overlooked Instagram ‘bio’ to draw in new followers. Despite the bio’s basic nature and small size, it provides a useful way to pin your company website to the top of your Instagram page, guiding the user to more content.
Photoslurp lets you take this a step further with ‘Shoppable Instagram’, where the single link Instagram allows on your bio will redirect to a new page. This new page is a duplicate of your Instagram feed, and it allows consumers to buy the products they saw on your original Instagram account.
More links to your engaging content, the more users will get to follow you, it’s as simple as that – this technique lets you throw more relevant content at the user more quickly.
Related article: Monetize Instagram – The ultimate guide to driving eCommerce sales using Instagram
Two other alternatives to classic advertising are especially useful for Instagram marketing: CTAs and clever placement of relevant hashtags.
First, CTAs. Effective Instagram CTAs are great ways to engage the user and make them do the hard work of finding new followers for you. For example, brand your posts with questions (‘What do you love most about [insert city here] ?’) or tag requests (‘Tag a friend who you know will LOVE this handbag!’).
Using apps like Wordswag takes this technique one step further, allowing you to combine words with your Instagram images. Instagram’s greatest unique selling proposition may be the ability of a picture to speak a thousand words, but including text can paradoxically allow you to say more.
Use a CTA like the one above over a well-composed image, and you’ll create far more engaging content than any advert.
The second alternative is clever placement of hashtags. Once you’ve selected as many suitable hashtags as you dare, do like the example below and put them in the comments. Take a look at how we’ve stored our comments in this post about our awesome CEO 😉
‘Hiding’ hashtags in the comments section this way can keep your post’s description short and avoid hashtag overload. Your post becomes easier to read whilst also becoming far more searchable, allowing you to reach out to new users interested in your area: far more useful for a well-defined B2B company than any broad advertising campaign.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying paid shoutouts can never be used. A small amount can be effective, especially when looking to kick-start your first Instagram 10,000 followers. Just don’t fall into the trap of paid likes and follows, often ‘click-farmed’ through Facebook. Any followers you pay for this way will have zero interest in your business and will ultimately do you more harm than good.
5. Instagram for B2b #5 – Take the Time to Follow Others and Create Mutual Interest
Another seemingly counter-intuitive use of Instagram which will get you more followers is to spend time following others. Tools like Crowdfire reveal who follows brands like yours, and their low cost ($9.99 p/m with a daily limit of 400 follow/unfollows) is far outweighed by the value of their insight.
Like-minded users are most likely to follow you in return once you have engaged with their own content. Take a look at this conference post from Hootsuite, especially the comments.
Hootsuite Instagrammers have used this post to engage with Slack counterparts, creating a connection between the two businesses as they follow each other.
This is an intensive strategy but these mutual connections are great for organic growth (and general good karma). If you already work with other Instagram-literate businesses, posts like these can act as ‘user generated content’, further encouraging users and attracting them to your account.
So, let’s recap, shall we? First, invest in organic growth to make sure your new followers stick around and become devoted customers. Secondly, humanise your brand with workplace socialising and community projects – show that you are all real people just like your users.
Use your employees to their full potential, and remember the value of your bio and hashtags alongside ‘traditional’ advertising. If you can use it, Shoppable Instagram does this even better. Finally, take the time to follow others and create mutual interest, as that good karma will always pay off.
By now, you should be ready to go out and grow that Instagram following to epic proportions. Please head over to the Photoslurp website if you need more tips and advice, or share and leave us a comment saying what you think about our advice. Have you implemented any of these techniques on your Instagram strategy? Let us know in the comments!