When it comes to social media, the conventional wisdom is that different platforms work better for different types of brands.
Some say that Instagram is best for B2C, Facebook is key for local businesses, Pinterest is ideal for ecommerce, and LinkedIn caters primarily to B2B.
“They’re all wrong,” says Databox CEO Pete Caputa. “The real key is just knowing how to use each one effectively.”
So, how can you best leverage social media to grow your business?
By taking advantage of powerful social media platforms like Instagram to increase your brand reach and find new opportunities to network and scale your business. Let’s dive in.
In this post, you’ll learn the following:
- How to Create a Business Account on Instagram
- What are the Benefits of Marketing on Instagram for Businesses?
- 20 Instagram Statistics Every B2B marketer Needs to Know
- 18 B2B Instagram Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business
How to Create a Business Account On Instagram
Step 1: Download the app from your Google play store or Apple app store
Step 2: Create a free account, either by signing up via your Facebook account or by email
Step 3: Complete the profile set-up
Step 4: Tap the three lines icon at the top right corner of the screen, click on the settings icon, click on switch to business profile
Step 5: A prompt will appear, click on connect to Facebook, choose the page you’d like to connect, make it public and then click OK
Step 6: Fill in your business contact information
What are the Benefits of Marketing Your Business on Instagram?
We recently polled 35 marketers to find out if Instagram is an effective platform for B2B marketing. When we asked if it’s possible for B2B brands to succeed on Instagram, 100% said yes.
Additionally, nearly 20% of our respondents say Instagram is responsible for as much as 50% of their site traffic each month.
No doubt, Instagram offers an array of benefits with its amazing features. Here are 7 reasons why Instagram is worth the investment:
- Huge number of active users
- Easily spy on your competitors
- Increases brand visibility and engagement
- Makes your brand relatable
- Purchasing power of its users
- Powerful features
- Building a community
Huge number of active users: Instagram is a powerful platform for businesses, with nearly 500 million daily active users of which 71% of the billion monthly active users are under the age of 35. This powerhouse provides you with an avenue to promote your brand and attract more customers.
Spy on your competitors with ease: Track your competitors both at home and abroad. Find out what kind of content they’re posting, how they interact with their audience, the kind of sales offers they have, and so on. Use this information to improve your Instagram B2B strategy.
Increases brand visibility and engagement: By making use of Instagram stories, leveraging branded hashtags, posting during the time followers are most likely to interact with your content by liking, commenting, or sharing you’ll be able to increase engagement and brand visibility on Instagram.
Furthermore, as a business, great strategies like giveaways, using influencers, or affiliates have proven over the years to be effective in generating more followers and visits to your profile and overtime increasing your revenue.
Related: 44 Social Media Marketing Tactics That Still Drive Engagement, Leads and New Customers in 2018
Makes your brand relatable: Humanizing your brand can go a long way in building trust and loyalty. In fact, 33% of American consumers say trusting a brand is key particularly during times when they are struggling financially and cannot afford to waste any money on a bad purchase.
Purchasing power: More than ⅓ of Instagram users have used the app to purchase a product online. What this tells you is that most of its users already have the buyer’s mindset and will hop on to buy a product if they like it which makes it a great platform for any business. After all, the core goal of any business is to increase revenue and profitability.
Powerful features: Business profiles on Instagram have an array of extra features that personal profiles don’t have. Such as the ability to promote your posts, include a call to action button, and gain access to your business account’s insights.
Building a community: Instagram allows you to easily connect and interact with your customers. As such, people are more likely to purchase from you more than once, especially when they keep seeing your posts and new offers.
Want more proof?
15 Instagram Statistics Every B2B Marketer Needs To Know
Here are 15 Instagram statistics that caught our eyes as a B2B business. This information is gathered from different sources.
- Over 1 billion people actively use Instagram monthly
- 68% of people become more interested in a brand or product after viewing an Instagram story
- 500 million people use Instagram stories on a daily basis
- On average, the Instagram ‘like’ button is used 4.2 billion times per day
- 90 percent of user accounts follow a business on Instagram.
- 60% of Instagram users say they discover new products or services on the platform
- 52% of Instagram users are women with 15% of them being between 18 and 24 years old
- 11% of social media users in the US shop on Instagram
- Instagram’s potential advertising reach is 849.3 million users
- Over 200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile daily
- User-Generated content has a 4.5% higher chance of conversion
- 69% of US marketers plan to spend most of their influencer budget on Instagram
- 7 out of 10 Instagram hashtags are branded hashtags
- 65% of top-performing posts on Instagram features a brand
- Nearly 66% of business profile visits come from non-followers
18 B2B Instagram Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Business
So it’s absolutely possible to successfully market a B2B brand on Instagram, driving traffic, leads, and conversions.
The next question, then, is how. How can B2B brands use Instagram effectively?
To find out, we asked our respondents to share their best B2B Instagram marketing tips. Here are the 18 strategies they recommend:
- Create a Business Profile
- Establish Platform-Specific Goals and Strategies
- Determine How You’ll Define Success
- Know Your Audience
- Start With Nine Posts
- Prize Quality Over Quantity
- Post Unique and Authentic Content
- Use Specific and Focused Hashtags
- Optimize Your Profile and Posts for Instagram Search
- Embrace User-Generated Content
- Engage With Followers, Commenters, and Other Brands
- Post Images That Highlight Information and Data
- Showcase Your Physical Products
- Share Videos
- Take Advantage of Instagram Stories
- Target the Top of the Funnel
- Use Ads to Move Followers Through Your Funnel
- Use Location Filters
PRO TIP: What Kinds of Content Do Your Instagram Followers Enjoy Most?
To measure the performance of your Instagram marketing strategy, you may rely on Instagram Analytics to learn which posts receive the most impressions and reach, and overall, which posts are the most popular with your followers. Now you can quickly assess the performance of your Instagram content in a single dashboard that monitors fundamental metrics, including:
- Impressions. What is the total number of times users saw your post or story?
- Reach. What is the total number of unique users who have seen your post or story?
- New followers. Is your Instagram account growing at your desired rate? This will give you an idea if your content is reaching enough new people and catching their attention to meet your goals.
- New posts. How many new posts did you publish last week? What is the relationship between publishing frequency and content quality in driving user engagement?
Now you can benefit from the experience of our Instagram experts, who have put together a plug-and-play Databox template showing the most important metrics for monitoring and growing your Instagram Business account. It’s simple to implement and start using as a standalone dashboard or in social media reports, and best of all, it’s free!
You can easily set it up in just a few clicks – no coding required.
To set up the dashboard, follow these 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Get the template
Step 2: Connect your Instagram account with Databox.
Step 3: Watch your dashboard populate in seconds.
1. Create a Business Profile
If you’re just getting started with Instagram, thumbprint’s Morgan Lathaen says to “make sure you create an Instagram business profile. “Having your company set up with a business profile on Instagram comes with some great benefits.”
“For example, followers can click on your ‘contact’ button to get in contact with you directly from your Instagram page. You can also access Instagram’s analytics tools to get stats about the impressions and reach of your posts.”
2. Establish Platform-Specific Goals and Strategies
“One tip I have for B2B marketers who are looking to get started with Instagram marketing is to have a clear set of goals in mind before you begin,” says Taylor Kincaid of Social Media Optimism.
“Instagram is a versatile tool, but posting without purpose or thought won’t lead to your desired results. Are you trying to build awareness? Drive leads? Get a phone call? Understanding the end goal will help you plan out your strategy and tailor your posts to fit that strategy.”
“For example, as a digital marketing agency, we have a strong presence on Instagram. However, our Instagram page (not our ads) is not necessarily meant to drive leads.”
“In fact, our Instagram is mostly used to show off our company culture, recruit potential applicants, and demonstrate our involvement in our community. Having these goals in mind means we don’t have to stress about catchy calls-to-action or messaging that doesn’t fall in line with our strategy,” Kincaid says.
Sculpt’s Josh Krakauer agrees: “For most B2B brands, organic social is not your primary sales driver. While Instagram creeping might play a role in your customer’s journey, it’s more likely to be a place that brand advocates and prospective job candidates congregate to keep up to date on what’s new at HQ.”
“Keep the hard sells to a minimum and give the people what they want—your people,” Krakauer says.
“Before jumping into Instagram marketing, make sure to have a clear strategy for the platform that aligns with your goals as a B2B company,” says Nicole Spewak of Beacon Digital Marketing. “Do you want to:”
- “feature your product”
- “humanize your brand with behind-the-scenes snapshots into company life”
- “become a thought-leader by sharing meaningful quotes and industry stats”
“Pick your approach and focus on creating highly-visual content that aligns with your goals and your audience’s interests.”
“You don’t want to be on Instagram just for the sake of being on Instagram. An engaging, well-thought-out feed can elevate your brand story and help you connect with customers, employees, and followers just as well as any B2C brand,” Spewak says.
3. Determine How You’ll Define Success
You can casually open your Instagram account and have a good sense of who’s liking and following your posts. But having day-by-day and post-by-post analytics allows you to see what’s resonating most.
“Define your goals for Instagram, then define the KPIs you’ll use to measure those goals,” Juan Merodio says.
Socialinsider’s Teodora Lozan agrees: Constantly review your data and see which types of strategies are working best. Analytics tools are your best friend.”
4. Know Your Audience
“Know your audience and who you’re trying to attract to your website,” says Mikaella King of Blinds Direct. “This is key if you want your Instagram account to be successful at driving traffic.”
Tabitha Young of 30 Degrees North agrees: “Instagram can be a powerful tool if you are catering to your audience.”
“Speak to them on a personal level—not just a business level. Showcase other things that they would be interested in—not just what your business is selling. Your followers want to know that there is a human behind the brand.”
5. Start With Nine Posts
Once you have an Instagram business profile and have defined your audience, goals, and KPIs, it’s time to start planning your content.
Gloria Lafont of Action Marketing Co recommends “planning ahead and creating your first nine posts as a grid. Then, post them all at the same time—before you start following others and promoting your page.”
“This way you will have a cohesive page that’s more likely to appeal to people who will visit for the first time when considering following you,” Lafont says.
Danny Peavey of One Week Website agrees and suggests “using scheduling software or a Photoshop custom layout to visually plan a 9×9 Instagram grid. This way, you can shuffle posts and create a visually impactful layout.”
Related: 20 Social Media Marketers Share Their Top Instagram Posts for A B2B Audience
6. Prize Quality Over Quantity
“The worth of your followers and engagement is directly proportional to the effort you put into acquiring them,” says Anand Srinivasan of Hubbion.
“There are quick and easy ways to build an Instagram following or get people to comment on your posts. But that will not help you with meeting your marketing objectives unless these followers are legitimate and the engagement is because of the value you create.”
“In other words, consider each post on Instagram as a marketing campaign in itself and spend time and money producing high-quality content. This will automatically result in improving your ROI,” Srinivasan says.
Growth Hackers’ Jonathan Aufray agrees:
“Focus on quality rather than quantity. It’s better to have five quality images a week versus three low-quality ones a day.”
“While you may churn out regular Twitter content and post daily on Facebook, Instagram is a chance to create unique content that stands out from the noise,” says James Green of Offer To Close. “Post less frequently, and focus on building quality content.”
“Your content represents your product. People want to feel like you put effort into building a quality product, and that can be communicated with quality content,” Green says.
7. Post Unique and Authentic Content
“You save to stand out on Instagram, so turn heads with something different—not the average post in your industry,” says Michael Simonetti of AndMine.
Here are a few shots from the MailChimp Instagram account, for example:
MailChimp’s Instagram has been praised by many, and with good reason. Everything they do, from product launches to new information, is conveyed in a zany, designer-style way.
“Get rid of your stock photography and staged promotional pictures. On Instagram, your prospects and leads want authentic content that offers a personal glimpse into your company’s culture and product,” says Patricio Quiroz of Code Authority.
Quiroz also provided a few suggestions for how to build authentic Instagram content:
- “Real-time content, such as live video/live streaming, is unfiltered and 100% you. It adds that much-needed human element to B2B businesses and helps you form a genuine connection with your audience and potential customers.
- “Tell your company’s story. Describe why or how you started it. People love to listen to stories and will even be more inclined to purchase your product or service if they can relate to your story.”
“When creating content, keep your brand personality in mind,” says Ashley Graham of Brandesso. “How do you want visitors to view your business? What do you want them to know? Post photos that are relevant, and only share content that amplifies your brand!”
“Do your hashtag research,” says Niles Koenigsberg of FiG Advertising + Marketing. “Your audience is on Instagram somewhere. You just have to know where to look for them and how they can find you.”
“You may think that #business will automatically connect you with other businesses on Instagram (and it might), but it’s a very generic hashtag that’s already associated with millions of posts. So get specific and focused with your hashtags,” Koenigsberg says.
Creating branded hashtags is also a great way to let your followers and fans participate in your conversations on Instagram. For example, HubSpot uses its #inbound19 hashtag on Instagram to both promote the conference and provide attendees with a way to promote it.
9. Optimize Your Profile and Posts for Instagram Search
“You can use common SEO techniques on your Instagram posts,” says G2’s Lauren Pope. “Instagram has created an in-platform search function that acts as its own version of Google. Users find your content in the native app, which means optimizing your Instagram profile and content for search is crucial.”
“Here are a few ways you can use SEO techniques to optimize your Instagram page for B2B marketing and search:”
- “Put your target keyword in your @username, your display name, and your bio.”
- “Treat the hashtags in your bio as keywords; these give you a greater chance of being pulled at the top of search.”
- “Use secondary keywords in your image captions. Use them to catch people with interests similar to what your product is offering.”
- “Avoid common blackhat SEO techniques. Instagram can (and will) shadowban you if you buy followers, spam other accounts, or act shady in general. You can’t grow a following overnight, so don’t try!”
“SEO’s primary function might be for websites, but you can use the best practices and tricks you’ve learned on the job for Instagram as well,” Pope says.
Marcin Niewęgłowski of Digital Now agrees: “Instagram is becoming a new Google. 200 million users click the ‘Explore’ button daily. It opens totally new discovery-related opportunities for B2B brands.”
Related: Social Media and SEO: 13 Ways They Work Together To Boost Your Visibility
10. Embrace User-Generated Content
“Embrace user-generated content,” says G2’s Lauren Pope. “Etsy does a great job of this. Its platform is filled with creators who make incredible handmade goods every day, so they fill their Instagram feed with incredible works of art.”
“This both attracts new B2C customers to purchase things on Etsy and encourages creators to create an account with Etsy and start selling their own products. They’ve really got it figured out,” Pope says.
Your in-house team can’t necessarily keep producing amazing visuals all year, so don’t be afraid to rely on your users to help you build content for Instagram.
Here are two great ways to fill Instagram with engaging user-generated content.
Show Off Your Employees and Culture
If you asked most people which social platform is biggest for recruiting, they’d probably say LinkedIn. And while LinkedIn is a major tool for companies and candidates to connect directly, Instagram does a much better job of showcasing the perks of working at a particular company.
For this reason, B2B brands may want to take the advice of Foundation Marketing’s Tega Sefia who recommends “showcasing your employees and company culture.”
One B2B brand that does an excellent job of this is Hootsuite. Hootsuite’s Instagram profile is filled with images of its employees doing fun and interesting things:
“Instagram is a platform that allows for more personalization and humanness, which should be taken advantage of,” says Kendall Aldridge of OnePitch. “By showcasing your team and culture, consumers will be able to relate more deeply and form a greater sense of trust for your product or service.”
“Your brand needs to stand out to be successful now more than ever. There are no two work cultures or employees that are the same, so showcase who your company is, what you believe in, and why. It will pay off,” Aldridge says.
Corinna Keefe of Easypromos agrees: “Develop your own identity on the platform. Show off what makes your business unique. Share information that only you can share. Your followers should be able to recognize your posts as soon as they see the image or read the first line of the caption.”
Instagram offers B2B companies a more human-oriented display of culture, people, in-house events, and perks. Hiring is a complex process, but one of its core tenets is still building a quality funnel. Introducing yourself to candidates via engaging Instagram posts can attract candidates that dry job posts would not.
And even if you aren’t hiring, showing the people behind your company is also a good marketing approach. Even in the digital age, people still like to do business with people.
As Lightbulb Media’s Lewis Kemp says, “In the grand scheme of things, your customers don’t choose you because of what you do. They choose you because of who is doing it. Showcase your staff at every opportunity. It helps customers form an emotional affinity with your brand.”
Showcase Your Customers
Even if your product may not be visually stimulating, your customers may have stories that involve using your product. For example, Squarespace does an amazing job of highlighting its customers on Instagram:
“Focus on making your Instagram feed and stories all about your customers and audience,” says Mike Allton of The Social Media Hat. “Tell their stories and make them the heroes each and every time. As long as you’re telling a story, your activity will generate interest and engagement.”
For this strategy to truly work, you need a repeatable way to capture customer stories—and you need to find the ones with strong associated visuals. Your customers will be thrilled at the co-promotion opportunity!
11. Engage With Followers, Commenters, and Other Brands
“Engagement is a must when you build your marketing strategy on Instagram,” says Klara Alexeeva of InterPromo UG. “No ads or influencers will make people stay with you and buy your products if you don’t speak to your audience.”
“Try to be active and transparent. Make your potential customers interact with your content and business as a whole. Create and maintain a loyal community with your content and customer service on Instagram,” Alexeeva says.
“Instagram is full of fake comments, which can get annoying to businesses just starting out on the platform,” says Brittany Hardy of Empty Desk Solutions. “They can tend to think there aren’t real people out there who will comment and follow, so they forget to check in after a while.”
“Remember, it’s always key to sort through your posts and reply to comments and messages as soon as you possibly can. This will create a loyal online community.”
And Mindster’s Hyfa Ahmad says it’s also important to follow other users and brands on Instagram: “Most brands focus on gaining followers. But it’s also important that you follow others—especially the ones who are following you.”
“The process of looking to follow more people will introduce you to many new names:”
- “Search for people or companies you know using Instagram’s search bar.”
- “Find people you might like to follow via Instagram’s ‘Search and Explore’ feature. Click on the magnifying glass icon, and then scroll down to ‘Explore Posts’ or ‘Explore People.’”
- “Follow influencers in your industry.”
- “Follow users who are following influencers in your industry.”
- “Search for industry-related hashtags.”
- “Do a Google search for influential users in your industry (e.g. social media + Instagram).”
12. Post Images that Highlight Information and Data
“Use tangible numbers and data in your posts,” says Bonjoro’s Casey Hill. “I find that effective B2B companies on Instagram are leveraging use cases and finite statistics to paint a clear picture of their product’s value.”
SyncShow’s Jasz Joseph echoes this recommendation: “My clients have found success with posting industry-related statistics, customer quotes, and testimonials as visual imagery.”
13. Showcase Your Physical Products
GE is well-known as one of the best brands on Instagram, and the company is adept at displaying its tech in interesting ways. Here’s a recent example:
Boeing’s Instagram is another good example:
Boeing is a large industrial brand, but it does a great job of capturing the wonder of flying and the spirit of traveling.
14. Share Videos
“Consider investing in video marketing from day one,” says Tulip Turner of sNews. “Images work better in retail business marketing—even on Instagram. Whereas if you’re B2B, your customers will be more interested in how your product works than what it looks like.”
Ahlem Mahroua of b.HYPE says Shopify’s Instagram offers a great example of how B2B brands can take advantage of video marketing on the platform. “They position themselves as the experts in ecommerce by giving tips on how to increase traffic, how to generate sales, etc.—all in a visually appealing way.”
And Sculpt’s Josh Krakauer recommends taking a look at SnackNation. “SnackNation does a fantastic job at establishing a cohesive visual voice while educating its customers with ‘snackable’ videos (sorry, had to). You almost forget they’re selling a subscription to a B2B buyer.”
Related: 13 Video Marketers Reveal The Tactics Behind Their Top-Performing Videos
15. Take Advantage of Instagram Stories
Mostly Blogging’s Janice Wald suggests using Instagram Stories.
“Instagram Stories always sit at the top of the home page. You should do a different story every few hours, adding to your visibility. Tell a story within a story, adding to the suspense. For example, ‘Do you want to see what we’ve been up to…?’ Include a right arrow. In the next Story, reveal your new product.”
“Finally, include a swipe up link to where people can make a purchase,” Wald says.
16. Target the Top of the Funnel
“The best tip I can give for B2B marketers looking for ways to get results from Instagram is to build a clear social media sales funnel for top-of-funnel traffic,” says Sam Rexford of Chill Reptile. “You can do this for a brand, product, or even an individual like sales team members or consultants.”
“If you’re trying to get direct sales from Instagram, you will probably struggle. That’s because Instagram users aren’t there to buy your services or products; they’re there to browse memes and photos.”
“Instead of pitching them directly, it’s far more cost-effective to get them into your sales funnel with a free lead magnet that addresses their primary pain points and introduces them to your brand and solution. Once they’re on your list, you can educate them on why your solution is right for them,” Rexford says.
Text Request’s Ramey Miller agrees: “Give more than you ask for: helpful tips, good wishes, fun visuals, etc. Most of your posts should have little to do with your product or service. Gain their trust, and then you can sprinkle in a little ‘Try us out’ or ‘Grab a demo.’ It’s all about trust.”
17. Use Ads to Move Followers Through Your Funnel
Once you’ve gotten followers into the top of your funnel, Alistair Dodds of Ever Increasing Circles says you can move followers deeper into your funnel through Instagram Ads.
“Plan out a well-structured Facebook Ads (which is really Instagram Ads) campaign:”
- “Use your Instagram feed to post daily, visually engaging content.”
- “Use Facebook Ads to promote to both a cold interest-based audience and an email custom-lookalike audience.”
- “Set up a TOFU 2 campaign that targets all users who engaged with campaign one. Promote your lead magnet material to this audience.”
- “Use lead ads and split test your creative.”
- “Set up an autoresponder sequence to build further rapport with your leads.”
- “Set up a retargeting reach campaign to ensure they regularly continue to see your content.”
“Ensure this educational-style content moves them further through your sales funnel,” Dodds says.
18. Use Location Filters
For our final tip, Jeromy Sonne of Moonshine Marketing recommends taking advantage of location filters. “If you’re taking an ABM approach to getting new clients, oftentimes you can post nine or more images right in a row and flood the locations of corporate headquarters of companies you’re targeting.”
Instagram Is For B2B, Too (If You Know How to Use It)
Want some more examples of B2B brands that are knocking it out of the park on Instagram? Here are some of our respondents’ favorite B2B Instagram accounts, with Microsoft, Mailchimp, Hootsuite, and HubSpot topping the list:
Instagram is not as straightforward as Twitter or Facebook where you can simply share relevant content for your industry and get clicks back to your site. It requires a bit more patience and creativity. You must be more expressive. Your followers will want to feel like they have something in common with you.
It probably won’t translate directly to sales or conversions right away, but once your following is big enough, it will. It will also help you create the impression you want to create with your current and future customers.
Originally published in April 2017, this post has been updated with up-to-date B2B Instagram marketing tips from 35 marketers in 2019.