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Instagram is a tricky channel for marketers for business-to-business (B2B) companies.
Since so much of its content is geared toward consumers rather than businesses, there are some B2B marketers wary of investing in the platform. Could organic B2B posts help them build a brand or generate demand?
Well, our Benchmark Groups data indicates that B2B businesses do have a chance to succeed on Instagram. And B2B marketers seem to agree. When we asked 42 of them if organic content on Instagram is worth it, 85.71% said yes.
Like with any platform, the trick to success for B2Bs on Instagram is setting clear goals and a strategy. We consulted our Benchmark Groups data, survey data from B2B marketers, and Online Optimism’s senior social media director, Meara McNitt. Here’s what we found:
When we examined the data in our Benchmark Groups for website and Instagram performance, we found a surprising contradiction. While the B2B Instagram profiles in our group didn’t get many followers moving along the marketing funnel, they still had impressive reach.
On average, the participants in our Instagram Business Page Benchmarks for B2B Companies didn’t see many profile or website visits in April 2023. They had a median of 140 profile visits and a median of just seven website clicks, indicating that their Instagram accounts weren’t driving visitors to seek out their brands. This makes sense, considering that Instagram is a place for many visitors to relax and get away from work.
But, the benchmark group members did see success in another aspect of Instagram performance — awareness and reach. While they posted a median of 10 times per month (based on 315 contributors), they achieved a median reach of 2,440 (based on 646 contributors). The top 25% of that group reached an impressive 26,990 people.
On top of those reach numbers, the benchmark group members also had plenty of followers and impressions considering their other Instagram metrics. They had a median of 3,990 impressions (based on 653 contributors) and 2,550 followers (based on 126 contributors). It seems that people are willing to follow B2B Instagram accounts — they just don’t interact as much as they do on other platforms.
For additional context, looking at our April 2023 data from Google Analytics Benchmarks for B2B Companies, B2B Instagram reach has comparable performance to B2B website reach. B2B companies had a median pageview count of 7,150 (based on 1,674 contributors) and a median of 2,670 unique visitors (based on 2,589 contributors).
Since B2B Instagram profiles have such a wide reach despite their low visits, we had a hunch that the platform could have the potential for building brand awareness and generate product demand. Let’s dig into survey data and expert opinions to see if you could use this strategy for your brand.
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While the data we have looks promising for Instagram’s impact on B2B brand awareness, it’s still a worthwhile question to ask if you should try using the platform in the first place. What do other B2B businesses and social media professionals think about Instagram’s viability? Which factors affect a company’s “fit” for the platform?
To get a better understanding of how B2B companies use Instagram, we surveyed 42 B2B marketers. 59.52% of them work in B2B services and products and 40.48% of them are agencies or consultants serving B2Bs.
Most respondents do have an Instagram account for their business. Out of the total group, only 4.76% don’t have an Instagram account, and just 4.76% have one and don’t use it. That leaves 90.52% who do use Instagram regularly.
But, the question of whether you should use Instagram needs more of an answer than “everybody’s doing it.” What do people experienced in the matter have to say about it?
For Meara McNitt, Instagram can be worth it, but only if you have the right plan and circumstances. She has the following to say to B2B businesses wondering if they should invest in the platform:
“I’m going to ask them these questions, and if they don’t have good answers, I’m not going to tell them to be on Instagram:
For Instagram to be worth it, McNitt believes you need to lean into its users’ perspective. “Instagram is so visual. People have to be able to look at something and take value from it. They want to be entertained, informed, or given something to aspire to. That’s why so many of the top accounts for non-celebrities are how-tos, thought leadership, or simply silly,” she says.
In other words, there can be a place for your B2B business on Instagram if it fits the channel well. Instagram accounts excel when they can present a strong visual brand and appeal to a community, and your business should have the right circumstances to allow those factors.
“It’s not worth starting on Instagram if there is not already a community for you to join,” McNitt says. “You will probably see positive ROI on Instagram if you have a visual product or service, or a strong voice. Think information sharing or humor.”
When we asked B2B marketers about their Instagram use and opinions on organic content, Andre Oentoro from Breadnbeyond told us that he believes that B2Bs shouldn’t use Instagram. He says, “Firstly, Instagram’s user base tends to be younger and more focused on personal, rather than professional interests. This means that B2B companies may struggle to find a target audience on the platform, and may be better off investing in channels like LinkedIn. Secondly, Instagram’s advertising options may not be suitable for B2B companies, as they tend to be geared towards consumer products rather than B2B services or products.”
These issues can be circumvented by B2B businesses, but as McNitt pointed out, it depends on what resources you have. There’s no blanket answer for every company — instead, you’ll need to understand what yours can bring to Instagram before you decide.
Related: 13 Ways Small Businesses Can Leverage Instagram for Marketing
Looking at our survey data, Instagram can help B2B businesses meet specific goals, but it depends on your specific objectives and post formats.
Out of all respondents, 61.90% use Instagram to build their brands. Nobody answered that they have employer branding as a goal. Databox’s marketing research analyst, Nevena Rudan, noted that she found this interesting, considering that one of the Databox account’s main goals is to showcase company culture.
The majority of respondents (69.05%) found Instagram to be very effective in reaching their top goal. Only 23.81% considered it not very effective.
But, respondents found that two post types did most of the work for reaching goals: videos (45.24%) and images (33.33%).
But of course, those are two broad categories of Instagram content, so we can get more specific about the type of content that succeeds there. Meara McNitt can provide more context with her experience.
McNitt recommends getting personal with your Instagram content to succeed:
“When looking at Instagram, think of it as people-to-people and not a business surveying a business. It’s a portfolio of your work and your personality!
So the kind of content should be educational to prove your knowledge, entertaining to keep them on your page, and a testament to your personality, so that they can get a taste of what working with you will be like. This can be behind-the-scenes content, videos talking about your service or product, before and after photos, and even infographic carousels sharing your thoughts or expertise on a subject.”
Senior Director of Social Media at Online Optimism
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She also believes that employer branding content does have a place on Instagram. “Building the employer brand is going to be an easier and more important focus for B2B companies. Show people what it’s like to work there, what kind of work they can be doing — Instagram is the hero of FOMO. Create a fear of missing out, a desire to be part of the brand. Everything happening on Instagram is based on FOMO—beauty and apparel brands are making you want to be in on the style; tech brands are making you want to be in on the benefits; businesses can use Instagram as a recruitment tool to create FOMO of what life could be like working for that company.”
Related Reading: Instagram Mistakes: 7 Things to Avoid Posting on Instagram As a Business in 2021
Since investing in Instagram adds yet another channel for you to manage, you might be wondering how many B2B companies outsource it.
According to our survey data, most of the marketers we surveyed manage all aspects of Instagram in-house. But some do outsource, especially when it comes to content creation.
B2B marketers generally prefer to create organic content for Instagram over ads.
Among our survey respondents, 57.14% focus on organic content, while 35.71% consider ads more important to invest in. Additionally, 7.14% think B2Bs shouldn’t invest in Instagram at all.
Here’s the reasoning that survey participants provided for their support of either side:
B2B marketers who prioritized organic content emphasized its importance in building a brand and creating trust with customers.
“Building a brand needs to feel organic,” says Paolo Bowyer of Showcase IDX. “While running ads could be good for increasing awareness, they don’t necessarily get the right type of attention. Organic content speaks truth to the brand you are, and when people visit the page, they will get a somewhat in-depth perception of the kind of business you are.”
For Marketer.co’s Nate Nead, organic content is important for every business on Instagram, including B2Bs. “As someone who’s spent plenty of time on Instagram, I know how powerful it can be for building a brand and connecting with your customers. That’s why creating organic content is an important piece of the puzzle — regardless of whether you’re a B2B or B2C operation,” he says.
Nead continues, “When we talk about ‘organic’ posts, we mean anything that’s not paid for but still shows up right there in your followers’ feeds. This can include all kinds of things like fun behind-the-scenes glimpses into what goes on at our company, visuals that really capture our values and personality, or just plain useful info that people find helpful. One big advantage to focusing on organic content is that it helps us build trust in our brands, leading to more engagement and conversions over time.”
Nead also believes in adding ads to the mix, though. “But while it’s definitely worth putting effort into this kind of material, sometimes it won’t be enough by itself — especially if we want to get real results quickly. To achieve those bigger goals, investing in some paid advertising might make sense depending on my business objectives. By combining both approaches effectively though (and thinking carefully about factors like our target market), I’m confident I’ll reach more customers than ever!” he says.
Luke Lee from EverWallpaper considers organic posts the staple content of Instagram:
“Organic content is more important to invest in when it comes to Instagram marketing for B2B. While paid advertising can be effective, it’s important to remember that Instagram is a social media platform that is built on engagement and authentic connections. Investing in organic content that showcases your company’s culture, values, and expertise can help establish your brand as a thought leader and build trust with potential clients.
Through consistent posting and engaging with your followers, you can also increase your reach and attract new leads organically. While paid advertising can certainly supplement your organic efforts, it should not be relied upon solely for B2B marketing on Instagram.”
CEO at EverWallpaper
Matthew Goulart of Ignite Digital also believes in playing the long game of building trust with organic content. “Investing in organic content allows us to showcase our brand’s personality, expertise, and values in a more authentic and genuine way that resonates with our audience. Our main focus is to build trust and create a lasting presence on Instagram. We want to position our brand as a thought leader and trusted resource in our industry. By encouraging conversations, responding to comments, and initiating dialogue, we are able to build relationships with potential clients, industry peers, and influencers. Unlike ads that have a limited lifespan, organic content can continue to attract and engage our target audience over time,” Goulart says.
But Goulart makes sure to use ads in an Instagram strategy, too. “However, while organic content is important, it’s worth noting that a balanced approach that includes a combination of both organic content and targeted ads can often yield the best results. Ads can be effective for specific campaigns, promotions, or reaching a broader audience, while organic content helps you build a strong foundation and nurture lasting relationships on the platform,” Goulart explains.
At Spa Strong, M’Lisa Ellis uses organic content to build relationships and inform ad campaigns. “Our B2B heavily uses Instagram for marketing and client acquisition. We create content that our target audience can relate to in order to demonstrate how our services can solve their problems and provide the transformation they want in their own business. We also use Instagram to collaborate with other businesses whom our Ideal Client already follows,” Ellis says.
Ellis continues, “By posting organic content, we have been able to test the waters and understand what types of posts or topics cause our audience to take action and convert. Once we know that a certain type of content is generating revenue and leads, we feel confident putting ad spend behind it and promoting it through paid traffic.”
Related: 24 Examples of Stellar Instagram Business Profiles for Marketers on Any Budget
Two respondents explained why they prefer to focus on ads over organic content on Instagram.
Andrew Heppinstall of Validus Media Ltd likes Instagram ads because they track the exact cost you spend on them. “Organic is great for brand identity and increasing trust values with potential customers. It is also a great way to display reviews for people that haven’t Googled your business yet. If you want true ROI, I’d recommend Meta Ads — then you can actually track what every penny gets you,” Heppinstall explains.
Meanwhile, Sasha Matviienko from Installation Gurus prefers the fast and reliable results you get from Instagram ads. “In our experience, Instagram prefers ads to organic content. We’ve had some limited success with organic content in the past, but we only get these results when something outstanding happens – an award, we published a book, etc. Most of the time we rely on ads in order to achieve our objectives. We see the best results with video ads, as it generates the best engagement,” Matviienko says.
We’ve established that Instagram can work for B2B companies if they have the right strategy in play. But, what exactly should that strategy entail?
Instagram’s priorities in its algorithm can vary among different post types. So, we asked Meara McNitt about the right types of content to create.
“This is an ever-changing topic. Reels were the thing to do for 2022, but Instagram has since deprioritized those and now focuses on regular posts (mostly carousel posts). However, Stories are going to be important for staying at the top of your followers’ feeds (literally!). When you can’t trust the algorithm to be showing your posts to your followers, you can at least rely on Stories to get in front of them. Make your Stories interactive through polls and quizzes to get even more priority in the distribution.”
We also asked about the biggest hurdle B2Bs can expect to clear in their Instagram strategies. “Algorithm and interest,” she responded. “Think about it—are you on Instagram to see what a business had for company lunch, or to see your friends and community? It’s probably the latter. If you aren’t showing people what they’re interested in seeing, you aren’t going to drive engagement, and you aren’t going to rank well in the algorithm. You have to be committed and have an interesting schtick to really succeed.”
In sum, you need to take advantage of Instagram’s post formats and post content your audience finds interesting. Keep a close eye on your posts’ metrics and pay attention to what post formats and topics are resonating with your followers. Then, double down on those factors for success.
Whether you’re trying Instagram out or fully committing to posting on it, monitoring your exact return on investment (ROI) will help you understand the channel’s worth to your business. When we asked survey respondents how they measure theirs, their tactics fell into four categories:
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:
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.
The staple social media metrics that most platforms have built-in, such as engagement rates and impressions, are a great starting point for tracking your ROI.
You can measure many of these numbers right in your Instagram app or Meta Business Suite, like Guillaume Drew from Or & Zon. Drew says, “To assess the ROI of organic Instagram content, we make use of the built-in analytics. We compare these with the targets we have set for a particular campaign. This gives us an estimation of the success of our efforts. It is difficult to measure the ROI of organic content, but this type of content works best for Instagram users.”
At Zzservers, Peter Zendzian also counts on direct social media metrics: “Measuring the ROI of organic Instagram content can be challenging, as it doesn’t directly *generate revenue*. However, some key metrics can be tracked, such as engagement rate, follower growth, reach, and click-through rate. By analyzing these metrics, businesses can determine the effectiveness of their content in terms of building brand awareness, driving traffic to their website, and increasing customer loyalty. They can also compare the results with their business goals and the cost of producing the content to calculate the ROI.”
While Instagram and Meta Business Suite have pretty robust analytics, they can take some effort to navigate. Don’t be afraid to use a third-party tool like Databox that lets you visualize your most important metrics in the same spot.
If you want to track your Instagram profile’s effects on other marketing channels, such as your website, you’ll need to follow your customers’ conversion journeys with extra metrics.
Sasha Matviienko uses UTM codes and attribution modeling to capture this kind of data for Installation Gurus: “To measure ROI of organic content on Instagram we use UTM codes and attribution modeling in our Google Analytics accounts.”
Related Reading: 12 Ways For Using UTM Parameters to Track Website, Content, & Campaign Performance
At VEM-Medical, Derrick Director combines UTM tracking with a variety of other strategies to optimize conversions. Director says, “In terms of measuring the ROI of our organic Instagram content, we use a combination of metrics to track our success. First, we monitor our follower growth and engagement rates to ensure that our content is resonating with our audience. We also track website clicks and conversions generated from our Instagram account using UTM codes and Google Analytics. This allows us to see the direct impact that our Instagram content has on our website traffic and sales.”
Director adds, “Additionally, we regularly conduct A/B testing on our Instagram content to see which types of posts perform best with our audience. We use this data to continually optimize our content strategy and improve our ROI.”
One respondent uses a unique technique that I’ve coined “advertising equivalence.” It gets around organic content’s drawback of not being able to track costs. This trick works if you run Instagram ads to compare your organic posts to.
Paul Fairbrother from The Fairbrother Agency explains this strategy:
“When running paid advertising, we can measure ROI for ecommerce using the Meta pixel. From this we can work out the revenue per thousand impressions, and also what that thousand impressions costs i.e. the CPM. For organic posts, we can then look at the number of impressions and work out what that would have cost us if we were paying for those impressions. For example, if our advertising CPM is $6 then if we get 1,000 organic impressions that’s worth $6 of advertising. We can also calculate what revenue that would have yielded.
It’s not perfect, as organic impressions might be more or less valuable than paid impressions. However, it’s a good way to assign an approximate revenue. Also, you can repurpose paid content and use it for organic so it doesn’t take many additional resources to create a good organic strategy if you are already running paid.”
Owner at The Fairbrother Agency
Another respondent performs an in-depth ROI monitoring process that I call “full-journey attribution.” It tracks a post’s involvement in every aspect of marketing.
Hayden Miyamoto from Acquira breaks down the strategy: “As an entrepreneur and investor, I have experienced the power of organic Instagram content and how it can drive substantial returns on investment (ROI). My approach to measuring the ROI of organic Instagram content involves several key steps.”
“First, I believe in setting clear objectives for each organic Instagram campaign. Whether it’s increasing brand awareness, driving website traffic, capturing leads, or boosting sales, defining specific goals provides focus and direction.”
“Next, I track essential metrics to evaluate the performance of the organic Instagram content. Monitoring follower growth over time indicates the content’s ability to engage and attract an audience. Calculating the engagement rate, including likes, comments, and shares, helps measure audience interaction and interest. If the content includes links, I closely monitor the click-through rate (CTR) to assess user engagement with the provided destinations like websites or landing pages.”
“Additionally, I use conversion tracking tools to measure specific actions taken by users after engaging with the organic Instagram content, such as purchases or form completions. To ensure accurate measurement, I analyze the attribution of conversions and sales. By tracking the customer journey from the initial Instagram engagement to the final conversion, I can attribute specific actions to the organic Instagram content, using techniques like UTM parameters, unique landing pages, or promo codes.
“Benchmarking against historical data or industry standards helps evaluate the success of the organic Instagram content and identifies areas for improvement. Considering associated costs like content creation, time, and resources provides a comprehensive assessment of the ROI. Finally, I conduct a financial analysis by quantifying the revenue generated, cost per acquisition (CPA), customer lifetime value (CLTV), and overall ROI.”
Databox has more than 90 social media dashboard templates for tracking your metrics, including Instagram dashboards. Here are three you can use to easily track the most important aspects of Instagram performance:
The Instagram Overview Dashboard captures your go-to, high-level metrics, such as total impressions, new followers, and reach. It’s great to have on hand to get a snapshot of your Instagram performance and activity.
With the Instagram Posts Drilldown Dashboard, you can find out which of your posts are performing and how they’re driving followers to your brand. It’ll assist in identifying high-performing topics to post about.
Just as the previous template homes in on posts, the Instagram Followers Drilldown Dashboard focuses on your followers. Track your follower growth trends and where your followers are coming from.
B2B companies can benefit from investing in organic Instagram content — but only if they have the right community and track their ROI carefully. You can achieve the second goal with Databox. As you can see from the dashboard examples shared above, it serves as a home for your most important metrics so you can see what posts are driving results.
Plus, Databox makes the process easy. Drag and drop the metrics you’re keeping an eye on on your dashboard and choose the visualization format you want, such as a graph or chart. If you’re unsure how to build a dashboard yourself, you can visit the template gallery or ask customer support to create one for you.
Best of all, it’s free to connect three sources and use three databoards. Try it out by creating an account now.
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