When I give conference talks or meet with new clients, I often hear:
“Why would I use Instagram? My company isn’t consumer-facing.”
- Decision makers at companies are humans, just like you and me. Being a business professional doesn’t mean that you don’t scroll through Instagram on your lunch break or – let’s be real, when you’re supposed to be working.
- If your B2B company’s competitors are on Instagram and you’re not, you’re missing out on potential followers, brand ambassadors, and leads. If your competitors aren’t on Instagram – it’s time to jump in and own that space before someone else does.
- Instagram is a social media network dominated by visuals. Images have the power to elicit an array of feelings from joy and amusement to motivation and surprise. These effects are just as powerful to a person shopping for shoes as they are for a person looking for software for their company. If you make a person feel, they will care about what you have to say and what you’re offering.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at these awesome B2B brands that are making the most of Instagram:
Adobe does an incredible job of bringing authenticity to their brand with user generated content. Each month, Adobe selects a theme and a corresponding hashtag, and asks users to share content that aligns with that theme. This month, for example, they’re celebrating women and their creativity with #WomenCreate. #WomenCreate already has 5,838 posts on Instagram, and it’s only the first week of March. Adobe then chooses posts to share on their account.
This strategy has created a mesmerizing Instagram feed – but it’s not just beautiful. It’s an extremely effective way to build strong relationships with potential customers. Thousands of creative professionals all over the world post photos every month in hopes that Adobe will share their work. Adobe is essentially turning these social media users into ambassadors and content creators for their own brand. Encouraging user generated content keeps the Adobe Suite top of mind for creatives while also demonstrating the company’s commitment to supporting and sharing art.
Kickstarter was founded on the concept that anyone with a creative idea should be able to make their dream a reality. Their Instagram feed serves as an extension of their mission - it's filled with calls-to-action to encourage followers to support Kickstarter initiatives. By featuring the hopeful entrepreneurs using their crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter uses Instagram to further solidify the company’s dedication to helping creators thrive.
Social media is unique because it allows businesses to connect with people in a way that no other marketing tactic can. Kickstarter is simultaneously connecting with (1) the creators using their platform by sharing their stories and encouraging others to support them, and (2) potential future platform users who may be inspired by these stories. And let me tell you – this feed is next-level inspirational.
WeWork has more than 600 coworking offices in 100 cities worldwide. The B2B company takes advantage of their global footprint to create an artful Instagram feed that shows off their unique workspaces, motivates people to join their community, and encourages followers to pursue fulfilling work. Comprised of photos of their office and simple motivational quotes, WeWork’s Instagram feed is a visual representation of their mission statement: “Create a world where people work to make a life, not just a living.”
To take it a step further, WeWork uses Instagram’s Story feature to give a “no filter” look at the WeWork culture and experience. They even have WeWork members take over their Story to tell followers about their individual journey with WeWork. This unedited content coming straight from WeWork’s customers forms the perfect marriage of storytelling and authenticity.
Cisco uses a variety of content to form a well-rounded, people-centered Instagram feed. They show off the quality of their product by featuring flashy projects, like Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods World Tour. They establish credibility by posting photos of their team attending industry events, such as The Great Place to Work For All Summit. They demonstrate their commitment to those in need by sharing charity initiatives, and they put faces to their brand by posting employee stories. They even capitalize on trends and cultural events with engaging games! On top of providing an enticing variety of content topics – Cisco is very intentional with their use of an array of content types from still images to high quality video.
Cisco has mastered Instagram from all angles, capitalizing on their Highlights and hashtag features as well. They use Highlights to share a mix of in-the-moment content and animated video to provide a closer look at all components of their company. They use their branded hashtag, #BeTheBridge, to drive home their mission to “build bridges between hope and possibility” and to encourage others to use the same hashtag, spreading the reach of their brand even further.
FedEx is another excellent example of a B2B brand using a variety of content to keep users engaged. They recently took it up a notch with the launch of their SameDay Bot. Below, you’ll see a “puzzle grid” they created with photos that fit together to form an image of their new technology. They also tagged Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show in each of the photos, creating an online connection with their television promotion for the same service.
FedEx also does a fantastic job of capitalizing on user generated content and trending hashtags to tap into cultural conversations happening online. They’ve posted user generated content to feature #WorldTourismDay, #TravelTuesday, #FridayFeeling, #NationalDogDay and more. To relate with followers on another level, FedEx also uses friendly, conversational copy that doesn’t feel stuffy or out of place on social media. This strategy creates a seamless experience as Instagram users scroll through their feed. Instead of feeling like they’re being served an ad – FedEx content fits in with the content from users’ friends and families. If potential customers view you as a friend, you’re using Instagram the right way.
Social media is supposed to be just that… social.
If you remember that, even in B2B relationships, decision makers are social beings who enjoy being entertained, informed, and connected, you’ll find immense opportunity in Instagram. To get started, keep these ground rules in mind: (1) stay authentic, (2) engage in storytelling, (3) mix up your content, and (4) get creative with your visuals.
Now… Ready, Set, Instagram!