For B2B owners, Instagram isn’t the most obvious marketing tool.
In the 5+ years I’ve worked in social media marketing, I often meet B2B owners who still can't grasp how Instagram can help their businesses. Many still think of Instagram as a visual platform that’s only good for sharing selfies and food pictures.
However, those days are far behind us. More brands are adopting Instagram marketing, and today the community of businesses on Instagram has grown to 25 million. Instagram has become a goldmine for marketers who want to promote products and services, and it's not just for B2C businesses anymore.
Use this article to learn why B2B companies should care about using Instagram for business, plus 3 proven ways your business can build an Instagram capable of attracting and retaining customers.
Why B2B Companies Should Use Instagram for Business
There are 3 key reasons B2B companies should invest in building an Instagram:
- Reach potential customers: With over 800 million monthly active users, chances are your potential customers are already on Instagram. Building an Instagram presence ensures that you will have an additional opportunity to connect with potential customers.
- Engage followers: For 55% of B2B marketers, improving engagement is a top priority. As a visual platform, Instagram allows brands to engage their followers by sharing eye-catching photos and interesting captions.
- Increase customer retention: Nearly half of customers (47%) claim they will switch companies after a single instance of poor customer service. Instagram comments put your business’s interactions with customers in public, showcasing your attention to customer service while serving as an additional point of contact for customers seeking post-purchase support.
Each of these reasons contributes to the same goal: fueling more revenue.
3 Priorities for B2B Companies on Instagram
When you launch your B2B company’s Instagram account, you’ll need to focus on mastering 3 key areas:
- Curating a visually appealing feed
- Connecting Instagram to customer service
- Developing strategies for building brand loyalty
1. Curate an Eye-Catching B2B Instagram Feed
If you want to connect with potential customers on Instagram, focus on developing content that proves you know your audience.
Knowing your current audience will help you win new customers. The keys to curating an Instagram feed that will catch the attention of potential customers include marketing how your company provides solutions and curating a visually-appealing feed.
Use Instagram to Highlight How Your Products Solve Problems
No matter how great your product might be, you can scare off potential customers if you annoy followers with constant pushes to buy your product.
Simply put, don't sell your products in every post.
“Best way to sell something – don't sell anything.” – Rand Fishkin
As a business owner, you definitely know your product's benefits and reasons it stands out from the competitors. However, your customers don't care about these features until they understand how your product can solve their problems.
B2B marketing is not about showing off features anymore. It's about solving customers' problems. By thinking about your Instagram from a potential customer’s perspective, you can diagnose their needs and recommend the right solutions.
Adobe serves as a good case study for how B2B companies can use Instagram to promote solutions. In an Instagram post promoting their Adobe Illustrator CC app, Adobe showcases how customers can use their product.
The strong visual nature of Adobe’s product is much more likely to intrigue potential customers compared to spammy or promotional language used to sell the product.
By using your Instagram to showcase the ways you understand your customers’ pressing problems, you can persuade potential customers to pay for your solutions. If you can offer a convenient, cost-effective, or timely solution, potential customers will be even more interested.
Actively Maintain Your Instagram Feed
When a potential customer lands on your Instagram feed, you have just several seconds to convince him or her to follow your account. Taking care of your feed is essential if you want customers to follow you.
When an Instagrammer first clicks on a profile, he or she immediately sees the overall feed. Visually appealing feeds are more likely to convince visitors to spend more time exploring posts.
Simple steps for creating a cohesive feed include:
- Choosing a theme of topics that reflect your brand
- Using 1-3 colors for a coordinated color scheme
- Selecting 1 signature filter
- Planning your feed in advance with tools like Snug or Preview
Among these steps, the easiest way to create a cohesive Instagram feed is to choose a color scheme that works well for your brand.
Colors have a big impact on the overall look of your feed, and the color scheme is the visual identity of your feed and brand. When you stick with one color scheme, your Instagram posts create a cohesive feed that grabs customers' attention.
For example, Grey Advertising always maintains a grayscale color scheme that echoes its branding.
For Grey Advertising, maintaining this color scheme is as easy as applying a grayscale filter.
By following these steps, you can craft a visually appealing feed and win new followers.
2. Use Instagram as a Customer Service Tool
According to Genesys, nearly half of customer retention (42%) depends on customer experience.
To create better customer experience, do your best to make your potential clients satisfied before, during, and after purchasing your product or service.
In other words, visualize the customer's journey and predict their questions to make the customer buying process easier.
Instagram can support the customer buying journey by allowing customers to:
- Contact your customer service representatives
- Engage with your business through comments
- Offer feedback
By using Instagram to support the buyer’s journey, B2B companies can leverage Instagram to their advantage.
Make it Easier for Customers to Contact Customer Service
Instagrammers use the social platform to discover new products and stay in touch with their favorite brands. In fact, most users (80%) follow at least one business on Instagram.
For brands, this means potential customers visit your social platforms to understand more about your values and products, plus get answers to their questions. Use Instagram to make it easier for customers to contact your customer service representatives.
For example, HubSpot uses its Instagram account to highlight company values, products, and services. Visiting their account, you can clearly understand who they are and what they sell.
Note that you can easily click through to its customer service page. Because HubSpot has a business account on Instagram, it’s easy to add contact options to stay in touch with followers.
To use Instagram as an extension of customer service, B2B companies should:
- Craft an effective bio that explains who you are and what services or products you offer
- Provide a website link that anticipates visitors’ questions
- Add contact options to provide better customer experience
Your Instagram account should reflect your company's values and accurately showcase your business. You should give your customers options how to receive customer support whenever they need it.
Moderate Instagram Comments and Answer Direct Messages
Customers may ask questions about your company on your account, and prompt replies can boost your company’s reputation for great customer service.
To make it easier to stay on top of comments and direct messages, you should:
- Turn on push notifications. Once you get a notification, it's a sign that you need to check the inbox immediately. This easy trick helps to keep you alert.
- Check Instagram messages several times a day. If you don't follow a person and he or she wants to send you a DM, it will some as a DM request which means you need to accept it before replying. Check out your inbox for DM requests in order not to miss them.
- Solve problems fast. Obviously, the business owner knows the product inside out, but workers who moderate the Instagram inbox should be able to act fast. Thus, it's a great idea to create FAQ document to copy-paste answers and allow customers to get a fast reply.
Modern customers have growing customer expectations of superior service, and many expect help within minutes. If you don't want to sacrifice your brand's reputation, ensure to provide real-time customer support on Instagram.
Request Feedback From Followers
There's no better way to understand whether your product suits customers' needs than asking them for feedback. Instagram can provide a touchpoint for gathering feedback from your customers.
Collecting feedbacks helps to:
- Improve your product or service
- Understand how customers evaluate the work you do
- Measure customer satisfaction
- Connect with your customers and show you care about them
- Increase customer retention
Listening to customers is a key to providing great customer service, so don't be afraid of asking customers for their feedback via DM, keeping an eye on your brand mentions, and reading their comments. You can find valuable information that can help you provide better customer support.
3. Develop Strategies for Build Loyalty to Your Brand
If customers trust your brand, they are more likely to buy your product and suggest your brand to others.
Brand loyalty increases customer retention. Companies should:
- Interact with Instagram followers
- Collaborate with micro-influencers
- Offer contests or giveaways
There are many ways to increase your brand loyalty, and it's important to find out what can work well for your brand.
Actively Engage With Followers
For B2B companies, it's harder to grab and hold audience's attention, so keeping them engaged is a must when it comes to promoting your brand on Instagram.
Two proven ways to engage your followers include interacting with followers and posting user-generated content (UGC).
Your followers also put effort into creating their Instagram feeds. If you want to make them feel special, interact with followers daily – watch their Stories, like and comment on their photos, and like and reply to their comments.
Actions louder than words, and when you show followers that you’re truly interested in them, they will be interested in your content.
Similarly, posting UGC shows followers that you are paying attention to the Instagram pictures they post about your brand.
For example, FedEx keeps an eye on when followers mention its products or services. As a result, they come across beautiful UGC photos which they can post on their account at no cost and very little time investment.
FedEx respects their fans' efforts, so they add photo tag and caption mention to credit the author. As a result, it helps to boost engagement and increase brand loyalty.
If users know and love your brand, they will want to be part of your community. Paying attention to your followers’ accounts and reposting their content on your feed can build valuable brand loyalty.
Collaborate with Micro-Influencers
The majority of customers (70%) trust online peer reviews and recommendations more than professional content and copy.
Business owners must find alternative ways to promote their brands without annoying potential clients. The answer is simple: Businesses should invest in influencer marketing.
Instagram provides opportunities for average people to become opinion leaders capable of influencing their followers. You can work with influencers who match your brand's views to market your products or services to their audiences.
If collaborating with top celebrities can be daunting and expensive, you can always rely on micro-influencers, opinion leaders who have between 1,000 and 100,000 followers.
B2B companies can deliver their message to the already-established community by working with micro-influencers.
For example, MailChimp has a mascot, Freddie, who has become a symbol of the company. From time to time, the company gives away a vinyl Freddie toy. Followers enjoy the photos of Freddie hanging out among other desk toys – and customers are happy to receive a customized surprise and share it on Instagram.
As an example, a micro-influencer named Zack Hannibal shared a photo of his Freddie toys with his nearly 19,000 followers. Hannibal tagged Mailchimp’s account to subtly promote the brand without annoying his followers.
The combination of a cute photo and a tag works well for the company and the micro-influencer.
Run Contests and Offer Giveaways
Many Instagrammers would love the opportunity to try your products or services for free. Instagram is an ideal platform for running contests that can attract new customers. Contests can help your business boost engagement, reach new followers, and build brand loyalty.
Best of all, contests are equally helpful to B2C and B2B companies.
For example, Adobe collaborated with Benjamin Lee (@itchban), who ran Adobe’s contest for a chance to win 12 months of Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps.
Instead of posting the contest on its own Instagram feed, Adobe asked an influencer to hold the contest for them. This allowed Adobe to access an already-established community and attract the influencer’s audience.
If you’re going to run a contest, there are a few rules to keep in mind:
- Offer discounts to all participants. Rewarding participants with individual discounts is a way to build brand loyalty and increase sales. As long as the discount is small, winning new business can offset any potential losses.
- Send brand freebies as gifts. Sending freebies is not just a cost-effective option, but an opportunity to attract participants interested in your product. Additionally, sending small gifts presents the opportunity to collect potential clients’ contact information. According to the Journal of Consumer Research, consumers are willing to pay more later for an item they can try for free now.
Running giveaways and contests isn't just a way for B2C companies to boost engagement. It's also a great way for B2B companies to connect with their followers in an interesting and engaging way.
Instagram Can Be a Powerful Marketing Tool for B2B Businesses
Instagram allows B2B companies to build brand awareness, promote their products, attract new followers, and improve customer retention.
To get great results, you need to put your clients first and think how to satisfy their needs, not sell your products. Keeping an eye on your Instagram followers and analyzing their behavior, including the comments and photos they post, is a proven way to understand them better. Once you understand your customers’ problems and desires, you can work on providing solutions, therefore gaining their trust.
If you've been lucky enough to turn a follower into a customer, never let this client go. Ensure that you treat your customer with your attention, such as likes and comments, even after the purchase decision-making. Focusing on customer retention will help your business grow revenue and stand out from the crowd.
About the Author
With 5+ years experience in social media management, Hugh Beaulac helps businesses shine online. He also runs MC2 blog and contributes to different websites. To read his latest works, follow him on Twitter.