How to use Instagram for marketing D2C & B2B brands

May 01, 2020

Emerged ten years ago as a photo-sharing app, Instagram has grown into a proper source of income for creators and a new marketing platform for entrepreneurs. Knowing how to use Instagram for marketing is essential knowing that 90% of Instagram users follow at least one brand page on the platform.

According to a recent survey conducted by Facebook, 83% of Instagram users discover new products and services on Instagram, 81% of users research products and services and 80% use Instagram to decide whether to buy a product or not.

How to use Instagram for marketing directly to consumers

According to Abby Summerville, founder of Helix & Conch, when it comes to using Instagram for marketing it isn’t about the number of followers, it is about the level of engagement you have with your followers that matters.

Ideally you should spend time to properly interact with your audience and ensure you are providing them with content that is tailored for them. By consistently doing this, your followers will become increasingly engaged with your page and you will attract more of the same followers that are ideally suited to you and your brand.

Let’s see how to use Instagram for marketing and get the most of it.

Turning followers into customers

First of all, you need to ensure you’re targeting the ‘right’ people for your brand. Who is your ideal customer and where do they ‘hang out’ (virtually!). Once you have a good idea of who your ideal customer is you can begin to aim your communications towards them.

Things that may attract your ideal customer might include the tone of voice you use, the colours used in your social media posts, specific psychological marketing tactics, etc. 

PR gifting and product placement with social media influencers have been a key activity for many D2C brands. But that doesn’t mean you should send out your products to everybody that wants them. It’s better to do a lot of research before collaborating with anyone – looking into their social media aesthetics, their demographic and that of their followers and ultimately, how engaged their followers are.

It all boils down to whether your brand and the influencer in question are a good fit – it has to be genuine and to resonate with them and their audience. However, if you do your research properly, it can be really effective

Keeping your audience engaged

It is all about motivating your audience to interact with you. Give them an incentive to connect with your page.

For example, whenever a customer buys from you, you can encourage them to share a picture of their purchase over social media, ensuring to tag you. This automatically enters them into a monthly draw. Then on the first day of the new month, you do an unbiased draw, and the winner chooses a product to receive free of charge.

This has proved a great way for many brands to not only keep existing customers engaged with the brand but a way to be seen amongst new audiences, that could be potential future customers!

Other ways of engaging your audience could be offering regular snippets of advice, downloadable freebies, etc. In essence, anything that keeps them interested and coming back for more is a great way to maintain engagement.

Being responsive is also key to engagement. Namely, if somebody comments on one of your posts, make sure to respond – even just a little thank you, can impress a potential follower and increase the likelihood of them becoming a customer.

Running competitions/giveaways

You should be careful when it comes to competitions. Don’t just run one for quick exposure, for example. However, when properly thought out and planned, they can be incredibly successful.

You can also run a rainbow style competition together with other brands where the winner gets something from each of us.

The main piece of advice would be to think it through and plan the competition properly – look to collaborate with other brands to reach wider audiences, but ensure your brands complement one another so that it feels genuine. There is no point collaborating with a brand if their audience doesn’t match your ‘ideal client’ profile.

How to use Instagram for B2B marketing successfully

At a slight glance, it may seem that it’s pointless to use Instagram for B2B marketing. Conventionally, Instagram is used by lifestyle and fashion brands whose audience has nothing to do with entrepreneurship. That is true. But it doesn’t mean this platform is a wrong place for B2B. 

Owners and top managers of B2C and B2B businesses scroll through Instagram on a regular basis. So there’s a chance that they will come across your profile.

This may sound paradoxical, but if you want to use Instagram for your business-end company, don’t leverage Instagram as a marketing tool. Instead, utilise Instagram as an opportunity to tell your story, raise brand awareness, and develop loyal relationships between you and your customers.  

To make that possible, comment on your clients’ Instagram posts, repost their publications, reply to their stories, and use real-time marketing. Especially when you only start developing your brand Instagram page. Surely, when your followers’ count hits thousands of hundreds, it would hardly be possible. But who said you couldn’t try? 

Let’s consider the steps you need to take to use Instagram for B2B marketing. 

Research and interact with the target audience

Before starting the research, remember that there is your target audience on Instagram, regardless of your business. 

B2B audiences: 

  • Top managers of relevant companies.
  • Employees of relevant companies (marketers, IT specialists, etc.).
  • Self-employed and freelancers who are potentially interested in your products and services.

How to find your target audience on Instagram? 

You can search your audience by relevant hashtags within Instagram or with some third-party apps like Combin Growth. Just type in hashtags that are relevant to your niche and start searching. Once you find the results, start interacting with these users – like, follow, or comment on them to draw their attention. 

For instance, you own an advertising agency, and your audience is marketers and business owners. You can find them by hashtags like #businessowner, #business, #startup and alike. The trick is to really know who your target buying personas are. 

Another way to find your target audience is to research the audience of your competitors. If you know who your competitors are, find them on Instagram and look through their followers. You can also find an active audience of a specific competitor by commenters and likers using third party apps. 

Optimise your profile’s bio

Your profile’s bio is the first thing people see when they visit your Instagram page. That’s why it’s important to write it wisely. Here are some tips for you to remember when creating your Instagram bio. 

  • Keep it short and sweet: don’t put too much information in your bio. 
  • Notwithstanding the bio should be short, it should contain all the relevant points about your company, such as key services you provide, your name, etc. 
  • Include your contact information. 
  • Include your link in bio. This will lead traffic to your website
  • Don’t put too many emojis, signs, and irrelevant elements in your bio. In the B2B sector, this will look distracting and unprofessional, unlike B2C brands. 
  • You can also optimise your bio for Instagram SEO, adding relevant hashtags and keywords.

Have a look at some B2B Instagram accounts’ bios to inspire.

IBM’s Instagram bio is an example of a laconic and yet informative brand description. It contains a website link and tells what the company may be useful for.

Mailchimp’s bio is also brief and clear about what the company does.

Publish user-generated content

It goes without saying that content is king. Especially on B2B Instagram pages. Your Instagram content needs to perform these tasks: 

  • Draw the attention of your potential customers and make them follow you, not leave after visiting your profile. 
  • Inform about your company’s services and products.
  • Build a community and form a positive image and credibility of your company. 

Clearly, that similar posts won’t do the job; the content should be diverse – photos, videos, infographics, stories, reels, and IGTV. Only you know which type of content your target audience is interested in – case studies, stats, or even memes. 

The special place in B2B Instagram marketing is taken by UGC, user-generated content. UGC is basically a free marketing instrument that can increase your credibility and show other customers that you’re worth spending money on.  

To find UGC, you need to listen to what people tell about you on Instagram – if they tag you or use your brand hashtags under their publications. Then you can repost their content after you ask permission, of course.

Regarding the content, there’s no one-fits-all approach. You or your content manager needs to test various content types to find those which are appealing the most.

Leverage influencer marketing

Along with appealing content and perfect bio, you need to know which marketing tools to use to grow your Instagram page and thus, sales. Influencer marketing is one of them. Influencers – whether it’d be macro-, nano or micro-influencers – are the driving force of Instagram. If you want to collaborate with influencers to increase your brand awareness, grow Instagram and boost sales, you want to choose opinion leaders right for your brand. 

 

Basically, this is the topic of a separate article but simply put, you can find influencers you need on Google (yes, that straightforward), influencers marketplaces like Brands Collab Manager or Combin Growth by hashtags, location and keywords.

Use targeted ads

Last but not least is using targeted advertising. Targeted ads are the most actionable way to reach potential customers in feed posts, stories, Explore tab and even IGTV. Here’s a webinar for newbies on how to leverage Instagram advertising

When the targeting campaign is set up properly, the results won’t be far behind.

The bottom line of Instagram for B2B

Using Instagram for B2B is a daunting and challenging task. Yet, it is possible and productive if everything is done properly. There is no one universal approach for every niche and Instagram account, so you need to test as many tools and recommendations as you can. And don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Only after making some, you will realise what works for your account and audience and what doesn’t.

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