The top four social media sites currently used by B2B marketers are LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. However, more and more businesses are adding Instagram to the mix to attract potential customers and raise their profile. It makes sense: Instagram has over 800 million monthly users.

Managing social media platforms is a daunting prospect for many organisations – especially those in the B2B space. Too many businesses feel compelled to post, tweet, blog etc. simply because everyone else is doing it. Many also view Instagram (the relatively new kid on the block) as more of a B2C platform. This is absolutely not the case; Instagram offers a great opportunity for B2B businesses to reach a wider audience.

The trick to successful marketing on Instagram, is to focus less on selling the benefits of your products and services – and more on building strong connections with relevant people like prospective customers and industry thought-leaders. It’s a platform that enables you to engage in conversations and communicate your values.

Consider for a second the power of hashtags. Hashtags are a great way to interact with followers and push a post further. Some great B2B examples are #smallbusiness with an impressive 12,246,573,  #entrepreneurship with 7,527,393 posts, and #datacenter with 54,863 posts.

As a B2B social agency that has successfully used social media to generate B2B leads for our clients, we know Instagram presents a powerful marketing opportunity.  But it needs to be done right.

So, before you rush off and set up your Instagram account, give some thought to your Instagram marketing strategy. These top tips should help.

  1. Identify the opportunity

Does Instagram offer your business a lead-gen opportunity? Or, is it an opportunity to show potential employees what it’s like to work for you? Some research into Instagram’s user base shows that 68% of Instagram users are women, 80% follow a business, 32% of all Internet users are on Instagram and 59% of them are 18-29 year-olds.  Get to know Instagram really well and then identify exactly what you want your account to do for your business.

  1. Align your goals

Your Instagram marketing strategy is not a standalone activity. It needs to align with your overall marketing goals – and support your other efforts. Every piece of content you create for Instagram needs to appeal to your defined customer base. Make sure you include key search words and phrases where possible and have a set schedule of topics or events to showcase. Of course, leave some room for flexibility!

  1. Use real content

It’s time to get personal. Instagram favours authentic images so say goodbye to stock photography and staged promotional shoots. Users want to relate to your company’s culture and see a humanness behind the brand name and product offers. This can be a challenge for B2B businesses that equate professionalism with impersonal, unfeeling content.

Consistency is key with Instagram, you want you page to look neat and aesthetically pleasing – how do you want your audience to see your company? Reflect this in your posts.

Your audience wants to know about the real people working for and with you – and a get a glimpse of some of the everyday stories. Be honest and you’ll build a far greater rapport with your followers.

  1. Paid ads vs. organic

When it comes to using Instagram for marketing, you can push your posts organically – and/ or using paid ads. The benefit of paid ads is that they are very successful at targeting specific audiences at volume.  However, before you go this route, make sure you know exactly what your marketing objectives are. Identify who you’re targeting and aim your product and service accordingly. Keep the ads short with punchy calls-to-action. These are much easier to digest and more likely to get clicks.

An organic Instagram marketing strategy requires a bit more effort and patience. You need to engage with people and post consistently. A schedule will help you remember, and ensure that you don’t post too little or too much. Use hashtags to build your following. Do this by jumping on community hashtags to get more impressions and by creating your own branded hashtag. Interact with your followers and people you’re interested in. Another good idea is to run contests. This way you can entice more people to follow you and gauge real interest.

Just like any other social media channel, you need to get involved in Instagram’s wider circle. It only works as a successful marketing platform if you respond and engage with your targeted audience. Your content needs to be relevant, provoking and on-message. Get this right, and you’ll not only attract the right followers, you’ll generate new leads and see real business results.

If you need some help with your B2B Instagram marketing strategy, get in touch. Our team can sort out your social media content, distribution, strategy and management.