Social media is a core part of our personal lives. We all think in the language of sharing, liking and posting. B2C marketers have become experts at using social media channels to communicate directly to consumers – but what about B2B? Just like everyone else, B2B prospects and customers expect to conduct their lives online, with the line between what’s useful at home or at work becoming increasingly blurred.
This has sparked the growth of B2B social marketing, and it’s rapidly becoming a popular way to communicate brand messages, advertise services, demonstrate industry expertise, build trust and generate leads.
There are lots of reasons behind social’s success, from its cost effectiveness to the sense of authenticity it conveys and the ability for instant communication with an engaged audience. A successful B2B Instagram strategy for example can give a business a major advantage over its competitors, so it’s worth investing the time and resources to get it right.
The first step to supercharging your marketing efforts with social media is to find the right platform. There is no singular, one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, there are a range of platforms, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, depending on your objective.
There is little point having a presence across every platform without the means to actively manage it. Decision makers also need to decide how they are going to distribute their resources across all the platforms they want their business to be on, or which single platform would be most appropriate to invest in, where resource is limited.
Many businesses choose to invest resource into Instagram. The reasons are clear: it’s a visual platform with one of the largest, most engaged audiences. As Sprout Social notes, streams on Instagram beat out Facebook for engagement by over 10x, while engagement rates are six times higher (0.83% engagement compared to Facebook’s 0.13%).
Although Instagram is favoured by individuals, many businesses – from large multinational to local retailers – have demonstrated its capacity for business marketing. There is also SEO potential on the horizon, as Google starts to index Instagram content, meaning that it could also play a key role in your B2B SEO strategy aiding discoverability and further supporting the new business pipeline. This, combined with high engagement rates, mean that an effective B2B Instagram strategy is becoming a necessity for successful modern businesses.
However, running a business Instagram page is worlds apart from posting your own weekend pics. It requires careful planning, creative content production, community management and more, all of which falls under the umbrella of a B2B Instagram strategy. Our expert B2B social media team has put together this guide to help you take your marketing to the next level on Instagram.
Identify the opportunity
The first strategic step is to ensure that your marketing efforts will reach the people they’re supposed to. Start by checking out the key demographics that use Instagram and make sure that your target audience is on there. Don’t be discouraged if your target audience only makes up a small slice of the pie; many businesses have successfully built communities from these small, niche audiences.
Instagram also boasts relatively low B2B competition. Just 25 million B2B companies worldwide use the platform, yet over 200 million users say they visit at least one business profile every day. Three in five Instagram users say that they discover new products or services on the platform, and one in three of the most viewed Stories on the platform are created by businesses.
What’s more, many of the businesses currently on Instagram are – to put it gently – lackadaisical in their approach. They post every few months and they don’t have a clear sense of what they hope to get from their Instagram presence. This is good news for any business that’s looking to take their presence seriously, as the competitive landscape shrinks somewhat.
Have a look to see whether your competitor businesses are on the platform, what they’re posting, and how frequently they post. Whether they’re asleep at the wheel or dedicated rivals, there’s still room for your business.
Define your goals, set SMART objectives
Next, you need to consider your goals: what do you want to do with Instagram? Many businesses set KPIs like generating leads, building advocacy, boosting engagement, educating potential customers, or reaching new customers. Social media marketing is a means to a specific end, and the more clearly you can define this, the better results you will have.
An effective B2B Instagram strategy depends on setting clear, quantifiable goals at every level. At the strategic level, you should have a good idea of what you want to achieve by posting on the platform. Beneath that, you need to consider how to get there and set “SMART” objectives to measure your progress.
The SMART framework is intended to help businesses create specific, actionable objectives.
It calls for them to be:
Specific – exact and straightforward.
Measurable – in one or more qualitative or quantitative metric.
Achievable – ambitious but possible with your current resources.
Relevant – it should be possible to draw a clear line from the objective itself to the business’s success.
Timely – taking place within a defined timeframe.
To inform the “measurable” part of your goals, Instagram offers a suite of analytics tools to provide you with useful information. With Instagram for Business, you can view stats like reach, impressions, engagements, clicks and more. This data can help you identify what’s working and what isn’t, especially when combined with other information like visitors arriving at the site via links in your bio or your Stories.
It’s easy to get lost in the data, but it’s important to remember that your Instagram strategy is part of a larger effort to achieve certain goals. An increase in followers or engagement is great but remember to keep things “relevant” by relating your efforts back to a metric that matters to the business, like sales or new business.
Now you know what you want to achieve it’s time to think about the kind of content you need to create to help you meet those goals. Instagram is always evolving as it adds new features and types of media. At the same time, users are continually driving the platform’s culture forward with new trends and ways of using the features available.
A successful B2B Instagram strategy depends on using a range of content formats in combination. That means that it’s time to think visually. Photos and graphics have long been the bread and butter of Instagram, and while they’re still important, they’ve been overtaken by video in many respects. All of Instagram’s formats – from the feed post to the Story and now the Reel – support video, with Instagram providing greater reach to video-based posts.
Video is easy to share. Almost all, 92%, mobile video consumers regularly share video content with others.
Video drives engagement. A study by Adobe found that 52% of marketing professionals believe that video is the best format for generating ROI.
People trust video. In a world where misinformation is rife, people are increasingly sceptical of information from still images and text. However, video is generally harder to fake – for now, at least – so seeing is still believing.
Video is intuitive and understandable. A well shot video is worth thousands of words because it gives potential customers the chance to really experience the story being told. Successful video comes in many shapes and sizes, with explainer videos, unvarnished “behind the scenes” content, testimonials and more available as options for B2B messaging.
Search favours video. Google has even created tools for searching within videos. As we approach the long-rumoured point where Google indexes Instagram, having a page full of engaging, well labelled videos will be an instant win.
B2B Instagram Stories
In addition to video posted directly to the business’s page, businesses can use images, graphics and video in the popular Story function. This “limited accessibility content” or “ephemeral content”, means that users only have access to the content for a limited time after it is posted, with its reduced availability tickling our innate curiosity and provoking a sense of urgency to view or take action. Instagram has a range of tools built in to help make your B2B Instagram Stories visually engaging, including custom “lenses” and options for adding GIFs, annotations, text, polls, and more.
When it comes to being consistent and keeping on track with content creation it’s important to devise a plan. Consider what you want the content to tell users or make them feel, how you want it to reflect the business, and what action you hope to drive the user to take. Consider the types of content that best suit each post: a case study may be worth a video, while GIFss may be better for step-by-step guides for new customers. Animations, meanwhile, are a popular choice for product demos, and behind the scenes images or short videos can be sourced from the team’s smartphones.
Keep it up to see results – an active account should be posting to the feed around twice a week and adding Stories as often as twice a day. Don’t worry too much about a little repetition – just because you posted something once doesn’t mean that everyone saw it, especially new followers!
Talk to your community – it’s called social media
Lots of brands unwittingly approach B2B social media as if it’s a chance to broadcast their services to a patient and engaged audience. That’s not the case, which many quickly realise before deciding that social isn’t worth the investment and abandoning their channel.
Remember that social media platforms are just that – places to be sociable! The best channels engage in two-way conversation with their audiences, asking questions, looking for feedback, replying to comments and refining their product or service offerings in the process.
Instagram in particular is a great place to have conversations with your audience because there are so many different ways to do it. What about stitching some customer content with your own to create Reels? Polling your audience through stories to see how you could help them meet their challenges? Creating some B2B Instagram Stories in partnership with a trusted supplier?
According to a study conducted by TrackMaven, B2B companies experience their highest engagement ratios on Instagram, which means that your posts can get the most engagements as a percentage of your followers across all of the major social platforms. Engagement builds the all-important “expertise, authority and trust” that Google is so keen on, and it’s the key to effective brand advocacy.
Now you’ve got your planning and execution down to habit, the key is continual improvement. You need to regularly measure the results of your B2B social media project based on the goals you set earlier and use those insights to adjust your approach.
Examine the posts that have landed each month (and those that didn’t) to determine what types of information, format of post, time of day, and other variables make for the most successful type for your audience. This process of refining isn’t just about polishing your content, it’s also about staying current as the conversation develops.
Social media doesn’t stand still and new opportunities to create content are emerging all the time, especially on Instagram. The dreaded algorithm is at play too, with Instagram promoting different types of content at various points, so it’s important you keep a close eye and adapt when something isn’t working.
Have followers stopped increasing? Think about what shareable content you could create to get in front of new audiences with Story shares, having others stitch your content or use your sound on Reels. Engagement slowed? Look at the posts that have driven your best engagement rates and try to replicate that – if it worked once, it may work again. If it doesn’t, there’s no harm in trying something new.
Measure, review, and refine so that you’re constantly learning about the content your (growing) audience likes, and most importantly, which content is helping you meet your goals. Nothing will happen overnight – investing in social media is a long-term strategy – but giving social media time and being consistent in your posting will eventually pay dividends.
B2B Instagram post ideas
Content is at the core of a successful strategy, but it can be hard to know where to start. Here are some B2B Instagram post ideas based on the most common categories – but don’t be afraid to get creative!
Data-based posts provide a real, tangible focus for a brand’s message, and they stand out on Instagram since they’re not the norm. Businesses of all kinds are constantly accumulating data, from sales to customer surveys, and this can be a great foundation for a post.
Perhaps a specific product or service is selling significantly better in line with a larger market trend, or perhaps some customer research has produced an unexpected finding. In any case, a graph, infographic, or even just some well-designed text on a background is a great way of conveying this information.
Every day could be a potential customer’s first time visiting a business’s social feed, so it’s important to generously distribute some basic information to make a good first impression. These sorts of posts can explain what the business does and how it benefits customers, the variety of services available, and instructions on how to reach out.
In other words, this B2B Instagram post idea is similar to a traditional paid ad – but don’t get carried away. The person reading the feed isn’t there to be aggressively advertised to, and too many promotional posts will turn them away.
Instead, it’s best to mix simple, informative posts (“did you know we offer X service?”) with subtle promotional ones. One great way to do this is to showcase client or partner success stories. There is still an implicit promotion of the business, but it’s far more credible to show that the product or service is working in the real world than to simply proclaim it.
Speaking of case studies, quotes are another popular B2B Instagram post idea. Pairing a short quote from the customer with an image of the product in action is an impactful way to prove that the business delivers on its promises. Quotes are also ideal for introductory posts when a new member joins the team.
However, quotes need to be kept short – engagement drops off sharply when people are presented with a wall of text on Instagram. For longer quotes, breaking the text down in a short video works better. A 15-30 second animated video can break a longer quote down into bite-sized pieces, making it easier for the reader to follow.
Videos also have the highest engagement rate, and they auto-play, grabbing their attention. Consider using video for the most important pieces of content.
Pieces to camera
It’s always good to put a face to the name, and nobody is as well equipped to speak for the business than the people who make it work. A quick piece to camera from real people within an organisation helps to build trust and add personality. A smartphone camera is fine for a short video – but any investment in higher production quality definitely shows – just be sure to shoot in a quiet, well-lit place.
Instagram Reels are a great way to reach new audiences, but be sure to leave plenty of time for editing. Some B2B Instagram post ideas that are ideal for Reels include tips and how tos, platform or product demos, behind-the-scenes video, and monthly highlights.
Still not sure what a great B2B account looks like? We’ve put together some of the best B2B Instagram accounts below. Remember, though, that every business is different, and Instagram is a place to celebrate these differences.
CBRE’s account proves that big commercial organisations can still do great things on Instagram. The content is clean and professional but still eye-catching and engaging, and it’s for a good cause: CBRE uses the platform to showcase diversity within their organisation. This means that people are often the focus of its posts, as well as thought leadership and posts that demonstrate its authority and expertise in the industry.
Deloitte has a similar approach to CBRE, using the platform to communicate the culture of the organisation. The business leaves the thought leadership and expertise demonstration parts of their marketing effort to other platforms, such as LinkedIn, meaning that the company Insta page is clear and clean.
Not only is HubSpot a treasure trove of information to support with your marketing efforts across the board, its Instagram nails the bitesize tips approach to posting. With graphics and photos of people, Reels and Story highlights, and more, HubSpot ensures that it’s constantly giving the audience useful information hints and tips, and inspiring affirmations!
Even LinkedIn has a presence on Instagram! This account really demonstrates that defining the opportunity and your channel purpose is key. LinkedIn know what users go to Instagram for, and it doesn’t try to force the long form or news content that makes its own platform unique. Instead, it focuses on building trust through a light-hearted, relatable content on Instagram.