Today’s consumer wants to see your brand in practice. They don’t want to read about it, and they certainly don’t want to go digging around for examples of people who love it. They want to see your products being used and they want to get insight into the company who made them.
With over 300 million active monthly users, Instagram is a great way to capture corporate culture and customer engagement in a way that is both organic and genuine. Different from Facebook in that it promotes an “in the moment” approach to social activity that is both playful and raw, Instagram is a unique way to promote word of mouth advertising and create a brand “feel” that invites customers to get a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes.
While Twitter also creates a real-time buzz, according to Social Bakers, the engagement (interactions by users) rate for Instagram is actually much higher for some of the leading brands with a presence on both channels, resulting in an additional 18,853,672 interactions over a three-month span.
What is Instagram?
Instagram is a free fun and engaging social media platform that allows you to upload images and videos that you can then share with those who follow you.
Instagram allows you to add filters to adjust the appearance of photos, tag friends, and add locations to images, bringing your community closer by creating a visual conversation that happens… you guessed it, instantly.
Instagram for B2B and B2C
Whether you’re selling your product or services to a consumer or a business, Instagram is a useful channel to add to your social portfolio.
As a company that sells B2B, your journey on Instagram will focus on creating a visual storyboard that gives potential customers insight into your brand. That includes company culture, values and, of course, the product. Posting images that place you at the forefront of your industry will be important to distinguishing you from the competition.
For B2C companies dealing directly with consumers, Instagram may in fact be used as more of a platform for conversation. Encouraging consumers to tag images of your company or product in photos creates a “buzz” by way of unsolicited reviews and “likes” or comments on images you’ve shared.
How to Get Started With Instagram for Business
Here is everything you need to know to get your company up and running on Instagram.
Set up your profile: The first thing you have to do when registering for an Instagram account is to set up your user profile. This tells the public everything they need to know about your business, in a nutshell. Instagram has recently improved its search functionality, allowing for users to search places, people, and tags simultaneously. A good tagline with brand-specific keywords makes it easier for interested users to find you.
As a B2B or B2C business, it’s really important that you use consistent branding across channels (such as Twitter and Facebook) so that existing fans or followers from other platforms can find you easily through a simple search. Don’t change your name and be clear about who you are and what you do.
Get to know your audience: Whereas consumers have the option to make their profile private in order to control who is able to see content they share, as a business, you want your content to be accessible to the public.
This means that you will not be able to approve or disapprove who follows your brand. Note that just because someone follows your brand, doesn’t mean you are able to follow him or her back. If you want to follow a consumer or private user, you will have to send a follow request and cross your fingers.
Why would you want to follow a private user? Much like bloggers, who are solicited by companies to review their products, Instagrammers (yup, it’s a word) with a large following are able to influence their community, recommending or tearing apart services or products offered by various brands. These people are typically known as influencers, as they’re presence on certain social platforms are used to influence their community.
As your brand grows on Instagram, following these users (and potentially targeting them for placement opportunities) is a smart way for your community manager to keep an eye on what’s happening within your community and optimize future business opportunities.
Decide what to share: What you share on your feed will be specific to your brand, and your audience. Here is a list of very shareable content ideas to get your brand gain momentum on Instagram:
Share ideas and thoughts about subject matters of interest to your target demographic and inspire your community using images featuring poignant quotes or sayings.
Take pictures of your company at work behind the scenes! Customers want to trust your business. Putting a face to the brand helps humanize the message and turns a call to action into meaningful content.
Hop on a Trend
Often consumers will search for posts that are linked to a specific hashtag or theme. Some current trends circulating the channels include #MotivationMonday, #ThrowbackThursday (also known as #tbt), #TravelTuesday etc. Identify industry specific trends that will further engage your audience and use them when relevant.
Landscapes (Get Corny)
No matter how many sunsets we see, if the colour combination proves to be just right, we can’t help but “heart” it. From spring-themed flower patches to wintery snowfalls, don’t be afraid to comment on the weather. After all, it’s only (dare we make the pun?) natural.
Your Products in use
You need to sell your product, but you don’t want your audience to know that. People don’t want to see pictures of your product. They want to see pictures of your product being loved, used, misused, toyed with, cuddled with… you name it. Unlike other social channels, Instagram demands creativity, so don’t be afraid to think a little outside the lens.
Memes are basically images, videos, or pieces of text that are copied and spread throughout the Internet. Including some within your feed can lighten the feel of your brand and add fun to the conversations happening within your community.
Instagram lets share post 15-second videos with your community! Sharing short clips of your product being used is a great way to add “raw” footage to your feed. You can also share quick tips with followers and engage people in a more exciting way.
What to Post on Instagram and When
While, there are no hard rules about what to post on Instagram, referring to the Community Guidelines will help give you a sense of best practices, including what is, and what is not, acceptable to share.
When deciding what content to share on Instagram, be true to brand standards across all channels. Stay far (far far) away from controversial footage and don’t post anything that could discredit a staff member, or the actual brand.
How often should you post? According to a great infographic produced by SumAll and Buffer, your brand will see the most traction if you post twice daily. That being said, if you can keep up engagement, posting more often won’t do any harm.
Be cautious of posting too many photos that aren’t speaking to your audience. If you notice that your community isn’t engaging by “liking”, sharing your posts or leaving comments, it may be time to change your approach. The fastest way to lose a following is to produce too much of a bad thing.