4 shareable B2B Instagram content ideas to grow your audience
Zach Benson shares his tips on how B2B brands can use Instagram to maximum advantage
HubSpot. MailChimp. General Electric. B2B brands can be just as dominant at Instagram as B2C brands are known to be.
So why isn’t yours?
Instagram as a B2B channel: What and why to share
Instagram has double the number of monthly active users as Twitter and three times as many as Facebook. About 75% of American businesses use the platform, so there’s clear precedent and incentive to jump to Instagram marketing as a core component of your larger marketing and sales strategy. And B2B brands typically find the most success posting:
- Authentic imagery and videos.
- Data sets with specific callouts and expert quotes.
- Polls that solicit user feedback and opinion.
- Hashtags that delve into industry-specific topics.
- Tangential content that doesn’t explicitly refer to products or services but exists in its own right as humorous, insightful, motivational or creative.
Sharing content that’s valuable from a sales perspective but that’s also outright interesting connects your brand with users who skew younger and may have purchasing influence within their own companies. It also fosters social engagement, user commentary and metrics-gathering you can use to inform subsequent marketing campaigns.
But don’t let the content types other brands use constrain you, and certainly don’t use Instagram simply as a podium for you to be overly sales or for you to duplicate marketing efforts already underway on other social networks. Think of Instagram as its own go-to-market platform, with its own benefits to your brand.
You’re so much more than a generic “thought leader.”
Avoiding the thought-leadership trap
Being a thought leader is the goal of literally every business, but it’s such a vague ideal that it’s often used as a crutch in place of an actual objective to be achieved.
And although Instagram is primarily thought of as a B2C channel, B2B brands can still take a few cues as to what Instagram users prefer to see and interact with. That means focusing on engagement (i.e. content that’s interactive or 'clickworthy') and using emotional indicators to support cold, hard business data (i.e. don’t just blast followers with infographics that have 45 data visualisations but no supporting content, hashtags or relevant context as to why they should care).
Too often, thought leadership is interpreted as 'market dominance' or 'business savvy', but it can also refer to human connections with audiences and conveying complex ideas in unique ways. As long as you communicate your differentiators in a way that’s better than your competitors, then, by definition, you’re a thought leader, just not in the same boring way most marketers portray it.
So what can you do actually stand out on Instagram? Here are four ways to get started:
1. Provide exclusive sneak peeks via Instagram Stories
Ephemeral content, or content that disappears after a matter of time, is essentially how Snapchat pays its bills. Instagram Stories offers a similar technique, and the content you post vanishes after 24 hours. It’s essentially a hype machine for any big events, activities or product unveilings you may have coming up.
Building a buzz through Instagram Stories allows you to put the onus on followers to tune in right now at this very moment - the opportunity won’t be here tomorrow. So, while you have their attention - which you can gain by teasing new product features, using a daily or hourly countdown ticker or offering VIP discounts or codes - make it count. This is your chance to consciously and subliminally push your your brand narrative and increase the excitement around exclusive offers.
2. Up your trade show and event marketing game with Instagram Live
To be honest, it can be annoying to receive notifications that someone is now live on Instagram, but that’s usually because you don’t understand why it has to be the same person over and over. Ugh. But if Adobe, for instance, went live, wouldn’t a creative agency or B2B graphic design firm tune in, if only for a moment?
You can do this as well but in a way that supports your existing trade show and events presence. Interview someone at your booth. Film a key speaker. Gather thoughts from attendees. Spotlight employees who are demoing your products.
Instagram Live brings real life - all of its hiccups, gimmicks and surprises - to your brand image, which competitors often lack.
3. Create user-generated content through hashtag campaigns
UGC isn’t necessarily easy, but it’s a definite way to show a more visual, narrative side of your brand. Plus, it’s primarily powered by your social followers, so you just need to launch the campaign, solicit submissions from users and then organize them in a way that puts not just your brand’s story but your customers’ stories front and center.
If you sell aftermarket car parts to auto dealers, you could potentially start a campaign around #cars4acause whereby anyone can post a picture of their car and insert text describing a time when their specific make and model got them out of a jam or allowed them to help someone else. By threading together the stories of average car owners and their stories, you get to socially interact with the public in a way that isn’t just nuts and bolts, literally.
4. Dive super deep into your niche, and then diversify your content as much as possible
Consider the use cases and applications of your product or service. It’s not for everyone, obviously, and, hopefully, your marketing funnel is designed with this reality in mind.
Some B2B brands close five deals a year - that’s it. But if they’re worth $500,000 each, five may be all you need. So, what do those five leads crave content-wise? What do they need more info about? What do they like reading in their spare time? What is something that only you can provide them?
These questions should shed light on how you should be framing your Instagram posts. Tell a story. Be investigative. Tackle tough subjects.
If you sell HR software, anyone can post about HR trends. But what if you got super granular and focused on hyper-niche topics like '17 science-backed ways HR software is remaking the talent pools in Europe in 2019' or 'A close look at [enter key feature] and how it single handledly led to 10% cost reduction for two of our clients'.
Now that’s info that’s worth my time!
But don’t stop there. And don’t post the same stock image plus brief description. Run a demo. Use memes. Publish a customer testimonial. Link to a longer white paper. Switch up your content types so that followers can be engaged in multiple media formats.
Bonus tip: Scan the Explore page every morning for fresh ideas
The other B2B brands you follow - and the B2C ones, too - are featured on your Explore page when you log in to Instagram. This page is essentially a curated treasure trove of content ideas. What stands out? What grabs your attention? What made you laugh?
Apply these same tactics to your Instagram marketing and tweak them in a way that makes sense for your specific audience. It cannot be overstated just how valuable monitoring other brands’ marketing activities can be toward your own ideas, especially if you’re still experimenting with and adjusting your campaigns.
Where do you start when it comes to planning your social media strategy?
This two-page social media marketing strategy template will make it easy for you to draw up your game plan, from objective setting through to response management and engagement reporting.