Posted on: 2014-08-20
If you work in marketing, you’ll definitely have heard of Instagram by now (unless you have buried your head in the sand). But even for B2B audiences, the marketing potential of Instagram should not be underestimated. You might be surprised to learn that Instagram is at it's Peak as The King of Social Engagement.
It’s no longer just for selfies, videos of pets and editing photos of your food; it’s now a powerful marketing tool that can be used to engage with up to 50 million users.
We’ve all heard the cliche that a photo speaks a thousand words: so just imagine how much a well managed Instagram feed could benefit your business! Amongst its many advantages, Instagram is immediate, visual, accessible and easily searchable with hashtags – what’s not to love?
Many brands have started to use Instagram to their advantage. Some have sent influential ‘Instagrammers’ gift packages, flown them to exclusive events and even sent them on holidays abroad - all in the hope that they will share lots of photos with their avid followers. Be it Burberry posting a real-time stream of photos direct from the catwalk or Birds Eye offering free meals at pop-up restaurants to those who Instagram their food, brands are using Instagram to establish themselves to their target market as dynamic, young and fresh.
Getting started on this powerful marketing tool is surprisingly easy. In just a couple of minutes you can download Instagram for free from the app store on both android and iOS devices and register an account. From there completing your profile is simple. Upload a profile picture that captures your brand, write a short 200 character bio - maybe ask followers to use a particular hashtag or include a link to your company website and hoorah! You’re ready to get Instagramming.
Now that you’ve got your account set up, you need to decide what to post. A good tip is to use your Instagram posts to tell a story about your brand. What exactly do you want to tell your target audience about your brand? How can they be a part of the story?
Of course, you can do this the conventional way by posting lots of photos of your products. But your story will be a much more effective marketing tool if you make it exciting - you’ll draw far more people in, and quickly too!
One of the keys to encouraging user engagement is to create a post that is interactive. Consider leaving a call to action in the comment along with your photo. Better yet, embed it in the photo itself. For example, if you’re a drinks company you could engage followers in a unique way by asking them to post a photo of their drink on a Tuesday along with a relevant hashtag e.g. #TeaTuesdays. You could then offer the best photos featuring the hashtag a voucher for a drink at one of your outlets. As well as creating real life customers, using hashtags will also increase your reach. If a user sees a friend upload an image with a hashtag they will want to know what it’s about so that they can join in too. This means that by exploring your hashtag they are far more likely to look at your profile and in turn follow you.
Instagram users are always up to date on the latest trends so don’t let your brand get left behind. Creating images or videos that show you as being in touch with these trends is a great way to add personality to your brand. For example, the hashtag #tbt or ‘throw back Thursday’ may be popular with teens sharing images of their school days but it can also be used to get great exposure for your business. With millions of people searching the hashtag, having an interesting image of the early days of your company or an old favourite product will be an ideal way to gain brand exposure.
Something that Instagrammers really appreciate are posts that give a personal insight into your company. Maybe you’ve got some photos of amusing office antics hidden away somewhere? Or of employees on a day out? Let your customers see the faces behind your brand so they can interact with you on a more intimate level. There is considerable evidence that users respond better to posts that produce emotional response. If your Instagram profile evokes emotion in your users, be it laughter or affection, this will go a long way in encouraging likes, comments and a loyal following.
Now that you’ve got that all important following and people are starting to respond to your posts, it’s important you respond to them too - no one likes a one sided relationship! Strike up a conversation with your loyal followers. ‘Liking’ or ‘commenting’ on the photos they upload shows them that you value their contribution. And if others see your comments on photos they will want to post their own images to get your attention too. If you want to take your customer relations a step further, use Instagram’s video feature to really interact with your followers. Why not try asking them a question using a hashtag, e.g. #ask(brandname). You can then answer their questions by posting a short 15 second video. Personal and informative snapshots of your business will be both thought provoking and show your brand as helpful - all whilst creating a great content marketing strategy.
Most importantly, remember to be experimental. There are so many people already using Instagram to reach out to their customers, so try to stand out by being different. Don’t be afraid to make use of a little trial-and-error: make lots of different types of posts and hashtags until you discover the things that make your Instagram audience tick.
The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog is managed by b2b pr specialist Heather Baker, founder TopLine Comms, an inbound marketing, B2B content marketing agency and proud HubSpot partner agency and takes contribution from anyone sensible in the industry with something intelligent to say. Follow Heather on Twitter @TopLineFounder or contact her via email on [email protected].
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