B2C loves Instagram, small businesses swear on Facebook, e-commerce praises Pinterest, young entrepreneurs are obsessed with Snapchat, LinkedIn is made for B2B and no one expects anything from Twitter anymore? You’ve probably heard something similar from your marketing department or agency. Unfortunately, it’s wrong!

Instagram now has more than 800 million users – up from an official 600 million users on December 15, 2016. Each day, over 300 million users are active, half of which are between 18 and 29 years old. 95 million pictures are posted daily, and for many industries, business without Instagram has become unimaginable: 98 percent of companies in the fashion industry have an account.

Can we afford not to take advantage of this potential any longer?

Btw…did you check out our Instagram for Business Lookbook with handpicked examples from the B2B world? Get your free copy now!

Many B2B brands find it difficult to position themselves on Instagram. Instagram is visual. Files, technical support, audits? Not exactly film-worthy material. Still, Instagram isn’t just a stage for travel bloggers, models and lifestyle brands.

1. Stories: Show Who You Are

Genuine brands stand for something that goes beyond their products and services. Storytelling is the perfect tool for personalizing B2B businesses. With stories about your day-to-day work, you make yourself relatable. Instagram not only offers pictures for this, but also short films – so-called stories – that you can upload. The trick is to connect with your audience and avoid explicit, sales-oriented advertising. Forget traditional outbound and product marketing – these won’t work on Instagram. So how should you approach it? Simply don’t use Instagram like a marketing tool. Instead, use it as a stylistic device to tell your story. And remember to include hashtags to help your content spread faster.

2. Partner Content: Strengthen Relationships

Instagram is full of beautiful photos and you’re not sure what to take pictures of? Ask your customers and partners! You can share a traditional case study in a picture that shows your product in action much more effectively than with your own high-gloss photographs. Giving other entrepreneurs the stage has a positive effect on your image. It’s an indirect way of communicating how great it is to work with you – without actually saying it. It also leaves the impression that you believe in your business and that you’ve created a movement rather than using all your energy to achieve the highest possible turnover.

A nice side effect: Through shared hashtags, reposts and links, you can network with your partners in a whole new way.

3. Hashtags: Building a Community

So what if you don’t feel like telling a story about the team, the office dog is sick and none of your partners sends a picture? For days like this, you have your users! A popular trick among B2C brands is using hashtags, which works just as well for B2B! Your customers include the hashtag in their image captions when they use your product or find themselves in a situation with it. Of course, your company name isn’t a hashtag. It should be creative, but also easy to remember. Can you think of a word or phrase that characterizes your company and that your audience can identify with?

With the hashtag #paypalit, PayPal hit the jackpot on Instagram: The hashtag was used more than 9,000 times. The result is a colorful collection of situations where PayPal was used. This isn’t necessarily synonymous with user-generated content. Just because you let your audience participate doesn’t mean you expect photos and stories from them. While PayPal dictated the story, it was only through its users that a real story emerged – and a community of 8,000 people who have something in common.

4. Your Team as Ambassador: Show What You Can Do

You already know that Instagram isn’t primarily about selling the merits of your products or services. But certainly those of your company! Here, too, you can rely on users – more specifically, your own team. Some refer to team members as the ambassadors of their company. It’s important to know that few people are as credible when it comes to your business as your employees. An entire workforce has more ideas than just your marketing manager, who can’t produce fantastic photos year-round anyway. Creativity is fun, and you can share your corporate culture at the same time. Instagram is perfect for attracting the interest of potential candidates. A picture is worth a thousand words! Still, it’s not just the pictures that matter. While they serve as an eye-catcher and highlight part of your corporate philosophy, without a caption – a short text that summarizes and explains the photo – something is missing. Don’t leave your viewers hanging.

5. The Human Touch: Stay Authentic

Give your company a face. Even in the digital age, people prefer to do business with other people. Present yourself more as a person and less as a company. Take the camera in your own hands and film yourself and your employees at work. Don’t be afraid to show who and how you and your team are. Do you have a predilection for special sneakers? Wonderful, Instagram loves predilections! One of your employees occasionally brings his sleepy pug to the office? Even better: Pets evoke positive feelings in most viewers. People are naturally curious and enjoy getting a glimpse into the lives of others. By revealing something about yourself, you not only prove that you have nothing to hide, but that it’s easy to work, live and collaborate with you.

6. Analysis Even for Instagram: What Works?

In principle, a brand can measure its success on Instagram based solely on followers, likes and comments. This means you can open your account daily and get a pretty good idea of how well your strategy is working. However, daily analyses that look at individual posts are far more exciting. Who is interested in your posts and when will tell you much more about your target group and the type of content your audience enjoys. Since July 2016, it’s possible to convert your previously private account to a business account. With a business account, you can access additional statistics, create and promote your ads directly in the app and even add business contacts. Based on this, you can integrate Instagram into your online marketing strategy and increase your success.

Don't forget to check out our one-stop-shop guide to effective B2B Content Marketing!

Instagram is suitable for all industries. You simply have to put a bit more thought into how to use the platform effectively. You shouldn’t post purely educational content on Instagram the way you would on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. These six tips and tricks will help you reach people you wouldn’t have reached anywhere else. You can show your company from a completely different angle and actively shape the impression you want to make on your customers, partners and followers.

Jannika Otte

Written by Jannika Otte

Jannika has been familiar with what makes good storytelling from childhood – she used to infuriate her parents by begging them for goodnight stories. Whoever likes good stories cannot be a bad inbound marketer. Loves cats and is at home wherever she finds herself.