When we deliver customized sales coaching at ASHER, we sometimes get asked for help with social media selling. While we can share a lot of tips for LinkedIn, one platform which is underutilized in the B2B space is Instagram. Instagram is a giant among social media platforms with over 1 billion active users per month. That means one in seven people are posting, commenting, liking, using IGTV, and sharing to their Story regularly.
You might associate Instagram with Hollywood influencers or meme accounts, and therefore irrelevant for B2B businesses, but in fact, as of 2017 there were 25 million businesses active on the platform, and 200 million Instagram users visit business profiles every day. This is a lot of traffic to tap into.
Now, we at ASHER are not total experts at Instagram marketing and selling, as we focus on other channels which have proven very successful for us. However, with so much potential and demand for information, we decided to amass some of the best tips from experts both online and personally known to us to help fellow B2B sales organizations and marketers who want to establish a beachhead on the platform.
Consider the following a customized sales coaching session just for Instagram. It’s a thank you gift for everyone who follows our blog and I hope it motivates you to become a more successful social seller.
First things first: if you aren’t aware of how to set up an Instagram Business Account, Hootsuite provides some clear instructions here: https://blog.hootsuite.com/how-to-use-instagram-for-business/
And now onto the tips!
Tip #1: Post frequently
What this means in practical terms is you need a social media manager to post regularly on your behalf. This individual could be an existing staff member that you assign additional duties to, but preferably you would hire a dedicated person who reports to your CMO or VP of sales and is accountable for demonstrating growth in followers and engagement metrics, as well as leads and revenue-driven.
How often should you post? A review of most expert Instagram advice shows that the ideal is between 1 to 3 times per day. This could be daunting for businesses without a dedicated social media manager, in which case they should try for at least one post per week to remind people that they are still open for business and active.
The worst thing is to open an account, post once every three months, and show a follower count of 19. That just looks bad.
The moral of this customized sales coaching tip: stay active on Instagram to make it worthwhile.
Here is an infographic (source here) which compares posting frequencies for several social media platforms:
Tip #2: Track your results
It used to be that proving ROI from social media efforts to the C-suite was difficult. However, nowadays even Instagram has better tracking which shows how many new followers each post delivers. You get even more insight when you pay for Sponsored Posts, which will show you how many clicks you received to your profile and website from your ads.
It’s also a good idea to have your reps ask “Where did you find out about us” when new leads come in to properly credit the source and determine whether your Instagram strategy is working.
You can also use Google’s URL Builder to track clicks driven from a specific post to your website in your Google Analytics account. Here is an example of a made-up company:
The URL you want to send visitors to is entered in the top, followed by a couple of identifiers in the Campaign Source and Campaign Name (or any other field for that matter) and the long result in the bottom is what is you enter in Instagram when setting up the Sponsored Post.
To sum up this customized sales coaching tip for Instagram #2: your efforts should result in leads and revenue, and the only way to know is through tracking mechanisms like the one shown above.
Tip #3: Develop a Consistent Theme
I am sure you have seen some Instagram business accounts which have random pictures of buildings, co-workers, somebody’s lunch, and a random pet someone brought to the office one day. Rather than a haphazard approach, it’s better to choose a theme and stick with it, at least for a series of posts.
Here are some tips for staying consistent:
- Figure out your content mix beforehand. Perhaps you want one motivational post, one short “how-to” video, one customer success post, and one offer post each week. If you follow this pattern for some time, your audience will know what to expect from you and look forward to your posts.
- Stick to a color palette and font styles for images you create. Your logo can inform your color choices for your motivational post templates.
- If you use filters for a series of posts, use the same one. Honestly, most B2B businesses could do without filters.
Here is an example of one B2B business which uses a relatively consistent theme as far as design, colors, and font:
And here is another
Note how you can easily tell each company apart because of the design, color, and font choices.
Tip #4: Leverage the Stories feature
Your Instagram Story is an excellent way to share those unplanned posts which would otherwise mess up your carefully curated feed. These posts disappear in 24 hours, so are great for impromptu moments and “day-in-the-life” type of content which you don’t necessarily want as part of your profile forever (although you could pin them permanently to your profile using the Highlight button).
For example, you might post snippets of a speech at a marketing conference you are attending, or share images of a company lunch to give the audience a behind the scenes look. Stories allow you to tag other accounts as well as use one hashtag per post, which means your post will appear to anyone who follows that particular hashtag.
There is another feature currently available to accounts with over 10,000 followers: the ability to link to an outside URL in the post. Users can swipe up and go directly to a landing page, video, or whatever else you choose to link to. This is the only place, aside from a sponsored post and the one website link you get in your bio, where clickable links are allowed on Instagram.
This begs the question though: how do you hit 10,000 Instagram followers quickly?
Tip #5: Follow to get more followers
Well, there are Instagram marketing agencies you can pay to help you get there, but one of the fastest ways to grow a small account without spending any money is simply to follow other accounts. Generally, people reciprocate if your account somehow relates to theirs or their interests. And Instagram WANTS you to follow other accounts, as evidenced by their constant suggestions of accounts you might like.
Follower counts go up and down all the time as some people lose interest in your content while others come aboard. Don’t sweat the small dips and go for long term overall growth.
A few more tips:
- Don’t follow and unfollow thousands of accounts in a day. You can follow 100-200 without any problems, but doing too many will cause Instagram to block you from following any more accounts for 24 hours.
- Content is king, so make sure you have enough good content so that your new followers will stick around.
- Use one of the many free apps available (too many to list here) to alert you to those who don’t follow you back, so you can unfollow them if you want.
- Giveaways which require a follow can introduce you to new people but expect a significant amount of them to unfollow once your giveaway is over.
- Ask colleagues with big accounts to recommend your account to their followers.
To wrap up this customized sales coaching for Instagram, I will leave you with this: you can be successful in any marketing channel you want if you devote enough resources to mastering it. Too many B2B businesses do a half-hearted job with social media selling and then wonder why their results are mediocre or even non-existent.
I hope you have gained some actionable insights from this post and translate them into more leads and revenue from your Instagram efforts. Please let us know if you have any questions and I will put you in touch with one of the experts we consulted for this piece.