By Izzy Witts | June 03 2016
Let's look at Instagram's growth, including their algorithms and what this means for us, as well as examples of B2B Instagram strategies that are smashing it.
Instagram has seen incredible growth over the past few years. In 2014, it was one of the top three biggest-growth social media platforms alongside Pinterest and LinkedIn. With 400 million active users, it's set to continue its streak, expected to grow just over 15% this year (2016), whilst predicted growth for the social media network sector is only 3.1% as a whole.
This is excellent news for Instagram. But as with any growth, it is important to identify where it's coming from and adapt accordingly. Interestingly, the biggest slice of the Instagram market is coming from the 16 to 24 year olds, with 37% of active users falling into this segment. I say interestingly because overall it is currently the over 65 year olds that are the drivers of growth across social media.
What does this mean for your B2B marketing strategy's social activity and how should you adapt your Instagram strategy to maximise on it?
At time of writing in the UK, seven our of every ten of adults has at least one social networking profile. But having a social media account is different to actively using your social media account. Social media platforms often talk about growth using the amount of new users each month as a growth metric. That’s great, but how many are actually engaged in the platform?
If users aren’t active and you're using those growth figures to inform your social strategy, then your tactics may well fall short
We can see from Instagram that 37% of their active accounts fall into the younger segment. There may be more accounts from other segments, but the active accounts is where the growth is.
If you're in B2B you might have immediately discounted Instagram as something pretty that will not have much benefit on your inbound marketing strategy, never mind business growth. Actually, despite LinkedIn having the largest B2B audience, it's Instagram that reportedly boasts the most engagement (remember that active users are the important ones).
B2B brands get 20 x more engagement on Instagram than on LinkedIn
One way you can leverage the platform is to give an insight into your business' core values, a behind the scenes of how things are run. It can also be useful for getting the right hires as you're showing them exactly what you as a business are all about. (If you're interested in how companies can hire better marketers, Becky has written an interesting insight.)
HubSpot is a good example of an effective B2B Instagram account with sneak peeks of their event sets and employee videos. They also encourage user-generated content through the hashtag #HubSpotting to build the relationship with their customers. Some businesses feature CEO quotes, which gives an inclusivity feel, going a long way through the 'noise' of social media.
Or you can create infographics that make key parts of your business or industry into more manageable consumer chunks.
Citrix is another great example of a B2B Instagram. It entertains followers, going for a soft sell, quietly demonstrating why they're an industry leader. The mixture of content keeps it fresh, with users frequently appearing to go back for more.
An Instagram account is a huge opportunity to build your brand awareness and talk directly to your audience in a space where they're more willing and open to engaging. And by linking it to your customer personas, i.e. softly answering their pain points, you will find yourself with a very powerful storytelling tool.
Instagram has recently changed its algorithms, making it easier for users to see how their video content is doing in terms of real engagement. Previously, users would have to actively click like on video content. Whether or not this meant they genuinely liked the content (or had bothered to watch it) is a different story. The metrics have changed in response to the 40% increase in the last six months of users watching videos on the platform.
Instagram now shows the video views first, so it’s much clearer to see how much reach your video has actually had
This is fantastic as you can immediately see how much impact your video content is having. And it’s great for long term analysis too. You can go back to videos to see if the content is being watched a month later by looking at the number of views. In blogging terms, older blogs can help generate more leads, so content dependent this could also work for videos.
Similarly to Facebook, the first three seconds are counted as a video view. Users can still like the video, but the likes are not immediately visible making it a secondary option, giving you the best of both.
Remember social media is a channel for your business to interact with its target market. That means actually responding to them. Humans love human interaction. Here’s how to make that happen:
Search for your business as well as its products/services and respond to those talking about it online. Liking or re-posting user posts on Instagram can go a long way in building relationships as you are actively communicating with them
Cast a bigger net and look for those talking around the industry more generally and get involved in those conversations. This can position you as a thought leader, raising awareness and help you build a credible platform
Try live updates (we love real time experiences). This perspective of your business makes people feel involved and part of the action
Provide value. This can be by making users life easier by answering their questions then and there, rather than redirecting them to a web page. Or it can be providing a different take on a subject that has been rehashed the same way
You'll need to decide on what your social media focus is and whether your actions are helping any potential customers move forward in your conversion process. This will depend on what your main goals for social media are, which may differ across the platforms you are using. Instagram, for instance, is a great way to raise awareness. Each business is different so take a look at your buyer’s journey and at what stages social media is most effective.
By automatically ignoring growing social channels such as Instagram, you could be missing out on huge revenue growth opportunities. Your business' social media profiles can be amongst the top search engine results for your business. And users will click on them to find out more about your company, get a feel for your unique value proposition, and understand what you offer.
If you haven't already jumped on the Instagram train, it's probably a good time to get on board, given that its growth doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Make sure you've narrowed down what your focus will be on the platform and commit to your strategy. And remember, social media is for socialising. This means interacting with your users and industry, not merely broadcasting.
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Topics: Inbound Marketing
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