Quick question: Is Instagram a resource for B2B lead generation?
At first glance, the two seem like natural bedfellows. On one side, we have the cool, sexy social network that is all about visual experiences. On the other side, we have B2B executives and industries traditionally focused on expertise and professionalism.
No more ....
So what's changing changed to make Instagram a viable option in the B2B space?
It comes down to the addition of new tools like Instagram Stories.
When initially rolled out in 2016, Instagram Stories was highly criticized as being a Snapchat knock-off -- tech magazines like TechCrunch snarled with headlines like Instagram launches "Stories," a Snapchatty feature for imperfect sharing.
Since then Instagram has added new features differentiating it from Snapchat and transfomring it into stand-out tool for both B2B and B2C businesses.
Before we go any further into the whys and hows of Instagram Stories for B2B lead generation, let's take a closer look at what it is and the basic features that make it worthwhile.
What is Instagram Stories?
The premise of Instagram has always been to tell stories visually.
Instagram Stories take this one step further.
With Instagram Stories, you feature specific photos and videos and arrange and individualize them according to your brand's needs. The photos and videos are placed in a Stories section, available to your followers for 24 hours.
If you have photos or videos that deserve a longer shelf life, add those to Instagram Story Highlights. This will extend the lifespan of your story and appear within your profile until you decide to remove it. You can also add a photo or video to your feed once it has reached 24 hours.
Marketers can use add-ons known as stickers on any photo or video within their story. These include hashtags, mentions, and poll stickers, each of which are designed to engage your audience and raise brand awareness.
Why Use Instagram for Your B2B Business
Now that we've discussed the what and how of Instagram, let's see why it has become a favorite among many B2B marketers.
The reason goes back to Instagram's premise -- to tell visual stories. Its mission encapsulates a very important fact of human nature -- we respond to stories. It doesn't matter if it's a young adult ogling over a new pair of headphones or a seasoned business professional giving a presentation -- storytelling helps your audience to feel more engaged with your brand.
It exposes your audience to your brand in a relaxed environment. Whether you use Instagram Stories to focus on your products and services, introduce your team, or showcase your brand's activities, you can engage with your audience in a way that may not be possible on other networks.
Note what Danielle Ernest, of slide manufacturer Accuride International (one of our clients), had to say about this tool: "We saw a big opportunity to use Instagram Stories to showcase our products and how they are used. With Instagram Stories, we can display our products in a fun, interactive way that brings a lot more exposure and traffic to our site." @accurideus
So how can you use this tool to generate more B2B leads? Let's take a look at some proven ways that Instagram stories can help your B2B marketing strategy and boost leads.
How to Use Instagram Stories to Fire Up Your B2B Lead Generation
1. Serialize Popular Content
We are creatures of habit. If we like something, we want to see it again. If something we like is on regularly, we will keep an eye out for it. Years of TV programming and magazine subscriptions prove that to be true.
The same principle applies within your Instagram Stories. Find a type of content that works and look for ways to make it a regular feature of your Instagram Stories strategy.
If you notice that interviews with other team members are a hit, feature one of those weekly. If your audience engages most with product demos, seek ways to create a weekly special on that.
Using content this way will create regular and loyal followers. The more people \engage with your brand, the more comfortable they'll be with you. And the more comfortable they are with you, the more likely they will convert into B2B leads.
2. Make It a Platform for Thought Leadership
The temporary nature of Instagram Stories makes it a great place for thought leadership content. Why is this? Because it's not around forever, audiences feel they're getting an exclusive experience -- and the more of an expert you are, that feeling of exclusivity goes up.
What thought leadership content can you share on this platform? Share videos that showcase your insights and advice on trending industry issues. Showcase your products or service -- explain how they work, give demonstrations, share experiences from your current customers.
There are many opportunities for thought leadership on Instagram -- some of which may be specific to your particular brand. The only thing that limits this platform is your own imagination.
3. Infuse Your Stories with Personality
The very nature of Instagram, with its personalized stories, makes it imperative that businesses show off their own personality. Audiences want to see your human side.
Forget what you think you know about social media. Instagram's model stands in contrast to what you may be used to -- namely, LinkedIn and Twitter. Granted, LinkedIn and Twitter have valuable place within your social media strategy. But remember that audiences on Instagram want an experience, not just informational content.
Don't be afraid to use the features that Instagram provides. Apply the stickers. Add music to your story. This is not the platform for professionally shot and edited videos -- rather, it's a place for short clips that display your individuality as a brand.
Go behind the scenes at your company to let your audience know your team and how you work. Get everyone involved -- even C-level executives -- so that your followers feel like they know your brand.
4. Use Links to Direct Interested Ones Where You Want Them to Go
Once your audience has enjoyed your content, you don't want them to move on and forget about it. Instagram understands that. That's why Instagram lets you guide your audience to the next step. Whether it's checking your website, downloading an ebook, or learning more about your products, you want to get people to take the next step
To that end, Instagram allows you to insert links into each piece of content you create within your story. It's noteworthy that this is a feature only offered within Instagram Stories -- you won't be able to do this with your regular Instagram posts.
Don't waste this feature. Ensure every piece of content in your Stories has a strategically placed link that can turn prospects into leads.
5. Carve Out Your Own Sales Funnel on Instagram
You will come across people in all stages of the buyer's journey on Instagram. From curious business owners doing some research on various brands and their products to those who ready to buy. Don't let any of them fall through the cracks with a leaky sales funnel.
Instead, incorporate content that speaks to each part of your sales funnel.
Create a strategy for each stage of your sales funnel. Top of the funnel content could address basic problems that face your industry or include an introduction to your company and how you work. For middle and bottom funnel followers, create more in-depth content that demonstrates your products and services and how they work.
Gone are the days of unsexy and boring B2B campaigns -- and good riddance! Welcome the days of Instagram stories, with its personality and cool features.
How do you plan on using Instagram Stories to get B2B leads? Let us know in the comments below.
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