Instagram is a social media platform unlike any other. Although some online marketers question its value because of the lack of “link-friendly” features, I think that Instagram truly makes up for what it lacks. It embodies a unique element: storytelling.
While other social media platforms (e.g.: Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest) allow users to include detailed bio descriptions with multiple links in their profile and each update, Instagram does not. In fact, Instagram only allows users to have one link in their bio with very limited character space to provide additional information. Instagram forces users to get creative and communicate their story through a series of photos.
So, what does this mean for B2B companies? While Instagram doesn’t offer brands the same opportunity to sell to their target audience as other social platforms, it does allow them to tell their story, without making the user feel like they are actually being sold to. This is the key element I am referring to: Instagram allows companies to tell their story without any interruption. I believe that this is the very reason why Instagram blows away Twitter on brand engagement.
In this webinar, Rand Fishkin discusses why building a brand is essential to generating search traffic with Google. He explains that if you are ranking well but not building a brand, Google will find a way to reclassify whatever tactics you discovered to rank because they don’t want you there. They want brands that people recognize and like to appear in search results because this is what makes users think Google is a better search engine. This is what makes searchers want to use Google again.
To sum up, it’s human nature to have this relationship with familiarity and that is why branding is such a huge part of SEO and broader online marketing efforts. While storytelling is a small part of building brand awareness, it is essential to remaining relevant to the target audience.
As I previously mentioned, Instagram is a key social media platform for B2B companies to start and/or strengthen their brand storytelling. For this reason, I thought it would be helpful to compile a list of B2B companies managing noteworthy Instagram accounts, each utilizing the social media platform to tell their brand’s story in unique ways.
Why It’s Noteworthy: It’s clear that Microsoft has a substantial following on Instagram; however, this is not always the most reliable metric. What makes this profile stand out is its level of the high engagement, including both photo likes and comments. Microsoft takes advantage of the character space allowed in captions, as the company writes detailed descriptions under each picture. This walks the audience through exactly what is happening in the photo while aiming to strike their emotions. With this, you can really get a feel for what the brand is all about.
Why It’s Noteworthy: Hootsuite’s Instagram exposes their followers to the company culture and core values. This humanizes the brand and puts a spotlight on team members behind the company’s success. When first visiting the profile, you know just what to expect, thanks to its concise bio description, “A visual look inside your favorite social media management tool.” Their photos include everything from office happenings, to team outings, and even beards! The company also uses branded hashtags like #HootsuiteLife as an essential element of their Instagram strategy, which is useful to organize and categorize images and videos.
Why It’s Noteworthy: Oracle’s Instagram profile consists of photos from company events and conferences around the country, while providing an inside look at what it’s like to work for the company. Their team’s dedication and enthusiasm is reinforced with employees commenting #proudtobeoracle consistently across photos. This transparency allows other businesses and prospects to experience the company’s highly engaged staff. The company also shares short video clips with their followers to better tell the brand’s story.
Why It’s Noteworthy: Intel frequently posts pictures of company events and conferences, providing followers with an exclusive look into the event, in case they missed it. The company has a great way of showcasing their products in a subtle manner without rubbing followers the wrong way. They do this by showing the products in everyday circumstances and providing ways to fix common problems by using their technology. This way, followers feel like they are gaining something from the profile and not just being sold to. Followers are especially receptive to this clever way of storytelling, as these posts receive impressive engagement.
Why It’s Noteworthy: IBM takes a unique approach to Instagram, as their profile is much more personalized than most. The company reveals who is managing the account to help followers realize that there is actually a team of real people behind the brand (nice job Katie Keating and George Faulkner!) They even take this a step further by giving photo credit and tagging the employees present in each picture. This profile takes its followers on a tour of the brand from one office to another, while providing a peek behind the scenes to see who truly making things happen at IBM.
Why It’s Noteworthy: With nearly 46,000 followers and hundreds of likes on each photo, it is safe to say that American Express is providing some pretty engaging image content. What’s most impressive about this is that the company is following zero accounts in return. This Instagram profile tells the story and lifestyle of the brand by allowing followers to see life through the lens of an Amex cardholder.
Why It’s Noteworthy: From looking at Salesforce’s Instagram profile, followers quickly learn what the brand is all about. The company displays their involvement in the community by volunteering at charity events and their corporate responsibility with pictures of employees encouraging others to recycle. Salesforce successfully communicates their culture with a series of images showing business growth, passion, and what a great place it is to work at.
Why It’s Noteworthy: Most of my experiences with Fedex consist of eagerly opening up packages that I’ve ordered online and I can imagine that most people have this same association with the brand. The company uses their Instagram profile as a platform for customers to share this exciting experience with the world, by encouraging followers to tag their happiest unboxing photos. The profile is a stream of imagery provoking emotions that are closely tied to the brand, like excitement and joy.
Why It’s Noteworthy: Hp’s Instagram account provides followers with the perfect balance of help and humor. As a technology company, it’s essential for the brand to demonstrate how their products help simplify life. For example, the brand recently shared a video of two professionals in the midst of a celebratory dance in the office because they scored free cloud storage on their new HP stream. The profile also takes followers on a tour of less conventional places where technology makes like easier and happier, like in park, at the beach, or by the pool.
Why It’s Noteworthy: Cisco displays their thought leadership and corporate vision by frequently posting photos of the leadership team with insightful and motivational captions. This is one of my favorites – “In 10 years, it’s predicted that 40% of Fortune 500 companies will no longer exist. You must disrupt to survive.” – John Chambers, CEO. Followers are also able to connect with the brand and understand its history, as Cisco’s snapshots capture the company’s past, present, and future to show their progress over time.
Why It’s Noteworthy: Staples portrays key elements of the brand through their Instagram profile. Customers can go to the profile to find creative ideas that will help them get organized, less stressed, and more productive. It’s impressive that Staples is able to create an online experience so closely connected with the brand through a series of creative and helpful content.
Why It’s Noteworthy: While it is still new, I think that my colleague Phoebe Fasulo is managing a killer Instagram account. She built the profile from the ground up and aims to display several unique aspects of life at KoMarketing. Our profile consists of photos from all around the Fort Point community in Boston and shows off our latest successes as a team, whether it be renewing an Advanced AdWords Certification or dominating an extreme croquet competition. Ultimately, we work hard and have a great time doing it and that is exactly what Phoebe wants our followers to see. Check out our profile for yourself and let us know what you think!
While brand storytelling isn’t a new concept, the rapid growth of social media and content marketing has provided B2B companies with greater opportunity to strategically tell their stories as part of a broader online marketing strategy. And brand awareness will only become more important to generating search results in the future. While these are just a few examples of some of the top B2B companies on Instagram, they realize the significance of utilizing the social media platform as a key device for storytelling.