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Instagram Stories: How the Supply Chain Can Use Them to Engage Prospects and Customers

Instagram Stories: How the Supply Chain Can Use Them to Engage Prospects and Customers

Instagram Stories offer an on-trend platform for delivering targeted content to B2B buyers and building brand awareness with potential customers.

If you haven’t considered using Instagram as part of your social media marketing program, it might be time to change your mind.

As of December 2016, Instagram had over 600 million monthly active users, about half of whom are between the ages of 18 and 29. Why should supply chain and other B2B marketers pay attention to the social networking preferences and behaviors of millennials? Because 73% of millennial workers are involved in decisions to purchase products or services for their companies. Welcome to the new generation of B2B buyers.

What’s more, Instagram’s recently launched feature, Instagram Stories, offers marketers a new platform for content delivery that is wildly popular with this generation. But unlike other networks with short-term video-sharing opportunities (ahem, Snapchat), Stories can have a polished, professional feel that well suits B2B brands.

What are Instagram Stories?

Instagram Stories are sequences of content that a user posts to his/her Instagram account over a 24-hour period. Besides photos, Stories can include videos, live and prerecorded, as well as Boomerangs, seconds-long motion clips that play forwards and backwards. The content plays as a continuous feed, creating a narrative about the user’s day — hence the term “Stories.”

Users may also customize their Stories with various design tools. Swipe to explore different filters, or add customizable stickers with time, weather, location, or even holiday greetings. You can also use a drawing tool to create your own masterpiece on your photos or videos.

Audiences can view the Stories of the users they follow within the 24-hour window after they are posted. They can find users with active Stories by scrolling the user icons at the top of the app. Or users can tell their followers that they’ve posted a story by tagging them, which notifies them through a direct message.

How you can supply chain and B2B marketers use Stories?

Instagram Stories aren’t just for friends showing friends what they’ve been up to. They’re a creative content-delivery platform that helps build rapport with followers, grow brand awareness, and educate potential buyers.

Here are 5 ways marketers might use Instagram Stories to engage their target audiences.

1. Deliver special offers and limited sales

Take advantage of this channel of communication to give special offers to followers tuning into your Stories. The time sensitivity of the 24-hour period will urge your buyers to engage with your Story and act quickly before the offer expires.

Direct followers to a special landing page or include a code right in the Story. As Social Media Examiner puts it, “The scarcity of Instagram Stories gives them power.”

JCrew’s promotion of the new Jane in Pink sunglasses offers an example of the clever use of Instagram Stories. The brand posted a combination of GIFs and photos teasing the pink sunglasses before announcing that there were a mere 50 pairs available for purchase through a link in its bio. This caused half of the merchandise to sell out in two hours.

2. Sign in for a takeover

Arrange to take over the Instagram account of a partner company or customer. It’s a fun way to draw attention from an existing, built-in audience. And it provides a mutually beneficial exchange of value for both parties.

As explained by media executive Gary Vaynerchuk, account takeovers offer a “backdoor approach to accessing new demographics.” The strategy is about “deepening relationships, gaining exposure, hacking distribution, and raising awareness.”

What’s more, account takeovers don’t require partners to hand over sensitive login information.  Simply send your content to your partner to upload. It’s win-win situation that allows both parties to reach a new audience and share new content with ease.

3. Go behind the scenes

This is a great way to humanize your company and let you customers see and experience your brand personality. Capture candid photos of meetings. Take your followers on an adventure or an offsite task. Have a new product? Share a picture of the early designs or the production process. It’s a way to get followers excited and intrigued as to what happens behind the doors of your company.

Happy Socks, a Swedish sock and underwear retailer and manufacturer, does this well. It features videos of what’s going on in the office, birthday celebrations, and other candid moments.

4. Q&As

Get really personal with your customers by answering their questions via 10-second videos. One of Instagram’s community managers, Jeffrey Gerson, did this and found it to be a great success. This allows your viewers to feel as though they are really being heard since they are watching you talk about their questions as opposed to just reading typed answers online. It’s also a great opportunity to showcase the personalities of your employees and social media team while directly interacting with your audience.

4. At a loss? Ask your followers!

Give the people what they want — They may have some great ideas that you’d never considered. Survey your followers by posting a graphic of some options while leaving it open-ended as well. Have them respond in direct messages or comments with what they want to see from your social media. For example, Red Bull had their audience send the thumbs-up emoji in direct messages through Instagram Chat for the Story topic they most wanted to see published.

These five options provide your team with a starting point to begin exploring Instagram Stories. It’s an exciting tool to add some creativity and have some fun with your social media strategy.

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Infographic: 12 Instagram Tips for Supply Chain Companies

Infographic: 12 Instagram Tips for Supply Chain Companies

Many B2B organizations are using Instagram to grow business. Here are a dozen Instagram tips to help you use the platform effectively.


 Highlights:

  • Instagram has become the second most used social media platform, up from fourth in 2017.
  • Audiences love real-time content, like Instagram Stories. It lets them feel a genuine, human connection — the creation of which sometimes poses a challenge for B2B marketers.
  • An effective Instagram presence has the potential to grow brand awareness, improve your reputation, and generate qualified leads.

Recent research on social media use shows that 66% of brands now use Instagram. As of 2018, it was second-most used platform by businesses, up from fourth in 2017. If you’re considering using this social media network for your business, which you should be, our 12 Instagram tips can help you get started.

12 Instagram Tips for Supply Chain Companies

Top Instagram Tips for Suply Chain Companies

1.      Be authentic

Many supply chain companies often fall into the trap of using stock photography or overly staged promotional pictures of products. The ethos of Instagram is all about authenticity and personality. Let your audience get an up-close-and-personal glimpse into your company’s culture with real photos of the people, places, and things that make your business run every day.

2.      Optimize your account

Before we get to anything fancy, take a step back and make sure your Instagram account is fully optimized. This means you need:

  • a bio with a link to marketing or product pages related to a specific keyword or hashtag;
  • image captions, which can reference the link in your bio;
  • a search-friendly username; and
  • a compelling profile image that reflects your company.

3.      Go live

Live video is the “it” trend in social media marketing, with 63% of marketers reporting that they plan on adding it to their overall strategy. Audiences love real-time content, and it lets them feel a genuine, human connection — the creation of which sometimes poses a challenge for B2B marketers.

4.      Put your Stories in Highlights

In addition to its Stories feature, Instagram now lets users create a featured group of “Highlights” in various categories on their profiles. Stories have only a 24-hour lifespan, so featuring your most effective Stories clips in Highlights gives them a second life and a chance to engage future followers. One of the best features of Stories and Highlights is that it allows companies to view and analyze how users have viewed and interacted with their content.

5.      Keep up the pace

Instagram is one of the easiest social media platforms to post on. That means you can quickly snap photos wherever you are — say, at a conference or event, or even on your way into the office — and publish it instantly. This is great for reaching the coveted millennial audience, which seems to have an unquenchable thirst for consuming content, particularly images and graphics.

6.      Keep your content consistent

Posting on a consistent timetable is crucial to maintaining an active following. Posting irregularly means you risk your followers forgetting about you, and posting all at once can annoy and drive followers away. Ideally, companies should post 2-3 times a day, but you’ll need to test how many times a day is most effective for your particular business in engaging your specific audience. For more, check out our guide to when to post on social media.

7.      Try a takeover

Taking over the Instagram account of a partner company or customer is a great way to draw attention from an existing and relevant audience, providing mutual benefits to both parties.

8.      Invest in sponsored posts and product reviews

Optimizing your account and following Instagram best practices will go a long way toward earning authentic followers that could become future leads and/or customers. But to really boost your impact, it pays to take advantage of influencer marketing on Instagram. Create a list of large accounts in your vertical (think industry media sites and partners), follow them, and reach out to their marketing team to ask about sponsored-post pricing. Be on the lookout for influencers with a high engagement rate relative to number of followers.

Optimizing your account and following Instagram best practices will go a long way toward earning authentic followers that could become future leads and/or customers. Click To Tweet

9.      Use the right hashtags

One of the most effective ways to grow your Instagram following is to use hashtags effectively. Since Instagram gives users the ability to follow hashtags that interest them, and they function as links to other relevant content, choosing the right hashtags is the ideal way to reach and engage your target audience.

Keep an eye on accounts of peer brands to stay up to date with the best hashtags to use. The most effective hashtags are short, memorable, and easy to read. You can also use an online tool like InconoSquare or Websta to find relevant hashtags for your business.

10.  Use the right filters

Sure, filters are great for turning boring or poorly lit photos into more engaging images. But, it turns out that which filter you choose really does have an impact on engagement. These lighting and color presets offered by Instagram have the potential to create mood and style in your image content. According to Iconosquare, these 10 filters are currently the most popular on Instagram:

  • Normal (No Filter)
  • Clarendon
  • Juno
  • Lark
  • Ludwig
  • Gingham
  • Valencia
  • X-Pro II
  • Lo-fi
  • Amaro

11.  Be a storyteller

Instagram is all about visual storytelling. Your posts should do more than promote your products — they should be drawing in your audience with narrative told through a visual format. Instagram Stories are an ideal way to engage your audience!

12.  Get personal

Go in deep and personal with your customers by answering their questions via 10-second videos. You let your viewers feel like they’re being heard. Plus, short videos are ideal for reposting.

The Bottom Line

Instagram is an extremely effective tool for B2B businesses. These Instagram tips for using the platform will help you create and nurture a loyal, engaged audience base. In turn, an effective Instagram presence has the potential to grow brand awareness, improve your reputation, and generate qualified leads.

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Infographic: 10 Ways to Boost Followers on Instagram

Infographic: 10 Ways to Boost Followers on Instagram

Looking to boost followers on Instagram? These tips will help supply chain marketers grow their following, build brand awareness, and nurture a loyal audience base.


Highlights

  • Instagram has over 500 million daily users.
  • Fake accounts won’t help in the long run.
  • Growing authentic followers requires commitment and strategy.

While it’s true that Facebook is a favorite for B2B marketing, don’t overlook Instagram. Over 500 million users browse the app daily — some of the most engaged audiences on the web. This is absolutely a powerful resource for supply chain marketers, and if you aren’t already, it’s time you start tapping into it.

But as with all social media platforms, there’s a right and a wrong way to go about using it. When it comes to Instagram, getting the most out of the platform has a lot to do with boosting followership.

Keep in mind that recent studies have shown that roughly 48 million Instagram users are fake. Inflating your audience with fake followers won’t serve you well.

Boosting engagement and growing your following takes time and strategy. The 10 tips in our infographic below will help you get the most out of Instagram, building an authentic, engaged audience.

10 tips to boost followers on Instagram

Boost followers on Instagram

1)      Optimize your account

Before we get to anything fancy, take a step back and make sure your Instagram account is fully optimized. This means you need:

  • a bio with a link to marketing or product pages related to a specific keyword or hashtag
  • image captions, which can reference the link in your bio
  • a search-friendly username
  • a compelling profile image that reflects your brand

2)      Use the right hashtags

One of the most effective ways to grow your Instagram following is to use hashtags effectively. Since Instagram gives users the ability to follow hashtags that interest them, and they function as links to other relevant content, choosing the right hashtags is the ideal way to reach and engage your target audience.

Keep an eye on accounts of peer brands to stay up to date with the best hashtags to be using. The most effective hashtags are short, memorable, and easy to read. You can also use a free online tool like InconoSquare or Websta to find relevant hashtags for the supply chain and logistics industries.

3)      Keep your content consistent

Posting on a consistent timetable is crucial to maintaining an active following. Posting irregularly means you risk your followers forgetting about you. And posting all at once can annoy and drive followers away. Ideally, brands should post 2-3 times a day. For more, check out our guide to when to post on social media.

4)      Use the right filters

We all know that playing with filters is fun. These lighting and color presets offered by Instagram have the potential to create mood and style in your image content. According to Iconosquare, these 10 filters are currently the most popular on Instagram. And it turns out that the filters you choose really do have an impact on engagement.

  • Normal (No Filter)
  • Clarendon
  • Juno
  • Lark
  • Ludwig
  • Gingham
  • Valencia
  • X-Pro II
  • Lo-fi
  • Amaro

5)      Get your competitors’ followers

Maybe it sounds like a dirty trick, but hear us out! Users who have already shown an interest in similar brands to yours are an ideal audience base. Engaging with them is a great way to grow your own following. Identify a peer brand with a healthy Instagram following; follow a segment of their audience; and like or comment on their photos. Keep track of how many users follow your brand back.

6)      Have other accounts post your content

Operating on the principle that followers of similar accounts to yours are an ideal audience base, getting these accounts to post your content is a great way to boost your followership. One way to do this is to sponsor user-generated content to get your brand in customers’ feeds. For example, hold a photo contest related to your brand, encouraging followers to post and caption your content.

7)      Invest in sponsored posts and product reviews

Optimizing your account and following Instagram best practices will go a long way toward getting authentic followers. But to really boost your followers on Instagram, it pays to take advantage of influencer marketing on Instagram. Create a list of large accounts in your industry, follow them, reach out to their marketing team, and ask about sponsored post pricing. Be on the lookout for influencers with a high engagement rate relative to number of followers.

8)      Put your Stories in Highlights

In addition to its Stories feature, Instagram now lets users create a featured group of “Highlights” in various categories on their profile. Stories have only a 24-hour lifespan, so featuring your most effective Stories clips in Highlights gives them a second life and a chance to engage future followers. One of the best features of Stories and Highlights is that they allow brands to view and analyze how users have viewed and interacted with their content.

9)      Post content your followers actually want to see

This one may sound painfully obvious, but it’s harder than it looks. Because brands need to publish content consistently to maintain an active Instagram following, it can be extremely difficult to generate fresh, interesting content consistently. There’s no easy trick to this one. Keep an eye on peer brands, and make use of Instagram analytics tools to track, analyze, and benchmark Instagram content.

10)  Start a conversation

It’s easy to forget that the fundamental benefit of social media is that it’s social. Users want to be part of a conversation. Encourage your followers to interact with you on all your social media platforms, including Instagram. This means responding to comments and brand mentions, as well as engaging with your followers’ content.

Final thoughts

Instagram is an extremely effective tool for supply chain marketers. These 10 tips to boost followers on Instagram will help you create and nurture a loyal, engaged audience base. In turn, an effective Instagram presence has the potential to grow brand awareness, improve your reputation, and generate qualified leads.

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Watch Us: Fronetics Joining Instagram Stories

Watch Us: Fronetics Joining Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories offer an on-trend platform for delivering targeted content to B2B buyers, and we’re joining the fun.

We’ve written extensively about the benefits of using Instagram as a part of your social media strategy. And, though we’ve been active on Instagram for over two years, we’re now taking on Instagram Stories.

Instagram Stories are sequences of content that a user (or business) posts to Instagram over a 24-hour period. Besides photos, Stories can include videos, live and prerecorded. The content plays as a continuous feed, creating a narrative about the user’s day — hence the term “Stories.”

Audiences can view the Stories of the users they follow within the 24-hour window after they are posted. They can find users with active Stories by scrolling the user icons at the top of the app. Or users can tell their followers that they’ve posted a story by tagging them, which notifies them through a direct message.

Fronetics’ Stories will be a fun mix of breaking news, highlights of upcoming events, and live video on the latest industry trends. Ideas for Stories you’d like to see us cover? Email me at [email protected].

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Infographic: 10 Companies that Are Getting Instagram for B2B Marketing Right

Infographic: 10 Companies that Are Getting Instagram for B2B Marketing Right

Need some Instagram for B2B marketing inspiration? These ten brands are getting it right.


Highlights

  • Instagram is a great opportunity for B2B businesses.
  • Avoiding blatant sales or advertising pushes is key.
  • Successful accounts engage users with interesting visuals and/or provide them with value through informative content.

Instagram now boasts over 1 billion monthly active users, making it one of the most popular social media platforms out there. It’s a tremendous opportunity for businesses. In fact, recent research has shown that 66% of brands now use Instagram.

But many B2B marketers are still struggling to find their footing on this highly visual platform. Since we could all use a little inspiration now and then, here are 10 brands that are crushing Instagram for B2B marketing — and what we like about their presence.

10 brands that are nailing Instagram for B2B marketing

B2B Instagram Accounts

1)      Adobe

With 681k followers, Adobe (@adobe) is a fortunate brand when it comes to Instagram in that its product naturally lends itself to the visual medium. Its account boasts some truly stunning visuals, highlighting what Adobe products can create.

2)      Intel

The tech giant Intel (@intel) cultivates a celebrity-style image, giving its over-a-million followers an inside glimpse into big events the brand plays a role in, like the X Games, Grammys, and glitzy tech conferences. Each of the carefully curated images reinforces the brand’s voice, and captions do a great job of detailing exactly what the brand does in the tech space.

3)      Hootsuite

Social media management dashboard Hootsuite (@hootsuite) does a fantastic job of showing brands their social media know-how, right in its Instagram profile. The company cultivates a casual, friendly image and posts content that demonstrates company culture. From team building photos to office dogs, Hootsuite makes followers feel like they’re getting to know the brand.

4)      CBRE

Global commercial real estate firm CBRE (@cbre) is a phenomenal example of finding beauty within the context of its operations. The brand’s Instagram feed features a stunning array of architecture from around the world, with clever use of hashtags.

5)      HubSpot

Here’s a company getting content Instagram for B2B marketing right. HubSpot (@hubspot) consistently provides value to followers, posting informational content. Rather than letting it get boring, the brand keeps content visually appealing and makes clever use of captioning and video.

6)      IBM

Tech juggernaut IBM (@ibm) has made highly effective use of reactive storytelling on Instagram. This method of storytelling combines a top-of-mind story or idea with a compelling marketing message. IBM uses it during popular or inspiring events, demonstrating how it’s making use of the brand’s technology.

7)      General Electric

It’s a household name brand, and it’s over a century old. General Electric’s (@generalelectric) Instagram presences does a great job of leveraging the brand’s history, highlighting its involvement with important developments in defense, aviation, and technology. It’s a great example of creating a powerful voice from a brand through storytelling and tapping into the audience’s nostalgia.

8)      FedEx

FedEx (@fedex) is a prime example of a B2B brand that makes the absolute most of what it does to create a compelling story for its Instagram content. The account features photos of airplanes and trucks all over the world, telling the story of how the carrier cares for and ships products in its care.

9)      HP

With over a million followers HP (@hp) cultivates a sleek, design-minded brand image on Instagram. It capitalizes on subtlety and style, with eclectic images that never feel overtly promotional but that highlight the brand’s innovation.

10)  Mailchimp

Email marketing company Mailchimp (@mailchip) truly gets the most out of its whimsical logo. Its Instagram content has given the playful chimp logo life and transformed him into a personality and voice for the brand. The image is quirky and fun, and Mailchimp’s Instagram presence reinforces and capitalizes on that.

What companies do you think are doing Instagram for B2B marketing right?

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