According to Instagram, there are 25 million business accounts on the platform and 80% of users follow a business on Instagram. Since Instagram hit the 1 billion active monthly users mark back in June that means that there’s as many as 800 million pairs of eyes scrolling through pictures posted by business accounts every month.
Due to the highly visual nature of Instagram, the perception of the social network can sometimes be that it’s most appropriate for B2C brands in travel, fashion, and food and drink. But that isn’t necessarily true.
There are loads of B2B organisations using Instagram to build their brands, speak directly to their customers, and stand out from the crowd, in increasingly creative ways.
Here are a few B2B companies making a splash on the ‘Gram.
Email marketing service and marketing automation platform Mailchimp has a really strong presence on Instagram.
The company does a great job of keeping its content fresh by using a lot of original illustrations with Freddie (the Mailchimp monkey) as the star, employee photos, and humorous vignettes. This warmth and playfulness has always been synonymous with the Mailchimp brand, through its product design and marketing activity.
The brand proves its design chops by showcasing its in-house designers on Instagram. You’re unlikely to find many social media accounts run by Martech 5,000 companies, that do this with the same level of creativity and authenticity, placing Mailchimp in the B2B Instagram vanguard.
View this post on Instagram
Designer @kristiefeltner spent a lot of time researching vintage pinball machines for this recent illustration on our login page. Inspired by the word “boost,” she brainstormed a few different visuals before settling on this one. “It needed animation,” Kristie says. “Movement helps tell the story of sending an email, using a retargeting ad to bring back customers, and getting that exciting boost in sales.”
The brand also gets bonus points for the way it uses the ‘Highlights’ feature on Instagram – Highlights sits at the top of an Instagram account and highlights selected Stories that have been shared previously.
Turning previously shared Stories (typically, a day in the life of a Mailchimp employee) into these mini-episodes (in the form of Highlights) is a great way the brand champions its staff as well as promotes itself as a worthy employer.
It’s clear that Mailchimp is more interested in selling itself as a brand than selling you its product through Instagram, in other words using its @Mailchimp Instagram account as a shop window for the brand’s ethos and talented employees rather than showing off its software and services.
Econsultancy runs social media and online PR training
Mailchimp has always been very design-focused, allowing it to effectively use Instagram to communicate with its diverse range of customers (from one-man-bands and SMEs, to big brands and multinationals) by maintaining the same charming originality it’s had since launch.
This design focus is part of the reason the nine-year-old company is now worth $525 million (USD).
It would be remiss of me to ignore Adobe’s creative Instagram account.
Much like Mailchimp, Adobe relies on visually arresting media to grab attention, but the creative flair in this case comes from the Adobe community (with the creator tagged on each post).
The post above also features a hashtag #Adobe_CreateJoy which is a monthly competition for the design community to get involved in, where the best creations will be featured on Adobe’s Instagram – September’s competition was to create art that makes the company smile.
This month, we're sharing art that makes us smile on Instagram. Share your happy & playful creations using #Adobe_CreateJoy for a chance to be featured: https://t.co/ZVTMVuwXOg pic.twitter.com/J3UkF0fcSq
— Adobe (@Adobe) September 16, 2018
Not only is this an ingenious way to ‘soft sell’ its products but this also allows Adobe to champion its talented customer base and their artwork, on a continual basis.
All of this together keeps followers engaged and gives designers and animators free exposure to Adobe’s 788k followers, and helps Adobe project a sense of community on Instagram.
Although Adobe is a huge B2B business, with lots of products, it understands the power of using Instagram appropriately – i.e. sharing creative curated content – as opposed to appropriating Instagram with over-the-top inauthentic posts. This allows the brand to speak to its customers whether they’re a multinational or a freelance designer.
Logistics and delivery provider FedEx is another B2B company using Instagram creatively.
FedEx operates globally, and as such, the company’s Instagram account does a great job of telling the various stories of its couriers around the world. Using only user-generated content (with varying levels of image quality/resolution) might feel like a risky policy to adopt on Instagram, but there is something quite charming about it in the case of FedEx.
Encouraging people to snap FedEx vehicles wherever they see them comes with the reward of keeping the brand front of mind for any aspiring Instagrammers that want their shots featured on FedEx’s Instagram page. This activity facilitates a steady stream of community content, that inspires more people to get involved.
FedEx isn’t alone in this practice. A good B2C example is Domino’s Pizza (US), whose posts are strictly customer submitted. The company cleverly identified that using real-life food snaps, complete with imperfections, made its Instagram (and brand) appear “much more honest and transparent”, thus resulting in increased sales and a community feel.
FedEx’s account demonstrates one of its main propositions: being available almost everywhere, and it feels like a FedEx family photo album, which is probably why the posts get so many comments and Likes.
Another company that uses Instagram astutely is tech giant IBM.
Founded in 1911, IBM’s feed is much more interesting than the average tech account. Taking a slightly different approach to the other accounts that I’ve discussed, IBM’s heritage and roots permeate its Instagram profile.
As such a well-established brand, with a wide range of followers (just click-through and look at the comments on this picture), IBM posts imagery that speaks to a variety of people – from techies to admirers of the brand.
Take the photo above, it’s a striking image, simply for its colours, but also for techie followers (note the comment about a Reddit thread – r/cableporn).
And therein lays the point. IBM’s Instagram account is so popular because IBM knows who it is, knows its range of followers, and subsequently knows the types of content that they will value.
By mixing inspiration and storytelling (like the post above), IBM demonstrates its proud heritage and authority in the tech space.
We are all familiar with social channels needing to prove their ROI.
“Will this post make us money? Did anyone clickthrough and download our white paper? What was the conversion rate from the last post?
From a B2B perspective, questions like the above necessarily always helpful. The companies in this list are focusing on long term brand building. By using creativity, community, and championing their roots and employees, all four brands prove that not selling actually sells on Instagram.