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How to make the most of your content marketing efforts on some of the biggest social channels out there PHOTO: Hans Vivek

Instagram is the relatively new content marketing frontier for most personal brands, and for a growing number of enterprise-grade companies. In fact, the likes of IBM, Cisco, Adobe, Salesforce and Oracle have a combined Instagram following of over 1 million. But how can a company without much visual content — like most software vendors dealing only with code and coffee on a daily basis — approach Instagram marketing? We talked to experts to help better leverage this and other image-driven social networks.

Why Instagram Marketing?

First things first, let’s set the record straight. Instagram isn’t just for selfies and impressive vacation shots. Instagram’s 800 million strong base of users consists of a vast array of demographics, from pre-teens to CEOs. We asked Adam Rogers, Content Marketing Manager at London-based Kayako about the software vendor’s experience with Instagram marketing. “Instagram has helped Kayako's brand by showcasing our company culture. We're a software product so we have nothing physical to take photos of and screenshots of our software would sink like a lead balloon,” he said.

Instead what they've done is used Instagram to showcase their company culture. According to Rogers, it's an authentic way to be more human to potential customers and it has another beneficial side-effect. "[Instagram marketing] has worked really well as a hiring tool for attracting top talent. Going forward with our Instagram marketing, we have top illustrators and designers so there's no reason we couldn't be using creative elements to reach more audiences. This will be part of our marketing plan in 2018,” says Rogers.

Crystal McFerran, Marketing Director at Dallas, Texas based Velo IT Group, an IT services firm, faced a similar situation. As an IT services firm, Velo didn’t have much to go on in terms of visual thrill. “Because I work for a non-visual brand [in a non-visual] industry, our approach to Instagram has been to focus on humanizing the brand by sharing images featuring employees and clients, architectural shots of the downtown area and our office, interspersed with seasonal and motivational content,” McFerran says.

According to her, Instagram has really helped them drive their brand forward, particularly in terms of recruiting. "Because we've effectively communicated the company culture, we've successfully recruited candidates through Instagram and greatly increased brand exposure,” McFerran says.

Getting Started With Enterprise Instagram Marketing

As both Rogers and McFerran have indicated, even “boring companies” from “boring industries” can get involved in content marketing beyond blogging, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn content.  

These five guidelines will give any company with (seemingly) limited visual content the impetus needed to engage in enterprise Instagram marketing.

1. Think Outside The Box

Getting active on Instagram is a chance to be creative, which is ideal if your competitors stick to more conservative content marketing strategies. If your workplace, products or services aren’t glamorous or visually appealing, you can find other ways of promoting your business through visuals. That could mean posting jokes and puns related to your industry, taking creative snaps of not-so-interesting office spaces, sharing stories about recent client successes, and so forth.

2. Don’t Aim To Stun, Aim To Engage

When some marketers flirt with the idea of getting started with Instagram marketing, they imagine their brand competing with striking photographs of beaches and city skylines. But you don’t have to compete with that kind of content. Instead, your content should be aimed at the small pool of Instagram users who fit into your personas. Once you understand what your personas want to see and hear about, you can craft content, like a simple infographic about your industry. Such content may not attract a million likes, but it may get you a direct message from a potential client.  

3. Start Simple

Sure, you want to be creative, but that doesn’t necessitate complexity. You can start throwing together simple Instagram content from quotes from relevant people or even from your own executives. That includes convincing your CEOs and other executives to get active by recording short videos of themselves sharing their insights on industry news and trends. It doesn’t have to be Hollywood material, it just has to be relevant.

4. Leverage Your Audience

Another way to kickstart your Instagram marketing campaign is to ask your existing audience — perhaps via your other social channels —  to engage with you on Instagram. Giveaways work well in these circumstances, and so freebies could be offered to those who engage in selfie challenges or images with your products using your hashtag.

5. Influencers

B2B influencer marketing is a lucrative way to give your Instagram following a boost right off the bat. While your industry may not be visually impressive, it’s likely that you’ll find some Instagram influencers (or better yet, a set of micro-influencers related to your niche) who can post some content on their account linking to yours. Also, you could invite those influencers to takeover your account by posting some images and updating your page’s Instagram story to attract more followers.