“Instagram is for teenagers.” “It isn’t designed for business.” “Instagram isn’t a money maker for us.”

These are the myths I hear every day. It’s time to think outside of the box, look toward the horizon, and engage your audience where they are at. Don’t assume that traditional channels (did I just say “traditional” in a social media context?) such as Facebook and LinkedIn are where your customers prefer to learn about you. You may say, “Our company is B2B and we really don’t deal with B2C or ever talk to consumers.” You are forgetting that the line between business and consumer melted with the advent of social. Every day all day, we are online seeing, experiencing, and learning about your brand whether it’s on purpose or by accident. Your B2B targets are consumers on their days off and they could be seeing your brand messages all the time. Don’t live in the silo of B2B/B2C as it simply doesn’t exist any longer.

Look at the numbers

Here are just some of the reasons why your brand needs to be on Instagram: Instagram posts get 3 times the engagement as a regular post on Twitter. Brands such as Red Bull have seen up to 30k more interactions on Instagram than they did on Facebook when posting the same video. Of course, as brands flock to the wide open spaces of Insta, the field will get more crowded. All the more reason to get there now.

Here are ways to take advantage of Instagram to engage your audience:

Tell your story

Seeing who you are and what you’re about can be far more impactful using images rather than words. We are designed to process information visually and it can be done much faster through images. Stories are the best form of marketing so let us into your storybook.

Cory Booker recognizing employeesShow the people that make up your brand

Your customers want to see your faces. They like to do business with people instead of brands. It allows your audience to identify with the individuals, support your brand, and care more about your success. Show the people that are the face of your organization as well as those that make up the uncelebrated backbone.

Introduce new products

You have the opportunity to build up suspense around the release of a new product. A little mystery, a lot of excitement, a grand deployment, and showing that you are listening to customer demand are integral to showing off your new baby.

Show customers using your products

Real life examples are the best demonstration. Show your products in action and the smiling faces of your happy customers. One of the great parts about this is that our customers sometimes come up with truly creative ways to use products and they inspire us as designers and their friends to use the items as well. (Featured image is by The Alleles Design Studio and a customer using some of their prosthetic products.)

Behind the scenes or #bts

Instagram Zac Posen behind the scenesYes, you have high quality collateral images that show the nature of your business. Your customers want to see real life rather than the glossy marketing materials. What’s it like on your shop floor? How hard and late are the employees working? How much fun are you having while doing your jobs? Who brings their pets to work? What does it feel like to be there? Instagram is instant and personal. It needs to feel like we are a fly on the wall.

Show off your geography

Where does your company and it’s people live? Take us outside and show us your view, what makes your location fabulous, and why you love to be there. Give us a sense of place.

Cross promote your other channels

Many top brands segregate specific content and host it on particular channels. Long form videos on Youtube, information about products on Facebook, recipes on blogs, and personal views on Instagram. Figure out what content you will be sharing to which channel (one of my blogs on how to do that) then drive your audience and their curiosity to your other channels. “Visit our Facebook page to enter our contest.” “See Twitter feed to get the coupon code for 40% off our new product.” “Check out our blog for how-to’s, recipes, and excellent ideas on xyz.”

Use hashtags

The best way to get found on Instagram is to use hashtags. You can approach hashtag use in several ways. If you use a limited amount (1-5) that are appropriate for your content, you will attract new users that are genuinely interested in what you are sharing. You can also use a huge chunk, 10-25ish, that are all over the map to draw in less qualified followers. These are known as #s4s (spam for spam), #follow4follow, #f4f, which means “you follow me, I follow you”. Take a look at what others in your industry are doing to get a hang of what’s appropriate.

You can investigate which hashtags to use in a couple ways. One is to look at the top 100 hashtags and pick appropriate (and high ranking) tags from there. You can also look at industry specific hashtag groups. Try using hashtags several different ways to get an idea of what works for your audience.

Follow influencers

Look up (and follow) people you respect in your industry by name, see who they are following, and follow them as well. Comment on their images, like what they post (though don’t overdo it), provide opportunities for genuine interaction. You will build relationships and expose your brand to more people the more you interact.

Talk to your audience

Ask questions. Encourage them to talk to you. Talk back to them. Respond. Provide customer service. Be friendly. Be human. Be present.

It’s all #instagood.

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