A variety of different tactics crowd marketing brains around the digital world.
Every month and sometimes every week, a new platform, tool, or marketing strategy emerges that changes the ability of marketers to reach their ideal audience.
That is, after all, the job of marketers.
To reach their audience, engage with that audience, and turn that audience into paying customers.
It’s the job of B2C marketers and B2B marketers alike.
And when it comes to marketing platforms with rising potential, Instagram is at the head of the pack.
In 2012, Instagram had 50 million monthly active users. Now, it has 700 million.
That’s an increase of 1,400% in just five years.
But why is Instagram surging forward ahead of other social media platforms?
Well, the reasons are many.
Most of the content is visual, meaning that Instagram attracts users from different countries and languages.
It’s also owned by the experts over at Facebook.
And it’s almost completely a mobile platform.
One of the biggest reasons, though, that Instagram is becoming so popular, is because people love to engage with brands on the picture-driven platform.
Particularly, on Monday and Thursday.
And since people love to engage with brands on Instagram, there’s no better place for your brand to be.
Even if you’re a marketer at a B2B company.
In fact, Instagram Stories is a secret weapon for top B2B companies.
Entrepreneurs and companies like Shopify, Gary Vaynerchuk, General Electric, and Buffer use the feature to drive traffic, build brand awareness, and generate leads.
You can do the same thing.
But let’s start with answering the obvious question for those of you who don’t know what Instagram Stories is.
What is Instagram Stories?
Instagram Stories is not an easy feature to define.
The tool is just as flexible as the imagination of the user.
For that reason, it’s easier to explain how the tool works rather than what it’s primary use is.
And that is quite simple.
Essentially, Instagram Stories allows users to add pictures, videos, or gifs to a cohesive dashboard.
Then, the users can edit their photos and videos natively on Instagram with words, icons, or drawings.
Finally, users arrange the photos and videos in an order that they want people to see them.
Once they publish it, other users can then view the story.
Additionally, users can add photos and videos to their story whenever they want to lengthen the experience.
That is, in a nutshell, how Instagram Stories works.
Unfortunately, though, that doesn’t answer the question of how people and businesses can use Instagram Stories to generate leads.
Well, some people use the feature to gift their cats with the ability to shoot lasers from their eyes.
So users can drive sales — or create cats with laser-beam eyes.
But people can do a lot more with the feature as well. They can share pictures of their vacation, ask questions, answer questions, or post funny videos.
The platform is highly versatile, making it perfect for B2B marketers.
Of course, the feature is also a bit unconventional for business marketers.
After all, you’re trying to market to business owners — not everyday consumers.
So is Instagram Stories really such a great place to generate leads for your B2B company? Can you really leverage this somewhat silly and nondescript feature to increase revenue?
In short, yes.
What makes Instagram Stories so powerful for B2B marketers?
B2B marketing is traditionally a bit… boring.
You post a lot of how-to content and you explain why your product is amazing.
However, if you’re like most B2B companies, you don’t often create a lively environment for your customers or clients.
But is that right?
Should B2B marketing be boring?
I don’t think so.
After all, business owners are just slightly more sophisticated consumers. All of the same human psychology principles apply to them in the same way they apply to B2C buyers.
Even Shopify argues that B2B selling strategies and B2C selling strategies need not be that different in their article snippet: Give B2B E-commerce the B2C Treatment.
In other words, B2B buyers aren’t necessarily a whole lot different than basic consumers.
And one thing’s for sure. They all hang out on Instagram — business owner or not.
In fact, Instagram Stories alone has 250 million daily users.
That’s a lot of people you can reach.
Well, actually, that’s a lot of clients you can reach.
And, of course, you don’t want to miss out on all that potential.
OK, so you know that Instagram Stories is powerful. And you know that it applies to your B2B company.
But here’s what you don’t yet know.
You don’t know how to use it. You don’t know how to build brand awareness, drive traffic, or, most importantly, generate leads with it.
Fortunately, that’s why you’re here, and that’s what I’m going to show you.
Although there are lots of different strategies for using Instagram Stories to generate leads for your business, they all revolve around one overarching premise:
Telling your story.
Because when people know your story, they trust you more, remember you when they need you, and even become brand evangelists.
In the end, your story might just be the most powerful marketing tool you have.
And Instagram Stories is the best place to put it.
Here’s how four different B2B companies are using Instagram Stories to generate leads by telling their unconventional stories.
What if you could use Instagram Stories to drive traffic to your website and generate leads and acquire new customers?
Would you pass up that opportunity?
Of course you wouldn’t.
You’d quickly learn how to do it and then start as soon as possible.
Fortunately, you can.
And the platform for e-commerce stores, Shopify, uses its Instagram Stories account to do just that.
Here’s a screenshot of an Instagram Story where Shopify uses the feature to advertise a recent blog post about the best places to start a business.
Pretty nifty, huh?
Well, that isn’t the end of it.
After all, traffic generation isn’t the same as lead generation.
If you visit that blog post: The 5 Best Places in the World to Start a Business, you’ll find this CTA at the bottom.
In other words, Shopify doesn’t just use Instagram Stories to drive traffic to its blog. It uses it to drive traffic to blog posts that then have a lead-generating CTA.
And that means that their Instagram Stories simply serve as a top-of-the-funnel commitment.
In other words, Instagram Stories is only the beginning.
Because to get to the bottom of the funnel, customers first have to enter the funnel.
And they can only do that if you point them in the right direction.
Fortunately, social media allows you to do just that.
That’s probably why 93% of B2B marketers use social media content to build their business.
And 88% of B2B marketers use content marketing regularly.
With all of that attention, the question isn’t whether content marketing and social media are effective or not, but where the best place to start the lead-driving process is.
Facebook? Email? LinkedIn?
Specifically, Instagram Stories.
Why Instagram Stories?
Well, Shopify is betting on it. But if that isn’t enough reason, just consider that Instagram Stories is a relatively new feature that’s attracting loads of attention from B2B buyers and consumers alike.
Or you can browse through the three other businesses in this article that are counting on the effectiveness of Instagram Stories.
If it’s good enough for them, it should be good enough for you.
If you’re not using the feature to advertise your blog content and drive leads to your website, then you’re missing out on a window of high potential.
Don’t miss out.
2. Gary Vaynerchuk
Gary Vaynerchuk, also known as Gary Vee, is a giant of content creation.
That classifies him as a B2B marketer.
But instead of always driving traffic to his website, he uses the feature to natively host the content he creates.
His current story looks like this.
His Instagram Story is basically a series of videos of him sitting on an airplane, giving advice.
Here’s another screenshot of it.
But why, you’re wondering, is that a good strategy to drive leads?
After all, he isn’t directly driving traffic to his website. He isn’t even including much of a CTA. And he definitely isn’t including a special offer.
So what’s the point of it all?
You’re a marketer, not a celebrity. You want to generate leads and make sales — not get attention.
How, then, does Gary Vaynerchuk’s strategy apply to your business?
Well, as it turns out, generating attention and generating leads really aren’t all that different.
In fact, sometimes the best way to generate leads is to start by generating attention.
You have to start at the top of the funnel.
The more people who know about you, the more people who will visit your website.
The more people who visit your website, the more people who will opt in.
The more people who opt in, the more leads and sales you generate.
But it all started with attention.
The reality is that people can’t buy from you if they don’t first know about you.
And creating a remarkable brand image is one of the best ways to not only increase brand awareness, but also to build a relationship with your audience.
If there’s one thing Gary is good at, it’s creating an identity around his brand and gaining followers because of his consistency.
And he uses Instagram Stories to do that.
“But,” you’re saying, “Gary also uses other platforms to do that. What makes Instagram such a great place to build a relationship with your audience?”
To that, the answer is simple.
Instagram users love brands.
Just compare it with Facebook, where only 32% of people regularly engage with brands. On Instagram, that number is closer to 68%.
And, as you can see, Instagram also receives 58 times more engagement per follower than on Facebook.
That’s only one comparison, but the truth is the same.
People engage with brands on Instagram.
And if you use Instagram Stories to make them engage with your content, then you’ll generate leads and drive sales like no other platform allows.
3. General Electric
Maybe you think your B2B company just couldn’t generate leads on Instagram Stories even if you tried.
You sell farming tools or you’re a paper company or an office supplies company. No way Instagram Stories is going to work for businesses like those, right?
Well, think again.
Even a power company like General Electric uses Instagram Stories to build brand awareness and generate leads.
If they can do it, you can do it.
You might just have to be a bit creative in the way you do it.
Here are a few more posts from General Electric’s story.
And now, the entire story.
That’s some fascinating content from a boring ol’ electricity company.
So how can you create equally interesting content?
Well, ask yourself this question: What do you do behind the scenes of your business that is particularly interesting, unknown, and visual?
Once you figure that out, take video and pictures of your employees doing that thing.
Your customers love to see behind the scenes of your business. It builds their trust for what you do and makes them more likely to purchase when you make them an offer.
Plus, you’ll probably drive some leads doing so.
In General Electric’s case, for instance, they used their story to build their Snapchat following (as you can see by the last post in their story).
But you could do the same thing to build your email list, drive traffic to a blog post, or even offer a discount.
With engaging content, the sky is the limit.
Fortunately, that atmosphere is the highest for Instagram.
And that’s without mentioning the fact that 62% of B2B marketers rated storytelling as an effective marketing strategy.
Really, that isn’t surprising.
People connect most with brands that tell their stories often and well.
With Instagram’s notorious level of engagement and the power of storytelling, Instagram Stories is a massive force in the world of lead generation.
And if you think you can’t tell an interesting story, you’re wrong.
Even General Electric: a silly ol’ power company.
You can also use Instagram Stories to pull back the curtain of your business for your audience.
As we already discussed, consumers and B2B buyers alike love transparency.
In our digital age, buyers crave business authenticity and brand relationships.
Unfortunately, those connections are becoming less and less common.
In an effort to counter that, though, Buffer creates Instagram Stories content to play games with their audience, answer questions, and, ultimately, generate leads.
Here’s one photo, for instance, where they encourage audience engagement.
And another where they play the game AMA (Ask Me Anything) with their audience.
But what’s the point of doing that? Does that really help Buffer generate leads?
Yes. Yes, it does.
Because people really appreciate when brands respond to their questions on social media.
In particular, 90% of millennials think it’s cool, and 79% of Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers think it’s cool.
And when your audience thinks you’re helpful and cool, they are more likely to work with you.
End of story.
No one wants to work with a brand that ignores their questions. They want to work with a business that they’re familiar with and that regularly engages with them.
But maybe you’re still not convinced that all of that attention can generate leads and drive sales for your business.
Consider that 62% of people use Social Media to decide where they are going to buy.
And as I’ve already shown you, Instagram is the best place for marketers to drive engagement.
When people engage with you, they buy from you.
You want to reach your ideal audience.
And tons of different tools, strategies, and tactics offer ways for you to do that.
But which one is the best? Which one will generate the most leads? And which one will provide the best ROI?
That is a difficult question to answer.
However, while determining which tactic sits at the top, you can rest assured that Instagram Stories, at least currently, is among the best strategies for B2B marketers to generate leads.
Sure, it’s unconventional. But sometimes the unlikely strategies are also the best strategies.
And you don’t have to take my word for it.
Shopify, Gary Vaynerchuk, General Electric, and Buffer are all betting on Instagram Stories. Will you join them?
How do you use Instagram Stories to generate leads for your B2B company?