While Instagram is generally touted as a more B2C, lifestyle brand-friendly platform, businesses across the board are seeing pretty serious success.
But despite that, many brands still struggle with what to post on the platform.
In this article, I’ll break it down for you.
What to Post on Instagram: First, A Few Best Practices
Regardless of your industry, there are a few Instagram practices that will help your account across the board.
Here’s a few to get you started.
Do your competitor research
This is an extremely important step in deciding what to post on Instagram.
Before you even think about creating an account and uploading content, make sure you’ve done your homework. In this case, homework means competitor research.
Single out both your closest competitors and the biggest brands in your industry, and begin by taking a general look at their feeds.
What kinds of images are they posting, and what does it tell you about their strategy?
From there, enlist the help of an Instagram analytics tool like Talkwalker.
Once launched, you can select a time frame to see all of a specific account’s posts and the engagement (likes and comments) each received. You can all sort by other metrics like reach.
Take a good look at the posts that have performed the best. What set that post apart? Are there any common threads linking the top performing posts?
The factors you identify here are ones you’ll want to incorporate into your own strategy.
Focus on timing
When to post is almost as what to post when it comes to Instagram.
You want to post at the time when your audience is most active. That’s because the Instagram algorithm cares not only about how much engagement your post gets, but how quickly it gets it.
See, the algorithm is set up to show your post to only a small percentage of your followers initially. The more engagement it receives, the higher priority it will receive in more follower’s feeds.
Part of getting that engagement is timing.
And while many studies have been done on when to post for optimal results, the truth is the only real way to know what’s right for your audience is to test it yourself.
Start out by scheduling posts to go out at different times – morning, lunch time, evening. Once a reasonable amount of time has passed, check your Instagram Analytics to see which time tends to get the best engagement rates.
You can also use tools like Squarelovin to track in-depth engagement and optimization analytics like the best times for you to share and when you get the most interactions.
What to post on Instagram: Use video clips and GIFs
Considering one-third of online activity is now spent watching video, it’s no real surprise that your audience wants to see it Instagram as well.
In fact, according to a Sprout Social survey, 83% of users like to see brands using video clips.
Close behind video in popularity are GIFs, with 58% of users reporting GIFs as “cool”.
The great thing about GIFs is you don’t even have to create them yourself (though you can).
Just launch an app like GIPHY, scroll through to find an appropriate GIF, and share it easily with its built-in Instagram Share button.
Pro tip: GIFs are great to use in reaction to current or industry events.
Focus on honesty and authenticity
Though social media has long been the touted as the place for personality, it turns out your audience cares less about it than you think.
Take it from that same Sprout Social survey, which reports that 86% consumers prefer brands that are honest, 83% that are friendly, and 78% that are helpful.
Some brands can pull of snark. But usually, these brands have dedicated resources to doing exactly that – cultivating a strong, envelope-pushing voice that resonates well with its audience.
You might not have the time or resources for that. And that’s perfectly fine.
Put your focus instead on delivering high-quality, authentic content and engaging with your audience.
What to Post on Instagram: B2Bs
One of the biggest challenges B2Bs face on Instagram is that they often don’t have a physical product to show off.
But it’s not as big a challenge as you think.
Instagram is full of B2Bs who got it right. They found the right content to connect with their audience, and they have the followings to prove it.
Another top complaint? Instagram doesn’t cater to a B2B crowd.
But Instagram currently boasts over 700 million users, and any B2B will have a hard time arguing that their niche isn’t included in that huge number.
And if you’re worried that only Millennials frequent the platform, rest assured: the fastest growing demographic is in the 30-49 age range.
So the audience is there. You just have to give them the content they want.
Here are two of my favorite B2B strategies for Instagram:
- User-generated content
What to Post on Instagram: B2B Storytelling
Storytelling is all about finding the human side of a brand and using it to connect with your audience on a personal level.
B2Bs can capitalize on that by telling the story of their brand and products.
Post Behind-the-Scenes and Workplace Culture Shots
There’s no better way to showcase your brand’s story than to show the people behind it.
This one’s especially good for a company that doesn’t produce a physical product. Instead, let your audience get to know you by promoting transparency and giving them a glimpse into the people and lifestyle behind the product.
We do a lot of this on the Ignite Visibility channel.
This is the kind of content that can increase the overall likeability of your brand – show that you have a great group of employees who enjoy each other and their work, and the experience will be more enjoyable for your clients as well.
It’s also the kind of content that will inspire trust and likability in your brand, and really, you can’t pass that opportunity up.
Pro tip: because these kinds of behind-the-scenes shots require much less editing and polishing, they’re also ideal for quick Instagram Stories.
What to Post on Instagram: Focus on Employees
This one piggybacks on the example above.
But really stand out, create your own Instagram trademark. Adopt a strategy that immediately set you apart from the crowd.
This is especially useful in the (over)crowded world of Instagram.
Take a look at what Grey Advertising did. Their bio reads: Each week, one person from our Grey NY office takes over our Instagram to share what inspires them. Oh, and everything is in GREYscale. Follow along.
Here’s their feed:
See? They have a very specific strategy for their account, and they’ve managed to make it noticeably different than everything else in your newsfeed.
Not bad for a B2B, right?
Tell Your Product Story
For this one, we’re turning to Instagram superstar GE.
Their feed is dominated by photos and videos that show off how their very complex products impact our every-day lives.
It’s heavy use of short videos and Instagram Stories tells the behind-the-scenes stories of how these massive machines are built and the people that aid in building them.
It’s an extremely effective way of showing off not just their products, but the people that make them possible.
What to Post on Instagram: B2B User-Generated Content
The idea of user-generated content doesn’t come as naturally to B2Bs.
Despite that, a little creativity can go a long way.
Just remember, all content should remain in line with your brand. Focusing on collecting and promoting content that relates to your company’s mission and values.
Here’s how a few brands are making it happen.
Promote an Ideal or Value Proposition
What does your company value?
Community? Workplace integrity? Thought leadership? Work/life balance?
It could be anything, really (just look to your value proposition, about me section, etc. if you have any trouble answering this question).
Once you have it, start thinking about ways you can promote it to your audience.
Take a look at Buffer, for example.
Though their actual service is social media scheduling, they’ve built a reputation for fostering a digital lifestyle and promoting the ideas of culture and travel.
Those are the ideals they’ve brought to Instagram, and use hashtags #BufferCommunity, #bufferstories and #BufferSpaces to encourage users to share their own content about how they live and work across the world.
Think about what ideals of yours align with your customers, and how you can encourage them to post.
What to Post on Instagram: Share Customer Stories
You don’t need an actual product to share customer stories.
In the same way that you would encourage someone to leave a review, encourage your customers to leave feedback via Instagram.
PayPal’s done this really well (and if a bill-paying and money transfer service can do this, you can do it too).
Using the hashtags #PayPalIt and #PayPalCanDoThat, the company collects success stories from businesses using the product.
What to Post on Instagram: B2Cs
If you’re a B2C, you arguably have a bit of an edge on Instagram.
The good news is, that makes strategizing much easier.
B2Cs are generally good to use any of the follow kinds of content in their strategies:
- Product shots
- Product use shots and videos
- Product shots and videos
- Behind-the-scenes shots
- Employee-focused shots
- Hashtag contests and user-generated content
- Influencer posts and takeovers
Now, there’s no shortage of posts about what to post on Instagram for B2Cs.
But there’s far less that focus on what kinds of content will help move Instagram users from followers to customers.
While B2Bs do best to use Instagram for brand awareness, reach, and lead generation, B2Cs can produce content that’s focused on bottom-of-the-funnel goals.
Let’s take a look.
Include Exclusive Offers and Unveil New Products
Instagram is a great platform to capture interest for your products with giveaways and exclusive offers.
Athletic retailer Ryu did this well with its #WhatsInYourBag campaign, which promoted their products through giveaways.
This method is effective for a few reasons: 1.) giveaways are a great way to promote audience engagement, 2.) the visual nature (through both posts and stories) helps create more demand for the product being given away, and 3.) giveaway winners make great user-generated content if you ask them to post a photo.
Keep in mind, it doesn’t have to be a giveaway.
Launching a deal or promo code just for your Instagram users is another great way to generate quick demand and a feeling of being in the “in-crowd” for your followers.
What to Post on Instagram: Product Shots With Product Tags
This a cool newer feature from Instagram that allows direct purchases through Posts and Stories.
Using them, a customer can click on a tag to get information on a product’s name and price tag. Then, if they click again they’ll be directed to a new screen where they can purchase the item.
This is one you almost can’t afford not to do; after all, 65% of top-producing brand posts feature products.
People are seeing and engaging with them, so why not remove any barriers you can in the buying process?
It’s also a great idea to use in conjunction with any influencer posts you may be running: 40% of people say they’ve purchased an item online after seeing it used by an influencer on Instagram.
Imagine how that number could increase if they could buy it directly from an the Instagram photo?
What to Post on Instagram: Run Remarketing Ads
Part of knowing what to post Instagram is knowing what to promote.
And when it comes to ads and promotions, remarketing is one of your best bets at recapturing the interest of qualified customers.
Remarketing lets you show ads to users who have previously visited your website.
Because Instagram is owned by Facebook, you can install the Facebook tracking pixel on your site to cookie users who visit specific pages.
Then, you can create Instagram ads featuring the products they visited.
You can break your audience down even further into segments like:
- People who have searched for you
- Repeat Visitors
- People who haven’t completed a transaction
Sometimes, a remarketing ad is the push they need to complete a purchase.
Other times, it’s the reminder needed to keep your product fresh as they browse related companies.
Either way, if you have an audience of active Instagram users, it’s a great place drop a (not so subtle) hint to revisit the product page they left.
Wrapping Up What to Post on Instagram
When it comes down to it, what to post on Instagram depends entirely on your audience and company goals.
The strategies will vary depending on the audience you cater to and the products you offer.
As always, a little trial and error (and a lot of creativity) will be your bets at success on Instagram.