How to Create Visual Content For Instagram When Your Product Can’t Be Seen

By now, it’s no secret to marketers that the visual trumps the written. According to a study by Hubspot, visual content generates a staggering 94 percent more views than text alone, and most audiences don’t read more than 20 percent of a webpage.

A picture really is worth a thousand words.

With the emphasis on visual content and the availability of tools to create high quality photos and graphics, platforms like Instagram have come to dominate social media marketing.

Of course, when you’re selling rainbow bagels or lip kits, Instagram marketing is easily done. The stunning photos basically take themselves. But what if you’re an insurance company?  It takes a little more creativity and strategy.

But don’t write off Instagram just because you don’t have a sexy or even tangible product to sell. With the highest engagement rates of any social media platform, Instagram is too valuable for any marketer to ignore, regardless of their industry. Take some tips from these B2B business Instagram case studies and learn how to create a killer visual presence for your brand.


Lesson 1: Learn how to visualize your brand voice

Fido, a Canada-based personal communications service provider, sought to boost brand recognition among millennials. To do this, they latched on to the word “Curious.” They developed a series of ads using the hashtag #getcurious.

The ads, which featured millennial smartphone users, may have been for technology services, but the tone of these ads clearly invoked whimsy, curiosity and possibility with the use of somewhat abstract imagery featuring clouds, doves and plenty of sunlight.


Lesson 2: Show your audience themselves

salesforce ad
Photo credit: Facebook for business

Salesforce had a tricky question to answer: how do you market marketing services to marketers? The CRM provider wanted to raise awareness about its annual Dreamforce Conference among young professionals. The obvious answer would be to use photos from the previous year’s conference. But Salesforce had a different idea.

It’s no surprise that people like to see themselves, so Salesforce decided to create a campaign that featured individuals that their target audience could easily identify with. They used Instagram’s targeting tools as well as their own attendee demographics from the past year to create four visualized personas – developer, marketer, saleswoman and salesman – and then used these to create Instagram ads.


Lesson 3: Use visuals to tell a story

Capital One is a great example of a brand with a hard product to visually market. Financial services don’t lend themselves to pretty pictures. But the brand found a way to take a complex offering and boil it down to its most basic, visual element: the wallet. Reimaging their slogan, “What’s in your wallet”, the brand did so much more than just create a visual.

They built out a whole photo series that paired visual images of their customer’s wallets with compelling stories in the description, and boosted audience engagement in the process.


Here’s the takeaway

Visual marketing is about more than just pretty pictures of your product. Instagram can help you create a visual presence for your brand, your audience and your corporate story.


Why You Should Be Working With Micro-Influencers

If you listen to any conversation about Instagram long enough, one name is almost guaranteed to pop up – Kendall Jenner. The reality show star turned model seems to be the very face of Instagram lately. Not only is she the most followed account on Instagram, but each of her posts often receive oodles of media buzz and the likes to back it up. Everyone remembers this post:

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Kendall (@kendalljenner) on

It was the most liked post on Instagram of all time. This is what makes celebrities like Jenner the gold standard for influence marketing on Instagram. As IG superstars, they have massive followings, making their photos prime real estate for brands to appear on – which explains why they’re often paid millions to do just that.

But while influencers like Jenner or other A-listers may be a shortcut to getting your brand’s Instagram more eyeballs, they’re not always worth the millions they ask for. While major companies can afford this price tag, smaller start-ups or businesses with a more niche audience should consider working with micro-influencers instead.

What are micro-influencers?

Jack Holt at calls them “angel investors.” These individuals post exclusively about a well-defined area of expertise. They may not be “Instafamous,” but within their respective communities, they’re the ultimate source of information.

Although these micro-influencers typically possess a fraction of the followers that a celebrity or A-list influencer would have, the followers they do have are more likely to be invested in the industry or topic that the influencer ‘grams about.

Working with micro-influencers is a smart idea, regardless of how much money you have to spend.  Logically, it just makes sense. Why spend extra money reaching an audience that you may not even care to reach? Furthermore, celebrity “macro” influencers have brands lining up to work with them, so you risk diluting your message among other, unrelated endorsements.

The research backs this approach up. A study conducted just this year and published on PRweek found that influencers with just 1,000-2,000 folllowers actually offer the best engagement rates on posts.

So when your company begins to search for a promotional partner, stop looking for the biggest name out there, and get specific instead. Just how specific can you get? Take a look at these influencers with unique follower bases:


Pet Rabbits: BunnyMama

This Toronto-based Instagrammer began by posting photos of her three pet rabbits, and she’s now one of the most well-known names among rabbit owners and animal shelters. She provides relevant information about rabbit ownership and the responsibilities associated with it as well. She recently began promoting Timothy Hay from a small pet food company, including offering her followers a special deal on the hay.


Meal Preparation: MealPrepOnFleek

Creating healthy and Instagram-worthy packed lunches is very on trend right now, and this account is probably the most followed account. They post follower submissions and other examples of packed lunches along with recipes, and they’ve recently started including some brand names within these gorgeous spreads.

Have any other examples of great micro-influencers that your brand has worked with? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to follow us @hashtagforthegram!

3 Tips to Nail Your Instagram Ad Campaign

The stakes are high for advertisers on Instagram. Since the platform rolled out paid advertising in 2013, it has become a powerful force. In fact, the service just opened up for businesses of all sizes back in September, and companies have been quick to seize the chance to up their Instagram game and reach more of the 400 million monthly users on the app.

Of course, Instagram has been cashing in on this, with the company expected to make nearly $1 billion in revenue in the next four years. It’s not surprising, although they’ve been notoriously secret about pricing on paid advertising, estimates range from $500,000 to $1 million per month.

So yes, the stakes are definitely high. Marketers can delete and replace a bad Instagram post, and even a poor strategy can improve with time. But when you’re spending thousands, or possibly millions, of dollars on paid advertising that will put your brand in front of a much larger audience than just your own followers, it’s important to get it right.

Here are three essential tips to make sure your ad campaign gets a return on your investment.


1. Make Your Ads Look Native

A study cited by Fortune found that banner blindness is manifesting on social media platforms. Just as website users became desensitized to banner ads on web pages, user engagement with brands on social media platforms is falling.

Combat this effect by keeping your ad content appealing to viewers. Ads that blend in with other organic posts are likely to be viewed more favorably than something that looks like spam.

Take one of Instagram’s success stories, Capital One. There’s nothing particularly visual (or interesting) about banking services, but they saw their slogan, “What’s in Your Wallet” as an opportunity to create the creative, striking and personal images that are common place on the app. The nine pictures they circulated ended up boosting ad recall by 16 percent.


2. Consider videos

Video advertising on Instagram just got easier this February when Instagram rolled out its first 60 second ad campaigns. Previously, the platform only supported 30 second videos.

There’s no better way to stand out from a static image than with a dynamic video, but getting viewers to spend a whole minute on your video is a bit of a risk. It may be safer to stay on the short side, but the most successful 60 second ads have captured viewer interest in the crucial first 10 seconds with visually striking elements – For T-Mobile, it meant harnessing the power of Drake!

Keep in mind: Instagram does not automatically play audio on posts, so don’t rely on special sounds to catch a viewer’s attention.


3.Use a Call to Action

Paid ads come with a pretty powerful feature: the ability to include outbound links. Not only can you link back to your website, but you can do so with a sleek looking call-to-action button. In fact, market experts have found that Instagram seems to be having pretty great success with direct response ads, showing that they’re good for more than just brand messaging.

Seize this opportunity to link to your landing page, website or other content that you couldn’t otherwise on an organic post.

Why Brands Shouldn’t Worry about Instagram’s New Algorithm


If you’ve been anywhere on Instagram in the past few days, you’ve probably heard about the impending apocalypse that is Instagram’s new algorithm. The company recently announced it was making a major update to user feeds.

The previous feed displayed posts in reverse chronological order, so users saw every post by every account they followed when scrolling past. Although this could be time consuming for users who follower thousands of accounts, it meant that any post had an equivalent chance of being viewed by a user, dependent only on the time it was posted.

But the new algorithm is shaking things up. Now, Instagram will prioritize posts from accounts that users have engaged heavily with through likes, comments and views and display those first, while relegating less significant accounts further down in the feed, or off it entirely.

Naturally, brands are freaking out about this. While the change might make IG more convenient for viewers, content creators now need to pay closer attention than ever to what they’re putting out. While this is definitely true, this doesn’t mean brand marketing on IG isn’t going to change for the worse.


For larger brands that can afford paid advertising, the update won’t make a difference,  but smaller brand accounts that rely on organic post reach fear that this change is a step towards Facebook’s “Pay to Play” system. Facebook’s current algorithm gives brand accounts such a low organic post reach that many marketers feel they are essentially being forced to pay to promote their content.

Kurt Wagner at Re/Code writes that Instagram isn’t quite taking this approach. As of now, brand accounts are still treated the same as personal ones, which means that all content is treated equally. This is likely to change, but in the interim, it is still possible for brands to create content that gets seen without paying a fortune.


Although posting striking visual content is still important, you should encourage your followers to do more than just stare.  Madeline Popelka, a digital marketing expert, gave Elite Daily some tips for creating killer content.

Encourage them to tag their friends in posts that are relevant to them. Create incentives for followers to use your brand hashtag with giveaways and shout outs.

But boosting your account’s status goes beyond your own posts. If you’re engaging with and promoting your followers’ content, you’re more likely to get a favorable response from them the next time your new post is published.


To mitigate the effects of new algorithm, some brands are turning to another method that you may have noticed in the past few days: pleading with their users to turn on post notifications. This will inform users whenever an account has a new IG post, even if it doesn’t show up in their feed.

While this tactic might avoid a short-term drop in views, you still won’t see the results you want if your posts are just something pretty to look at and then scroll past. Brands that can create killer content that encourages action and engagement shouldn’t be afraid of this new algorithm, because their posts will still be seen and furthermore, will actually lead to conversions.


The bottom line is, if your brand is creating content that viewers enjoy seeing and interacting with, you have nothing to worry about – at least yet.

How Instagram’s New Account Switching Feature Can Help You Manage Your Brand’s Identity

instagram_acct switching

Instagram pleased the entire marketing world last week when it announced that it would begin letting users switch between accounts without signing out. This long-awaited new feature should bring a tear to the eye of any brand manager on Instagram who has almost posted a personal update on their brand’s page!

ADweekly reports that the company had been testing the feature on both Android and iOS platforms for months, but they officially announced the upgrade on their own company blog last Monday.

Previously, Instagram only allowed users to post from one account at a time, which forced users to create entirely new accounts if they wanted a secondary profile and switch between the two every time they wanted to post something new.

Apps like Twitter and Facebook took care of this problem a while ago, allowing users to connect multiple profiles or handles to the same account, but Instagram lagged behind.

According to TechCrunch, this feature caters well to teenagers and young adults who want to distinguish between the private (and often innapropriate) photos they share with friends and the more polished image they present to the public.

But the same principle applies to businesses. Marketers are figuring out that just as individuals present a certain image based on their posts, so do brands, and it’s important to create a strong identity.

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Friday is for denim. #tgif #loveloft

A post shared by LOFT (@loft) on

For many companies, personal photos have no place on their feed. Women’s clothing store LOFT’s profile shows a clean, professionally shot array of images that feature models wearing their apparel. Their photos are free of filters, text and for the most part, even faces. It’s sleek and non-regional, which works for a large national retailer.

This isn’t the perfect model for all companies; it can feel cold and impersonal. Sometimes more intimate pictures can help a brand’s identity, not hurt it.

Molly’s Cupcakes, a Chicago-area bakery, has incredible variety in the pictures they post on their account. Some are cutely designed text posts announcing specials or store closings. Others are images of their employees having fun on the job (The gram above is a photo of owner John Nicolaides and a famous fan). It’s sweet and advances the brand’s image as a friendly and quirky place to stop by.

So while the new app switching option is a powerful tool for marketers, it’s up to them to decide what to include – and what to leave out – in their brand’s account.

But at the very least, this might save you from posting your latest Friday night selfie to your company’s account! Check out complete instructions on how to add a second account on Instagram’s help center.

Does your company prefer to keep personal shots off Instagram, or are they a part of your story? Tell us in the comments!