Whenever a platform releases a new app or feature, we go straight to the experts to learn more. When we heard that Instagram rolled out their new Guides feature, we called on our good friend and Instagram “It Girl”, Jenn Herman, from Jenn’s Trends, to help get us in the know.
Jenn shared with us that this is Instagram’s way of allowing users to post longer-form content and filled us in on the latest news and tips on how to utilize this new feature perfectly for B2B marketing.
Rich: My guest today is a world-renowned speaker, Instagram expert blogger, and soon to be online course creator. She’s also a good friend of mine, and she has spoken on multiple occasions at my Agents of Change Conference that we have here in Maine. She’s also been on the show a number of times.
I also discovered right before we jumped on the air that I hadn’t written down her bio, so this is all ad-lib. And I did promise if I stink this up, that I will record it when she’s not here. But I think so far, I’m doing all right today.
Today I’m looking very much forward to jumping into Instagram for B2B companies, this is going to be exciting, and I’m here with my good friend, Jenn Herman. Jenn, welcome back to the show.
Jenn: Hi! So excited and you nailed it. No need to redo, we’re good.
Rich: Excellent. Really appreciate that. All right. As I mentioned, you’ve got this new course on Instagram for B2B companies. And I do want to talk a little bit about this, but first I have to say, Instagram is not the platform that I think of when I think of B2B. As the meme says, change my mind.
Jenn: Right. Prove me wrong. So, yeah. And this is one of those things where I think so many people assume Instagram is easy for a B2C, right? You have a pretty product, it’s easy to take a pretty picture and you’ve got UGC because people are buying your products and it’s considerably easier for that kind of B2C space. And that’s what most people think of Instagram, as a marketing tool.
And I’m not saying that that’s not the case. But that being said, I work with a ton of B2B businesses and I like to break the mold, so to speak, I guess. So I like to find creative ways to do things. And I’ve been working with so many different B2B businesses where we’ve been able to find creative ways to use Instagram for education, for resources, for building up that relationship in that community in a way that isn’t just promoting your product. And there’s a lot of brands and a lot of businesses that are doing this really well. It’s another avenue, it’s another way to connect. And the key is, if your audience is there you can be there, even as the B2B business.
Rich: So I guess that brings up another issue. So yes, generally speaking, we assume that a B2C company is going to have prettier pictures to share on Instagram. And yeah, obviously our B2B clients are human beings. Many of them are going to be on Instagram, but they’re not necessarily in that mindset. So for people who are like, “Yeah, I know they’re on there, but they don’t want to hear from me about my manufacturing solution” or whatever it may be, while they’re scrolling through pictures of their friends and family. What do you say to those people and to that concern?
Jenn: And that’s where I think most B2B’s struggle. Especially like, even if it’s like the podcast industry or like the SaaS people in the tech industry, they’re like, “Oh, let me just push my product in your face”. And no, I mean, even in a B2C, no one really wants that. But especially in the B2B, you’re right, that’s not what people want. They’re not logging on Instagram to see your manufacturing process or that you necessarily got another newsletter that came out or any of those sorts of things. So it has to be less about the product, aka service, in and of itself and more about the brand, more about building that community.
And so it can be things like the behind the scenes, the “meet the team”, the resources and education. You know, I always tell people, regardless of what platform they’re on, people want to learn. One of the favorite posts that I’ve ever seen on Instagram was from a realtor, which is kind of a B2B sort of transferable context. But she posted this thing about living in Southern California. We had this real-world problem where we can’t carve pumpkins more than two days before Halloween because they will wilt and turn moldy and just die. And she had shared something about how to keep your pumpkin’s lasting longer in Southern California warm weather. And I was like, this is the most shareable piece of content I’ve ever seen in my life. And I shared it, right? A lot of people had comments. A lot of people were bookmarking it. It became the resource-based post for a realtor, even though it wasn’t directly tied to what she did.
She’s building her audience. She’s creating community and providing value in a way that will build her audience with people who at that point may want to do that. And that’s where the B2B focus has to be more on the relationship and community building and sharing more so than just pushing that service and always making everything the business-centric side of it.
Rich: Makes sense. All right. So what are some of the basics then in setting up your account for success in business? I’m assuming we should sign up for a business account as opposed to a personal one, but what else might there be?
Jenn: Yeah. So first thing, yes, be a business profile. You could technically be a creator profile too, but business is probably the most accurate. And that’s going to allow you to set up a variety of different things, right? Including the action buttons, which you should have set up for either call, text, email, or directions. You have the four options. You want people to be able to connect with you. In the B2B space, most people are probably going to want to email you. If you have a business phone number, and it’s not your personal cell phone, you might want to add the phone number context in there, but you need a way for someone to contact you when they have a question about what you have.
You also want to make sure that you make really, really good use of that link in bio. So most brands only have the link in bio that. If you don’t have over the 10,000 followers, you don’t get the swipe up in stories. So we want that “link in bio” to go to a dedicated landing page on your website, dedicated to Instagram viewer. So the only place you’re going to share that link is that “link in bio” on Instagram. And why that is so important is every time someone clicks on that link and they go to that landing page, now you can do almost like a link tree, is what I recommend people do with that landing page. They can choose to go to your blog, they can choose to go to your services, they can choose your “about me” page, whatever it is.
But the key to that is that now you own and retain all of that traffic in your Google Analytics, and that allows you to start measuring your retention rate, your conversions, the behavior of everybody. So if most people on that page are going to your blog, okay, that’s the primary transaction. You can do more blog content promotion on your Instagram account. Obviously if you have your Facebook pixel on there as well, that allows you to retarget all that traffic with Facebook and Instagram ads.
But in that B2B space where we really want to build up that newsletter, we really want to build up that funnel, having that traffic, being able to be measured and quantified can be really helpful in analyzing those analytics and making sure you’re hitting the right mark.
Rich: All right, let’s talk about a word you just said, “link tree”. So I have been following this thread that my team is going back and forth, “link tree” is also the name of an app or something like that, or something that allows you to have multiple links within your bio.
Jenn: Yeah, it’s an app. It’s a third-party tool. So what you do is you put your link tree link in your Instagram bio, and when they click on that, they go to that landing page and it has all the different options of where they can go and you put whatever URL you want on those buttons. The problem with doing that, and there’s nothing wrong with link tree, the problem is you’re giving your traffic to a third-party tool. I would rather have the traffic on my own website that I can track and measure. So I typically suggest recreating a link tree environment on your own.
Rich: Which is it’s really just about creating one more page in WordPress and it’s kind of, anybody could do this.
Jenn: It’s super simple.
Rich: Well, I’m going to add this link to the thread that’s going on right now at flyte new media, I’ll tell you that right now. All great information.
So we’ve got the link set up. We’ve created a special page that then we can measure in Google analytics. How much does it matter if we spend time in Instagram in terms of just engaging with other people’s content? Does that impact our reach, are we rewarded for that behavior?
Jenn: Absolutely. And this is something that people do need to understand, especially if you are outsourcing your Instagram to somebody else, or if you have one team member managing your Instagram account while doing, you know, 22 other jobs in your company.
Your engagement on Instagram does matter. Now it’s not quantifiable in the sense of like, you have to like five posts and you have to post 13 times. But Instagram rewards good behavior, basically. So you don’t want to just post and then leave the app and not come in again until the next time you want to post something, Instagram will punish you with lower reach.
So instead you do want to be actively involved on the platform, logging in at least once a day, it can even be for five or 10 minutes. Scroll through the feed, watch a couple stories, go to the explore tab, check your DMs, whatever it is. But the more that you show participation on the app, the more that Instagram is going to reward you for your content creation.
Now there’ve been a lot of myths and rumors of late in terms of Instagram saying, “Oh, well you need to create a feed post today, and five stories a day, and a reel every day, and two IGTVs a week”, or some obscene amount of content creation. Nobody has to go that extreme. We all have jobs to run unless your job is literally 24/7 to run the Instagram account, nobody has that much time.
So the bigger idea is to be consistent with your content creation. That can be once a week, it could be creating more Stories than feed posts, whatever works for you, your content schedule, your workload, as well as what your audience responds to. It’s important to recognize, and you can go into your insights and see how your content is performing. For me, I’m kind of the exception to the rule, Stories do not perform well for me. Most brands find Stories perform really well. So you want to kind of know and test, and then put your time and effort into those categories where you’re most likely to see that traction of reach, engagement, participation, comments, those sorts of things.
Rich: All right. So follow up question. Many of us have a personal account as well as one for our company or brand. When I log into my Instagram account on my phone I usually go in as Rich Brooks, but I can flip over to Agents of Change or flyte new media. Do we need to spend time and engage others, post and interact as the company for it to count?
Rich: Okay. Which the good news is that if multiple people on your team are in charge of Instagram, that all counts towards whatever time activity we’re spending.
Jenn: Yeah. So if there’s two or three people in there, they’re both logging in daily, then you’re getting triple level of participation. But yeah, just because you log on to Instagram on your device, doesn’t mean that it’s logging it for all accounts logged in on your device. So you have to actually log in as that account and interact as that account.
Rich: Okay. And I want to go back a step because I know with Facebook, there’s lots of regulations and rules around how business pages can interact with fans and people. Are there similar rules in Instagram or is it basically like, despite the fact that you’re a business account, you can engage with anybody’s posts that’s public?
Jenn: Yeah, it’s pretty much a free for all, which is one of the reasons I love Instagram over Facebook, because there’s so many less restrictions on Instagram.
But yeah, you’re interacting as you, you’re not having to choose whether you’re replying publicly or privately, or whether it’s a hidden comment or those sorts of things. Everything on a public profile is public. It’s pretty much a free for all.
Rich: Okay. You mentioned a lot of different things that a business can be creating as far as Instagram goes. It does seem like there’s so much to do these days. How important are Reels to our visibility?
Jenn: So this is one of those kinds of like, you know when Facebook – aka Instagram – tells you to do something, you should do it. Like when Facebook Groups were the big thing, right? You couldn’t get reach unless you were a Facebook Group. Reels is kind of the same thing. So Instagram launched Reels, they’re making a really big deal about it. And just like when they launched IGTV, they make a really big deal about it. And if you create a Reel, yes, you are going to get more reach. You are going to probably get more engagement. You are going to get more new eyeballs on your content. Yes. That being said, you won’t be punished for not using a Reel. So, if you don’t create them, you’re not going to all of a sudden find that your reach and engagement drops by 80% or something.
But if you can take the time and you do have the resources and the interest in creating Reels, it can help you grow right now. It can help you get more exposure. Because Instagram is of course pushing that content, and so creators are being rewarded for it.
Rich: I’m embarrassed to admit that I actually didn’t know what an Instagram Guide was until I read your blog post about it. I have to admit, like Pinterest, Instagram sometimes falls into a blind spot. And I actually use Instagram, unlike Pinterest. In case anyone listening is as ignorant as I am, can you give us a quick rundown of what Guides are, how users engage with them? Because I didn’t know that either. And then of course, how does a B2B company use Guides?
Jenn: Yeah. And I have to say, when Guides came out, I was doing the happy dance. There’s a lot of things Instagram releases and I’m like, “Oh, I have to pretend like I care about this.” With Guides I was like legit jumping up and down. I think this is a huge resource, especially for the B2B space.
And so what they are is they are basically an album of content that can be yours and/or other people’s content created into one resource guide. So what you do to create a Guide, if you already have the Guides feature, you can do it. You can go to the plus sign from your profile and you can choose to add “story”, “reel”, there should be a “guide” option. If not, you can always go to @Jenns_trends, which is my account, and you will see the “guide icon” at the top of my feed, which looks like a newspaper. And when you click on that, you’ll see mine. And if you scroll down to the bottom, you’ll see the option to create your own Guide. And so you can access it from somebody else’s Guides.
But basically what it does is if you do a normal, general guide, you can do up to 30 posts. So there’s a couple other options of guides that you can do. Like you can do one for location, which if you were a physical business location, you might want to do that one. But I think your limit was like eight or 10 posts on those. But you can go up to 30 on the normal one. And so you can go through and pull “feed post” from yours or anything that you’ve saved to your bookmarks as well. Now these are for feed posts only, this doesn’t apply to Stories. But they’re very similar to what the highlight galleries are for Stories. You’re planting into a similar space.
But why I like this is because let’s say you came to my Instagram profile and you’re like, “Okay. I just want to know what the new Instagram updates are?” I could have a Guide just for new Instagram releases. So instead of having to scroll through all my content and all these other things, you can go to one Guide and get the eight posts that are relevant to you in that specific question you have, rather than looking through a thousand Instagram posts and not knowing which one is going to be the answer to what you need.
So again, in the B2B space, if you are in manufacturing you could have something with testimonials. You could have one with the actual manufacturing process. You could have one with a “meet the team”. You could literally create all these guides for all these different things.
Let’s say you’re a furniture manufacturer. You could have one for home decor tips. You could have one for seasonal trends. Again, it’s related to your target audience, but putting everything in one easy to access bundle. And because you can bring in content from other people, it actually allows you to use more of that user generated content, showcase other brands that align with you and not necessarily competitor, that add to that resource level. So there’s so many ways that these could be expanded, depending on what your creative genius takes them to.
Rich: A lot of my experience on using the app is really just staying there in the feed, which is why sometimes I don’t see some of these other features as they pop up, because that’s just how I used it from day one and I haven’t really changed all that much. Is there any way to draw attention to these Guides that you’ve created? Obviously, they appear on your profile, but not everybody may want to go check out the flyte new media’s Instagram profile, as an example.
Jenn: Right. So because it’s still a relatively new feature and it didn’t get anywhere near the hype and excitement of something like Reels, a lot of people don’t know it’s there. So if you’re creating them, I highly recommend that you do a Feed post about it, do a Story sequence about it that says, “We’ve added a new Guide. If you want access to this go to our profile, click on the newspaper icon, and you’ll be able to see the Guide”. And you know, whatever the context of it is, whatever the purpose of it is, you can kind of highlight that and showcase it. So that will help get, get it out there for more people and then over time they will start to be more familiar with the people that come to your profile. They’re going to start to look for them just like they would look for the tagged content, to see the other people that have tagged in posts, it’ll become more kind of commonplace.
Rich: Okay. Is it pretty easy to set up these Guides? I haven’t actually set one up before, so is it just a matter of you select the different posts that you want, or anything that appears in the feed, and just be able to put it in? And can you order them however you like?
Jenn: Yep. So yeah, you start the guide. You can choose whatever posts you want from your feed or from anything that you’ve bookmarked. So you can’t just be like, “Oh, I want to pull in Jenn’s content”. You would have had to have bookmarked one of my posts, and then you can pull from your bookmark selections as well. And then you can reorder them in order. They do go in the order that you tap through them, and then it’s kind of like the reverse order. So the first one you tap is going to be at the bottom of the Guide. So if the first one was the first one in your feed, it’s like a reverse chronological. So you just want to kind of keep that in mind.
But yeah, and then you can add captions to them. You have to give the Guide a title, but you can add captions to the individual posts and all that sort of stuff. So there’s a lot of tailoring. It takes a hot minute to set it up. It’s not something you’re just going to literally be like, click boom, done. You want to assign, give a little bit of time to set them up. But once they’re there, you can add to them down the road.
If you wanted to, you can edit them, delete something out if it’s become outdated, you know, those sorts of things.
Rich: For people they may want to just use Instagram because it’s a fun social media place to hang out. I know that’s why I like Instagram. Obviously if it’s for business there’s going to be some sort of ROI, and that usually comes down to eyeballs. So are there any specific tactics you would recommend for a B2B company to make sure that they’re getting their posts seen? Besides spending money on it, are there hashtag tactics, are there follow tactics? Are there any other tactics that you’ve seen really make a difference in terms of getting posts to increase the visibility or getting a profile to increase the visibility?
Jenn: Yeah, the biggest thing hands down is going to be hashtags. And I have my super-secret recipe that I tell everybody, which I’m sure I’ve shared on the show before. But for a quick recap, you want to use at least a minimum of 10 hashtags per post. I recommend 20 to 30, 30 is the max that you can use. And then you’re going to mix in a combination of popular hashtags.
So those are going to be those if you go to an Instagram search for a hashtag, it will tell you how many posts are associated with it. Popular I usually define as about 500,000 up to a million posts associated with that hashtag. Beyond a million, you start getting really saturated and you really just start attracting spam bots, and you don’t live there long enough to really draw any real results. So usually about a million, and then moderately popular are the high tens of thousands-ish, up to about the 500,000 mark. And then your super niche, specific ones are going to be exactly what it is, what you do with the problem you solve, the solution you have, that sort of thing.
And then you mix in maybe one or two or three of your own branded hashtags. So like I use #JennsTrends and #learnfromJen as my branded ones. So when you combine that whole process, what ends up happening is your followers see your content because they’re already following you, your hashtags get you to show up with non-followers. So those popular ones get you an initial burst of activity relatively quick if it’s a more popular search, but you die out quickly. So the moderately popular keep your content active longer hours into days.
And then what ends up happening is in those niche specific hashtags, you rank as a top post because Instagram looks at all your metrics and goes, you have this piece of content that’s performing well with followers and non-followers. Right? It’s performing over time. You’re outperforming the other pieces of content in this very small hashtag and they will rank you as a top post and you can hang out in a top post for months.
I’ve seen things in there for two months and they’re two months older. So the number one position, and if you’re the number one post, someone’s going to click on it. Now they’re reading your caption. They’re seeing your call to action. They’re going to your profile. They’re following you. They’re going to your LinkedIn bio, all that sort of thing. So that is the best tactic for growth.
Now Instagram did also finally, after all of these years, improve their search functionality. So it used to be you had to use hashtags because it was literally the only way to search. If I wanted to know what to do with my kid, I had to literally look up “San Diego kid’s activities” as a hashtag. And if something wasn’t tagged with that, it didn’t show up. But Instagram is now rolling out a more advanced search where you can actually search by keyword, not just by either a location or a hashtag.
That doesn’t mean to stop using hashtags. I think that’s super, super important to stress because the search functionality is new so not everything is searchable. You might search one keyword and it’s there and something else may not produce results. But also, we don’t yet know how Instagram is pulling that content for those keyword searches. So it’s not exclusively that it’s a hashtag. It’s not pulling exclusively because of a caption or because of the profile. So we don’t want to mess with what works until we know really how the new search works. So you definitely want to keep using those hashtags.
And then especially in Stories, making sure that you’re using location tags as well, because people will tend to look for locations. They also look for hashtags in Stories, but Stories you want to use broader hashtags and that will help get you again, more people that are not currently following you to see that piece of content, go look at it, be entertained, click through, all those sorts of things.
Rich: All right. Now you consult with a number of B2B companies on their Instagram strategy. So is there anything else that we really haven’t talked about today that you’ve seen that moves the needle? I’m thinking about things like are they using more video than still images in the feed? Are they really diving deep into Reels and Stories? Does the length of the post or the way that they phrase things in the post get more engagement and ultimately help them out in Instagram?
Jenn: So the biggest thing is you want to have eye catching content. Your content has to stop people in the feed, that is first and foremost the biggest situation. And that goes for Stories too, you want people to stop and pay attention. If in the feed somebody scrolls past your content and does not interact with it in any way, shape, or form, that is a negative ranking algorithmically. Which means you rank lower and lower for that individual user in the future.
If they slow and pay more attention to that photo, that’s a positive ranking. If they click on “…more” to read your whole caption, that’s a positive ranking. So there’s a lot of things that are positive algorithmically that we don’t get metrics on. So anything you can do to get people to slow their attention and pay attention to what you have in the feed, that’s first and foremost.
But then it does tie into the caption. Obviously if you’re trying to get people to that “link in bio”, you have to have that call to action. We don’t want to put a call to action in every single post, because then people are like,” I’m over it”, and they stop paying attention. But your calls to action could also be something as simple as, “Do you feel the same way?” or, “What have you noticed?” “Are you going through this? Tag a friend below.” Just asking a question is a call to action that can generate comments. And again, that boosts things algorithmically, but allows you to connect with the audience in terms of Stories, same kind of thing. You want people who are staying through and watching your Stories.
If they’re skipping your Stories or going to somebody else’s Story without watching the end of yours, that’s negative ranking. So we want to keep them paying attention. So look and see how long people are paying attention to your Stories. If you have a typical drop-off around post number four in a Story sequence, don’t go beyond four in a sequence, make sure that you’re tying in. And so you really do have to look at those insights.
You kind of mentioned the caption thing in terms of length, there’s no ideal length. Some studies have shown that 170 characters is the magic number, but that’s kind of arbitrary depending on again, various factors. So the biggest thing is having a good piece of eye-catching content, have a good caption. We want the first sentence to be like a blog post title, like an email subject header, something that really captures their attention so that they click “… more”, and actually read the rest of the caption. Mixing in those calls to action to drive the traffic to the “link in bio” is the ultimate kind of mission for those in the B2B space.
Rich: That’s awesome. All right. You have given us a ton of information to work on right now, but I know that you’ve got even more. You’ve got this online course and it’s specifically for B2B. It’s for that B2B marketer who’s trying to figure out how they can use Instagram. What can you tell us about that course?
Jenn: So, yeah, I’m super excited about this course, because again, this is something that I don’t think anybody else really is embracing in the B2B industry. And I’m like, I love you. I want to help you. So the course, if you want to go to it, it’s super easy, it’s bit.ly/instagramforb2b – all lower case – Instagram for B2B.
And so it’s an eight video, pre-recorded course, you get every video when you purchase. So this isn’t one of those things where it’s a drip thing and you’ve got to wait a week. I was like, no, if you want to binge it, go nuts. So watch everything. And it takes you through, soup to nuts, everything from setting up your profile and going deep dive into the profile. We talk about content strategies for the feed and for stories. We talk about how to drive traffic, specifically as a B2B. We go into Insights, how to really measure the Insights. What are you specifically looking for that’s going to help you determine what’s working and how you can create more of what’s working?
So it really covers the entire gamut so you can set up that whole strategy for success. It’s about six hours of training so it’s a robust course. It’s going to give you all the things that are trapped in this brain that I want to share with the world.
Rich: And if you’ve ever seen Jenn on stage, you know how much passion and the occasional F bomb she might bring to this. I’m not going to promise you an F-bomb in the course, I can’t do that.
Jenn: I think I was able to control that, but there’s definitely some passion,
Rich: Definitely passion. If you are excited about figuring out how to use Instagram in your B2B marketing, I’m sure that you are going to find the answers in this online course. So make sure that you check that out. If you miss the link, it’s going to be in the show notes. So go check those out.
Jen, this has been fantastic. Where else, besides the online course, can people find out more about you online?
Jenn: Yeah, I’m pretty much everywhere as “Jenn’s Trends”, Jenn with two N’s. So Jennstrends.com is the website. You can find me on Instagram and Twitter as @Jenns_Trends. You can find me on YouTube, I have tons of tutorials and short videos to answer all the commonly asked questions about Instagram over there on the YouTube channel. And then the blog at jennstrends.com has everything again. And then also you can go to Jennstrends.com/books, all of the books, including the brand new Instagram For Business For Dummies that just recently came out as well is available there. So lots of resources to help out.
Rich: That’s awesome. We’re definitely going to be having a lot of links in the show notes, no doubt. Jen, this has been fantastic. Thank you as always for coming by and sharing some of your knowledge with us.
Jenn: Thanks for having me, Rich.
Jenn Herman is a speaker, author, Instagram expert and most importantly a teacher. She thrives on teaching & coaching others to achieve their business goals. Definitely connect with her on all the social channels, especially Instagram. And her website is a treasure trove of valuable content from blogs, to videos, to books. And be sure to check out her newest endeavor, her Instagram for B2B course.
Rich Brooks is the President of flyte new media, a web design & digital marketing agency in Portland, Maine, and founder of the Agents of Change. He’s passionate about helping small businesses grow online and has put his 20+ years of experience into the book, The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Digital Marketing.