Don’t Believe These Myths About Instagram [I did and it hurt my business]

I traveled a long and winding road to learn about Instagram and B2B so you don’t have to.

Learn from my mistakes, and you too can leverage your Instagram account to win clients for your business, even if it’s B2B.

In marketing my content writing business, I made more than a few errors with Instagram.  In general they were rooted in my belief that Instagram would not work for a B2B business like mine.  What changed my mind?  It all started in Mexico, but for starters I let go of these 4 myths…


Look at me on instagram!

Myth #1: Instagram is for Millennials.

A group trip to Mexico a couple of years ago sort of sums up the attitude I had towards Instagram at the time, which was that it’s just for Millennials.  One of the couples that rented the house with us was in their late 20s, and very prevalent on Instagram.

In fact, it was the first time I got wind of the fact that FaceBook was dying changing.  Instagram was where you posted if you didn’t want your mom to see your pictures, they explained.

Sure enough, I peered at their accounts and yup: bikini-clad yoga poses on the beach, thoughtful & moody poses with windswept hair, sexy sunset shots (bikini again), and much much more.

And that became my impression of Instagram.  Just a photo shoot for Millennials.  Of course that’s not true, and now all ages are on Instagram, posting photos far beyond the tiny realm of sunsets, bikinis, and yoga.

Myth #2: Instagram is just for fun.

You can see how my logic worked here: if Instagram is for shots of really young people posing in bikinis, at the gym, or doing yoga then there’s no business application (beyond selling bikinis, protein power and yoga mats).

Again, I was wrong.  And it turns out that hurt my marketing efforts because I ignored Instagram for quite a while before I finally dove in.  That means I might have lost a lot of business.

And Instagram for B2B?  Nothing could have made me think that was possible!  How could this social media platform, where you can’t link to anything and you can’t do much beyond post photos, help me find clients for my writing business?

Again, I was wrong.  Instagram is not only useful for businesses, it works for B2B as well.

Well, I posted 5 photos on there last week, how come no one has called me yet?

Well, I posted 5 photos on there last week, how come no one has called me yet?

Myth #4:  To succeed, just post and wait.

It’s easy to be dazzled by all the impossibly beautiful Instagram feeds out there.  I knew everything I posted was representing me and my business, but I just wasn’t sure about my message or even my brand at the time.  I wanted a beautiful feed too… but to what end?

Scroll back to the beginning of my account and you will find some pictures that got decent response and that look pretty darn cool (a nice old barn, a huge sculpture in an airport, some animals I admired, and a view of the ocean near where I live).

Posting photos of my personal life was off limits, but that still didn’t narrow the posting choices enough to make it easy.  I sensed that animal photos were more interesting and universal than photos of babies, but everyone might not agree with me.

My feed was pretty and cute so I felt a real disconnect between my Instagram feed and my business…sort of like there were two separate branding campaigns going on.  Ivy League Content doesn’t bill itself as “cute” and although I like to think of myself as “pretty” it’s not really what gets clients in this line of work.

My account wasn’t very slick, so I needed to upgrade somehow, and align the branding with my website.

I also needed to think about targeting the right followers so I could maybe get some leads.

Ok, is everyone posting motivation quotes here yet?

Ok, is everyone posting motivation quotes here yet?

Myth #4: Motivational quotes work for everyone.

If you spend any time at all on Instagram, you’ll notice there are plenty of motivational sayings on stock photos.  That usually signifies it’s a business account or, rather, they’re trying to sell something.

“I can motivate!” I thought, but then decided that tactic was really played out already.  Besides, it didn’t feel right for my branding angle.

In fact, motivational quotes are just a symbol here, of what you shouldn’t do: follow the crowd.  Find your angle, align it with the rest of your online profile, and you’ve got it.

And the results are in…

So now I post updates with stock images.  The account looks more serious but I feel that it retains my business personality as well as a hint of fun and creativity, which are some core elements of a good Instagram account.

As for that problem I mentioned where you can’t link to your website on the photos, that’s solved by pushing your followers to your profile.  That’s the one place you’re allowed to put a link.  Naturally, I chose to send my followers to my website.

My first month on Instagram netted me 4 or 5 leads.  It’s only been a few months now but the pace is steady and looks like it’s going to pick up.  What made it all worth everything is that from one of those leads I got a job working offsite for a major company.  Who knew that a platform designed for showing off bikinis and sharing sunset photos could be my new favorite lead generator?

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