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Finding a home on Instagram – lessons from a B2B brand

When it comes to Instagram, I’m a late starter. Like, really, really late. With Instagram doubling its user base to 700 million monthly actives, as a PR strategist, I needed to understand how the lovely squares fit with my clients’ digital strategies. B2B businesses, market leaders like FedEx, Adobe and HP, have sky-rocketed audience connection through the platform, transforming their marketing strategies.

At first I was cautious, trying to navigate Instagram do’s and don’ts. It was like being given a key to a secret garden, a world of inspiration, like-minded business owners, a hugely supportive community that has helped me grow as a creative, a boutique business owner and encouraged me to reconsider my own brand. 

I have a long, long way to go on Instagram but here’s what I’ve learnt so far.

Tell your brand story

Storytelling is how B2B brands can show their personality. Even as a “micro brand” I’d noticed a gap between my online presence and the real me. I’ve been told I don’t bring enough of me to Antonia Taylor PR - crazy given I am to all intents and purposes the brand.

Finding a voice on Instagram has helped me clarify my true tone – it’s basically the way you’d talk to your friends. In the process, I’ve seen a real shift in how I communicate on other channels too, from Twitter through to client proposals. I’m talking about my services and business in a more meaningful, honest way. For me, bringing more visuals into my brand has also been an upgrade.

Build lasting relationships

I’ve never seen Instagram as an immediate sales platform. So why invest time and energy here? It’s a way to connect and build lasting relationships, be it industry influencers, other PRs or small business owners.  I’ve built relationships with a number of journalists in a really organic way, who have asked to be included in pitches and who I would love to work with on client stories. So it’s helped me upgrade my service.

I’m not a fan of the word “networking” but on Instagram you can do this in a truly genuine way.  I’ve reconnected with old colleagues, even having regular What’s App calls with one who’s just gone freelance too. We share ideas, talk shop, exchange advice. I’ve even been invited to give a PR talk to a group of local businesses on the strength of my (absolutely fledgling) feed.

Inspiration and learning

My name’s Antonia and I’m an inspiration junkie. I have more self-help books than I’m comfortable to admit to. Business books? Shelves of them.  Being able to connect with people who I admire and continue to learn from in a genuine way is a joy, be it @bernadettejiwa @BeingBossClub or @iamcarriegreen. Yes, peak inspiration can be a thing, but for every 10 #instaquotes you scroll past, one will stick out and resonate, spark a new idea for your own business, from a new, better way to serve your clients to a book recommendation.

#Communityovercompetition

This is the big one for me. As a business of one, running and growing your brand can be, in equal parts, challenging and overwhelming and so fulfilling and inspiring. Often on the same day. But you have nobody to share the highs or lows with.

Being part of a community of other creative entrepreneurs, business owners, bloggers, working mums and PRs has become such a big part of my day - reaching out for advice, and importantly, giving sharing guidance when invited to do so. I’m lucky enough to be part of a super-informal and fun accountability group started by @HarrietMinter, the journalist, coach and @badasswomenshour presenter. Every week we commit to 5 key to do’s, personal or professional, and check in a week later, supporting each other along the way. If, like me, you believe in surrounding yourself with people who are going to take you higher, Instagram’s for you.

Which leads to my final point - it’s a great way to give back. Instagram allows you to listen to your community as it grows, celebrate and share their successes.  By commenting and connecting with other people’s posts, you have the chance to empower and encourage your tribe. As businesses, I think we can all do a little more of this. 

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