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Ask GH: How could you use Instagram to grow a SaaS company?
I just read this intriguing article posted on here about using Instagram as a marketing channel for a product or niche audience. Has anyone used or seen examples of growing a SaaS company through Instagram?
Here's that article: https://growthhackers.com/exploiting-instagram-to-help-a-friend-sell-4000-of-neckties-in-one-day/
This is a great thought experiment, for sure.
And while Instagram may not be the right channel for one unique SaaS to reach their prospects, saying it is or isn't good for "SaaS" in general is just not useful to anyone.
Instagram might be great for one SaaS, while it might not be for another.
It might be good only for community brand building for one, but for another it might be great as a direct customer acquisition channel.
For the latter, there's only one place to put a link - on your profile - but you could use a bit.ly premium branded link w/ ability to change the behind-the-scenes link to point to a landing page with a tracking params. Include a specific CTA in each share/comment, but I wouldn't rule it out.
If your product output is visual - especially if exponentially better than the competition / incumbent / status quo - it might be a perfect way to get in front of your potential customers AND get them to take action.
If your SaaS product is for people in fashion, modeling, design, travel, yoga, food, or probably a million other things that are super-popular on Instagram, then this might be something worth exploring.
Remember, you sell to people... B2B or not. And some people are on Instagram.
Author of that article here.
Ironically enough, i feel like the first part of that article would answer your question. The reason we used Instagram for that target market was because the audience was using Instagram, we we worked the messaging and method around the audience.
In other words, I don't think this the best question you should ask. The question you should ask is, "What is the best way to reach our target market at scale?" Then figure out how to beat the system on that network.
Hey @loganstoneman - looking forward to seeing if anyone steps up with an answer to this one as well!
One of the things that really stuck with me from @austenallred's post was the importance of matching the channel to the audience that you are trying to go after—in his words: find out where the people that you want to reach congregate. My gut feeling tells me that most people in the SaaS companies aren't searching for information through Instagram and that there are likely better channels to engage this audience. While there are a few obvious channels that stick out, it's interesting to think about what some more "non-traditional" channels might be in terms of finding 'where' to reach the SaaS crowd.
As @aaronu commented - it's all about matching your channel to the audience.
If the targets hang-out on Instagram, I'm sure there will be a suitable way to find them
If you're talking about SAAS - then I'd guess that:
B2C SAAS and
B2B SAAS for companies that use Instagram to target customers
will work well.
As for other SAAS targets - It's all about the research.
I produced a guide on Instagram marketing - it includes all sorts of companies using Instagram - http://js-marketing.com/how-to-generate-leads-from-instagram/
@jsmarketing great insights for Instagram marketing. Really enjoyed the article.
Thanks Aaron. I'm building a big catalogue of proven tactics where users actually give optin figures and conversion rates.
It takes a while, but I find the case studies much better than the endless '7 tips on content marketing' which have no proof.
@everette thanks for the inspiration to ask this. Should be interesting to see if this has been done effectively.
Instagram shouldn't/wouldn't be a priority for a SaaS company, but if you want to use that channel, your focus shouldn't be on selling your product but on building relationships with your audience. I set up and manage an Instagram account for ReferralCandy, but I use it to
1- follow people in the industry- our own clients, especially
2- post pictures of our team and our office
It's not about sales or signups. I honestly think of it as a fun way to get to know people, and to help people know who we are. If you wanted to get super-freaking-analytic about it, maybe you could try to figure out some way to measure the effect on churn rate- but that strikes me as unnecessary optimization. IMHO 'slow' personal relationships have value, and are worth it for their own sake.
I think Shopify deserves a mention, though I'm not sure if they have significant growth rate through this channel but they do a great job in keeping their community engaged through their Instagram account(http://instagram.com/shopify).
I will give you a example about how my friend is using Instagram to prospect new users for hes SaaS company (he has a CRM software in Brazil):
1. He monitors every big and medium event that happens in Brazil and create a calendar of when and where they are going to happen.
2. When the event starts, he also starts hes campaigns by monitoring hashtags of the event on Instagram (he also does that on Facebook and Twitter).
3. With the profile of his company, he left comments and likes on the photos about this event, saying things like: "Oh, very nice that you are in event XYZ. If you need assistance to remember everyone you talked there, try our CRM free for 30 days".
4. He also post good pictures of his CRM according to the event. Example: let's say that there is a Fashion Event going on, he will post 2 or 3 pics on his account that shows how good his CRM is for the fashion industry. This way, if someone goes to his company profile they will feel more comfortable to try out they CRM.
It's a simple thing, but it works and he is gaining new users every event he monitors.
We're a SaaS for merchants and we enable our customers to use that one active Instagram link for commerce.
We employed tactics similar to the one in the @austenallred post and got similar results. We know who are merchants like to follow (eg. our integration partners) and so we know where to go start liking. We also do the hashtag strategy. However we didn't find searching for hashtags to be nearly as successful as there tends to be a lot of noise on the ones that were relevant to us. The ones that were high quality just didn't appear that often. It is effective during events though, for example craft fairs for us.
Our customers are merchants who are selling physical products. We are now advising them to find their competitors and go through the list of followers and start liking/commenting. When we have more data/feedback we may publish what we're starting to see.
To be honest we'd still do this even if we saw lower conversion and we advise our customers to think the same way - with one 'like' click you get your brand name appear on someone's phone for free.
SaaS Marketing Director here.
We considered using Instagram, initially, but like @aaronu agreed that our buyer profile (Directors/VPs of Sales/Sales Ops at larger organizations) were too far outside the Instagram user demographic to commit time/resources to it.
As to other non-traditional channels, we have committed to Quora pretty aggressively, though the results have been very disappointing, which I think confirms the need for a match in buyer profile/platform user demographics.
Silver lining of our Quora usage: In a very roundabout way, did lead to us appearing in a pair of Time and Inc. magazine pieces. But far as I can tell, that's the only substantial value we've gained out of it so far.
I'm not sure it's right for all SaaS products. I think where the article you referenced succeeded is they were selling neckties. A tangible product, plus Fashion has a huge audience in instagram and other image heavy networks like pinterest.
So it might just be a case of the right tool for the right audience.
I'd love to see some studies showing SaaS companies using instagram successfully.
Curious to see a case study for this, if any!
Interesting question, which brought to mind this article: "For marketing early startups: deep, not wide".
If the Saas startup in question is new, I think the advice here is appropriate. (And unles your Saas involves food/fashion/photography, I think you'd be better off focussing on Twitter, LinkedIn or other channels where your customers hang out).
"Stay with what you know, where you’re comfortable, and focus on doubling your business on that channel. Sometimes, getting outside your comfort zone is wrong. Spreading yourself thin is even more wrong."
Totally agree with using IG as a community-building initiative, but it's certainly not the best channel for acquisition. One thing I would mention is to remember that user intent varies significantly by platform - Instagram user intent is more aspirational than utilitarian in my opinion.
If you could use IG to show the life that people who use your product live, that could be useful? Spitballing here...
Some examples of good B2B Instagram profiles: http://socialmediab2b.com/2014/12/b2b-instagram-profiles-10-best/
I can definitely see Instagram working if you are relying on visuals. If you're dealing with things like glamour, money, hobby items (cars for example), travel, design - or catering to clients with these items, yes, then Instagram is something to consider. It's just like any social media channel - only engage in it if there is a benefit in doing so.
Although Instagram is growing rapidly still do any have you case studies or data on showing how effective it is! I will highly appreciate if anyone can share in depth detail on how successful Instagram works as a online marketing channel! :)
See my link above for case studies.
Most B2B SAAS companies have data that can be creatively crafted into infographics and other visually appealing mediums. Using instagram to engage and follow thought leaders, leads, and clients with visual information. Similar to http://i.instagram.com/dccomicsnews/ but a mix of more real life images ppl and events is probably more of what your looking for. They also should create infographics specifically for instagram instead of just cropping the visual from a larger graphic.
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