How Do You Engage Scientists on Instagram?

Do you want to read about science, or do you want to see it in action?

The answer might be both, and B2B social media marketing offers ample opportunities to engage viewers and influence their perception of your brand in several formats.

Still, B2B companies would do well to recognize the differences between each social network. And although the use of LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook has risen among our clients, there are still untapped marketing channels on Instagram.

Instagram, a social media platform that enables users to take and share pictures or videos with their mobile devices, has exploded in popularity. With that explosion, and the influx of young scientists to the platform, life science and healthcare companies should consider using Instagram’s stunning visuals for their social media marketing.


Instagram has quickly become one of the most popular social media platforms since its launch in 2010. Its growth was so explosive that Facebook acquired the platform for $1 billion after just two years, and many venture capitalists, even those that received a 312x return on investment, were criticized for underinvesting in the company.

As of December 2016, Instagram has 600 million monthly active users, 400 million daily users, 150 million daily users of the new “Stories” feature, and 95.6 million new photos and videos uploaded each day.

Instagram’s visually rich format and mobile-first design appeals both to millennials and to marketers aiming to produce brand-sponsored content, and is part of the engine behind its incredible growth.

The platform began as a simple app: take a picture with your phone, filter it, and share it with your followers. But this simple formula combined with a rising trend in mobile usage. Smart phone usage was expanding, but there did not yet exist a simple way to take mobile pictures and instantly share them online. Instagram filled that need.

Instagram has since launched a parade of additional features: more advanced photo editing, live video, Stories, business tools, and slideshows. Business profiles, launched May 2016, allow businesses to access insights, create contact calls to action, and promote their products and services through sponsored posts.

The platform’s users skew young, with 55 percent of users between the ages of 18 and 29 and a further 28 percent between 30 and 49. With the number of prominent, young scientists (for example, those among Forbes’ 30 Under 30 MIT Alumni), and the young user base, the present and future of Instagram are extremely promising for marketers. Used correctly, Instagram can be a highly targeted, visual advertising channel for your brand.

Science and pharma companies are increasingly incorporating Instagram into their marketing and brand strategies. Some key reasons to consider Instagram (along with some examples) are:

  • Its fun and visual nature provide an opportunity to reach a broad audience
  • It provides another channel to share and market the release of a new drug, medical device, or clinical study: Pfizer, Abbott Global, GE Healthcare
  • It helps recruit new talent: Astra Zeneca
  • It builds a community, leading to a better connection and interaction with your customers
  • It helps to promote science: NASA, National Geographic
  • It showcases exciting discoveries: Scientific American
  • Explores how scientific discoveries are shaping the future: Futurism
  • Promotes student learning and supports science education: Nature, Astrophysics

How can you increase your company’s following on Instagram?

The general rules of social media strategy are the same across platforms: provide value, engage readers, and speak to a specific target audience.

But the structure of Instagram means that there are some differences in how you approach growing your presence. Links, for example, can only be shared through your bio, and posts can only be made from your phone.

Here are some of our best tips for Instagram marketing:

  • Use hashtags—Instagram runs on hashtags more than any other platform. You can use Hashtagify to get daily or weekly updates on which hashtags are trending
  • Quality photos—Instagram is a visual platform, so quality pictures are a must. Take clear photos using a DSLR camera instead of your phone if possible. Visual storytelling is an art form on Instagram.
  • Timely posts—Use Iconosquare (analytics for Instagram) to analyze what has worked for you in the past. The service’s optimization section shows you the days and times that your audience is most active.
  • Use the right filters—Iconosquare can also show you which filter works best. The most liked Instagram filters are: Clarendon, Gingham, Juno, Lark, and Valencia
  • Outreach—Find industry influencers, follow, and engage with them. Use hashtags to identify key opinion leaders, then comment, like, and repost some of their posts to make you more visible to their audience.
  • Detailed bios—Your bios are crucial on Instagram, as they are the only place to include links. Make sure your description includes a website link and contact information.