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How to Leverage Instagram and LinkedIn for Sales and Marketing

Helping is the new selling

In world where technology is permeating every area of life, it’s harder than ever for sales and marketing professionals to break through the noise, said Zach Williams, founder and CEO of Venveo, on a webinar on April 16 titled “Virtual Selling Tactics to Reach New Customers.”

Marketers are tasked with finding new ways to get in front of potential customers and communicating messages that resonate. And, with people remaining home under coronavirus-induced shelter-in-place orders, organic reach is incredible right now. More people than ever are online and the time is ripe for marketers to reach new prospects, but the message has to be right.

“Helping is the new selling,” says Williams. “You have to find new ways to help people in order to get through the noise.” Even though many potential contacts may not be ready to do business right now, Williams emphasizes the importance of using this time to build contacts and “create relational capital you can use down the road.”

Williams shares tactics for how professionals can best leverage Instagram and LinkedIn to create new contacts.


Instagram is heavily focused on inspiration and architects frequent the platform for research, according to Williams. He offers five steps professionals can take to leverage the platform to build new opportunities:

  1. Find new Instagram accounts to target. Don’t just keep going after your existing targets. Use the search icon on Instagram to search for hashtags that apply to your product category and follow that hashtag.
  2. Look at Instagram profiles and audit those accounts. Find the profiles that are posting under each hashtag you follow and determine which individual profiles to follow.
  3. Bring them value. In this case, value means: What is the thing people need and what friction points do they have that you can reduce by getting them to try your product or have a conversation? Don’t focus on yourself in outreach; rather, focus on them and where you can bring hope and help. “If you aren't providing value, they won't respond,” says Williams.
  4. Direct message. Once you find a target, direct message them and start building a relationship. It may be smarter to introduce yourself and compliment their work and then mention your product after you establish communication.
  5. Rinse and repeat. Success, says Williams, is a numbers game. Try this approach with 20 to 50 accounts. The likelihood of starting a conversation that will lead to opportunity exponentially increases as you find more people, he says.


Williams describes LinkedIn as an “incredibly untapped” platform. Its sole purpose is to form business connections, whereas other social platforms mix business and personal accounts. LinkedIn has what he calls ideal customer visibility—the ability to view employees who work for a certain company—and ideal customer accessibility.

Before messaging people, however, take some time to determine the ideal customer profile, which should include demographics about individuals and psychographics about what matters to them. Once there is a clear picture, use the LinkedIn search bar to start researching those key demographics and psychographics. Then, narrow down who to reach out to by geography and specialization. Repeat the same exercise outlined for Instagram on LinkedIn: search for specific hashtags and content terms.

Williams offers several tips for effective LinkedIn use:

  • Be personable—it’s okay to show you are a human being.
  • Personalize every connection request. Adding a note will make you stand out and look like a genuine connection.
  • Do not send generic messages.
  • Do not try to pitch someone in a connection request.
  • Send a tactful follow up note when someone connects that provides some sort of value. Wait at least 24 hours to do so.
  • Create value in the way you interact with people on LinkedIn.
  • Contribute—don’t just be a taker.
  • Engage people and seek to build a community.
  • Do not sit back and expect people to come to your profile if you're not active.


Laurie Cowin headshot

Laurie Cowin

Laurie Cowin is managing editor for Glass Magazine and its sister publication, Window + Door magazine. She can be reached at