Rise of Instagram
The rise of Instagram as a social media platform has been phenomenal.
With a wide ranging demographic of 800 Million users! Making it the third most popular form of social media behind Facebook and YouTube.
There can be no denying the potential of any platform for marketing purposes, which possesses such a vast volume of active users.
However, despite this fact, the question still remains as to whether Instagram should be given serious attention in your B2B Marketing mix.
B2B vs B2C
The debate arises due to the nature of the Instagram application appealing to the B2C (business-to-consumer) market.
That is with a broader target audience, a more straightforward buying process and one which can influence individual personalities through branding to appeal to people’s desires and emotions.
Therefore it has been assumed that it cannot be fully transitioned to the B2B world in a totally effective way as in contrast, it involves a very specific sale for a niche purpose.
There is a lot greater level of complexity in the buying cycle, and decision making unit involved.
Despite this, there are still positive signs that Instagram is well worth experimenting with for B2B companies, looking for additional exposure and lead generation opportunities.
Are B2B Decision-Makers Using Instagram?
The first thing to consider is that any marketing strategy you implement can only have a tangibly positive impact if you are able to reach your target audience and ideal customer profile.
And the argument remains strong and present that B2B decision makers are not on Instagram.
However, to combat that argument – it is not that they are not ON (using) Instagram.
It is actually the case that they are just harder to identify and group within the app. That is because they are disguised from their working habitat.
The general vibe of Instagram does not appeal to showcasing your B2B working life.
The content output tends to lean towards the more exciting moments outside of work – holidays, trips, interests, hobbies, social events.
Their use of the app is not always aligned directly with their B2B working lives.
For example, a bio would rarely state someone’s B2B job title – It would more likely contain a reflective quote or something which emphasises their personality.
So you are therefore forced to think intelligently about discovering the correct targets and dig behind the endless selfies and holiday pictures to expose people for the B2B decision makers they really are.
However, work and personal lives do overlap.
Nobody, especially key company decision makers, completely switches off from their working mindset, even when at home or taking a break to scroll through their Instagram feed.
And it is physically impossible to not notice something which is put in front of you – whether consciously or unintentionally (that is the fundamental of marketing).
And any chance at discovering a product, service or software which can improve business productivity, save money, time or create convenience is still going to be noted mentally and digested.
Most likely to be actioned or brought up in a discussion at some stage in the future.
It is a case of understanding the context and the benefits of the style of marketing which Instagram is providing.
Marketing comes in all shapes and sizes, with short and long term goals through direct awareness, long-term exposure, traffic, engagement, activity and lead generation.
We want to avoid spray and pray marketing as much as possible, as although this can deliver some quick win opportunities in the short term, it lacks the sustainability to have a real long-term impact.
Therefore it is about taking a trial and error approach to your Instagram marketing, and understanding the patience of the process.
It can be longer, an less directly converting route for B2B but with many underlying benefits.
Storytelling / Creative platform
One of the biggest aspects of Instagram is the platform to experiment with storytelling.
Storytelling is the narrative explanation of your business brand – attaching identity which gives it a unique position within the market. Adding value through the authority and brand strength.
It allows you to communicate the working culture and environment which your business is built on. Through this you can attract attention because of your brand personality.
Particularly for B2B companies, it gives them an advantage. Instagram’s visual focus enhances the potential for maximising this over other social media sites.
Ahead of the game
Whether you believe Instagram is relevant for B2B right now or not, is completely fair enough based on your own research, campaigns or audience.
Some businesses are clearly leveraging a value which they can qualify based on the efforts which they are putting in. Other businesses not so much for whatever reason being.
As with all trends, the older generation may not start it, but they will catch on.
Therefore, if you can start building a foundation now, you will have a great springboard to leap from when it really begins to take off in that direction, just as Facebook and Twitter have all had their moments.
How to use Instagram for B2B Marketing –
Influencer marketing is the heartbeat of Instagram. Identifying personalities or brands which you can create partnerships with to propel the awareness of your business.
Highlight and identify influencer opportunities which fit with your brand message and have a similar target audience.
You must of course configure a way of reaching out to them by offering value so there is a mutually beneficial element.
People may find hashtags cheesy and cliché, but you need to understand their importance when used correctly.
Hashtags are the currency of Instagram and are the gateway to new followers and engagement of those who do not follow you but are interested in topics related to you.
Beneath every post you share should be a bundle of 20-25 hashtags varying across different subjects of your business and industry. Consistency of this is crucial for finding your audience on the platform.
Quality content –
Regardless of your approach to Instagram and potential of visibility, it is all of little purpose unless what you are sharing has value.
Value is what drives activity, engagement, trust and interest. Come up with a way of providing genuine value to your audience through imagery. Something different and unique to your brand and the rest will follow.
Creating your business an Instagram advertisement can be an effective way to access new audiences on the platform.
With an engaging visual and call to action, you can fine tune the types of people who you want to see this post. It can also be directly linked to a Facebook campaign.
The budgets are very flexible and the return on investment of these easy to implement projects can be significant.
Variety of features –
Alongside traditional posts and sponsored ones, you can also experiment with the other features on Instagram to market your B2B business:
Instagram Stories – Sharing links to your content or your website
Instagram Live – Documenting events and day-to-day occurrences
Direct Messaging – Welcome message and offers
These can all generate activity in their own way and consistency of using all of the features combines to sew the marketing seeds longer-term.
Tracking and analytics –
Instagram for business provides excellent data for tracking the success of your campaigns.
You can view the impressions, views, engagement levels and click through of many of your different forms of content.
This allows you to A/B test alternative promotions to qualify what is working and what isn’t, allowing for you to take forward and re-create based on these results.
Author Bio –
I am a digital marketer and content writer at Whoisvisiting.com. I implement the marketing activities including email, social and SEO – I have various experience within sales and marketing teams, working for start-up companies and in the PR industry.