Named as the ‘most effective marketing channel of all’ by a recent Omobono study, social media marketing has become a key component of any B2B marketing strategy, bringing with it a list of B2B social platforms: Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter.
Yet, when reviewing other options, Instagram – an increasingly popular platform whose 1 billion users have chiefly emerged in just the last 5 years – still falls short in B2B brand consideration.
But this is starting to change.
As Instagram’s largest age demographics are 18-24 year olds, followed by 25-30 year olds, millennials make up the majority of Instagram users and as this age group are beginning to work their way up the corporate ladder, Instagram should start to have a top spot in B2B marketing strategy.
In a research conducted by Merit, it was found that 73% of those involved in product or service purchase decision-making are 20 to 35 year-olds, with as much as one-third citing themselves as the sole decision-maker.
Additionally, according to the Google/Millward Brown Digital survey, about half of all B2B product researchers are millennials – effectively making Instagram THE place to reach customers where they natively spend their time.
So, why are some businesses still ignoring Instagram as a key player in B2B marketing?
B2B is all about long-term relationship building and, to initiate these relationships, businesses will want to research you before approaching. In response, those marketing their B2B brand have took to platforms such as Linkedin, Twitter and their own websites to display all necessary information and data as long-form content, leading to a trail of social platform trawling for the researcher.
However, this fails to match the preference of a new generation of researchers, where visual hooks and bitesize, digestible information packs more of a punch.
Enabling users to get visually creative in ways that other platforms don’t, Instagram posts not only showcase data and results through images and links for leverage, but also create a much-needed human element behind B2B business through authentic content and “behind-the-scenes” glimpses. This means that an engaging, well thought out feed can elevate your brand story and help you connect with customers, employees and followers just as well as any B2C brand.
Pioneered by the likes of Mailchimp, IBM, Microsoft, Hootsuite and others, a focus on consistent interaction, content marketing and creative applications has faced B2B with a paradigm shift in the way it attracts, educates and closes sales with leads.
So how can we get the best out of Instagram for B2B social media marketing?
Here are our top ten tips to get you started:
1) Insights monitoring is a must
Much like its contemporaries, Instagram still has ‘insights’ where you can view statistics like impressions, engagement data and a breakdown of follower demographics – including info on age, gender, location and most active hours – with the ability to even get specific insights on why ‘top’ posts were achieved in that week.
2) Use video content more than images
Images work better in retail business marketing, whereas if you’re B2B, your customers will be more interested in how your product works than what it looks like.
Using SnackNation as an example, Sculpt’s Josh Krakauer commented “by establishing a cohesive visual voice while educating customers with quick, engaging videos, you almost forget they’re selling a subscription to a B2B buyer.”
3) Treat each Instagram post as a marketing campaign in itself
B2B brands are optimising time and money to produce high quality content for their posts and improving their ROI when doing so. Whether you decide to use Instagram posts, stories, photos, videos or even simple and effective infographics and charts, creativity can make your brand stand out against competitors.
4) Track your URL click-through rate in your Instagram bio
Tools such as Sprout Social measure just how many clicks your link gets in comparison to impressions and engagements.
5) Take advantage of user-generated content
Perhaps one of the best perks of using Instagram for B2B is the use of user-generated content for easy and effective posts. This is a great way to illustrate what working with your brand can achieve, whilst also celebrating achievements of existing customers.
6) Create an interactive brand hashtag
Do your hashtag research. Your audience will be on Instagram, you just need to know where to look and how they can find you. Creating branded hashtags is also a great way to let your followers participate in your conversations on Instagram, not to mention a way for users to tag you in related content.
7) Use location filters
Take advantage of location filters – if you’re taking an ABM approach to getting new clients, often you can post nine or more images right in a row to flood the locations of corporate headquarters of companies you’re targeting.
8) Apply common SEO techniques to your Instagram profile
Instagram has created an in-platform search function that acts as its own version of Google. Users find your content in the native app, which means optimising your Instagram profile and content for search is crucial.
Marcin Nieweglowski of Digital Now comments, “Instagram is becoming a new Google. 200 million users click the ‘Explore’ button daily. It opens totally new discovery-related opportunities for B2B brands.”
9) Make use of sponsored posts for advertisement
Sponsored ads can help to target an audience outside your following, with the optional ability to make your top post a sponsored ad if your current following have responded to that post well. Sponsored ads can come in a whole range of format and layout. From carousel and dynamic ads to videos and stories canvas , these can help you expand your outreach whilst maintaining a fixed ad budget.
10) Use images that highlight information and data
Use tangible numbers and data in your posts. Effective B2B companies on Instagram are using cases and finite statistics to paint a clear picture of their value. Post industry-related success customer quotes and testimonials as visual imagery – show you are up to date with current related news and care about the work you do!