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Does Instagram belong in the world of B2B?

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By Lydia Skerritt

    Tags:

  • B2B
  • Business
  • Instagram
  • Marketing
  • PR
  • Social media
The value of Instagram is often questioned by B2B marketers, largely due to the conventional notion that different social media platforms work better for different types of brand. But is this really the case? The key is knowing how to use each platform effectively… and then the possibilities are endless.

When most people think of Instagram, they think of a feed plagued with holiday snaps, brunch dates and so-called influencers trying to flog the latest skincare revolution. While admittedly, this does make up a large proportion of the content – and probably the main reason Instagram has been stereotyped as a tool for B2C marketers over the years – this mind-set is becoming outdated.

In June 2018, Instagram reached the impressive one billion monthly active user mark – which is one in seven people worldwide! That’s a lot of users, and means that, for anyone with something to sell, it’s practically a goldmine for connecting with current and potential customers. In fact, more than 33 per cent of B2B companies are now taking advantage of Instagram – and this number is rising fast. So, even if you are in the world of B2B, what exactly are you waiting for?

For those of you who have been living under a rock and haven’t a clue what Instagram is, it’s a social networking app that was originally created for sharing instant photos and videos from a mobile phone. As the platform has expanded and evolved over time, its capabilities have grown to perform a whole host of creative possibilities. It now provides the perfect opportunity for B2B businesses to market their products or services to a targeted audience without the need to splash a penny on paid advertising.

As a public relations agency that primarily operates in the B2B sphere, we also once questioned the relevance of Instagram for our audience. But this has changed, and now the answer to our clients is yes – of course it’s relevant!

It’s an extremely important tool that allows you to reach, engage and communicate with your target audience and whoever else ends up stumbling across your profile. The benefits are many and varied, and so we thought we’d draw upon a few in particular.

Increase brand awareness

One of the main advantages of Instagram, is that it’s a great way of showcasing your work to an entirely new audience. Whether you are posting stylish graphics, professional photography shots or simply pictures of the office dog captured from your phone – you are increasing your brand awareness. It is worth noting, however, that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to the ‘gram. Before you start posting, it’s important to have a clear strategy that aligns with your goals as a B2B company. Simply decide your style and keep it consistent.

Take, for example, computer technology corporation Oracle; the repetition of the colour red demonstrates the power of consistent use of tone and patterns to create clear branding overtones. When thinking of your design, it’s important to think as much about “the whole” as the individual parts.

It’s probably true to say that your first goal of B2B social media marketing needs to be branding, not leads. And, over time, you will end up building a portfolio, or “feed”, that will work as an additional opportunity to introduce your brand to more people – and the more that know, the better!

Extend your reach

As B2B marketing continues to evolve, it’s important to utilise platforms such as Instagram as a tool for building connections. This could be with current and potential customers, future job candidates, or others working in your industry. This is particularly true for the younger generation, which uses Instagram to gain a glimpse into what their future job role may entail – a form of ‘try before you buy’. And so companies increasingly use Instagram to show what a great working environment they provide for employees.

General Electric uses Instagram to personally introduce its employees and explore the role that they play within the company. This is a great way for a business to display a human touch, while also giving your employees a chance in the spotlight.

It’s important to remember that, even if your customer is a business, there is still a real person that operates behind the scenes. That individual most likely uses Instagram for personal use as well, ultimately offering the perfect opportunity for interaction. So, unless your target market is extremely niche, your audience is going to be on Instagram in some form or other, and it’s a great way to target them in a compelling, memorable and engaging way.

Drive traffic to your website

Ok, so you may not receive a great deal of immediate sales on Instagram when promoting as a B2B user. But that’s fine, because it’s not why you have a profile in the first place. What it can do though, and what it does brilliantly, is add another way of driving people to your website.

Your profile bio, for example, offers a prime location for encouraging visitors to click-through to your website. Take a tip from visual marketing software provider Dash Hudson – use an interesting photo to capture people’s attention, combine it with an intriguing caption and then send them in whichever direction you want them to go by stating ‘link in bio’. You might be surprised by how powerful this simple call to action can be.

And the benefits don’t stop there! Although Google hasn’t specified exactly how social metrics influence search results, platforms like Instagram can work with your SEO strategy by encouraging user engagement, assisting with link building and so on.

Go behind the scenes

The key is to make social media about your audience, not just your business. And that way, even if you think you’re in a “boring” industry, you can still deliver content that tells stories, generates emotion and sparks conversation.

Instagram provides the perfect opportunity to give your B2B business a bit of personality. A chance to step away from the formality you may be used to on social platforms such as LinkedIn, and instead show a real personal glimpse into life at your company. Hootsuite demonstrates this well – its bio even states: “a look inside Hootsuite.” The motive of its account is clear – from team building events to cute puppy shots, Hootsuite want you to know what life at its office is like.

By revealing the human side of your organisation and adding personality to your public image, you will begin to promote transparency and enhance authenticity. Introduce and show off your team, publish real time content of your day-to-day activities through Instagram’s ‘Stories’ feature and build a sense of community. After all, we’re all humans sat behind a screen, so let’s embrace that!

Hopefully, it’s now clear that Instagram has a well-deserved and valuable place in the world of B2B. Still feeling unsure? That’s ok, we’re here to help you plan and execute a social media strategy that gets results. And in the meantime, pop over to our Instagram account (@nielsenmcallister) and take a look for yourself!

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