For many B2B brands, making the most of Instagram is still a bit of a puzzle. The perception that it is just a playground for money-poor (but experience-rich) Millennials makes it sound like a less than obvious choice for consideration in any B2B marketing strategy. After all, we sell to Dave, the Chief Technology Officer of a software company that turned over $5m last year. Dave doesn’t have time to rub a bit of Kylie’s Cosmic matte on his lips and perfect his pout for a status update. Statistics compiled by Ipsos MRBI show that in 2017, 28% of social media users in Ireland are on Instagram. Ignoring a platform as popular as Instagram means that B2B companies risk missing out if it doesn’t figure in their social media plans.
What do you want your followers to feel?
They key to launching a successful B2B Instagram marketing strategy is first of all recognising that different platforms require different techniques to convey different messages. What works on Facebook may not have the same gravitas on Instagram - even though the two platforms share the same parents.
Successful B2B companies are always on the lookout for something different - they understand their market and are interested in cultivating new ways to engage with other companies and consumers. Apple's success is not down to Steve Wozniak's innovations alone; what has made Apple the brand it is today was Steve Jobs’ determination that their technology would not only make your life better, it would make you feel.
It is feeling and emotion that must be taken into account when developing a B2B Instagram marketing strategy. People are naturally curious about other people - and regardless of whether it’s a B2B buyer at the other side of the screen, they are still a person.
Imagine your buyers and key stakeholders - contemplate the kind of lifestyle they have, their challenges and aspirations. Instagram offers businesses the opportunity to join niche communities- and even build their own, essentially becoming influencers in that space.
The short story is - B2B companies should endeavour to act more like people and less like a company. Instagram offers a channel to make that happen. For many B2B brands, creating an exciting public image is hard. Any form of individualism or out-of-the-box self-expression can seem like a bit of a no-no since you run the risk of not being taken seriously. Who wants to close a $5m deal with a jokester?
Lateral thinking is problem-solving using an indirect and creative approach that sometimes feels amiss or unconventional. This also seems like a good first assessment of Instagram for B2B. However, the platform offers the opportunity for companies to humanize their brand, while building awareness of their work, showcasing in-house talents (employee feel-good factor) as well as their company culture.
Posts that document company lifestyles, employee happiness and the overall vibe of a brand, provide a way of reaching out to other businesses. For example, Google’s recent instagram post featuring the #Doogler hashtag sets the brand up as a cute and trendy but work-driven enterprise. Google has amassed 6 million Instagram followers off the back of these ‘lifestyle-blog’ influenced posts - the result being that Google seems like a pretty cool place to work.
It's not all conversions and ROI
When a company presents itself minus the dogged ‘conversion driven’ agenda often seen on other platforms, they instantly come off as pretty nice brands with genuine interest in their community. Creative and interesting Instagram posts with no agenda except for being part of an online community may on the surface appear to be filler or fluff, but generating sincere and authentic messaging establishes the B2B business as a participant in the conversation - not just a shouty voice trying to make a sale. After all, no one is going to buy from you if they won’t even speak to you!
B2B people are people too, y'know!
As a platform, Instagram can begin to break down the perception that B2B enterprises and interactions are cold and unimaginative. It allows the talents and quirks of employees to be captured whether by image or short video. Profiles of employees are a great way of generating content for your B2B Instagram feed - they showcase in-house talent - talents you sell as part of your business product or service.
Developing a B2B social media strategy that includes Instagram could help topple traditional corporate culture perceptions of enclosed cubicles and impersonal ‘clocking in and out’ and 9-5 doldrums. The platform also inspires companies to participate in their communities of buyers, employees and key stakeholders, by delving into the trove of ever expanding hashtags. Everyday, thousands of Instagram account owners upload images of them carrying out their day job duties, categorising images with tags such as #marketinglife or #Techlife.
Social media marketing is a living practice. It changes and updates with each passing week. Currently, Instagram has pioneered the rise of the social media influencer. B2B content marketers would do well to keep an eye on this trend and strive to become influencers in their own niche, business communities.