Can Instagram work for B2B marketers?

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Author and digital marketing pioneer Seth Godin once said, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but the stories you tell.” As we start a new year and a new decade, B2B marketing continues its ongoing evolution thanks to an ever-evolving customer base.

With change comes adaption, and that can include using platforms a B2B company traditionally wouldn’t. Like Instagram. It probably isn’t the first platform you think of for B2B marketing (nor should it be) because it’s more compatible to B2C marketing ideology, but successfully integrating Instagram is possible with the right strategy. Here are a few things to consider if your B2B company is thinking about using Instagram in its marketing plan in the new year.

Typical B2B marketers prefer to plan what they want to share with consumers and how to go about it. While that might be a great plan over the long term, buyers, more than ever before, are always on the go. According to eMarketer, the average Instagram user this year will spend about 27 minutes on the platform each day. A marketer has to be able to adapt and plan content that is short, creative and straight to the point.

Let’s take a look at home goods brand Wayfair. Back in 2017, the company shifted its focus on three social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) to gain a stronger online presence and connection with consumers.

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The company had great results. The number of consumers clicking (a la converting) from a social media platform jumped 258% to a monthly average of 3.26 million, up from 911,951 back in 2016. Wayfair attributed their success to adapting to where the consumer is and how they can present their content in a way to gain traction.

“We want to be where our customers are,” said Jessica Jacobs, director of marketing at Wayfair. “As more of our customers shop on their mobile devices, we want to be where they’re looking, which is increasingly on social media. So, that’s where we’re focused on helping them discover our great content.”

Wayfair was successful in their marketing campaign through Instagram because they utilized several different tools available to them, including the Stories feature.

According to Hootsuite, about 500 million people use Instagram Stories every day. Stories, as the name might imply, allows brands to tell a creative story about their company and products, and also allows their customers to share experiences about the brand.

Makeup subscription service IPSY’s main goal in running a video ad through Instagram Stories was to increase clicks through their “sign up” button on the ad. From their 15-second Instagram Story, IPSY saw a 39% increase in overall sales with a 29% increase in ad spend.

“We knew that viewing ads in Instagram Stories eventually leads to purchases,” Alessandra Sales, VP of IPSY explained in an Instagram case study.

While IPSY is a B2C example (or more accurately, a D2C example), tools such as Stories allow B2B marketing companies to shape their own narrative that can help not only enhance a customer’s experience with the brand, but also help drive traffic and leads to that brand.

Last year, National Geographic became the first brand to reach 100 million followers on Instagram. How did it accomplish this feat? With a team of about 140 contributors to their Instagram account. The contributors post photography and captions of rare sights they would come across all over the world.

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“National Geographic and photography have gone hand-in-hand since we first published photos in our magazine back in 1889. We were considered cutting edge then, and through Instagram, we are finding new ways to blaze trails in visual storytelling 130 years later … We are using Instagram to showcase our world through breathtaking images that inspire people to care about the planet,” said Gary Knell, Chairman of National Geographic Partners.

As a way to celebrate their impressive feat, the company ran a 24-hour contest allowing users to share their National Geographic inspired photos with a grand prize trip to Tanzania. On the back of their extensive social outreach, revenue increased about 80% in 2018.

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“We credit [that boost to] a social-partnership strategy that both entertains and informs audiences while allowing for seamless partner integration,” said Vice President and General Manager of National Geographic Media David Miller in Publishers Daily.

As technology continues to evolve, so does the importance of customer engagement with brands. Previously, brands could simply market how great their product is and why you should use it. They would repeat the same spiel to anyone who crossed their path and was willing to listen. Customer engagement through personalization wasn’t exactly in the game plan for marketers. It was more of an afterthought.

Nowadays, with the rise of technology – and especially the rise of social media – customers have the leverage against brands. With the touch of a button they can pull up not only your brand but your competitors to see which product would be best for them. They can also give testimonials and reviews – good or bad – about your brand.

There are over 1 billion users on Instagram each day. With a number that high it’s a no-brainer that businesses should incorporate the social media platform into their everyday social media marketing plan. But it’s how you create content, utilize tools provided by Instagram and engage with consumers that can excel your brand or hinder it from being successful.




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