Content Marketing

To Instagram Or Not To Instagram? That Is The B2B Marketer’s Question

For many moons, B2B marketers have focused their social media efforts on channels like LinkedIn and Facebook. So it comes as no surprise that, according to a TrackMaven analysis of 316 leading B2B brands, the median B2B audience size for those channels is 109K and 34K, respectively. The largest of all the social channels. But is this a chicken or egg scenario? And how impressive is a large following if no one is engaging with your content?

Content engagement is a much more powerful metric than followers or page likes. It means your content is compelling enough for your audience to take an action: Click, like, comment, share, even visit your website and, dare I say it, convert. So let’s take a deeper dive into which channels actually offer the most engagement for brands:

B2B brands have the largest audience on LinkedIn — 36 times the median number of followers they have on Instagram. But B2B brands get 20 times more engagement on Instagram than on LinkedIn.

In the past, Instagram has been overlooked by B2B marketers as a B2C marketer’s playground. The truth is, that mindset is starting to shift. 33% of B2B companies are now on Instagram, and increasing year over year. One reason for this shift is that marketers are remembering that B2B decision-makers are humans at the end of the day. Gary Vaynerchuk says it best: “behind every B, there’s a C.” You’re still marketing to people and Instagram has proven to be a powerful channel when it comes to connecting with your audience, humanizing your brand, recruiting like-minded top talent and promoting brand awareness.

Wondering whether or not your B2B brand should be on Instagram? Here are some things to consider as well as inspo from a few B2B brand who are already killing it.

  1. There’s less B2B competition on Instagram. With only a third of B2B businesses on Instagram, there’s a greater chance your brand will get noticed compared to other, more saturated channels.
  2. Instagram can be a discovery and acquisition platform. Let’s look at some numbers shall we? Instagram has over 700 Million monthly active users and about 60% of them say they discover new products and services on the platform. Over 50% of them will follow those brands. ‘Nuff said.
  3. Get more bang for your buck when advertising on Instagram. There are 500,000 advertisers currently growing their business on Instagram. Over 70% of these advertisers are see a significant lift in online and offline sales as a result of their campaigns on Instagram.
  4. Future updates will make Instagram more B2B friendly. Slowly but surely, Instagram has been rolling out more business-friendly features. You can now shop, call and email a business, all from within the app. And soon there will be even richer analytics. It’s only a matter of time until more B2B-friendly features are developed, and you don’t want to be behind the curve when they’re rolled out.
  5. B2B engagement is up, way up, on Instagram versus other social media platforms. Although LinkedIn dominates as the top social channel for B2B in terms of followership, the engagement ratio is low at 1.98 (that represents number of interactions per post per 1K followers.). Compare that to an engagement ratio of 22.53 on Instagram and it’s clear which channel is a more powerful lever to pull to encourage brand awareness and affinity.
  6. Visual content is so hot right now. Whether you’re in B2B or B2C land, videos and other visual content are where it’s at. According to a recent report by Ascend2, video and motion graphics have the second highest conversion rate of any content type at 44%. And it doesn’t get more visual than Instagram…
  7. Mobile video content helps you connect with your audience in-the-moment. Plan to attend or host events this year? Someone in your company speaking on a panel? Have an exciting product announcement? Looking to hire top talent? I’m guessing you answered YES to at least one of those questions. Features like Instagram Live and Instagram Stories allow you to create more personalized experiences for your audience who can’t be there in-person. According to Instagram internal data:

“Year over year, the time people spend watching video on Instagram is up more than 80%, while the number of videos produced per day on the platform has continued to increase by 4X each year”

BUT… Keep in mind:

  • Simply having an Instagram account isn’t a magic recipe for success–you need quality content to back it up. The TrackMaven study showed a discrepancy in social media engagement across industries. For example, software services have the lowest engagement rate across the board on all social media channels. So it appears that, while they may be great at acquiring followers, they either don’t generate quality content or don’t have the right content delivery strategy in place.
  • As with any social media channel, it’s only worth having if you have the time and resources to invest in it. With Instagram, you get out what you put in. So if you don’t have the resources to consistently post high-quality content, don’t do it. Having a poorly executed Instagram account could be more damaging to your B2B brand’s rep than not having one at all.

Hootsuite Instagram account doubles as a recruitment tool

Hootsuite has a strong employee culture and they leverage Instagram to share that with the world. Their Instagram account paints a colorful picture of their company culture, and their branded hashtag, #HootLife, makes it easy for employees to share a behind-the-scenes look, from adorable snaps of the office dogs or company perks like lunchtime yoga class on the roof. Employees are best at recruiting like-minded talent and Hootsuite takes advantage of this by using Instagram as a successful recruitment tool.

A post shared by Hootsuite (@hootsuite) on

A post shared by Hootsuite (@hootsuite) on

Maersk Line truly connects with their audience

Maersk Line is the world’s largest shipping company. Shipping. Like with boats and containers. At first glance, you may not think a shipping company would have that much visual content to share. But they prove us all wrong. They post rich content including high quality images of their ships, inspirational features of their employees and customers, and spotlights on important events, like International Women’s Day. They are conversational, answering all comments in a timely way. As a result, they’ve grown their Instagram audience to over 60K and consistently see high engagement on each and every post.

A post shared by Maersk Line (@maerskline) on

MailChimp dominates the brand awareness play

MailChimp is often used as a gold standard for B2B companies on Instagram–and with good reason. MailChimp does a stellar job at promoting brand awareness. They very successfully use Instagram to feature their quirky personality. They speak directly to the creative segment they’re targeting with clever, visually surprising posts, and highlight their awesome work environment for prospective employees. Their highly sharable posts make MailChimp masters of brand awareness on Instagram.

A post shared by MailChimp (@mailchimp) on

A post shared by MailChimp (@mailchimp) on

Can you win at Instagram too? You betcha!

Inspired? Great! That was the point. But remember: When adopting any new social media strategy, it’s important to keep a few things in mind.

  1. When the right amount of time, energy, strategy and creativity is invested, Instagram can be a great tool for B2B companies to humanize their brand, build brand awareness, and recruit top talent.

To get started, think about what sets your B2B brand apart. What makes you unique? And what do you ultimately want to get out of the platform? Then, build a strategy around that.

We’re practising what we preach! Check PathFactory out on Instagram.

Written By
Amanda Levine
Amanda joined PathFactory in June 2017 as Content Marketing Manager. Prior to PathFactory, she was Content Editor at B2C tech company down the road, FreshBooks. In a past life, she taught math and science to lovely 12 and 13 year olds… Amanda spent most of her 20s being nomadic and lived/worked/studied around the world including Barcelona, New Zealand, and London. She is passionate about helping people so if you have any questions definitely hit her up! She also is responsible for PathFactory’s dog policy so you can thank her for all the cute floofs around the office.

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