Instagram: A B2B Marketer’s Friend?
Instagram has been getting flack for its recent updates – even as of this morning, the logout button has disappeared from account settings, disabling a user from logging out of their account. This is especially problematic for a social media marketer who manages both a personal and business account on Instagram.
Instagram is currently in a transition stage, heading toward becoming a full-fledged advertising platform. What does this mean for B2B marketers?
The New Era of Post Notifications
If you are an Instagram user, you are already aware that you no longer see most recent posts from those you are following in your feed. Instead, your feed is curated to show what posts you are most likely to engage with. Lately, feeds have been bombarded with posts reminding users to turn on post notifications, so that when a favorite account posts a photo, the follower will be notified of it immediately.
Brand Influencers have been the majority of the users who have encouraged their followers to turn on post notifications. Even with a massive following, they don’t want their followers to miss a single content update. There’s an important reason for this:
Marketing, Personalized: Brand Influencers on Instagram
Social media began as a way to organically connect with one another. Instagram was even more personal – a way to showcase snapshots of your personal life. Due to its enormous popularity, businesses quickly caught on to the trend. Now everyone from Ladurée to Microsoft operates an instagram account.
The goldmine of instagram marketing lies in Brand Influencers. Similar to LinkedIn Influencers, Brand Influencers are easy to spot on Instagram due to their massive followings (over 10k – at least) and their impeccable photos, staged and edited to perfection, all the while remaining authentic. It is this authenticity that is so important.
The New Face of Product Placement
Savvy consumers know when they’re being marketed to, but they don’t seem to mind it if an individual is marketing to them – it seems more authentic and transparent than if the brand was doing it directly. B2C brands have begun to incorporate this into their marketing strategy. Instead of marketing their product to a consumer directly, they will employ a Brand Influencer to do this for them. There are even Marketing Agencies who maximize the effectiveness of finding the right Brand Influencer for your business. InstaBrand connects businesses to brand influencers to advertise on Instagram. Terakeet, ReadyPulse (a 2012 Aragon Research Hot Vendor) boostinsider, and linquia are examples of other platforms who connect brands to influencers across different channels.
While this strategy has mainly been popular with B2C businesses, it will be interesting to see whether B2B businesses begin to adopt it as well, as there are myriad freelancer and graphic designer-type Influencers who could be successful in promoting a B2B product.
Instagram: The Channel for Displaying Organic Culture
For B2B businesses, Instagram is a way to showcase company culture; it’s about storytelling through photos. The B2B Instagram accounts with the highest rates of engagement excel at this. Instagram lends itself to being more transparent than other platforms, and it’s a great way to fuel authentic customer and employee engagement.
If you’re a small B2B business, you had an advantage on Instagram that some of the bigger businesses lacked – at least, you had an advantage before Instagram’s new update. It was easier to showcase your company culture without coming across as inauthentic. With the changes to the Instagram feed, however, that has now become more difficult. If you’re a smaller B2B who lacks the thousands of Instagram followers that larger enterprises have due to a global brand name, your posts might become lost in your customers’ feeds, and you might miss key opportunities for engagement.
How to Advertise on the New Instagram
Gone are the days of zero price advertising on social media. Marketing budgets will most likely allocate more dollars to social media advertising. Just as we’ve seen with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you will need to run promoted campaigns on Instagram in order to keep up with the same level of engagement that you had before Instagram’s new feed algorithm.
You can now advertise on Instagram directly from your company Facebook page – without even having an Instagram account. Analytics from your ads will be available on your Facebook Ad Manager, the same way you would view analytics from a boosted Facebook post. This makes it easy for small businesses to advertise on Instagram. Advertising on the platform will reach new proportions with the advent of this capability.
What’s Next for Instagram?
We are in the early stages of Instagram becoming a full-fledged marketing tool, especially for B2B businesses. It will be interesting to see if Instagram will reward ads the same way Facebook does. On Facebook, organic posts following a promoted post are usually boosted by the platform and appear at the top of a feed, to encourage you to spend more. Instagram may even suggest top posts for you to promote.
This is a transition period for the platform. We will have to wait to see how users are going to react to feeds flooded with even more promoted posts – something Instagram has already begun to test. As we’ve seen with other social media channels, the most successful posts arise only after trial and error. Instagram will have a slight learning curve as businesses begin to figure out the most effective ways to engage with their customers on the newly updated platform.