A guest post by Anand Srinivasan, the founder of Hubbion
Instagram needs no introduction. Ever since Facebook acquired the photo sharing social network in 2012, the valuation of the business has risen exponentially from $1 billion to over $100 billion. Instagram and social media is just one of many strategies you can use for B2B sales. However, with more than one billion users active on the platform today it is inevitable that businesses will look for ways to reach their target audience through this medium.
Marketing on Instagram comes with one inherent disadvantage – the inability for users to post links in their captions. The only way to get your followers to visit your website is through the user bio. Advertising offers Instagram users with the ability to not only post links from their posts, but also do so with highly effective Call-To-Actions (CTA).
In addition to Instagram’s native advertising feature, the platform is also a highly popular channel for influencer marketing. Influencer marketing is the use of popular Instagram users to market and promote your products to their followers. Customers are more likely to buy a product that is recommended by a person they trust. Influencer marketing ensures product recommendation to target buyers from a trusted source.
In this article, we will take a look at these two forms of advertising that can be highly lucrative to B2B businesses.
Difference between B2B & B2C
One of the key differences between B2B and B2C marketing is the average length of a sales cycle. With B2C, sales cycles are generally quite short and generally don’t require beyond a few touches with the customer. B2B, on the other hand though, can be tricky, and the sales cycle lasts anywhere between a few days to even several months.
Another key difference is the average profit margin. B2C purchases, especially low value goods like fashion accessories or consumables, have margins of just a few cents or dollars. On the other hand, businesses do not switch loyalty too often. Consequently, the margins from any one sale can be many times higher.
These differences define the advertising strategy that marketers adopt for Instagram. While B2C marketers focus on CTAs that nudge a user into a sale, B2B marketers focus on lead capture.
The first step in your Instagram advertising (after you’re sure you’ve polished the rest of your online profile) should be to know your objectives. It is common for marketers to focus on one of these three – make a sale, gain a follower, or capture a lead. B2C product categories that have typically short sales cycles may tend to focus on making a sale. But there are a few reasons why B2C marketers may focus on other strategies.
One of the most important reasons is to build trust. A brand’s presence on social media helps generate exposure, and in turn a fan following. It is also not wrong to say that social media presence drives the trustworthiness of a brand. However, growing your social media following can take a really long time. Advertising on Instagram is an easy way to build a following.
The second important reason is derived from long-term marketing perspective. Advertising costs money while social media or email marketing campaigns are much cheaper to execute. Consequently, brands tend to use advertising merely as a means to capture email leads or social media subscribers. Once acquired, these followers may be touched using conventional marketing techniques that do not cost as much money as advertising does.
There are a few best practices to take note of while advertising on Instagram.
- Differentiate between a buyer and a consumer. Sometimes the person who buys the product (or makes the decision) may be the spouse or a relative of your target consumer. Target your ads accordingly
- Invest heavily in high quality visuals. Instagram is all about photos and videos
- Find the right ad serving strategy. Some brands find Instagram Stories to be far more effective than regular posts
- Measure the right metrics. If your objective is to make sales, measure the number of clicks to your website and the conversion rate. High level of engagement may not mean much in this context
- Split test ad campaigns – an Instagram ad can go wrong in a number of places. The visuals could be unappealing, you may target the wrong audience, or the caption could be unengaging. By split-testing your campaign, you may identify what works and what doesn’t and tweak your campaign accordingly
Instagram is a highly attractive medium for influencer marketing. An influencer is not necessarily the user with the largest following. Instead, a business must find users who have a highly targeted following that pertains to your business category.
Influencer marketing is mostly popular among retail businesses with an accessible product to sell like fitness, fashion, and entertainment. However, there are a few B2B categories where Instagram influencer marketing can be quite useful. Promoting business conventions or trade fair is one example. Similarly, B2B businesses that have a significant brand equity (like Hubspot) can also benefit from influencer marketing.
Here are a few things to do right when executing an influencer marketing campaign.
- Find an influencer who has a high signal-to-noise ratio. That is, the percentage of followers who are not your target should be as minimal as possible. This is especially true for B2B organizations.
- Cross-promotion partnerships work better than paying for influencer marketing since such campaigns are not limited by budget.
- Beware of influencers with fake followers. Such influencers may be a drain on your marketing budget. One way to counter this problem is by suggesting your influencer to do an account takeover on your Instagram Stories. This way, their followers are required to follow your account to view the post. You may pay your influencer based on the new users they bring to your account.
Some of these strategies are unique to B2C businesses while others work for both B2B and B2C. At the end of the day, regardless of your target audience, your followers are still people. As long as your objective is to offer value and engage your audience, it does not matter where you spend your advertising budget on. Measure your results and tweak your campaigns on a continuous basis to see what works.
Hubbian is a suite of free business apps and resources. Their reviews of social media tools is absolutely comprehensive and valuable for the business reader.