Which B2B Brand is brave enough to use Instagram?

Leave a Comment (0) ↓

Instagram Marketing

Inevitably, as the head of an agency specialising in B2B digital media, I focus my articles, and my clients’ attention, on the media that will be most likely to make money, and win new business friends and influence people, right now. Hence my emphasis on LinkedIn, Twitter, GoogleAds and YouTube.

But I have warned about the fact that for many firms, Facebook is not a suitable environment. It can be part of your arsenal, and its sheer ubiquity means it cannot be ignored, but it is probably ‘nice to have’ but not ‘essential’. Would I say the same about the new breed of social networks that are clamouring to dethrone it? Not necessarily. As I have written before, we must maintain a watching brief and look for new opportunities.

The most feted of the B2B ‘first movers’ is of course GE, which has set out to make its presence felt in whatever media it can use to make a splash. And its resulting popularity in Instagram (as well as in the aforementioned circles) is certainly impressive (182,000+ followers, anyone?). I have suggested that Instagram has real possibilities – it has 200 million+ users and is taking over market share from Facebook (who were ‘so impressed that they bought the company’): it meets the desire for instant video gratification. It is the ‘new shiny thing’ that so many are looking for. Yes, its demographic is predominantly young, but trade buyers, like policemen, seem to get more and more youthful by the year, don’t they?

And now things are getting more interesting on the Instagram front, because it is bringing brand advertising to the UK, following trials in the USA with a number of companies who previously had supported the network. These included Adidas, Burberry and PayPal (the last of which is interesting in B2B terms).

Does it work? There is little data as yet, excepting some interesting Levis campaign research that claimed to show an advertisement recall improvement of 24% among Instagram users versus some 8% in the matched non-Instagram sample group.

Instagram’s management knows that it must tread warily. Commentators have pointed to the criticism it got even for running a non-profit campaign in support of Charity Water. A lot of members complained when they saw sponsored posts intruding on their viewing pleasure.

So to avoid disrupting the quick, visual appeal of the medium, they are letting users hide ads that they don’t approve of, and they can supply feedback. Its advertiser guidelines warn you to make your material visually smart and highly appealing – or you could get a backlash.

Challenging for your B2B brand? Well who would have thought that a company that make big chunky industrial engines could characterise them as Badass Machines and get thousands of people to take the trouble to photograph and video them in action? Step forward GE…

As I have predicted each of the growing social media has eventually to make money in a real-world accounting sense, once the inflated dotcom valuations of their loss-making businesses begin to subside. That means advertising revenue must be generated. For advertisers, this particular example can (properly handled) be a way to integrate their ‘sponsored link’ messages subtly with the environment in which target customers are browsing. Users will ‘get over it’ and settle down to the reality that free services have to be paid for – as they have done with Google searches and Facebook interactions.

Of course Instagram has to step up to the plate in terms of its targeting algorithms – it is not going to be a threat to LinkedIn any time soon, but with the capability of its parent network it should present an interesting new opportunity to B2B pioneers in 2015 and beyond.