How B2B brands can leverage Instagram

There are approximately one billion monthly active users on Instagram, with more than 500 million using the platform daily. The platform has risen to popularity and has managed to keep its image clean despite all the controversy surrounding its parent company Facebook. With the rise of Instagram influencers, IGTV and the new shopper marketing tools on the platform, it is a no-brainer why many brands- big and small- use the platform to reach out to everyday consumers.

But the use of Instagram as marketing tactic is not as clear for brands in the B2B space. For Rainbow Cheung, head of social - Asia and India at Salesforce, Instagram is a great platform to build a community surrounding subject matter expertise and building love around a brand.  But it is also hard to communicate and document the life of a B2B brand.

"The hardest for me is to identify individuals that can present our brand, live our values and get them comfortable in presenting that aspect of themselves in public," she added. Cheung, nonetheless, added that the use of visuals are a powerful tool to connect with people and convey messages far more powerful than words.

"Personally it's a great way for me to genuinely show a day in a life of a Salesforce employee and communicate my passion about the volunteering projects I lead in Salesforce. That's true to our company core value. It helps me to connect with prospects and customers who shares the same interests," she said, adding that at the end of the day, social media is about connecting people - be it in the B2B or B2C space.

If a brand spends time understanding what do people want to hear and what people care about, it will naturally be able to develop content that will resonate with the community.

Janie Lim, senior director, Digital Media Marketing, Adobe Asia Pacific said the team at Adobe looks at Instagram not as a cut-and-paste alternative to email marketing, but as an additional platform to reach the individual influencers or decision-makers who it targets. For Adobe, Instagram worked well for it in the creative space, and it often partners with individual creatives/influencers to showcase designs and workflows to inspire other creatives out there.

"At the B2B marketing level, the thought process doesn’t change. We are still engaging with the end-consumer, we are still inspiring through stunning visuals. It’s just the content and call-to-action that could be different," Lim added.

Adobe caters to a wide spectrum of audiences from individual designers, creatives and marketers, small businesses, to large enterprises and MNCs, and the individuals within each of these segments are also Instagram users. Hence Instagram allows the brand to reach out to its target audience.

Lim added that given the visual nature of Instagram, the platform blends well for Adobe's Creative Cloud content, where the bulk of Adobe’s Instagram presence can also be found. At a B2C level, Adobe engages its creative community through different Instagram accounts while at a B2B level, the team understands that these designers and creatives in the audience are also part of a larger organisation at their workplace.

"They make up the influencers within the companies they work for, people who could be design advocates, marketers, business owners, or photographers who use our solutions too. Aside from the organic engagements through our owned Instagram accounts, we also run paid campaigns to targeted audiences across the Creative Cloud, Experience Cloud, and Document Cloud businesses," Lim said.

While these executions by B2B brands may sound straightforward and easy to apply, Lim emphasised that just because it was successful for another brand, it does not mean it will be the same for all. To be effective on Instagram, she said brands need to first understand that not all marketing campaigns work well on it.

Just because it is successful for another brand, doesn’t mean it will be for us too.

"People tend to have shorter attention span when scrolling through their Instagram feed, and visuals speak much louder than lengthy text or impossible to copy-and-paste URLs on the grids. There are limitations in how messages, sounds and hyperlinks can be presented through an Instagram Post or a Story, and the 'real estate' is very small with which you’d have to compete for attention amidst a myriad of other beautiful influencer posts, striking visuals and animations, food, travel and all that fun stuff," she added.