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Why B2B Brands Are Advertising on Instagram

Instagram—and most of the social media world—is a haven for B2C brands. In fact, many of today’s most successful B2C brands made a name for themselves on the Facebook-owned social media platform that now touts more than 1.2b users.

MVMT, the popular watch brand, has invested heavily in Instagram for years.

Gabriel Anderson, who runs VaynerMedia’s small business division, said MVMT was “the poster child of how to build a business on the dark arts of Instagram with influencers and microinfluencers.”

With more than 50% of its users between the ages of 18-34, Instagram offers a straight line between these B2C brands and younger consumers who continue to gravitate to B2C (and DTC) brands.

While Instagram will always hold a special place in the hearts of B2C brands, B2B brands have a growing fondness for the platform as well as they shift their ad dollars away from print and other traditional formats.

It’s conventional wisdom to think of different social media platforms serving different purposes: Facebook for small businesses, Pinterest or Instagram for eCommerce, and LinkedIn is unquestioningly king of B2B.

But that seems less true every day, with digital ads in all forms and social media, in particular, becoming the norm. B2B advertisers are increasingly focusing on their brands, and as they do, their ad dollars will flow to Instagram—and the rest of the social media ecosystem.

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What ‘Consumer’ Social Media Has to Offer B2B

“It’s absolutely possible to successfully market a B2B brand on Instagram, driving traffic, leads, and conversions,” writes Kevin Kononenko at Databox.

To substantiate the claim, Databox polled 25 marketers with a simple question: Is it possible for B2B brands to succeed with marketing on Instagram?

All of them said yes.

B2B marketers, it seems, are going beyond the print page and niche ecosystems ad to reach their audiences.

“Instagram isn’t just for travel bloggers, influencers, and consumer brands,” Kononenko concludes.

How B2B Brands Can Thrive with Instagram Ads

So, how can B2B brands take advantage of Instagram advertising’s proven prowess? Here are a few ways:

  1. Nurture leads: B2B sales cycles are notoriously slow, long, and frustrating. Add to that the down economy and sales cycles are only getting longer and more daunting.

    While that may be discouraging to sellers, all is not lost. B2B sales opportunities are still there; they’re just taking shape differently, meaning that brands still need to engage them.

    Many of these leads and prospects are on Instagram. B2B brands delivering ads on the platform instantly gain another valuable touchpoint to push leads down the funnel.
  2. Augment trade event promotion: Trade events are returning after the pandemic put them on the back burner—and you better believe B2B brands are excited.

    Almost half of the respondents to a survey from The Event Participation Index said they’d return to events in 2023.

    As they do, B2B brands can augment their in-person tactics with Instagram ads to continue the story during off-hours, attract consumers to their booth, and continue the conversation after the event ends.
  3. Introduce SMEs: Influencer marketing is so popular because consumers have made it clear that they trust their peers more than brands when making purchase decisions.

    Instagram has long since been the go-to for brands investing in influencer marketing. In fact, 72% of marketers used Instagram for influencer campaigns in 2022.

    B2B brands can take advantage of this inherently human nature by bringing subject matter experts (SMEs) to the table. This can be an effective way to deliver valuable information and drive purchase intent when the SME recommends products.
  4. Take advantage of product tags: Instagram continues to invest in social commerce; Instagram Shopping is a prime example. Product tags at the heart of the platform’s commerce push make it easy for consumers to purchase directly on the platform.

    Meanwhile, product detail pages provide additional information related to pricing and descriptions. As consumers tap into social to make purchase decisions, B2B brands can use these commerce-related features to deliver a seamless buying experience to millions of consumers.

The even ‘newer’ kid on the block is Snapchat, the app associated with a young audience and, of course, selfies. But that, by itself, doesn’t disqualify the platform from appealing to B2B advertising.

Writing at Entrepreneur, marketer Renee Yeager reminds us of the fundamental truth of successful marketing: the story is king.

“And Snapchat is great at telling stories quickly to an engaged audience,” Yeager writes.

With an app like Snapchat, there’s the opportunity for exciting and engaging storytelling, especially as the platform invests in social commerce similar to Instagram. Snapchat’s separating itself on this front by weaving AR into the shopping experience.

As of Q3 2022, Snapchat had 363 million daily active users (DAUs), up from 347 million in Q2 2021.

Even more appealing to advertisers is the engagement levels of Snapchat’s users. The average user spends 30 minutes on the app, and 60 percent of ads are watched with sound.

Core DNA makes the argument that it’s about early adoption; most Snapchat users are fairly young for now; the thinking goes: The platform only has room to expand.

Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerMedia boils it down: “One day, there will be some plumber in America who becomes famous by doing two-minute videos broken up into 20 sections on how to fix things yourself.”

All of this translates into one thing: B2B brands are no longer sticking to the middle of the road regarding marketing.

While just over 30% of B2B brands invest in Instagram ads right now (compared to 60% of B2C), B2B marketers will continue to look beyond legacy channels for even better engagement. Instagram will be one of those ways.

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