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What You Need to Know About Instagram Stories for B2B Marketing

Instagram Stories for B2B Marketing

Instagram Stories for B2B Marketing Why would B2B brands be interested in using Instagram Stories as a marketing channel? It starts with a very simple premise: B2B customers are people, and people use Instagram, which eclipsed 1 billion active monthly users over the summer. And when it comes to the platform’s “Stories” format, it surpassed the similarly oriented Snapchat in users within a year of its 2016 launch. Instagram Active Users Of course, the issue here is more one of context. Can business-focused content really succeed on a social network that slants so strongly toward casual, leisure surfing? As we’ll see, B2B companies are showing that yes, it can. And there’s plenty of opportunity to take it a step further.

Businesses Are Taking Interest in Instagram Stories

As Digiday noted last month, the popularity and versatile functionality of Instagram Stories have prompted advertisers to shift more of their ad spend to the platform. In the same piece, we learn that completion rates for Instagram Stories are on the rise, and younger age groups have been gravitating toward them. With these insights in mind, it’s easy to see why Instagram Stories are attracting a larger share of commercial consciousness. There’s also one feature in particular that makes this format appealing for marketers, even compared to standard Instagram advertising: The ability to integrate links and calls to action. Typically, Instagram only allows you to include an external hyperlink in your user bio. But with Stories, you can drop a CTA into each individual piece of content. For B2B brands, which are often more focused on measurable marketing outcomes than their B2C counterparts, this is huge. This turns each piece of content into its own referral opportunity, and it allows connected pieces of content to be organized into a living content funnel,” writes Jonathan Crowl at the Content Standard. “While the experience of watching multiple pieces of connected content can function as a content funnel, qualifying users and leading them toward a conversion, each individual piece of content can potentially serve as its own CTA, leading users to a corresponding external destination relevant to their position in the content funnel.” Reports suggest that links in Instagram Stories were generating “swipe-through rates” of 15%-25% within a month of the functionality being rolled out.

Why Instagram Stories Are Gaining B2B Buzz

In his aforementioned article, Crowl cites examples of IBM leveraging Instagram Stories for thought leadership, and MailChimp using it to showcase company culture. These are mainstays for B2B content marketing, and Instagram is well suited for them as a platform. “Stories is the one place where brands are able to actually give people a peek behind the curtain in terms of who they are and what they’re all about,” said Instagram’s Morgan Cornelius in a recent interview with Fast Company. “This allows them to establish authenticity with their customers.” As we frequently emphasize here on the TopRank Blog, authenticity is a critical differentiator for B2B brands, albeit a difficult one to nail down. The other big advantage of Instagram Stories lies in serialized storytelling. This style of content delivery can drive much greater engagement and build trust with storytelling — both top B2B priorities. Clever use of narrative in combination with the CTA functionality enables marketers to “create a mini-funnel to drive viewers toward a conversion,” suggests Nina Zoukelman of Oktopost, pointing to a campaign where Cisco strung together interactive visual insights from its Annual Cybersecurity Report before inviting viewers to click and download the PDF: Instagram Stories Tutorial [bctt tweet=”The other big advantage of #InstagramStories lies in serialized #storytelling. – @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

Why Many B2B Brands Remain Reluctant

As we alluded earlier, there are some lingering hold-ups when it comes to using Instagram for B2B marketing. One is the mindset and demographics of its users, who tend to skew younger and more casual. There’s also the makeup of Instagram’s content, which is primarily visual. This often works well for B2C companies marketing products, but not necessarily as well for B2B companies marketing solutions or services. The Instagram Stories format itself has some drawbacks as well. For instance, Digiday points out that these are not great for increasing your overall footprint on the platform: “Posts that aren’t Instagram Stories generate three times more reach on average compared to those that are.” This is offset by the highly engaging nature of this content, but if you don’t have much of a following on the ‘Gram yet, your brand may not find a ton of value in this approach.

The Untapped B2B Opportunity in Instagram Stories

According to annual benchmarking research from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, Instagram adoption hasn’t increased all that much for B2B. In 2015 the percentage checked in at 24%, and here in 2018 it’s only up to 30%. So clearly, despite its dramatic user base growth, Instagram still hasn’t caught on with the B2B marketing community at large, in part because of the downsides mentioned above. While Instagram may always be a more B2C-friendly social channel, I have little doubt that it’s going to start gaining more B2B traction, with the business-friendly nature of Instagram Stories helping foster this growth. And since advertisers are still finding their way with Instagram Stories, the cost of placing ads within them remains relatively low compared to the main mobile feed format. Creative and ambitious B2B marketers can get ahead of the curve by using this feature to:

  • Showcase thought leadership and behind-the-scenes company culture
  • Increase authenticity with audiences
  • Create content funnels leading to strategic CTAs
  • Craft compelling serialized stories that engage and inspire

Much like Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories offer a nascent playground for B2B marketing. If you’re looking to experiment with new channels as you peer ahead to 2019, these both stand out as great opportunities. To learn more about the current social media marketing landscape from a B2B-centric perspective, check out these other posts from the TopRank Marketing Blog:

[bctt tweet=”Much like #FacebookStories, #InstagramStories offer a nascent playground for #B2BMarketing. If you’re looking to experiment with new channels as you peer ahead to 2019, these both stand out as great opportunities. – @NickNelsonMN” username=”toprank”]

The post What You Need to Know About Instagram Stories for B2B Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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Lovestruck: Why We’ve Fallen in Love with B2B Content Marketing

Falling in Love with B2B Content Marketing

Once upon a time, in a land of rainbows, butterflies, and evil content overload, a gripping love story is unfolding.

But this love affair isn’t what you’d expect — it’s no “Romeo and Juliet” or “Sleepless in Seattle.”

Rather, it’s an unlikely courtship with a bond sealed by three little words: Business-to-Business.

That’s right. We’ve said. The secret’s out. For the last decade, we’ve been head-over-heels in love with B2B content marketing.

We know what you’re thinking. B2B can’t hold a candle to B2C. B2B is boring. B2B lacks sex appeal. But you don’t know B2B like we do—she’s a knockout and a showstopper.

via GIPHY

What’s so darn attractive about B2B content marketing? Let us remind you of all there is to fall in love with.

We’ve Fallen in Love With B2B Content Marketing Because ...

… It Forms Genuine (Love) Connections

Audiences are made up of people with specific needs and interests. Part of the challenge — and the thrill — is creating a B2B content marketing strategy that addresses those needs and interests to make our audience fall in love.

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“I love the ever-present challenge of speaking to our audience on topics they genuinely care about and in a way that really connects with them. Seeing big results really pays off all of the audience research and thought behind the content,” Elizabeth Williams, a longtime account managers, says.

And speaking of the real people we’re trying to woo with our content, those people are why Influencer Marketing Strategist Jack Fitzpatrick is enamored B2B content marketing.

“I love B2B content marketing because it is a constant reminder that businesses are made up of actual people,” he says. “When crafting an influencer marketing or social media campaign, we are creating content for people. Small businesses, large corporations, and every business in between, started with people having a vision and striving to reach it. That’s a powerful concept to me.”

[bctt tweet="I love B2B content marketing because it is a constant reminder that businesses are made up of actual people. - @fitzJackrick" username="toprank"]

… It Nurtures Buyers

Nothing is more rewarding than hearing those three little words from prospects and turning them into loyal companions thanks to our data-informed content strategies. Just take it from our Associate Director of Search & Analytics Tiffani Allen.

“What I love most about B2B content marketing is the journey,” she says. “It’s rarely transactional, but instead focuses on providing the right information at the right time. It’s almost like solving a puzzle. You have to analyze the prospect’s journey – not only through your own properties but in the digital sphere at large.”

[bctt tweet="What I love most about #B2B #contentmarketing is the journey ... It's like solving a puzzle. - @Tiffani_Allen" username="toprank"]

… It Combines Analysis With Creativity

Fresh out of graduating high school, I was confronted with the same question most graduates face: “What do you want to do with your life?” After courting professions like biology, psychology, economics, and several others, I struggled to find exactly what I was looking for. No occupation seemed to fulfill my need for a creative outlet and exercise my analytical mind. Until I found marketing.

B2B content marketing allows you to be both analytical and creative. Through analysis, you can uncover powerful content opportunities that produce desired results. And through creativity, you can make sure those content opportunities are executed in a way that excites and entertains audiences.

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This targeted, thoughtful approach is what helps keep the job interesting and drive such substantial results. Debbie Friez, Influencer Marketing Strategist, agrees.

“B2B marketing is targeted, so you can really look at how to move specific audiences to awareness of our client and buy from our client,” she says. “With my job specifically, I am able to work with influencers who may not have millions of followers, but are highly-regarded in their industry.”

[bctt tweet="#B2Bmarketing is targeted, so you can really look at how to move specific audiences to awareness of our client and buy from our client. - @dfriez" username="toprank"]

… It Presents Constant Learning Opportunities

Some of the best dates are where you and your partner experience new things together. And in B2B content marketing, every day can be a new experience, writing about fresh, emerging topics with varying levels of complexity. That is especially true for those of us that do content marketing for large enterprises or a content marketing agency

Our own creative content genius and Senior Content Marketing Manager Joshua Nite says: “I love the opportunity to learn new things. We have clients in finance, cloud-based software, IoT, healthcare... when we work on content with them, I get to learn about it all. It's endlessly fascinating.”

[bctt tweet="We have clients in finance, cloud-based software, IoT, healthcare... when we work on content with them, I get to learn about it all. It's endlessly fascinating. - @NiteWrites on what he loves about B2B #contentmarketing." username="toprank"]

… It Solves Problems

(Great) B2B content marketing isn’t just putting a message out there for the sake of it. It’s about solving a real, tangible problem for your ideal customers. That’s why Account Manager Jane Bartel is so enchanted.

“One of my favorite things about (good) B2B content marketing is that it's so focused on adding value for the audience,” she says. “More than in the B2C space, B2B content marketers are asking themselves, ‘is the content I'm producing going to help the person consuming it solve a problem?’”

3 B2B Content Marketing Programs We Fell In Love With

TopRank and B2B content marketing is a match made in heaven, and the evidence of our love is in the work we create. The below campaigns gave our team plenty of reasons to fall madly in love with B2B content marketing and we believe they’ll provide plenty of inspiration for you as well.

Prophix: AI in Finance

Interactive. Multimedia. Triple-digit increases. What’s not to love?

Several of our team members, including Josh and Elizabeth, are quite fond of our recent content campaigns for Prophix (including our AI in Finance interactive eBook) the most for the reasons listed above and more.

AI Finance Influencer Content Campaign

“We created something absolutely unique, with the audio plus the interactive interface plus our computer personality, Penny. I love that it's so original and, quite frankly, cool, and I'm proud of the results it's getting, too!” Josh said.

Elizabeth adds, “I have just LOVED working on our last few campaigns with Prophix. I love the partnership we have developed where we can bounce ideas off each other, get super creative with our concepts, and test multimedia formats and interactive content.”

Read the full case study to get a look behind the scenes at how our interactive content drove triple-digit results for Prophix.

SAP Purpose: Helping the World Run Better

Today, business is more about doing “good” than being “good.” In fact, purpose-driven businesses that strive to leave the world in a better state than they found it in have more loyal customers and also feel a stronger emotional connection to the brand.

Our team fell in love with sharing inspirational stories from purpose-driven businesses, NGO’s, nonprofits, and thought leaders for SAP this year through their SAP Purpose campaign.

Interactive Influencer Content Program Focused on Purpose

“Sharing the stories of these Forward Thinkers making a difference in our world inspired our team along with the members of SAP’s audience. Seeing these leaders converge on one project sharing their passions and pursuits was so powerful!” says Jack.

Hyper-Targeted Content Strategies

With continued opportunities to refine and make improvements, Jane Bartel loves our ongoing B2B content strategy programs for clients like DivvyHQ, LinkedIn, and more.

“The project I'm most in love with at the moment: Planning and building a collection of resources for one particular segment of a client's audience. It's targeted, valuable, and makes great use of new and existing content,” Jane points out.

A specific favorite among the team is the seo-driven B2B content program we’ve been working on in partnership with Antea Group USA, a leading EHS and sustainability consulting firm, for the past three years. We’ve made a consistent commitment to each other, and results we love are in the air. From 2017 to 2018, total blog traffic has grown a whopping 149%, and organic blog traffic has grown 183%.

One of the pieces we're absolutely gaga over is this piece featuring hot EHS tips from a Demogorgon.

EHS Tips from a Demogorgon

Plenty of Love to Go Around

B2B content marketing is the perfect partner. Our relationship has a solid foundation and we continue to grow together, instead of apart. It affords us the opportunity to learn. It nurtures our buyers. It helps us connect with target audiences. It solves important problems. What’s not to love?

We aren’t the only ones who love everything B2B marketing. For more inspiration, make sure to follow these B2B marketing influencers.

The post Lovestruck: Why We’ve Fallen in Love with B2B Content Marketing appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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