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Closing the B2B and B2C divide on Instagram

The B2B and B2C divide is closing on Instagram, and here's what each respective market can learn from each other to be more successul.

Sophie Thompson
24th February 2021

B2B buying behaviors have changed and continue to do so. The formal, corporate approach that B2B marketing used to take, has become outdated and actually puts buyers off, rather than encouraging them to make a purchase - and it's no surprise because the workplace has changed.

Even before our offices and homes became one and the same, it was commonplace for people to be using the same tech devices for work and play, wearing the same clothes, and being able to exhibit the same behaviors.

While B2B buying processes will always be more complex than B2C ones (more people are involved, budgets need to be justified, ROI needs to be proven, and making a bad B2B purchase can still put your job at risk) the brand qualities and decision-making criteria that we are now seeing in the B2B arena, is much closer to what has historically been associated with B2C purchases.

Marketing on instagram for business

The B2B vs B2C gap is shrinking further with the proven success of B2B selling on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. However, these online spaces are not the place audiences want to receive a heavy sales pitch and both B2B and B2C brands have to earn followers through engagement, by informing, entertaining, and resonating with their target groups. And that means moving away from traditional sales and marketing tactics.

Social media users seek a more informative, meaningful approach to content, as opposed to an advertisement. It’s not that they don’t want to be sold to, because 90% of the one billion active accounts on Instagram follow at least one business, and 83% have made a purchase after being influenced by something they saw on Instagram.

For most B2B businesses, social media is a chance to bring a human connection to your marketing channels by sharing company values, showing a sense of fun, and introducing audiences to the team behind your products and services. This is a great first step towards building relationships and loyalty, which have become a central part of buying decisions for B2B and B2C purchasers.

The most successful B2B brands on Instagram are learning from their B2C counterparts, so much so that we're seeing a new marketing hybrid emerging under the term H2H marketing, which is being used to describe the human-to-human interaction that helps sell products and services - and is an approach that works for both B2B and B2C brands.

Here's a quick guide to introducing the Human-to-Human marketing concept …

Give your business a face and a personality

Allowing your customers an inside look into who’s behind a social media business account humanizes your brand. A nice example of this is how Cisco posted a team Zoom call screenshot to their account, in honor of National Intern Day.

It makes your content about more than just selling, and introduces the talent behind your product/service. With February being LGBTQ+ awareness month, International Women’s Day coming up on March 8th, and other national days/awareness months happening throughout the year, there is always an opportunity to celebrate your employees in an individual way and appreciate how they uniquely enhance your company culture.

Showcasing the different roles and responsibilities your employees have, and how they each contribute to the end result is another chance to introduce your team, as is just sharing the fun you have in the office/over zoom.

Cisco showcases h2h marketing

Embrace influencer marketing (even if you have to create your own influencers)

Influencer marketing is not reserved exclusively for B2C businesses! There are many great B2B influencers, that not enough brands take advantage of.

B2B influencers generally have fewer followers than B2C influencers, but it’s worth noting that those in the B2B space do have more of a specific niche that people follow them for, so their engagement can be just as good, and they are likely to have a very loyal following.

PWC took a unique approach to influencer marketing in 2019 when they put their own spin on celebrity culture and created their own in-house influencer as a result. Unknowingly to most, PwC is the business responsible for getting ballots safely to the Oscars ceremony and used the opportunity to put themselves and their employees front and center of the all-important job.

In a campaign titled #BallotBriefcase, PwC turned their briefcase into a social media icon.

Ballot briefcase marketing campaign

The briefcase, which carried the all-important nominations, was given its own personality, celebrity status, and even interacted with PwCs followers. In the run-up to The Oscars, the briefcase traveled around a number of cities and offices, posing with staff, complete with its own red carpet.

As a result, PwC generated 126K Instagram impressions and 12.3 million Twitter impressions. It also fits nicely with their initial objective of bringing their brand to a younger audience and leverage employee advocacy. The campaign even ended up winning a Shorty award for best B2B.

Talk like a real person

Talk like a human in your marketing campaigns

This may seem obvious, but brands that use company branding over personalities or employee advocacy don't resonate with most audience members. There is no personal connection.

You can still sound like an expert while being accessible to the masses and talking in a conversational, personal way. Opt for easy-to-understand phrases that someone who is new to your specialism can still get on board with and always aim for entertaining and informative content over showboating.

Utilize user-generated content

User-generated content has a 4.5 times higher conversion rate than brand posts. So, there is no excuse not to be using it and consumers are 92% more likely to trust their peers over advertising when it comes to purchasing decisions.

Your audience will have more confidence in making a purchase if they’ve heard a good review from someone else, rather than straight from the source. For B2B businesses this can give buyers the reassurance they need to move the purchase further along in the sales cycle, and for B2C businesses it helps remove skepticism about making an online purchase in a world where we are constantly being told to watch out for scams.

Using user generated content in marketing campaigns

Adobe can be used as a proof point here. Across its Instagram feed, Adobe showcases the talent of people using its products. This powerful imagery creates an aspirational feel for the viewer, who starts to associate Adobe's products with success. Audiences gain confidence from the image not being created by Adobe itself - as it's a more genuine representation of the results the products offer.

What makes H2H marketing successful?

It reminds a customer that behind every brand, association, governing body, or non-profit, is a team (or individual) that are real human beings. H2H Marketing helps form a bond between the people selling and the people buying, which is far more powerful than any advert or product photo. If you need any advice or guidance with planning out your next H2H campaign or any social media campaigns - we'd love to help!

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