Why are B2B brands so camera shy?

Within the marketing family, B2B tends to be the pale and interesting one. Whilst B2C uses the pavement as their catwalk, we prefer to tag along behind in jeans and a t-shirt. We prefer buying books to clothes or make-up and spend most of the time in the background. Quietly getting along and doing a good job whilst our younger sister takes centre-stage.

And God help us if a camera comes out. Your granny forces you to stand right next to your sister, resplendent in feathers and jewels. You’ve got tomato ketchup on your top and put on an embarrassed grin whilst the shutter snaps and snaps again.

B2B really doesn’t like being in front of the camera

A survey by DemandWave said that only 15% of B2B companies use Instagram and 7% use Pinterest. This is despite the fact that these platforms are becoming more and more business centric.

Only in the last couple of weeks, Pinterest has announced that it is now allowing brands to share their own promotional videos on the platform. Similarly, Instagram has set up specific business profiles that allow followers to contact businesses directly. The changes also allow companies to look at follower insights and promote posts.

This may not just be a reluctance to be in the picture however, as the companies who were surveyed by DemandWave also said that only 2% of their leads came from Instagram and 1% from Pinterest.

So perhaps images aren’t the best way to market B2B

Or maybe businesses aren’t using these platforms in a way that will really benefit them. Because B2B isn’t naturally flamboyant, or even sexy, it’s not as easy to think of ways to make it fit in front of the camera.

Let’s face it, no matter how many ways you light or airbrush a printer, it’s difficult to make it look as glamourous as Kate Moss on a bed of furs and jewels.

Instead, B2B sticks to the more serious side of social media, favouring LinkedIn over any other platform. This, according to a report by TrackMaven, means that brands are missing out on some serious customer engagement, regardless of whatever industry they may be in.

B2B leaders such as MailChimp and Adobe have recognised this and have starting reaping the benefits of a more visual, creative approach to their marketing. But how have they done it?

By appealing to customers outside of the 9-5

Instagram is, by the nature of its mobile-only accessibility, a more personal social media platform. So rather than appealing to a customer’s rational suited-and-booted business brain, top B2B brands have started using Instagram to market to them in their down-time.

Pinterest is more of a realm of bloggers than buyers. By linking images up to more lengthy content, such as a blog post, brands aren’t just attracting likes or followers, but driving potential customers towards their site.

By catching their customers outside of the board room and appealing to their more fun and creative side, top B2B brands are not only attracting customers in, but leading them to where they’re more likely to convert, on their website.   

By making their brand more human

Having a more human brand holds a strong appeal, particularly to millennial customers. By taking pictures of employees at work, at events and taking selfies, customers get a behind the scenes look at the brand.

This open approach is becoming more and more popular with customers, especially of younger generations. It also means that brands can promote news and events beyond just the usual announcement that is slapped up on the website or in an email that’s never opened.

Brands have also started exposing their current customers to the world by using picture-based or short videos of their testimonials. This honesty is a refreshing approach and is appealing to customers who are used to being bombarded with sales pitches.

By putting humans rather than sales people in front of their customers, they take a more passive but also more effective approach to selling.

By thinking about their brand story

Being more creative doesn’t just mean thinking of ways to adapt the usual sales pitch to an alternative customer journey, but the wider picture of your company ethos and visual identity.

Is your company offering an aspirational lifestyle? Is it informative and educational? Is it funny?

Thinking about where your company stands creatively and how you can make this appeal to Pinterest and Instagram audiences is key to making your brand stand out visually.

Selecting pictures, quotes, statistics and content that consistently reflect an appealing and relevant visual style is a strong method of reinforcing your brand story and offer customers more than just the mundane sales process.

Let’s round off with three top tips

  1. Keep your hashtags at the end – hashtags are powerful and you should aim for 11 in every post. Don’t include them in the main part of your caption because it can make for a confusing read. Research the ones that you think are relevant and will snag as many potential customers as possible and put them in at the end.

  2. Connect to people – both platforms are very community driven. Connect to users and other companies with mutual interests and you’re more likely to be seen by potential customers. This will make it much easier to connect to those who are more likely to find your product useful on these platforms.

  3. Aim for a double tap – finally, think about who your audience are on these platforms and adjusting the buyers journey accordingly. These are visual and creative people with some level of interest in photography, so they’re not necessarily going to want to read through a whitepaper. They’re also not going to like posts that aren’t visually appealing. Look at what brand leaders are doing and butter up your designer to really get a sense of what works, then go out and make your own (and better) version.