Getting Visual with Your B2B Marketing: Pinterest or Instagram?

by Jennifer Beever on November 18, 2015

Instagram vs PinterestA client recently asked me which visual social media platform should they choose – Instagram or Pinterest. I didn’t have a quick answer, because, well, it depends. Here’s what you need to know….

First, if there is any doubt in your mind that your marketing must become more visual, dispel that doubt now! Not only do people not have (not make?) time to read, they are bombarded with information (thanks, Internet!) and most are using smaller devices. So, use great images or photos when you share on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, but you should also think about expanding into some new social media platforms. And, yes, this does work for B2B marketing!

Instagram and Pinterest have had very high adoption by individuals when they got started. Both are used by businesses and offer advertising. Pinterest encourages sales and has partnered with Shopify to facilitate business commerce on its platform. Instagram, not so much. Let’s look at some of the differences and opportunities on both platforms.

1. What are Instagram and Pinterest intended to accomplish?

Instagram started as an app similar to Foursquare, where people could check-in, communicate and post photos. With input from investors, the app was pared down to photo sharing and the name changed to Instagram. Instagram had 100,000 downloads the first week, the same the second week, and in less than two months had a million users. It’s only skyrocketed from there, as Instagram now boasts 400 million users (according to their blog post) and was acquired by Facebook for an unprecedented one billion dollars.

Pinterest started with the intent of making it easy to pin photos to a board (think bulletin board). Once it had traction and the interest of investors, the purpose of Pinterest was allowing people to post items that pertain to the important projects in your life. The founder’s thought was that one’s Pinterest board would suggest a person’s interests and personality (see the article here).

For example, individuals remodeling a room in their home or creating a wish list for their vacation wardrobe can easily click and pin without worrying. The adoption rate was so fast on Pinterest, of course it got the attention of businesses who want to create brand awareness and promote their products and services. And, Pinterest users (pinners) are using it for their business projects, pinning information about solutions and products for the project. Some businesses even use Pinterest for collaboration – at New Incite we sometimes use it to analyze brand identity and other marketing things for our clients.

2. Are Instagram and Pinterest intended for marketing and selling?

Instagram was not created for selling. It was created and still exists for people to express themselves through photos. This applies to businesses as well. Just as a person can get across their interests, beliefs, and activities on Instagram, so too can a business. Photos and images of work activity, products being developed or used, fun events and stories about people or about your company – it’s all good on Instagram.

Some people post products on Instagram, but there is no link per post that you can direct to a shopping page. I’ve seen some blog posts about how to post product information on Instagram with a general link to your website will help viewers find you, but I think that’s spam. More savvy social media marketers know that Instagram is a much better platform for storytelling that engages and entertains your audiences, creates brand awareness in prospects and more loyalty for existing customers or clients.

As mentioned before, Pinterest is intended as a way to collect items under an interest category or an actual project that an individual or business is working on. As a result, Pinterest is a great way for a a person or business to showcase their interests, activities and values (for a business that would be their brand and culture). And, its very nature of pinning items with links per pin is naturally suited for sales.

3. The Demographic is Different on Instagram and Pinterest

Instagram is about 50-50 men and women, whereas Pinterest users are mostly women (70%, according to this article by Agora Pulse). Interestingly, Instagram has at least half of its users outside of the United States. According to a Pew Research report, Instagram users have higher education, but the use is highest among people under 30 years of age (55%) and users have more of an even distribution of income. Pinterest users have higher incomes and education, and 70% are under the age of 50, pretty evenly distributed.

4. User Behavior on Pinterest and Instagram is Different

Our observation with our clients’ and with New Incite’s social media is that Pinterest gets traction and creates awareness of your brand faster. This is probably because it’s so easy to pin items – usually a two click process. Following people also includes a couple of clicks and it’s relatively easy to find others that share your interests.

My observation is that Pinterest is highly “spammy” for consumers. There are many brands and online sellers on Pinterest masquerading as individual pinners. The result is that they can flood your Pinterest pin feed with spam images, just as bad marketers flood your email inbox with spam emails.

Instagram is where you can take your marketing to a more sophisticated purpose: engaging and perhaps entertaining your audience. A successful Instagram profile that tells your story and attracts and engages followers is well worth your marketing efforts.

On Instagram, there is an expectation that your photos are artful, your narrative and hashtags creative, and that you are engaging. So, it takes more time to post on Instagram, and it takes time to build a following.  If you’re doing it right, you spend some time editing your photos and creating some interesting text to go with them. Instagram has a cool hashtag feature, where as you start typing the hashtag you’ll use popular tags are displayed for selection so you can be more a part of the conversation.

5. Both Need a Strategy to Get Marketing Results

Because the opportunity is to tell a story through images, it’s very important to have a strategy before you get started. If you don’t strategize first, there’s a chance that your pins and posts will be random, fragmented, and will fail. (This is true of all social media.) Random, haphazard social media activity will not represent your brand let alone engage and entertain your audiences. What will convey both what you do as well as what you stand for? Your philosophy? The intangible benefits of your products and services?

On Pinterest, what boards will you create to which to pin images for your business? It’s not just about pinning your product. It’s about pinning many things that relate to your product, your industry, your company, and your customers. For example, if you sell software that results in productivity improvements and you sell it to businesses run by executives (as I did for many years), you might have boards that showcase client or customers success stories, product features and business operational issues.

Then, add to that boards that emphasize what your customers and prospects are personally and professionally interested in. Executives from your customer businesses and your employees probably work and travel a lot, so how about images, articles and stories about time management, a healthy lifestyle, mindfulness? The point is, find out what’s on your customers’ minds and pin to those topics! For some example of B2b Pinterest success, take a look at this board of major B2B brand pinners created by CaptureHits Marketing. And, look at our very own New Incite board of creative ad campaigns and other marketing and my personal interest topics.

On Instagram, choose images that will tell your story and convey your culture, philosophy, reason for existing. Many marketers say that success on Instagram is about choosing an angle or a theme and sticking with it to grow followers. If it’s interesting enough, people will follow you. For B2B inspiration, check out enterprise software company Contently’s list of 5 top B2b Instagram accounts.

In summary, I think Pinterest is great for generating brand awareness and getting your products and services in front of buyers more quickly. Instagram offers more sophistication as well as more engagement and loyal followers, if you do it right.

Never use either Instagram or Pinterest solely for selling, since that is spam.

My answer to my client? Most of their customers are women. They sell services and products to businesses and individuals. Pinterest is my first choice, and when time permits and we have a strategy, I think the benefits of a thoughtful, strategic Instagram profile will only add success to their marketing mix.

Need advice and implementation support or outsource on Pinterest, Instagram or other social media? Contact me at New Incite today. I look at your total business and marketing strategy before formulating a tactical approach that will work for you.



10 Reasons I Am One Nanosecond Away from Deleting your Email

by Jennifer Beever on November 6, 2015

Delete EmailYou only have a moment to get someone’s attention when you send them an email. Here are ten things to avoid when creating your marketing emails.

I delete more emails now than ever. Email is a chore for me, and I know it is for many others. Here are some of the reasons I and others delete email.

1. The email is not responsive on mobile devices

You’ve been creating emails in one of the utility applications like Constant Contact for years. You have the template, it’s working, so why change it?

Because! Your email requires me to stop what I am doing, get out a magnifying glass to attempt to read the minute text. No, wait! I also have to swipe from side to side to view each sentence’s words.

Even if your email has content that is not super interesting or relevant to me, I want to scan the headlines and see what you sent. An email that requires me to swipe and zoom is too hard to scan. So, I just delete it.

Please, please, please, make your email responsive. This means it re-sizes depending on what device I’m on. On my phone the font is large enough to see and I can easily click on links and buttons without clicking on something I don’t want by mistake!

2. There is no subject line in your email

I’ve sent these emails out on occasion, and I bet you have, too. You’re in a hurry, or you just plain forget to type in the subject. But, in your email marketing, this is a big error! Failing to put in a subject is a red flag for the spam filters, so it may fall into the spam folder, never to be seen by the intended recipient. If it does make it though, it’s pretty much useless to the recipients and many will just delete it before scanning.

3. Your subject line is irrelevant to me

You managed to type a subject line in your email, but it sucks. It’s irrelevant, boring, and, guess what? I’ve deleted your email and I’m on to the next email. Sometimes people do this by having a static eLetter name that never changes. There are a lot of helpful headline tips that you can find on people’s blogs.

One that I think is clever is to include your email name and some highlights from the email. An example might be “Marketing Matters: The Perfect Blog Post | Systematize Your Email Marketing,” which sneaks in two blog post topics.

Another way to spice up your email subject line is to use certain words that get people’s attention. “New,” “Free,” “You,” “Because,” “Instantly.” The cool thing now is that it’s not some ad guys telling you what they think works. Now we have companies that measure social media results and can prove what words work! As an example, check out this list of 189 words that convert by Buffer.

4. There is no business or person’s name in the email From field

Sometimes I get emails in which the subject line is OK or even compelling, but there is nothing in the From field of the email. Or, even if there is a business name in the From field, I can’t tell who sent it to me. In one case, a business owner was launching his new brand and website and sent out emails to announce the change. I was intrigued since this is my line of work! But, I could not figure out who the person was! And, there was no way to contact the sender or look at the website. Months later I saw the same brand and was able to connect it to the business owner, whom I had met.

I network a lot, and sometimes seeing a photo of the person helps me recognize them. If you are a sole proprietor, it’s a good idea to have a little photo to remind people who you are.

5. Your first sentence in the email is boring and/or irrelevant to me

Ok, now I’ve figured out who sent the email, what it’s about. Time to look for content. If the content doesn’t match the subject line, you lost me. If it’s not interesting, I’m not going to read.

What is interesting? A real-life story, not a boring sales pitch. A statement that tells me why others attended an event or bought a service. Or, a statement that tells me for what pain you have a solution (we marketers love pain). People who have problems and issues need solutions.

6. Your email has broken links, missing images, typos or other errors

Problems happen with emails, sometimes due to technology. But, all the email programs such as Constant Contact and MailChimp allow you to send test emails. When you test an email, click on every image and link to make sure they connect to the right landing page or form. Use the email program’s spell check and manually proof your email to make sure there are no errors.

If there is an error in the email you send, correct it and send a new email with a brief explanation. It’s happened to all of us, and everyone appreciates honesty and transparency.

7. You do not include a call-to-action, so I delete the email

Have you ever read a cool email, and wanted to say or do something about it, but there was nothing there? No link to a website, nothing to download, no video to click to and watch. No way to share on social media? Maybe not even a phone number?

Make sure your email has at least one call-to-action so recipients can take action. Provide some options – not everyone wants to pick up the phone, so ask them to email or use a form to provide the best time for you to call them!

8. You include a call-to-action but don’t repeat it at the end of the email

I like to see the call-to-action at least two times. Don’t make me read to the bitter end of your email to figure out how to take action. Invite me midway and repeat at the end.

9. Your email is too long, and I don’t have time to read it

It seems that in B2C marketing studies showed that a “ginormously” long email with tons of testimonials, statistics, benefits and other selling points was effective. I’m not sure I agree.

Make your offer in the email, and then give me some things to look into if I’m interested. None of us have much time to read anymore. If I’m interested in your offer, send me to a web page that I can scroll through with all the above.

10. I see no address or I.D. for your business or you as a person

This is actually illegal under the CAN SPAM Act for promotional emails. All promo emails must show the physical address for the business and have a clear way the recipient can opt-out. Interestingly, lack of business contact information on websites is the number one complaint visitors have. This is a pet peeve of mine. Who are these people? I want to know who is behind the email and whether or not they are legit.

I hope you found this blog post helpful. Email marketing is still a key tactic for B2B marketers. It is a way to personalize your message with an individual once they are attracted by your website, social media or other marketing activities.

Do you need help with creating more effective and compelling emails? Contact me at New Incite today. I’ve worked with hundreds of businesses, providing marketing training, consulting and execution, to help them get better results from their marketing.



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