While often thought of as another way to broaden a company’s reach, are photo networks like Pinterest and Instagram really worth a business’ time? With 48.7 million users on Pinterest and 100 million users on Instagram, it seems companies may be missing a trick if they don’t work to leverage these popular tools. But, without a clear strategy in place and reasonable expectations, they might not be as successful as they’d like.
On the positive side, such visual-based networks can certainly allow businesses to provide photo snapshots of what they do and what products or services they offer to entice users through a different medium. They also help companies to showcase more personal faces for their businesses, brands and staffs, giving users “behind the scenes” insights. Networks like Instagram and Pinterest can easily integrate with other social tools like Facebook and Twitter to support broader social media campaigns.
And, with such a wide user base, these tools can be used from a demographic analysis standpoint to track what people are following and what is trending, which could yield helpful information for companies as they form larger marketing strategies or look for issues and hot topics to latch onto for PR outreach. The use of keywords and hashtags can also provide SEO benefits when linked to other social media accounts and company blogs – and can effectively include your Instagram posts or Pinterest pins in relevant, ongoing conversations targeted at users’ specific interests.
However, neither Pinterest nor Instagram seem to be strong enough in the B2B realm to be a central aspect of a campaign. According to Simply Measured, 59 percent of the top 100 brands are active on Instagram, but, if you take a deeper look at the study, you’ll find that these are all consumer businesses. For instance, while B2C companies like MTV and Starbucks have well over a million followers on Instagram, Intel has just over 2,000 and HP has barely more than 200.
So, with the appropriate expectations, photo-based networks can help augment other activities and add visual components to blogs and such, but they are not yet at a point where they provide powerful, standalone tools for B2B marketing or PR initiatives. Perhaps as the platforms evolve, more B2B companies will find uses for them as a way to target specific user groups in their space or promote their brands, services and products. But for now, it seems to be proving a difficult task for more strategic efforts.