Social media is a mainstay of B2C marketing, but it’s hard to imagine B2B brands rocking the most popular platforms today. How can you promote sophisticated financial instruments, cloud software, or heavy machinery on Instagram? It brings to mind an image of, say, a construction crane on the beach, with the caption “Sipping margaritas and loving life! #CraneLife #Blessed #WokeUpLikeThis #NoFilter.” That’s not the way to promote a no-nonsense, professional B2B brand, surely.
Despite the cognitive dissonance, brands with a solid B2B social media strategy are finding and engaging an audience across social media. As the leading professional network, LinkedIn is a major part of that strategy, of course. Increasingly, though, brands are finding their niche on the more casual, less business-oriented sites like Instagram, Facebook, and even Pinterest.
These are the findings of a recent TrackMaven study that tracked over 500,000 pieces of content for 316 B2B brands over the last 12 months. Read on to see which social networks are best for your B2B social media strategy, broken out by industry.
LinkedIn: In the Lead for Audience Size
For most B2B brands, LinkedIn is the lynchpin for social media strategy. And for good reason—brands tend to have the largest audience on the platform by a comfortable margin:
Brands in the Professional Services and Pharmaceuticals industries have a disproportionately high number of followers on LinkedIn. Overall, the median social media audience is 109,000 followers on LinkedIn, more than doubling Facebook’s second place of 34,000 page likes.
TrackMaven points out that this number doesn’t tell the whole story, though. While LinkedIn leads in audience size, it has a much lower engagement rate than other platforms. That means LinkedIn is a valuable platform for amplification, but brands can see higher interaction by branching out.
Instagram: Selfies, Makeup Tips, and Heavy Machinery
The engineering industry is the surprise winner for most engagement on Instagram. The platform initially became popular for posting photos of food and artfully-filtered selfies. But engineering brands like AECOM and CH2M delight followers with a mix of posts highlighting their corporate culture, charitable projects, and the engineering solutions they provide.
Pinterest: Recipes, Fashion, and Finance
Perhaps the most incongruous finding in TrackMaven’s research is that financial services absolutely dominates engagement on Pinterest. Most users think of Pinterest as the place to find wardrobe tips, home decoration ideas, or recipes—hardly the right platform for serious discussion about finances. Yet staid institutions like Allianz SE and Barclays have breathed new life into their brands on Pinterest. Their innovative, visually-striking content fits the tone of the site while keeping their followers informed.
Facebook: Plenty for Biotech to “Like” about Engagement
Biotech companies like Merck have discovered there is more to Facebook than catching up with your old high school friends. Their mix of infographics, polls, and links to the Merck blog engage an audience of over 37,000 followers. Regeneron takes advantage of Facebook’s engagement potential to source new hires with their Regeneron Careers page.
Social Media Engagement by Industry
Here’s the full graph of where brands are finding the highest level of social media engagement, by industry:
Notice that Twitter has yet to realize its full potential as part of a B2B strategy, with an average of less than .02% interaction.
Conventional wisdom used to be that B2B brands’ social media strategy began and ended with LinkedIn. TrackMaven’s study shows that, while LinkedIn is still a cornerstone for brands, there is massive potential in previously B2C-dominated, visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. If a 300-year-old institution like Barclays can engage an audience on these platforms, odds are your brand can, too.
Check out the full report on TrackMaven’s site for detailed case studies of B2B brands’ social media strategy.
Is your brand rocking Instagram? Are you ruling the boards on Pinterest? Drop a note in the comments to let me know.
Disclosure: LinkedIn Marketing is a TopRank Marketing client.
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