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Microsoft TrackMaven B2B Marketing

When it comes to social media engagement, Instagram leads for best-in-class B2B companies, while LinkedIn has greatest following


By Laurie Fullerton, Freelance Writer

March 29, 2016 | 6 min read

When it comes to building a social media following, B2B marketers should consider that a recent report has pegged LinkedIn as the real hub for B2B followers, yet Instagram leads the pack with the most actual social engagement across all industries in the survey. By tracking 316 leading B2B brands on five key social networks over 12 months, the report provides valuable information for many industries that show while LinkedIn is the B2B follower magnet, B2B brands see more actual engagement on Instagram, and increasingly Pinterest. Facebook hovers in the middle range, while the report suggests that Twitter falls flat.

This trend appears across the board whether it is automoblile manufacturing or pharmaceuticals with professional services brands enjoying the largest overall social media audience with a median of 2.5 million followers across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest. While computer hardware brands do very well on Facebook, with 1.2 million page likes that are greater than that of brands in all other B2B industries, the report suggests that financial services brands should bank more on Pinterest, as brands are 'pinning' their way to greater engagement. Twitter - according to the study - flatlines when it comes to engagement with essential two interactions per post per 1,000 followers on average.

The report breaks it down - and some of the results are surprising. LinkedIn is a leader in aerospace and defense with 142,000 followers on LinkedIn, 53,000 on Twitter, and 77,000 on Facebook. However, once again, Instagram rules as the most effective channel for aerospace and defense brands, with an average engagement of 29.10 companied to 1.14 engagement ratio on LinkedIn. The leaders for social media engagement on Instagram are Textron, General Dynamics and Airbus who include a mix of employment branding and product-in-action content.

Professional services brands do have the largest social media presence, with Cisco topping the list as having the most followers on Instagram. Cisco uses a rich mix of animations, employee spotlight and relevant event-focused campaigns. They average about 620 interactions per post on Instagram. Industry-wide, there are 1.2 million followers on LinkedIn, In software, IBM is the industry leader on LinkedIn, but it is HP and Microsoft who have a slightly smaller but more engaged audience on Instagram. There are 284,000 followers of software brands on LinkedIn overall. Increasingly, electronics and office equipment in the wholesale industry do well on Instagram with an engagement ration of 33.56, compared to 16.97 in food and grocery wholesale ratios.

In construction industries, the report notes that LinkedIn is where these brands have the largest audiences (120,000 followers) with significantly smaller Facebook audience (35,000 page likes). Companies like Cummins and Centex lead the industry by content engagement on Instagram and use branded has tags very effectively. Turn up the lights when it comes to electrical equipment with success on LinkedIn (124,000 median followers) and their second-largest audiences on Facebook (39,000). Energy brands in the oil and gas sector out-engage brands in the utilities sector by 23 per cent. When it comes to engineering, Instagram again is the most effective channel with an engagement rato of 44.13, nearly 10 times more than Facebook (4.92), Twiiter (1.91), Pinterest (1.77) or LinkedIn (1.38) The leaders on Instagram include AECOM and CH2M Hill who use their hashtags #CH2M and #AECOM, respectively.

Unlike other industries, Pinterest is the most effective channel for financial services brands by far, with an average engagement ratio of 69.92, more than four times more engaging than the second-best channel, Instagram (17.43). On Pinterest, commercial banking brands far out-engage other sub sectors in the industry with an engagement ratio of 76.44. When it comes to heavy machinery, John Deere and Caterpillar have the most followers in the industry, with 179,000 followers and 94,000 followers on Instagram. However, the company Parker Hannifin has a smaller but highly engaged Instagram audience. Once again, although the manufacturers of heavy machinery have a cumulative 185,000 page Likes on FB, the most social engagement occurs on Instagram a ratio of 25.14 and LinkedIn comes in second with a 1.12 social engagement ratio.

Medtronic leads the industry for medical brands with 5,500 Instagram followers, whereas LinkedIn remains the primary channel for medical brands to accumulate social media audiences. In the motor vehicles & parts arena, Ford and General Motors are top performers on Instagram. The report notes that both companies use a mix of nostalgia, sleek professional product photos and user-generated content. Pharmaceuticals are an area where Bayer leads in social media engagement on Instagram by 57 per cent, with LinkedIn leading as the area where the largest audiences are (464,000 median followers).

Companies in the chemical manufacturing business like Monsanto use Instagram most effectively, the study reports with 80.95 engagement ration. Once again, in the chemical manufacturing industries, Linkedin see the largest audiences (54,000 median followers) but the most engagement on Instagram with Sony taking the lead in computer hardware with 1.8 million followers. However, Fujitsu leads on Instagram by engagement ratio with an account dedicated to the point of view of the company's social media team.

In the biotech industry, Linkedin leads as the primary channel that biotech brands use to build audiences, with 96,000 median followers. As well as LinkedIn, biotech brands do not engage heavily on Facebook and Twitter. Yet, despite the small audience, there is the greatest level of engagement on Facebook. The biotech company Merck is the industry leader on social media, with a Facebook audience of 36,228. They are known for focusing on the human element of biotech research in their Facebook content.

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