How B2B brands perform on social (spoiler: better than you think)
In B2B social media there are a few accepted ‘truths’. B2B can’t work on Facebook or Pinterest. Instagram is a waste of time. LinkedIn is the only place for us (and we should set up a group, not a page).
All of these are total claptrap of course. B2B works just as well (or better than) B2C, because the content and information they have to share is incredibly deep and engaging.
Things have changed a bit recently of course. One only has to look at giants like GE or Maersk to see incredible work, but just in case, how about a few stats to clear things up once and for all?
TrackMaven has compiled an overview of content from 300+ B2B brands across Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest to see which verticals were performing well. 508,060 social media posts and more than 100 million interactions make for some fascinating insights…
Firstly, the old adage about B2B needing to stick to LinkedIn can be put to bed. B2B brands on Instagram saw engagement levels more than 20 times higher than on LinkedIn, with median engagement rates (defined as “Interactions per post, per 1,000 followers) at 22.53 on Instagram, compared to just 1.09 on LinkedIn (Twitter bought up the rear, with an engagement rate of just 0.86).
With that said, the hierarchy of familiarity clearly plays a part here, as B2B brands had an average of 109,000 followers on LinkedIn, almost 36 times more than Instagram, with just 3,000.
Engagement rates vary wildly by sector and platform:
Of course, these topline figures don’t take into account the type of content being shared by different sectors. the aerospace and defense industry performs incredibly well on Instagram, with an average engagement rate of 29.10.
Because, well, this looks amazing:
Over on Twitter, it’s an entirely different story. Engagement rates for the same industry are just 0.54. There are two obvious reasons for this: Firstly, Aerospace news tends to surface on Twitter, so rather than images of jets launching missiles, you get press releases informing you of… less interesting developments.
The other reason may be the nature of the platforms themselves. Twitter’s most engaged users are usually part of small niche communities, whereas it’s larger user groups are less engaged with brand updates. A digression, but an important one.
While overall follower numbers don’t tell us a huge amount, the rate of growth from different industries is more illuminating:
Comparatively ‘new’ industries like Biotech are flying ahead, with small but very engaged followers. Similarly there’s an interesting split between ‘Professional Services’ and ‘Financial Services’. The former has a huge audience but they are less likely to engage.
In the past I’ve experienced engagement as sluggish in this sector partly due to a glut of lightweight content that is often hidden behind registration walls, but also because regulation has discouraged individuals from sharing information without consent.
This should of course, also be true of finance, but it’s inherent newsworthiness, combined with a love of data viz and stats (not to mention the rise of the Fintech sector) seems to have overridden this, driving average annual growth of 81.77%.
Overall, finance, biotech and engineering saw the best performance, with consistently high engagement across channels. This is of interest as it indicates a dedication to content marketing and (hopefully) some awareness of extended attribution models – it is after all, rather difficult to sell complex financial products in 140 characters.
The results also show the importance of relevance by channel. Software brands have seen phenomenal growth (an 82% average increase) but very low engagement, possibly indicating an over-reliance on glossy product photography and traditional PR techniques that don’t engage users.
Overall these figures show that there is a place for B2B on newer, more visual channels and it’s a mistake to assume that you are dealing in ‘boring’ content that won’t appeal to users on those channels.