B2B Industry Social Media Impact Report for 2016

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B2B Social Media Report

For this  B2B Industry Social Media Impact Report, we used the TrackMaven software platform to analyze 12 months of content from 316 leading B2B brands on five key social networks to understand how the best B2B marketers move the needle with social media.

We all learn from the best. So what could you learn from the best brands in your industry?

The results point to drastic disparities in the usage and impact of social media across the B2B landscape. The findings highlight the big picture trends in B2B social media marketing, along with industry breakdowns of the leading brands and most effective networks in each sector. We also compare the impact of B2B industries on social media to understand the differing approaches and priorities of B2B marketers.

The B2B industries analyzed in this Social Media Impact Report include:

B2B Industries in Social media report
Now let’s Learn which social networks drive the greatest impact for your peers, and see how your brand measures up against industry-specific benchmarks.

1. Which B2B industry has the best social media strategy?

Let’s start with a view of the complete B2B landscape on social media in one summary graph from the Social Media Impact Report. The graph below plots the average follower growth, average engagement ratio, and median social media audience size for B2B brands by industry across 2015.
social-media-landscape 5

In a nutshell, you should aspire to land in the top right of this graph. Score high on the y-axis (follower growth) but low on the x-axis (content engagement), and your brand is growing but not engaging your audience. Score high on the x-axis but low on the y-axis, and your audience is interacting with your brand on social, but not bringing anyone new to the table.

So which B2B industries excel on social media? Here are just a few of the key takeaways:

  • Biotech, engineering, and financial services brands are in the social media sweet spot. Brands in these industries have both substantial audience growth and high content engagement on social media, indicating impactful social content. The financial services industry’s 81.77 percent average follower growth per brand is especially impressive given the industry’s large median social following.
  • Machinery manufacturers are adept at growing their audiences. Across the B2B landscape, brands in the machinery sector see the highest social media audience growth, with average annual follower growth across all five major networks of 129.02 percent. Engaging content is a correlated factor; social media content from machinery brands is ahead of the B2B pack, as indicated by its high engagement.
  • Biotech brands know how to engage audiences. Across the B2B landscape, biotech brands have the most engaged social media audiences with an average engagement ratio of 12.46. Financial services brands are a distant second at 9.94
  • Are software brands in a social media bubble? Software brands see fantastic social media growth — up 82 percent of total followers across 2015, on average — but the worst content engagement with a 2.62 engagement ratio. Is the allure of Silicon Valley attracting followers to top software brands without the content to back it up?

2. How Do B2B Industries Stack Up By Audience Size?

The graph below displays the median social media audience size for B2B brands by industry across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram.

b2b social media audience size

Audience Size: Key Takeaways

  • LINKEDIN IS THE B2B FOLLOWER MAGNET. All but three of the 17 B2B industries analyzed in this report see their largest social media audiences on LinkedIn. Among B2B industries, professional services brands have the largest median LinkedIn audience at 1.2 million followers.
  • PROFESSIONAL SERVICES AND MOTOR VEHICLE MANUFACTURING BRANDS LEAD THE PACK ON PINTEREST. These are the only two B2B industries with a median Pinterest follower count greater than 3,000.
  • PROFESSIONAL SERVICES BRANDS ARE SOCIAL MEDIA BEHEMOTHS. Professional services brands have the largest overall social media audience with a median of 2.5 million followers across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest.
  • COMPUTER HARDWARE BRANDS FIND FOLLOWERS ON FACEBOOK. At 1.2 million page likes, the median Facebook audience size for computer hardware brands is greater than that of any other B2B industry.

3. Where Do B2B Industries See Engagement?

B2B SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT RATIO BY INDUSTRY

The graph below displays the engagement ratio — measured as the average number of interactions per post per 1,000 followers — on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. In other words, the bigger the bubble, the more engagement a brand in the industry gets on that social network.

B2B SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT RATIO

B2B SOCIAL MEDIA ENGAGEMENT RATIO BY INDUSTRY

Engagement Ratio: Key Takeaways

  • DESPITE LARGE AUDIENCES, LINKEDIN DRIVES LOW ENGAGEMENT FOR B2B BRANDS. Industry-wide, B2B brands see minimal engagement ratios on LinkedIn. Machinery brands perform best on LinkedIn, but still sport a measly average engagement ratio of 1.98 interactions per post per 1,000 followers.
  • B2B BRANDS FALL FLAT ON TWITTER. Across industries, B2B brands have an average engagement ratio on Twitter that is below two interactions per post per 1,000 followers
  • INSTAGRAM IS THE B2B ENGAGEMENT WINNER. With the exception of the biotech and financial services industries, B2B brands see the highest average engagement ratios on Instagram.
  • FINANCIAL SERVICES BRANDS SHOULD BANK ON PINTEREST. Believe it or not, brands in the financial services sector are pinning their way to greater brand engagement. We’ll explore this finding further in the industry breakdown section of this report.

4. Industry Case Studies

Industry Case Studies

Aerospace & Defense

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

• LinkedIn is where aerospace and defense brands see the largest audiences with a median of 142,000 followers. Despite middle-of the-road social media audience sizes overall compared to other B2B industries, aerospace and defense brands are well-represented on multiple networks, with sizable median audience sizes of 53,000 followers on Twitter and 77,000 page likes on Facebook.

• Instagram is the most effective channel for aerospace and defense brands, with an average engagement ratio of 28.10. Despite large LinkedIn audiences, aerospace and defense brands see minimal engagement on LinkedIn with an average engagement ratio of 1.14.

Textron, General Dynamics, and Airbus are the industry leaders on Instagram. All three include a mix of employment branding and product-in-action content. (Click hyperlinks to see content.)

Analysis based on the top 11 aerospace and defense brands in the Global 500 and leading aerospace and defense brands on social media as identified by the TrackMaven platform.

engagement ratio for Aerospace

Aerospace media social audience size

engagement ratio leaders on instagram for Aerospace

Biotech

KEY TAKEAWAYS

• LinkedIn is the primary channel where biotech brands build audiences with a median of 96,000 followers. Beyond LinkedIn, biotech brands have minimal audiences on Facebook, with a median of 1,000 page likes, and on Twitter, with a median of 6,000 followers.

• Despite small audiences, Facebook is the most effective channel for biotech brands, with an average engagement ratio of 46.97.

Merck was an early industry leader on social media and sports the largest Facebook audience size with over 36,228 page likes). Notice how the brand elucidates the human element of biotech research through their Facebook content.

Analysis based on the top 10 biotech brands in the Global 500 and leading biotech brands on social media as identified by the TrackMaven platform.social media as identified by the TrackMaven platform.

Biotech ENGAGEMENT RATIO Biotech social media audience size

Biotech INDUSTY LEADER ON FACEBOOK

 

Chemical Manufacturers

KEY TAKEAWAYS

• LinkedIn is where chemical manufacturers see the largest audiences, with a median of 54,000 followers.

• Instagram is the most effective channel for chemical brands, with an average engagement ratio of 29.25. Facebook is the second most effective channel, with an average engagement ratio of 10.01. Despite large LinkedIn audiences, engagement levels are minimal for chemical manufacturers on the network, with an average engagement ratio of 1.02.

• On Instagram, Monsanto has the highest average engagement ratio among leading chemical brands at 80.94.

Analysis based on the top 16 chemical brands in the Global 500 and leading chemical brands on social media as identified by the TrackMaven platform.

Chemical engagement ratio

chemical SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIENCE SIZE

Chemical engagement ratio leader

 

Computer Hardware

KEY TAKEAWAYS

• Computer hardware brands have the second-largest median total social media audience overall (1.7 million followers). Facebook is where computer hardware brands see the largest audiences with a median of 1.2 million page likes.

• Instagram is by far the most effective channel for computer hardware brands, with an average engagement ratio of 12.37. Facebook is the second most effective channel, with an average engagement ratio of 1.38.

• On Instagram, Sony has the largest audience among leading computer hardware brands at 1.8 million followers, and features a diverse product range on their feed. With a small audience, Fujitsu leads on Instagram by engagement ratio with an account dedicated to the point of view of the company’s social media team.

Analysis based on the top 10 computer hardware brands in the Global 500 and leading computer hardware brands on social media as identified by the TrackMaven platform.

computer ENGAGEMENT RATIO

Computer SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIENCE SIZE

omputer ENGAGEMENT RATIO LEADERS

 

Construction

KEY TAKEAWAYS

• LinkedIn is where construction brands see the largest audiences, with a median of 120,000 followers. On Facebook, construction brand have significantly smaller audiences, with a median of 35,000 page likes.

• The most visual networks are best for construction brands. Instagram is the most effective channel, with an average engagement ratio of 24.69. Pinterest is the second most effective channel, with an average engagement ratio of 20.67.

• On Instagram, Cummins and Centex lead the industry by content engagement. Cummins features user-generated content using the branded hashtags #Cummins and #CumminsPower.

Analysis based on the top 8 construction brands in the Global 500 and leading construction brands on social media as identified by the TrackMaven platform.

Construction ENGAGEMENT RATIO

construction SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIENCE SIZE

construction ENGAGEMENT RATIO LEADERS

 

Electrical Equipment

KEY TAKEAWAYS

• LinkedIn is where electrical equipment brands see the largest audiences, with a median of 124,000 followers. Brands in this industry see their second-largest audiences on Facebook, with a median of 39,000 page likes.

• Instagram is the most effective channel for electrical equipment brands, with an average engagement ratio of 18.31. Pinterest and Facebook follow, with average engagement ratio per brand of 2.91 and 2.60, respectively.

• On Instagram, Intel has the most followers (447,00+) among the leading brands in the industry, but ABB and Schneider Electric are the engagement winners with average engagement ratios of 48.32 and 20.00, respectively.

Analysis based on the top 26 electrical equipment brands in the Global 500 and leading electrical equipment brands on social media as identified by the TrackMaven platform.

Electrical Equipment engagement ratio

Electrical Equipment social media audience size

Electrical Equipment engagement ratio leaders

 

Energy

KEY TAKEAWAYS

• LinkedIn is where energy brands see the largest audiences, with a median of 48,000 followers. Facebook is second, with a median of
18,000 page likes.

• Instagram is the most effective channel for energy brands, with an average engagement ratio of 29.38. Facebook is the second most effective channel, with an average engagement ratio of 7.02.

• On Instagram, energy brands in the oil and gas subsector outengage brands in the utilities subsector by 23 percent.

Analysis based on the top 56 energy brands in the Global 500 and leading energy brands on social media as identified by the TrackMaven platform.

energy engagement ratio

energy SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIENCE SIZE

energy INSTAGRAM SUBSECTOR ENGAGEMENT RATIOS

 

Engineering

KEY TAKEAWAYS

• LinkedIn is where engineering brands see the largest audiences, with a median of 185,000 followers. Facebook is second, with a median of 17,000 page likes, and Twitter is third, with a median of 15,000 followers.

• Instagram is by far the most effective channel for engineering brands overall. With an average engagement ratio of 44.13, Instagram is nearly 10 times more engaging for engineering brands than Facebook (4.92), Twitter (1.91), Pinterest (1.77), or LinkedIn (1.38).

• On Instagram, CH2M Hill and AECOM lead the industry. Both brands encourage Instagram followers to engage with them directly using the branded hashtags #CH2M and #AECOM.

Analysis based on the top six engineering brands in the Global 500 and leading engineering brands on social media as identified by the TrackMaven platform.

engineering ENGAGEMENT RATIO

engineering SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIENCE SIZE

engineering industry leaders

 

Financial Services

KEY TAKEAWAYS

• LinkedIn is where financial services brands see the largest audiences, with a median of 240,000 followers. Facebook is a close second with a median of 195,000 page likes.

• Pinterest is the most effective channel for financial services brands by far, with an average engagement ratio of 69.92. Pinterest is more than four times more engaging than the second-best channel, Instagram, with an average engagement ratio of 17.43.

• On Pinterest, commercial banking brands far out-engage other subsectors in the industry with an average engagement ratio of 76.44.

Analysis based on the top 37 financial brands in the Global 500 and leading apparel brands on social media as identified by the TrackMaven platform.

Financial ENGAGEMENT RATIO

Financial social media audience size

Financial PINTEREST SUBSECTOR ENGAGEMENT

 

Logistics & Shipping

KEY TAKEAWAYS
• Facebook is where logistics and shipping brands see the largest audiences, with a median of 41,000 page likes. LinkedIn is second
with a median of 27,000 followers.

• Instagram is the most effective channel for logistics and shipping brands, with an average engagement ratio of 22.73. Facebook is the second most effective channel, with an average engagement ratio of 8.97.

• On Instagram, rail freight brands have an average engagement ratio of 29.21, far out-engaging mail and shipping brands (15.46) and logistics brands (15.85). Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern, and CSX are industry leaders on the network.

Analysis based on the top 28 shipping and logistics brands in the Global 500 and leading shipping and logistics brands on social media as identified by the TrackMaven platform.

shipping engagement ratio

shipping social media andience size

shipping INSTAGRAM ENGAGEMENT RATIOS

 

Machinery

KEY TAKEAWAYS

 

• Facebook is where manufacturing brands see the largest audiences, with a median of 183,000 page likes. LinkedIn is second with a median of 62,000 followers.

• Instagram is the most effective channel for machinery brands, with an average engagement ratio of 25.14. Pinterest is the second most effective channel, with an average engagement ratio of 3.79. LinkedIn and Twitter are far less engaging for machinery brands on average.

• On Instagram, John Deere and Caterpillar have the most followers in the industry — 179,000+ followers and 94,000+ followers, respectively — but Parker Hannifin has a smaller but highly engaged Instagram audience.

Analysis based on the top 8 machinery brands in the Global 500 and leading machinery brands on social media as identified by the TrackMaven platform.

machinery ENGAGEMENT RATIO

machinery SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIENCE SIZE

machinery ENGAGEMENT RATIO LEADERS

 

Medical

KEY TAKEAWAYS

• LinkedIn is the primary channel for medical brands to accumulate social media audiences, with a median of 203,000 followers.

• Instagram is the most effective channel for medical brands, with an average engagement ratio of 21.47. Facebook is the second most effective channel, with an average engagement ratio of 5.80.

• On Instagram, Medtronic leads the industry by both follower count, with over 5,500 followers, and engagement ratio, with an average of 27.98.

Analysis based on the top eight medical brands in the Global 500 and leading medical brands on social media as identified by the TrackMaven platform.

Medical ENGAGEMENT RATIO

medical SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIENCE SIZE

Medical ENGAGEMENT RATIO LEADER

 

Motor Vehicles & Parts

KEY TAKEAWAYS

• LinkedIn is the dominant channel for motor vehicle manufacturers by audience size, with a median of 148,000 followers. Facebook is second, with a median of 32,000 page likes.

• Instagram is the most effective channel for motor vehicle manufacturers, with an average engagement ratio of 25.44.

• On Instagram, Ford and General Motors are top performers in the industry. Both companies find success on the network with a mix of nostalgia, sleek professional product photos, and user-generated content.

Analysis based on the top 12 motor vehicle brands in the Global 500 and leading motor vehicle brands on social media as identified by the TrackMaven platform.

motor ENGAGEMENT RATIO

motor SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIENCE SIZE

motor INDUSTRY LEADERS

 

Motor Vehicles & Parts

KEY TAKEAWAYS

• LinkedIn is where pharmaceutical brands see the largest audiences, with a median of 464,000 followers. Twitter is a distant second with a median of 54,000 followers.

• Instagram is the most effective channel for pharmaceutical brands, with an average engagement ratio of 20.70. Facebook is the second most effective channel, with an average engagement artio of 14.72.

• On Instagram, Bayer beats the average engagement ratio for the industry by 57 percent.

Analysis based on the top 18 pharmaceutical brands in the Global 500 and leading pharmaceutical brands on social media as identified by the TrackMaven platform.

Pharmaceuticals engagement ratio

Pharmaceuticals social media audience size

Pharmaceuticals engagement ratio leader

 

Software

KEY TAKEAWAYS

• LinkedIn is where software brands see the largest audiences, with a median of 284,000 followers.

• Instagram is the most effective channel for software brands, with an average engagement ratio of 13.38. LinkedIn (0.33) and Twitter (0.15) are the least-engaging networks as a function of audience size and posting frequency for software brands.

• On Instagram, IBM is the industry leader with a smaller but more engaged audience than both HP and Microsoft.

Analysis based on the top 15 software brands in the Global 500 and leading software brands on social media as identified by the TrackMaven platform.

software ENGAGEMENT RATIO

software ENGAGEMENT RATIO LEADERS

software ENGAGEMENT RATIO LEADERS

 

Wholesalers

KEY TAKEAWAYS

• Wholesalers have the smallest total social media audience size among the B2B industries analyzed for this report. LinkedIn is where wholesalers see the largest audiences, with a median of 25,000 followers.

• Instagram is the most effective channel for wholesalers, with an average engagement ratio of 21.38. Facebook is the second most effective channel, with an average engagement ratio of 6.72.

• On Instagram, wholesalers in the electronics and office equipment subsector are twice as engaging as brands in the food and grocery subsector on average.

Analysis based on the top 26 wholesaler brands in the Global 500 and leading wholesalers brands on social media as identified by the TrackMaven platform.

Wholesalers engagement ratio

Whoesalers SOCIAL MEDIA AUDIENCE SIZE

Wholesalers Instagram engagement ratio

 

ABOUT THE DATA

For this report, we used the TrackMaven software platform to analyze the social media content from 316 leading B2B brands from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2015. The dataset includes the top B2B brands in the Global 500 and B2B leaders on social media identified by the TrackMaven platform.