Picture the scene: you’re up to your eyeballs in planning and budgeting spreadsheets for next year’s marketing activity. You’ve been told to try new things and explore different possibilities (within budget and with proven ROI, of course), but each time you suggest something the board pushes you back. At first glance, Facebook might seem like one of those immediately-discarded suggestions.
“Why should we be on Facebook? The people we’re selling to aren’t on Facebook! I’m not, and none of my C-level friends are either. It’s a waste of marketing’s time and budget.”
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? But here’s the kicker: Facebook can be the innovative marketing tool you’re seeking – and the platform to seize upon before your competitors clock on to its worth. For many B2B companies, Facebook isn’t even on the radar – but that’s a mistake. While the board may have been right two or three years ago, Facebook has matured into a community that’s ready for the B2B taking.
Here are the reasons why B2B companies should use Facebook, so you can convince your boss that it’s time to take a closer look.
1. Facebook’s user base has changed significantly
The university students who were active on ‘The Facebook’ way back when are still around, but remember that the platform began in 2004. That means the first users are now in their early thirties. And that’s a pattern that’s repeated – as Facebook has grown, its early adopters have grown with it, raising the average user age.
From 2010 to 2014, Facebook has seen strong growth in U.S. users aged 55 plus (up 80%), and good growth in users aged 35-54 (up 41%). Indeed, the demographics which propelled Facebook’s growth to over 1.5 billion users are older ones – and that’s a great thing for B2B companies. After all, teenagers probably don’t have pockets deep enough for your offering!
2. It’s where your product researchers spend their time
This changing user base means that the prospects you want to be in front of spend a lot of their time on the platform. In fact, over 65% of Facebook’s 1.5 billion users access it every day – in the UK, that’s over 24 million people. And while 57% of millionaires are on Facebook (yes, really), they aren’t likely to be researching options for senior colleagues to consider purchasing.
As we know, the people who are undertaking research activity are usually slightly less senior, and as such, are more likely to fall into the 35-54 demographic where Facebook continues to enjoy strong growth. If you can raise brand awareness and stand out in front of these researchers, you stand a far greater chance of being taken to their higher-ups as they consider the options available.
3. Facebook is making moves towards the business space
Facebook wouldn’t be where it is today if it weren’t conscious of the developments we’re mentioning above. Zuckerberg, Sandberg et al know that the platform is shifting, and are aware of the possibilities this opens up. The result is features like Facebook at Work, the business-friendly side of the platform that’s being trialled by RBS and other big brand names before launching in 2016; Work Chat, an enterprise version of the Messenger app; and the revamped Facebook Notes for blogging and long-form content. You could argue that Facebook itself is becoming a B2B company, so it’s a great time to get ahead of the curve by bringing your B2B marketing to the channel.
4. You can still get very cheap adverts (especially if you have someone who knows what they’re doing)
So far we’ve only touched on the organic possibilities of Facebook for B2B companies, but if you put a little money behind your Facebook activity, it can really soar. Facebook offers precise targeting that includes behaviour (e.g. early tech adopters) and industry type among others, alongside an in-depth analytics dashboard that helps you measure campaign success in more ways than you could imagine.
But the real benefit of Facebook advertising – at least for the moment – is its price. Clicks can be bought for pennies; in our experience with B2B clients, for as little as 10 pence. Compare that to LinkedIn’s costs-per-click of around £4 and even Google AdWords’ bid suggestions of £20 for competitive B2B-focsued keywords, and it makes sense to invest some of your paid budget into Facebook. Put a little time into optimising your posts, visuals, targeting and bidding – or get some expert help – and you’ll have results that will impress the execs without costing the earth.
5. Other B2B companies have found success on Facebook
Your competitors might not be active on Facebook yet, but that doesn’t mean other B2B companies haven’t enjoyed success on the platform. Knowlarity, a telephony company, targeted decision makers in India with a paid Facebook campaign aimed at increasing the number of quality leads brought in, and got some really impressive results.
In fact, 40% of Knowlarity’s leads came directly from Facebook, and the channel had a 30% higher conversion rate than other channels for them. Couple these already impressive stats with a 50% decrease in the cost-per-conversion and a 40% increase in the number of leads generated, and the value of Facebook for B2B companies is clear.
Maybe it’s time to show these figures to the bosses and ask, “If they can do it, why can’t we?”