B2B Marketing

B2B Marketing On Facebook — Yes? No? Well, Maybe…

b2b-facebookOne of the hottest debates in social media marketing circles is whether or not Facebook is a good choice for B2B marketing campaigns. About half the social media marketing experts warn professionals not to waste any time on Facebook for B2B. The other half insist that Facebook is the Next Big Thing for B2B.

Who’s right? Let’s review the arguments.

B2B social media marketing on Facebook: No way! Because…

  • Facebook is designed for B2C marketing. Even if you do pick up B2B leads, they aren’t very likely to convert into sales.
  • You risk stirring up resentment against your brand. For many people, including business people, Facebook is where they take their personal life. They don’t want to think about business.
  • The numbers aren’t encouraging: A recent BtoB magazine survey found that Facebook trailed blogs, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter in B2B marketing effectiveness.
  • Many of the “Facebook B2B success stories” are misleading. Most of the successes are really B2C campaigns, targeting business professionals (for training, recruiting, and personal purchases for career use) rather than B2B campaigns targeting decision makers for corporate purchasing programs.

B2B social media marketing on Facebook: Yes! Because…

  • Facebook is too big to ignore. Because of the size of the market, Facebook is a party that your company can’t afford to miss.
  • Social media innovators are doing Facebook B2B. Far-sighted companies like Cisco and Intel use Facebook to generate robust discussion, using interesting topics and relying on Facebook followers’ “shares” to get the word out. In short, they see the Facebook frontier as a long-term investment.
  • Stealth campaigns. Facebook is a natural for nurturing ongoing B2B relationships, allowing the company to interact with the client in a relaxed environment.

Well, maybe…

It turns out that much of what I discovered about B2B social media marketing on Facebook falls in to the “yes, if” or “maybe” category.

  • It works for events. Facebook pages turn out to be effective at driving attendance to B2B events that are perceived as a mix of business and fun.
  • Your competition may be there already. According to David Rodnitzky of FBPPC.com, the appearance of B2B ads on Facebook has been growing in recent months.
  • You can use Welcome pages to generate leads. Facebook’s Welcome pages, an underused tool, are like having your company website on Facebook.
  • The new Custom Audience tool improves targeting. It allows advertisers to target Facebook ads by email address — great for B2B campaigns to known leads.
  • Try the special features. Some companies report that Facebook works for B2B lead generation if you invest in the whiz-bang extras, including ads, promoted posts and sponsored stories.

My conclusions?

While Facebook should not be the core of your B2B social media marketing strategy, it’s well worth considering. You should probably give it a try if:

  • Your company’s target groups are already active on Facebook.
  • You are willing to invest the resources needed to keep your Facebook presence lively and entertaining.
  • You take a strategic approach. Periodically compare the ROI from Facebook campaigns to that of your other social media activities.
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  Discuss This Article

Comments: 10

  • Hi Daniel
    Nice balanced piece.
    I think your conclusion that Facebook can work for B2B if you invest enough resources into it.
    I think another real question is what is the RoI on Facebook compared to say linkedIn, which is clearly a B2B platform? My gut feeling is not good.
    However, Facebook could be better for some B2B niches- problem is I can’t think of any myself! Any ideas?

  • And why not put it on Facebook. Are those participants not future buyers of the products and services?…..is that not where customer information can be tapped?…That is one of the ways that definitely should not be ignored, if you are a wise marketer.

  • I would say no way for now…. LinkedIn is really the spot for this. I have used LinkedIn and it works for B2B. FB just is not it for me. Twitter on the other hand is a different story and I can see it as a better B2B than FB…..

    • Hi Jon,

      I definitely agree that LinkedIn is a gold mine for B2B lead generation (we’ve created a whole product offering around this – http://www.oktopost.com), but there could be some good news for Facebook as well. My belief is that from a results point of view, it is much easier on LinkedIn to get “instant” leads, from LinkedIn groups, etc., but in in Facebook businesses need to build more community oriented campaigns where the gains aren’t so immediate but more long term.

  • I think there’s potential for B2B but probably not through Custom Audiences as you suggest. The reason being that the majority of people sign up to Facebook with their personal emails, whereas a B2B database will likely contain business email addresses- FB’s Custom Audiences will not be able to match these up with the IDs they have.

    On the other hand I’ve heard that people have had success in targeting ads at people by their job titles (such as ‘Marketing Manager’). And of course you can target people by their workplace if they’ve given that information.

  • Excellent article, one of the more balanced approaches that I have seen! Though i feel that there is one more factor that should be taken into consideration: geographic practicality.

    I recently had major success with a B2B Facebook campaign, more so than any other PPC routes I had taken. This particular client wanted to expand their digital reach into other African countries (I live in South Africa, with this client being part of the mining sector). We found that Facebook was a much more effective way of targeting industry decision-makers throughout the continent. The reason for this, we found to be, is that there are still minimal Google servers dedicated to African countries, we have google.co.za in our country, but the rest of Africa is forced to use google.com through international servers. This means that for users in these countries, finding business solutions close to where they are operating, is nearly impossible, because none of the search is truly optimized for their country.

    In addition to this, greater Africa seems to have extraordinarily high bandwidth, so they have developed a massive online presence..they browse ALOT… And the more research I do, the more it becomes clear that Facebook is the only viable way to reach into these markets.

    I know this anecdote is very specific to my area, but my point is that Facebook is managing to target a huge chunk of the world that Google simply can’t.

  • Great article for any B2B business owner weighing in on this, Daniel. Thank you. While I think it’s important not to overlook Facebook as part of any social media plan, I still see far too many small businesses putting more weight into Facebook, and not enough into other social media channels such as Linkedin and Twitter – generally because they are not personally familiar with with them.

  • I say no, in that Facebook is more of a personal site to keep in touch with friends and aquaintances socially. People don’t want to be inundated with solicitations there and it is a good way to lose an audience. I believe it okay to update your profile to include links for B2B outside sites. If people are interested they can check them out. LinkedIn or Hoovers are more appropriate sites for business communications.

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