Abhishek Kashyap Co-Founder and Head of Products , MarianaIQ Full Bio
The reality? Social networks overlap. A lot. Sure, Snapchat may be more popular with millennials than among other groups, but that doesn’t mean your campaign targeting millennials should only utilize Snapchat.
In that same vein, LinkedIn may be a popular channel for business networking and news, but that doesn’t necessarily make LinkedIn the default B2B social targeting platform.
In fact, Facebook provides a powerful alternative to LinkedIn for reaching B2B prospects, for six solid reasons (for starters) that should make any B2B marketing strategist see it as a strong contender for their next campaign.
Reason #1: Facebook has incredible reach
Facebook has reach. And reach matters. As of January 2017, Facebook had over 1.8 billion monthly active users (MAU). Add in its subsidiary, Instagram, and you’re counting 2.4 billion.
Twitter had 317 million, and LinkedIn had 106 million MAU.
By capturing more eyeballs, Facebook has the ability to sell more impressions. And the sheer supply of impressions it offers drives bid rates down for advertisers. But just using Facebook as your content promotion channel because it has the lowest CPM isn’t a smart B2B flighting strategy, of course. As a B2B marketer, you want to reach specific decision-makers inside targeted accounts. But here again, Facebook offers an attractive solution.
Reason #2: Facebook Custom Audiences allows near-individualized targeting
Traditional marketing pushes advertising first in order to attract prospects. But that strategy doesn’t always hold water within the limited customer sets of B2B, where more marketers are turning to Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and social targeting, where messages are tailored to specific individuals inside targeted accounts.
Facebook Custom Audiences allows marketers to use a marketer’s email or mobile phone lists to ensure their ads and promos reach only qualified targets, nurturing existing contacts through the funnel. More advertisers should use Custom Audiences, but don’t: why not?
The issue comes in matching target job titles and work data, typically found in CRM databases, against personal Facebook accounts. A haphazard list of business emails won’t cut it; in fact, work emails match up against Facebook accounts only 3-10% of the time.
So to leverage Custom Audiences, B2B marketers need to gather more complete data about their prospects, including fully-mapped personal identities, in order to achieve higher match rates. But it’s worth the effort, since match rates can be as high as 50% or more, given the right due diligence.
Reason #3: Facebook lead gen ads cut down friction
Your first instinct, when you’re ready to run a content campaign aimed at a custom audience, may be to ramp up a marketing automation platform, develop a landing page with lead capture form, and create social content to drive prospects to that page.
There’s nothing wrong with that process, but Twitter and Facebook have both provided an alternative that might be more appealing to you: native lead generation forms. There are several reasons you might find them a better option:
- Creating and promoting content that’s linked to your external site competes with online retailers. Amazon is happy to bid on a Website Clicks ad unit; they’re bidding for direct purchases rather than leads.
- Users tend to avoid external links, even if the process is seamless; they’d prefer to remain in-platform over experiencing a new website.
- Facebook and Twitter want lead gen ads to succeed. Both want to court B2B ad dollars by providing effective marketing tools. While lead gen ads are still new, they may receive unstated algorithmic benefits to help boost their popularity.
- They’re easier to build and launch than a landing page. Even if your landing pages are templated, you may still the expense of need copywriters and designers.
“In early A/B testing, Facebook’s native lead ads outperformed link ads driving to the website to cull out a lead form in terms of total leads and conversion rate, while driving a 4x reduction in cost per lead compared to previous social lead generation tactics.” – Kim Kyaw, Manager, Digital Marketing & Social Media, Land Rover
Reason #4: Facebook drives clicks at lower costs
Promoted Facebook content appears in numerous locations: the Facebook desktop, mobile and feature phone news feeds, the right rail, Facebook’s mobile audience network, and even on Instagram.
This variety means the effort you’re putting into a single ad unit is rewarded at multiple touchpoints, with increased reach. It’s not unusual for ad sets with targeted audience lists to reap a unique CTR of 3-5% after 2 run-weeks. Better yet, all this reach still is realized with lower CPC (Cost Per Click) rates on Facebook.
According to Nanigan’s 2015 Facebook Ads Benchmark Report, the average CPC rate on Facebook was $0.46. Compare Facebook’s current rates to your SEM CPC, and you’re likely to be surprised at the cost advantages Facebook presents.
Reason #5: Your competitors probably aren’t investing in Facebook promotion
LinkedIn sees CPM and CPC rates that are 5-10 times higher than Facebook. Why? Because B2B marketers – probably including many of your own competitors – see it as the go-to “business” network.
They’re happy to drop $7 CPC on LinkedIn because it’s still less expensive than Google Adwords. Yet these budget-conscious buyers avoid Facebook because it’s a “mass market” platform, and they’re afraid of squandering their spend on the wrong audiences.
Custom Audiences, though, lets a marketer target specific individuals and accounts rather than demographic segments. The net-net? You reach the same prospects on Facebook that you would on LinkedIn, but at much lower cost.
Reason #6: Facebook can reach your email lists of unsubscribers
It’s painful to look at your email lists and lament the ones that got away: the leads that unsubscribed from your email campaigns.
Relying on cookies, search and display campaigns to reach them, but more mobile devices are cookie-free, the inefficiency of display ads is legendary, and organic search isn’t a wise bet anymore.
Your unsubscribers, however, are likely on Facebook. So it’s a perfect avenue to reach them with PR, product news, white papers, webinars, videos and more, re-establishing awareness and connection with a valuable audience. Not only does this work in reaching unsubscribers, it can augment your email campaigns to retained subscribers, too.
A key piece of the omni-channel puzzle
While 80% of B2B marketers claim to have a content marketing strategy, many ignore paid social media promotion to support their content investments. According to Altimeter, only a quarter of content marketers actually invest in distribution, though more than half recognize it as a key need.
Or if they do take the plunge, they don’t look any further than LinkedIn. That’s a shame, because they’re defaulting to a “common wisdom” about social targeting that doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny…especially if you factor costs and ROI into the calculation.
Taking advantage of Facebook’s advantages, as we’ve said, relies on better prospect profiling and persona-building, but the upside? It’s potentially huge, thanks to the reach and tools Facebook affords a B2B marketer.
By ignoring Facebook’s vast reach and affordability, though, they’re missing out on an effective advertising avenue, and misplacing a key piece of the omni-channel marketing puzzle.