With 2018 planning around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what social channels your brand is going to invest in next year and how you should prioritize channel budgets to meet your business objectives. While many marketers continue to turn to LinkedIn as a priority channel to connect with professional audiences, Facebook is starting to rival LinkedIn as a preferred marketing channel for B2B marketers.

A common misconception is that Facebook doesn’t work for B2B because users aren’t on there for work. However, as social media continues to become more entrenched in our lives, the lines between our personal and professional lives on social media blur. It’s also important to remember that behind every professional is a human who simply wants to connect, consume and share content that’s relevant to his/her life, be it personal or professional.

B2B marketers are making a shift
It’s no secret that many B2B marketers have traditionally gravitated toward professional networking channels, such as LinkedIn. However, according to Social Media Examiner’s 2017 Social Media Industry Report,  Facebook use by B2B marketers has increased from 37% last year to 43% this year, while the use of LinkedIn has decreased from 40% to 37%, which means that Facebook has officially surpassed LinkedIn as the most important platform for B2B marketers.

HubSpot’s 2017 State of Inbound also indicates that B2B marketers, and sale teams specifically, are finding success connecting with customers on Facebook. When asked about the most successful channels for connecting with prospects, Facebook outranked LinkedIn, 12% compared to only 8%. Even when rated by the seniority of the prospect, Facebook still outranked LinkedIn as a top channel that sales representatives are using to connect with C-level executives, VP/directors, and managers.

Professionals are warming up to Facebook for B2B content
The same HubSpot report also supports the dramatic shift in B2B social media marketing usage by professionals, with nearly as many professionals using Facebook as LinkedIn for professional reasons. Fully 74% of respondents reported using Facebook for professional reasons, versus 78% for LinkedIn.

Here are a few key findings related to the professional use of Facebook from the report:

● The report found that professional use of Facebook spans the globe: 77% of survey respondents in North America, 72% in Australia, 66% in Asia, 77% in Latin America, and 72% in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

● The report also found that in certain regions, such as Latin America, people are using Facebook for professional reasons more often than they’re using LinkedIn, with 77% of respondents reporting that they use Facebook and only 71% reporting that they use LinkedIn.

● The survey showed that professionals across the company are using Facebook for professional reasons, regardless of seniority: 80% of C-level executives, 72% of VP or directors, 72% of managers, and 69% of individual contributors said that they used the social network for professional purposes.

● In fact, C-level executives use Facebook for professional reasons almost as often as they use LinkedIn, 81% compared to 80%.

What benefits does Facebook offer B2B brands?
Aside from the obvious benefits of Facebook’s enormous reach and engagement, Facebook is starting to win over skeptical B2B marketers with more sophisticated targeting options. In addition to the standard targeting options like age, gender, and location, marketers can also target people based on levels of education, job title or even workplace, allowing B2B brands to target highly relevant campaigns to professionals. Additionally, Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences allow brands to target existing customers and people similar to their customers, respectively, allowing them to nurture long-term loyalty and reach new customers.

In addition to its advanced targeting capabilities, Facebook also offers B2B brands a way to build affinity and connect with target audiences in a more personal way by sharing content that taps into their core interests, both personal and professional. While people are not likely flocking to Facebook specifically for professional tips, your content can thrive by tapping into the core interests of your audience, both personal and professional.

What this means for B2B brands
What does all this mean? B2B marketers who haven’t already started evaluating and devising a strategic plan and budget for Facebook should start doing so. With more B2B brands using Facebook to connect with professionals, and more professionals turning to the channel for information on how to grow their business and connect with other brands, there’s no better time to get in the mix.

While it’s important for B2B brands to start investing more in Facebook, they shouldn’t abandon LinkedIn. There is still a significant amount of opportunity for reaching professionals on LinkedIn, and an integrated social media strategy that takes into consideration unique objectives for each channel can help you successfully reach and engage your target audiences on both channels.

About Hillary Ferry

After launching her career at a firm in Los Angeles, Hillary’s family lured her back home to Des Moines as our digital marketing director. Outside of work you can find her coaching gymnastics. Reach out to her at hillaryf@2rm.com for help with digital strategy — or your cartwheel technique.