What happened to Facebook? When I first started doing inbound marketing about 4 years ago, Facebook was undoubtedly the hardest social network to make functional for B2Bs. The audience on Facebook wasn’t exactly interested in posts from businesses at the time, apart from local businesses they support or B2Cs with “fun” products. There certainly weren’t many industrial manufacturers or other B2Bs on the platform, and if there were, their post engagement was often dwarfed by the types of pages mentioned above, and it led to articles with headlines like “Does Facebook Work for B2B Marketing?”
Fast forward to today, and Facebook users have pretty much done a 180 on interacting with company pages, even for B2Bs. Nowadays, just about any business can make marketing work on Facebook, and it’s even led to articles like this one, “Is Facebook Replacing LinkedIn As The New Professional Network?”
What’s Changed in the Social Media Landscape?
Facebook’s Earliest Adopters Have Gotten Older
When Facebook first launched back in 2004, their main target audience was college students, with high school students needing an invitation to join. This meant many of their earliest adopters were 16 to 22 years-old at the time, and are now over or approaching 30 years-old today. As they’ve gotten older, they’ve started full-time jobs, potentially got married and had kids, and are now using Facebook much differently than they were 10 plus years ago. They feel comfortable sharing posts that talk about work, because all their friends are working now too.
Facebook’s Active User Base Has Doubled
In addition to Facebook’s audience getting older, their overall user base has grown tremendously over the past 5 years, actually doubling in size to more than 2 billion monthly active users as of Q2 2017. These aren’t just Millennials flooding the network either. In 2012, 57% of internet users aged 50-64 were on Facebook, but today, that number has risen to 61%. The same can be said for the 30-49 age group, which rose from 73% to 79% in the same span. It’s also important to remember that 77% of college graduates use the network, meaning many of the new users will have full-time careers.
Facebook’s Business Pages Have Gotten More Robust
Social networks have added a lot of features to help businesses over the past few years, but surprisingly, no social network has done more to help businesses than Facebook. Their Business Pages have made numerous updates and added special features to help the pages and content stand out. They were also leaders in adding native video to their social network, which have had 10x higher reach compared to sharing YouTube links.
Branded Social Content is Getting Better
Just as Facebook’s Business Pages have gotten better, so too have the marketers behind them. If you’ve been doing social media marketing since 2012, that’s 5 years of experience under your belt, and a lot of learning along the way. Marketers today know what type of content stands out, know how to make that content interesting, and have the tools to deliver the high-quality images, video, articles, etc. that their audience is looking for.
So, what do you get when a social network’s audience gets older, bigger, and skews towards the professional end, while adding features to make branded social content better? I’d say you have what we’re seeing today: Facebook taking over as the 2nd-best B2B platform behind LinkedIn, and certainly a viable one at that.