In early 2014, Facebook announced plans to focus on B2B marketing and perhaps challenge LinkedIn's domination.
LinkedIn is today's Yellow Pages. It's where a lot of business introductions are made, potential deals discovered and new employees or employment opportunities uncovered. It's a more serious place than Facebook; no one is playing Neknominate here, but hardly a Shark Tank.
Facebook still dominates social media and it's done a good job for B2C businesses. What can it do to penetrate B2B?
Facebook Must Overcome Its B2B Doubters
Facebook is above all things social. It's where people chat and catch up; for many, it's actually replaced email. But reports indicate that teens and younger people are spending less time on the site even though they just invested $19B to purchase WhatsApp to entice them back.
There aren't many reasons B2B should come to Facebook. Facebook's ad tools are consumer focused and based on demographic data it gleams from posts and About Me information. Currently, Facebook doesn't offer much to help businesses engage with one another.
Facebook Can Adjust Its Tools to Attract B2B
I see a lot of demands for B2Bs to get on Facebook but not a lot on if it's worth their time. Facebook does, however, have tools it can further develop to encourage B2B participation.
Community Pages is one tool which allows people focus on a topic or experience owned collectively by the community connected to it. Why not make Business Community or Business Topic pages too? While it means collaborating instead of competing, this could be a nice way to attract interest and provide education in a business topic or trend. For example, a page on the concept of boutique medical practices in the Southwest or a CPA page targeting home-based businesses can provide education and links to services businesses need from one another.
Many adults use Facebook to get recommendations for products and services. It hasn't occurred to me to use Facebook for topical business research; for that, I either Google for information or turn to LinkedIn, particularly its groups. Nevertheless, this is an area where Facebook could potentially directly compete with LinkedIn.
As it stands, Facebook's search function is too basic. It searches for names only, not products. So if I search for Medical Practice, I get a list of businesses everywhere with those words in its title. And when I search for "Accountants" the first item that pops up is the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. While this is of no use to me, I noticed that the listing of Related Groups on its page looks quite useful.
- The group on current students can be useful if I wanted to encourage my kid to attend this school
- The chartered accountant financial update group provides information for professionals
- The chartered accountants group can be used as a professional resource like those on LinkedIn
This looks like a great way to organize Business Community or Business Topic pages.
But Why Facebook B2B Marketing?
I admit I am still somewhat puzzled by Facebook's desire to enter the B2B market. B2B marketing is by necessity more conservative than Facebook's freewheeling reputation. It would be a shame if Facebook decides to tamp this down in the name of business domination. It may be wiser for Facebook to stick with what they already do best.