Warning: B2B PR agencies should not ignore Facebook
In a sample of 125 UK PR blogs, many of which are run by UK B2B PR agencies, a fifth did not have a presence on Facebook and very few had made the effort to attract more than 100 fans. This lack of activity on Facebook is certainly not a demonstration of best practice by PR agencies hoping to convince potential clients to trust them in conducting an integrated communications campaign and shows a general lack of understanding among these agencies of the benefits Facebook can provide to B2B clients.
Perhaps the hesitancy within the B2B PR industry to embrace (not so new) Facebook can be attributed to the perception that Facebook is not effective for B2B communications, but rather only relevant for consumer engagement. While it is true that LinkedIn is more exclusively geared toward business interaction, with a focus on professional networking, Facebook should not be ruled out.
Whereas LinkedIn has 161 million users worldwide, Facebook has 900 million and it is likely that most B2B companies will want to reach a portion of this enormous audience. More specifically, Facebook is particularly useful for targeting industries with younger workers and entrepreneurs (such as those targeted by B2B tech PR agencies) and increasing customer engagement with B2B brands.
A younger audience
For B2B companies that target sectors with a younger workforce, Facebook is especially valuable. In the US, 55 per cent of the workforce will be under the age of 35 within 2 years, and in many countries the population is even younger. These younger workers grew up on Facebook and Twitter and may not have found (or will ever find) LinkedIn a useful tool. As a result, by ignoring Facebook B2B PR agencies are potentially failing to tap this younger audience of customers.
In addition, Facebook’s entire platform and system are designed around user engagement, meaning that B2B brands are more likely to get the kind of interaction PR campaigns aim to achieve. It is also worth noting that on Facebook a “friend” tends to be a closer personal connection than a work connection on LinkedIn, meaning that any endorsements your brand receives on Facebook are looked upon more credibly by the endorser’s friends.
It is important that B2B PR agencies practice what they preach. While many agencies consistently write on their blogs that the future is digital, our research found that many are either unaware of or ignoring the benefits that each form of social media can have on B2B campaigns. If agencies want to prove to potential clients that they can run integrated digital PR campaigns, they should prove it by first showing how they have used all available media to engage with their own target audience.
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