In this guide, we are going to use Facebook Audience Insights to do B2B market research so that we can better understand our B2B buyer demographic. It’s amazing how much more data we have access to today, compared to just a few years ago. Facebook reach, and the available data is a great example of new data sources that every marketing team should use, in B2B and B2C markets. Although many consider Facebook to be for B2C audiences, we need to remember that behind every business buyer there is a consumer. We can use Facebook Audience Insights for B2B market research focused on understanding the people we are trying to influence.
Facebook is one of the tools I recommend in my article on rapid marketing research techniques.
Facebook Audience Insights For Market & Demographic Research
We can use Facebook Insights to learn about the people behind the purchasing decision. When making almost any business decision, we need to keep the customer top of mind, and it helps to have an ideal customer avatar/persona we can refer to. Putting one together isn’t easy, especially if you don’t have any existing data you can use. Facebook Audience Insights gives you access to data which will help you create an ideal customer persona. This information can then inform decision making.
Three things you need to know about Facebook Audience Insights before you get started
- Facebook Audience Insights is based on data from Facebook users. Although at this point there are billions of Facebook users, in specific countries such as China Facebook use is limited.
- Only ages above the age of 18 can be targeted.
- Audience Insights works by filtering down on your audience. So you need to make some broad assumptions about your audience to get started and adjust targeting as you go. At the very least you need to have a target geographies in mind.
Where can Facebook Audience Insights add value?
Facebook Audience Insights is a data-rich resource that you should use whenever you’re making decisions that will impact your customers. Use Facebook Audience Insights when:
- Doing market research or validating a market
- Developing messaging
- Understanding the likes and dislikes of the audience
- Evaluating what businesses, brands or organisations your ideal customers may already be engaging with
- Understanding who is also competing for the attention of your prospect.
Having relevant market insights at hand is very important when developing your marketing funnel. It’ll help you craft relevant messages at the top of the funnel and nurture leads towards a buying decision.
Getting started with Facebook Audience Insights
To begin using Facebook Audience Insights head over to the audience insights dashboard on Facebook. It’s available via the top navigation of the ads manager navigation.
Select your starting audience
When you first open Facebook Audience Insights, you’ll be asked to select your starting audience.
- Everyone on Facebook: Data based on all Facebook users.
- People connected to your page: Data based on people already connected to your Facebook page.
- A custom audience: Upload a list of email addresses and Facebook will match that data to users it has. This is great for understanding the demographics of your audience. B2B companies will be able to use this to upload lists from successful campaigns to better understand their audience and reach.
Understanding the Facebook Audience Insights dashboard
In this guide, we look at research that starts with “Everyone on Facebook” rather than a seed list. The first thing you’ll see is the dashboard. The information Facebook Audience Insights gives you includes:
- Demographics: Who is your audience?
- Page likes: What is your audience interested in/like?
- Location: Where is your audience within your selected geography?
- Activity: How are they likely to use Facebook and what are they likely to do?
Using Facebook Audience Insights for B2B market research
As B2B marketers we are selling to businesses. We can use tools such as Hoovers to get insights about the companies we are targeting, but ultimately the buying decision is made by individuals. Facebook can give us demographic information about the end users, decision makers and influencers. We can use this information to improve our messaging and reach.
Use filtering options to target your B2B audience
At the highest level, most businesses can define their ideal customer/audience by geography. Facebook audience insights allows you to pick exactly which countries you would like to reach. In this example, I would like to reach customers in the UK, which means I need to remove customers in the US from the targeting.
- To remove the country from Facebook audience insights, hover over the country name and hit the X icon.
- To add a country start typing your name in the box and once it appears selects the option that you need. You can add as many countries as your want.
The size of the audience and demographic information changes as you add multiple layers of filters. This is easiest to appreciate when adding the location level filters. In the example above I’m changing the audience from the US to the UK. When targeting the US, there is an audience size of up to 250 million people. When targeting the UK only, audience size drops to 40 million people.
You can target multiple countries (United Kingdom, United States), cities (London, New York).
As you change your audience filtering options, you’ll notice your potential audience size changing. As you add more filtering options the more refined your audience will become. This will help focus your messaging and marketing efforts.
Once location level filters are set, you can filter by areas of interest. In my example, I want to target audiences interested in entrepreneurship and small business.
This works for other interests too. For example, if you wanted to target people interested in specific Facebook pages. Note that not all pages appear in this option. In the example, I have updated filtering to target people interested in two pages “500 startups” and “Social media examiner”. If it appears in the list, you could target audiences who like the pages of your competitors.
There are multiple categories you can use to filter and refine your audience and as result glean data about your market. We’ve looked at location and interests, but you can also look at job title, language, relationship status, education, market segments, parents, political preferences and even life events.
Evaluating the results of Facebook Audience Insights
We have set our filtering options as follows:
- Location: UK
- Interests: Small Business | Small to medium enterprises
- Job titles: Management
These filters have given my business a potential audience size of 50K active Facebook members in the UK. At any time the audience can be edited to add or remove filters. We can explore the results by demographics, page likes, location and activity.
Demographic audience insights
Demographic insights will tell you the age and gender breakdown of your audience. You can also see the relationship status of your audience and education level.
This shows us the top content categories our audience is likely to engage with and even within these categories the most popular pages.
We can use this information to develop messaging and content that is more likely to resonate with our audience.
This tells us geographically where our audience is most likely to be located.
The activity tab tells us what kind of activities our audience is likely to perform on Facebook and how the audience is likely to access Facebook.
How can B2B sales and marketing use Facebook audience insights for marketing and lead generation?
As B2B marketers we often think about the companies we need to target, but rarely the individual decision maker. Facebook gives us access to the individual demographic information we may not have had access to previously.
How useful is this information in a B2B context? Very. Let’s say we wanted to target the influencers of a purchasing decision. We can see the pages & content our audience engages with to refine our messaging. We can also see the physical geographic location of our audience, which means we can optimise our media spend for those geographies.
Facebook Audience Insights gives us access to a level of information that would have cost a lot to obtain in the past. B2B marketers should be using this information to better understand their audience and market.
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