Facebook B2B Targeting Review: Company Size Is Not Reliable

Here’s what happened: we have a client that wants to target companies on Facebook and a factor of their profitability is the number of employees a company has. For a while, we left all company targeting alone and simply let Facebook optimize to whom the ads were shown. Then we decided to try and force Facebook to show our ads to companies with over 10 employees.

The Strategy

To accomplish this, we made 3 changes to our campaign targeting:

  • Actively target both B2B settings that have company size over 10 employees.
  • Actively exclude those with employee counts below 10.
  • Turned off the “Expand Your Targeting” option in our campaigns.

Resulting in our targeting section looking like this:

In theory, this should have resulted in our ads not being shown to folks in those smaller companies. Based on our positive targeting, it also should not have targeted individuals that Facebook did not have a business size for.

Our Findings

We made this change on May 31st at the end of the day for a fairly clear demarcation in performance from May to June.

For this client, when new customers opt in, they indicate the number of employees their company has. Here are the stats from May to June:

Now, here’s another look at those stats grouping the smaller companies that were theoretically excluded from targeting against those larger companies, intended to be the only company sizes targeted:

Overall, our employee count breakdown trended in the right direction, but this certainly isn’t nearly the result we were hoping for. Although we did increase larger company size signups by 2.4 percentage points month over month, it’s still hard to be content with the fact that nearly 55% of signups still came from the company sizes we simply weren’t wanting to target.

How Facebook Determines Company Size

In an effort to better understand how this could happen with targeting, I reached out to a Facebook rep. Here is the response I got:

“These types of audiences are decided on demographics, age, interests shared, apps they use, ads they click, pages they like and other activities on and off Facebook.”

To be totally frank, that’s a bit more of a direct answer than I thought I would get. Unfortunately, it didn’t really make me feel any better about the targeting capabilities here. But if you think about it, there are a couple of reasons why Facebook won’t have a complete understanding of your company size:

  • Not all users on Facebook will indicate their place of work in their profile.
  • Not all companies have a fully fleshed out page that includes their number of employees.
  • Facebook is not counting the number of users on the platform that indicate they were at a given company to come up with a potential company size.

Essentially, Facebook isn’t LinkedIn.

For example, if we look at a company with huge numbers of employees like Target, this is the About section of their Facebook page.

There is simply nothing here to indicate how many people work at the company. The same is true for every other company. Facebook simply doesn’t have a count of their employees.

What Does this Mean for You?

So now that the myth has been busted, what are you to do? Don’t you fret, there are still a number of ways you can adjust your Facebook strategy to try and influence performance by company size. 

Facebook Custom Conversions

For the client I’m referencing above, we have the ability to leverage Facebook custom conversions to fire event conversions based on the company size someone selects during the signup process. We can then leverage that custom conversion action to create columns in the interface to more easily report on our desired metrics. 

If we then change our goal action for each ad set to the conversion action we created above and leave our ad set preferences to Optimize for Conversions, Facebook will (in theory) start to favor those users that look more like the larger company employees.

There can be drawbacks to this strategy if you don’t have enough conversion data to go off of though. In the screenshot above, our data is for the past 7 days, so we’re getting a decent amount of conversions coming through each campaign. If you have low volume for this secondary conversion type, you might be better off skipping this strategy and moving to the next.

Facebook Audience Insights

Based on the custom conversions above, we can easily create an audience of users who converted in this group, meaning they converted and indicated their employee count was over 10. We can then utilize the Facebook Audience Insights tool to better understand these users by reviewing other areas where they belong. Maybe we find that larger employee counts tend to have higher incomes, or lower incomes. Maybe they share a certain level of education or  purchasing behavior. It might not be the silver bullet we were looking for, but this analysis can help improve performance incrementally over time to get us closer to our goal.

Facebook’s Lifetime Value (LTV) Audiences

Facebook recently released Lookalike modeling that includes a lifetime value (LTV) parameter

So for the client listed above, we included their employee count when they signed up for the tool. Since we’re relying on the user to self-report, we’re assuming that the count is fairly accurate, leaning on the side of being more conservative.

Facebook then created a weighted Lookalike audience to find users similar to those in our list, but emphasizes those with larger employee counts (LTV) and suppresses those with lower counts. Ideally, this will result in better performing Lookalike audiences without the utilization of additional targeting parameters.

Use LinkedIn, Then Retarget

If you’re very strict with company size, Facebook probably isn’t the best bet out of the gate. You might be best off utilizing LinkedIn to build audiences, then leveraging your Facebook account (and others) to effectively retarget to these folks after they’ve visited your site. For more on that strategy, check out this post.

Bonus tip: you can later utilize this retargeting audience to create a Lookalike Audience on Facebook that might improve your targeting to have a greater percentage of larger companies.

All in all, Facebook has many, many wonderful qualities when it comes to reaching your target audience for B2C and B2B companies alike. That said, it’s been my experience that their company size targeting leaves a lot to be desired, but there’s still hope. Might be in our best interest to assume company size isn’t easily influenced on Facebook and stick to other indicators of better performance.

How accurate has Facebook B2B targeting been in your experience? What are strategies you’ve found to improve performance? Share with us in the comments!