Facebook today said it plans to let advertisers target users based on their job titles, welcome news for b-to-b marketers looking to reach prospects on the platform.
The company has previously allowed advertisers to target based on workplace and email addresses, but the new functionality will allow b-to-b marketers to go even further, narrowing campaigns to the specific titles they believe can influence the buying decision.
"This is a shot across LinkedIn's bow," said Russell Glass, CEO of Bizo, the only b-to-b focused partner in Facebook's FBX ad exchange.
LinkedIn, without question, has been the social province of b-to-b marketers, many of whom saw no reason to look outside its walls. But the new functionality might change that dynamic. And it also opens up the door to recruiters, another group of LinkedIn power users.
"Maybe you're a recruiter for a law firm and want to specifically advertise to associate attorneys at law firms in New York," Facebook's blog post says, not shying away from discussing a core part of LinkedIn business. "Now you can. Core Audiences now covers information like workplace and job title, and offers expanded information about education."
Mr. Glass said the move shows that Facebook is confident that it has collected enough job titles to make the service worthwhile to advertisers, but he expressed skepticism that a comprehensive data set really exists. He does not have his job title listed on Facebook, he said, and neither do most of his friends.
Still, Mr. Glass said, Facebook can be an ideal place for b-to-b marketing, as people on the platform usually have some time on their hands and may be more open to useful information should they run into it.
Jason Stein, president of a social media agency Laundry Service, said that doesn't mean typical marketing content will work on Facebook. "It can't just be a hard sale," he said. "There has to be some exchange of value if you really want people to be into it."
Mr. Stein said the new functionality is significant. "It's crucial for a b-to-b marketer. No question about it."
The new targeting options will roll out over the next few weeks, according to a Facebook spokesman.