Today's blog post is written by Ivan Serrano, a journalist from San Jose, California. He focuses on business, social media and marketing when writing, and photography and sports during his free time.
Who in their right mind would consider Facebook for B2B? The answer to that question may surprise you. Some of the brands successfully using Facebook for B2B marketing are large multinational corporations that most B2B marketers would never associate with Facebook. And yet they are there and they are leveraging the Facebook experience to their advantage. A few of the brands you can find finding success on Facebook include the likes of Maersk, the Danish shipping company, SAP, the European multinational software company, AGCO, the global agriculture manufacturing company, Screwfix, the UK-based multi-channel supplier of trade tools and hardware products.
All these companies are using Facebook to increase both revenue and customer engagement, both of which are KPIs for growth. What are they doing right in the face of such prevalent negative opinions about the suitability of Facebook for B2B? First, let’s look at the how, then let’s look at the why, and finally, at what it takes for a B2B firm to be successful on Facebook.
Part of an overall social media strategy
First and foremost, Facebook is just part of an overall social media strategy. No single social media platform is going to do it all for anyone. A social media strategy starts with a clear understanding of a brand’s target market and from there, an understanding of which segments of the target market are frequenting the different social media channels. Savvy brands are finding out that they have people on all the social media networks.
Business is personal
Buyers are still people. Whether someone is a volume purchaser in the purchasing department of a mega-corporation or an executive vice-president dictating purchasing policy, they are all still people. Marketers must reach them where they are, not where the marketer wants them to be. And, the truth is, despite the fact that many of these people are at work more than forty hours per week, they are not, in fact working all that time. And, when you consider too, that many of them probably spend as many waking hours away from work as they do actually working, a social media strategy that include Facebook suddenly makes sense.
Landing page to link back to your site
At least one Facebook page (some of the brands mentioned above have more than a few) that serves as a “landing page” with content that links back to your corporate website makes a lot of sense. Couple that with the opportunity to engage with interested Facebook users in the environment they find comfortable, and you’ve got the beginnings of justification for having a presence on Facebook.
Facebook search is independent of Google
Let’s face it, or should we just go ahead and say “Facebook it?” Google has dominated search for almost two decades, but it’s search business is declining. This is due to people being able to perform many of their searches from within apps. The fact that Amazon and Facebook, are independent of Google means that huge segments of active online users can find what they are looking for without ever thinking about Google. So what if your brand has a major news event and your company doesn’t have a Facebook page? The question you need to answer is this: Do you really want 1.3 billion Facebook users to be looking for your story and not finding it on Facebook?
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Now, let’s look at why Facebook could work for you.
The shared-economy effect
Facebook users are sharers. Sure, they do a lot of “liking,” but they also do a lot of sharing. When there’s a ‘whole lotta sharin’ goin’ on” your marketing efforts don’t actually have to reach your target market. You can count on someone to know someone who sees what your brand is saying, and because they know someone who is interested in what your brand is saying, they will share it. Count on it.
The shear numbers
1.3 billion is a significant chunk of the world’s population. Do you really think some of your target market, maybe even a significant portion of it, isn’t in there somewhere?
You scratch my back...
Social media seems like a flat universe, but that impression could not be further from the truth. There are companies and people on Facebook (an other platforms) who are already engaged with the people you want to reach. Find out who they are and then find a way to work together.
Mix pleasure with business
Most social media is about having fun. People want a break from the grind. That’s why brands have such a hard time on platforms like Facebook. The brands comes online with a pushy, product-based message that just turns people off, because that’s not why they are there in the first place. Lighten up and show people you can have some fun, too. That’s when they will start inviting you over to their place online and you’ll really have a chance to connect.
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Now, let’s look at what you can do to make the Facebook dynamic work for you.
Once upon a time-
People love stories. Craft your content to tell stories. Make the heroes relatable to Facebook users, and make your villains the obstacles that people struggle against in their lives. Tell stories that show regular people, like the people on Facebook, winning in their struggles using your products or services.
And the punch line is...
People love to laugh. Tell jokes. Tell funny stories. Make fun of yourself in ways that make your brand more relatable.
Purr and woof-
People love animals. Include photos of animals in your product shots. Then, tag those animals with captions and hashtags so they will show up in searches. You can leverage those animal memes to your advantage.
People love food. It has been a persistent theme for humans since day one. Don’t ever ignore the opportunity to relate to people with food. Remember that old adage about the way to a man’s heart? It works for women, too.
Facebook may never be at the top of the list for B2B social platforms. In fact, it is much likelier to show up at the bottom of just about any B2B marketer’s list of social media priorities. Not only is Facebook basically a consumer platform, it is not considered as friendly to brands as other platforms. However, that doesn’t mean B2B brands can’t find success on Facebook. Brands are doing it every day, and Facebook is having an impact on net income for them.
Social media is a persistent, ongoing experiment. What works this year may not work next year. The platform that is your hotspot could cool significantly from season to season, like the onset of winter in Siberia. The only way to be sure is to keep the social media fires going and to always have an iron in the fire. This includes Facebook.
Don’t believe all the nay sayers. There will always be people who will tell you, “that will never work.” Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, and Bill Gates probably heard that line plenty of times. You may feel like you are defying the odds, but ultimately, that’s the only way to make a real difference. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is results.
Facebook could turn out to be your cup of tea.