Originally published in TopRank by Dave Folkens.
Facebook has been a great tool for reaching consumers directly for many B2C brands. But can companies focused in the B2B industry use Facebook to enhance a reputation and grow new business? Absolutely.
Quite a few B2B companies are successfully using Facebook to build important relationships with prospects and customers. If your B2B company is still considering where Facebook might fit within an online marketing mix, here are five tips on building a Facebook fan page that will better support a B2B brand:
1. Create Two Way Conversation – Rather than using Facebook to simply push out news at the audience, spend time understanding the challenges potential customers face. Search online using keywords and monitor other social tools like Twitter to find out current concerns the target audience is facing. Be a resource to potential customers by providing content and insight that will help them alleviate the problems.
After establishing a relationship with fan page followers, encourage them to provide input on the content being shared. Ask questions of followers and use responses to create content that will keep them connected to the brand. eMarketer does a good job at this.
2. Connect a Community – Create opportunities for fans to come together and share positive experiences with each other. Oracle is an example that has built a page providing valuable professional content, news, and fans discuss or share directly on the page.
The best advocates are happy customers already engaged with a B2B company’s product or services. Highlight success stories on the page and let followers see the value provided to similar companies. Should there be a negative comment, which scares many B2B companies, address it with understanding and sincerity. In most cases, transparency and listening go a long way in stemming off negative feedback.
3. Build Relationships – Often times B2B involves a greater commitment than simple retail transactions. Sales cycles can be long and, as the old saying goes, you’re more likely to do business with someone you know. Facebook is a place to let you brand personality shine – let them see who you are. According to a survey by Chadwick Martin Bailey and iModerate, customers are more likely to buy from companies they track via social media. By putting a face to a brand it is possible to position your brand as a resource that will be the first call for that follower when the time comes to make a purchase decision.
4. Cross Promote Content – Use Facebook as an outlet to share interesting content that’s been created elsewhere. B2B companies should consider re-purposing photos and video from promotional materials or industry events. SAP utilizes photos well and has a large number submitted by other users. Brands need to understand that not all contacts are fully engaged with every promotional effort. Don’t assume that if a message has been shared in one channel that it needs to be retired.
Connecting a blog feed to Facebook will increase the likelihood content will reach prospects through another social channel. By connecting and cross-promoting, a B2B blog will reach the walls of current fans and potentially new contacts if that information is shared.
5. Make it Shareable – Content that is interesting or fun will be shared more widely than a bland corporate statement. This applies to companies of any size or customer focus. Providing a list of copy-heavy pages is not going to help reach new targets because nobody is excited to share boring content.
Be creative and understand that humor, visual appeal, and brevity all increase your chances of having your content move through Facebook. Seeking a good example? Look at the creative holiday play from Cisco. A short video can convey a lot about a company and its culture. Companies that create content with sharing in mind are able to extend the reach of content significantly and build memorable connections for potential customers.
Facebook marketing for B2B companies isn’t limited to the mega corporations. At the core, it comes down to building meaningful relationships. If customer focused and creative, B2B companies can reap greater rewards from online marketing than many retails giants in the form of long-term customers.
Be sure to check out TopRank’s Facebook page for news, resources and discussion we don’t cover here on the blog.