Facebook for B2B branding: all or nothing?

Wednesday, 16 January 2013 09:34

There are plenty of social media buzz words flying around the marketing community at the moment. You hear people talk about ‘encouraging engagement’ and ‘building stakeholder relationships’ and ‘starting online conversations’. And you might be thinking to yourself ‘sure, Facebook makes sense for marketers who want to accumulate fans based on a shared passion for chocolate milk or holidays to Bora Bora, but what can Facebook do for my B2B IT business?’

The answer? Plenty, and for three simple reasons:

  • Facebook has over 800 million active users. Like it or not, your audience is there. CEOs are viewing photos of their grandchildren and senior managers are scheduling after-work drinks with their friends. They may not be using it as a corporate tool, but Facebook is where your potential customers are hanging out.
  • It’s a channel for expanding your online presence. It’s not that Facebook should be the only social media platform you use for your business, but Facebook can be a channel for sharing your YouTube videos, sharing website content and for spreading the word about your latest blog post. One extra channel can only improve your chances of being found and engaged with online.
  • It captures feedback about your products and services. The old adage ‘I’d rather you said it to my face than behind my back’ has never been more true and Facebook can help make you aware of what people are saying about your business. More importantly, it can also give you the opportunity to respond to feedback, both negative and positive.

The big names of B2B, like PwC, Michael Page and Fuji Xerox, are all making Facebook work for their businesses. It is the medium-sized B2B organisations that seem to be struggling to get involved.

The beauty of Facebook is that it’s not an all-or-nothing medium. If you don’t have the resources to manage a full-time Facebook presence there are still ways that you can capitalise on what Facebook has to offer.

Three levels of involvement with Facebook include :

Dipping your toe in the water: adding Facebook shares to your blog posts or interesting pages on your website

If you don’t have the resources to invest in a full Facebook page, or if your legal team is still saying ‘no’, you can still invite your audience to share your content via Facebook. That amazing blog post or whitepaper? Or that page on your website that boldly announces your new product range? Make sure you have a Facebook ‘share’ button on the page and give your website visitors the chance to share your brilliant content with their online community of friends and colleagues.

But be careful – don’t give visitors too many choices. If you have share buttons to twenty social media sites at the bottom of every blog post or web page your audience will get overwhelmed and will not share your content at all. Try to choose three or four channels and leave it at that. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are common choices.

Wading in waist-deep: using Facebook advertising to reach your audience

If you are feeling a little more confident and are prepare to push the boundaries a little further, Facebook advertising might be the right choice for you.

There are many benefits of Facebook advertising: it is extremely easy to target your audience by demographics including age, gender, location, interests and even relationship status; it is easy to test ads and make changes in response to what is working and what is not working; you can set and manage your budget quickly and regularly and choose whether you want to pay for cost per thousand or cost per click; and it’s measurable – you can tell how many people have viewed your ad, clicked on your ad, what times of day your ad is being triggered and more.

Think creatively about how you promote your brand or product on Facebook and make sure your advertisement has a strong offer or call to action. You could promote your new ebook, upcoming event or competition and drive click-throughs to your non-Facebook website.

If you are thinking about combining Facebook advertising with a full-blown Facebook page the results can be even stronger. New Facebook Premium ads allow you to integrate your newsfeed content with your advertising for even stronger results.

The third level of involvement with Facebook is taking a deep breath and diving right in. Think you are ready? Next week we’ll give you six quick tips to help you get started.

It can definitely be challenging for medium-sized organisations to commit the resources to a dedicated Facebook presence, especially without being able to clearly demonstrate ROI. By experimenting with Facebook shares and Facebook advertising you can determine the success of Facebook as a medium for your business before committing the resources to a full Facebook page.