A Strategic Approach To Facebook Marketing for B2B Brands

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I am often asked the question about whether marketing on Facebook is a necessary or appropriate channel for B2B brands and companies to include in their marketing mix.

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Facebook is a channel much like LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter but with some of the highest penetration of users. According to Facebook, there are over 1.5 billion active users, an increase of 23% more from March 2012.  In marketing, you have to fish where the fish are and suffice to say, there are fish on Facebook.

The notion that Facebook is for kids is now laughable, as 29.7% of Facebook users are between the ages of 25-34, and the over 55’s are the fastest growing user group today.

For B2C companies, Facebook marketing has always been a no-brainer for reach and branding, and it is no surprise that companies with large traditional above the line advertising budgets see the greatest volume of fans on their Facebook pages.

From a B2B stand point, it is often debated as to whether a company should devote time and energy to Facebook marketing. In my opinion, absolutely. Firstly for the reason I stated above – the fish are there. Facebook does have a much less formal atmosphere than LinkedIn and I liken the vibe to that of a company barbecue where clients, the competition, and employees are invited and the world is sharing the park with you. You skip the whiteboard and org charts, swap ties for Converse and personal brand t-shirts, and instead of hard line sales messages, demonstrate that you are great people to work with, that you are part of the greater world as a business (corporate social responsibility and values), and you do so in a human voice over brand-speak.  You play a little touch football, let the dogs run loose and check out each other broods.

Like that barbecue in the park, your customers can walk right up to you and tell you what they think, or ask a question without the barriers of call deflection and automation, gate keepers, and intimidation.

On Facebook, everyone is a person and at the end of the day, all business is B2P – Business to People. 

The biggest concern beyond the appropriateness of message on Facebook for B2B brands is demonstrating ROI. If your social media is not delivering return on investment — creating inbound inquiries, generating leads for which sales people can nurture, don’t blame the channel – BLAME THE MARKETER!

Most marketers have no idea how to move a LIKE to a LEAD from the Facebook platform. In our practice of inbound marketing we refer to this as having a leaky sales funnel.  If your timeline does not have succinct calls to action wherein a fan can take an action step that brings them one step closer to becoming a customer or client, rethink the initiative. We love cats just as much as any other internet meme, but we don’t work for cats.

Ok, so how do you fix a leaky funnel that is occurring in your Facebook timeline and within your Facebook channel marketing and create a path towards conversion?

Step 1:  Determine what your fans are there for. Are they already customers and look for more engagement? Are they prospects? Are they employees? Are they competitors?

By underpinning your social channel assets like your Facebook Fan Page, Twitter Account, Youtube account with a social CRM using tools such as Shoutlet you can tag and segment users by comparing them to your CRM data in a simple .csv export and Excel merge by email address. Do the same with employee names. Then in Shoutlet, apply tags to those who are prospects, employees and customers. Each wants to be engaged in different ways.

Step 2: Determine what is your potential customers pain point. What questions are they asking or seeking answers for on your page?  You can simply ask them or post daily fun polls. Use insights gathered to craft content that is purposely prepared.

Step 3: Lead your prospect into your sales funnel using a Facebook engagement widget in your timeline posts. A Facebook Engagement widget is a two way exchange where your prospect takes a desired step towards your CRM (provides their email address as an intent to become educated) to download or watch a relevant piece of content that addresses their pain point.  For example, if you are a tax accountant, you could make a simple recording with 5 tips on reducing capital gains tax. In order to view this quick video or download the quick reference guide,  your Facebook fan would have to provide their email address. There you have it — expressed intention and a step towards you. If you’d like more information on how we can create Facebook Engagement Widgets to help convert your fans to intentioned visitors, click here.

Step 4: Follow those interested folk up. Once someone has downloaded or watched something that was relevant to your business and highly topical to their needs follow them up with a thank you and offer them another piece of “digital candy” from your content lolli-bags.

More and more companies are wishing their digital presence was more sales enabled and we find ourselves building more hard landing pages and conversion points into our web development projects.  Content objects of desire that show that a prospect is self educating would include things like product specification forms in .pdfs, how to install checklists, How-To Use the product videos, case studies, etc. Planning a content strategy that is aligned to digital, mobile and social channels such as Facebook are essential to holistic marketing execution. Remember, there is no excuse for lazy marketing as our online communities expect us entertain, educate, and inform. Marketing your B2B product or service on Facebook can be done effectively provided the message and platform are congruent. Think celebration and curation instead of campaign and put your customers at the heart of your activities.

This post was created by +Stephenie Rodriguez, Chief Enabling Officer. Follow her on Twitter @digitalgodess or on Google+ as http://www.google.com/+stephenierodriguez