It’s certainly conventional wisdom to suggest that companies use a Facebook page as a central component of their social media strategy.
With more than 900 million active users and an impending IPO that’s projected to value the social network close to $100 billion, Facebook is, without question, the king of the social landscape. Edison Research found that 54 percent of Americans 12 and older are on Facebook, compared to 10 percent on Twitter.
Facebook might even be the king of real landscapes, too. According to a report from Forbes’ David Kaplan, real estate values in Silicon Valley have gone from great to borderline ridiculous as home buyers and sellers prepare for the windfall of millionaires the IPO will likely create.
Despite its pervasiveness, many B2B companies look distrustfully at Facebook, thinking that it’s only a B2C playground. Not so. If you commit to participating in Facebook in a viable way, it can pay off for B2B, too. According to Hubspot’s 2012 State of Inbound Marketing Report, 52 percent of B2B companies reported acquiring customers through Facebook in 2011.
But you can’t just dive in and expect instant results. Here are three simple pointers to help B2B brands make the most of their Facebook forays:
1. Get the Timing Right
Regardless of what you sell and which social networks you leverage, prescribing to a regular post volume throughout the week is critical. It creates a sense of consistency and commitment, and betters your chances of acing Facebook’s much-debated EdgeRank algorithm.
Develop an editorial calendar that evenly and strategically spreads out various types of content on Facebook (i.e., blog posts, YouTube videos, surveys, questions, etc.), taking into account your highest periods of fan engagement.
Test weekend posts that don’t require community management oversight or immediate responses. According to research from Argyle Social, B2B organizations experience 30 percent higher engagement rates on Sundays (although your results may vary).
2. Humanize Your Company with Photos
- Brandon Hickie on How to Leverage Facebook as a Sales Tool
- More tips from Jay Baer on Combining Facebook with Email Marketing Efforts
- Facebook ROI: How to Determine What a Facebook ‘Like’ Is Worth to You
Facebook’s recent acquisition of Instagram shows how much the social network values images (and feared Twitter buying Instagram first). B2B companies should love photos, too. Photos provide a fantastic opportunity for B2B businesses to humanize their brands, bringing life to sometimes-faceless organizations.
Make sure you don’t leave visitors guessing who’s who, though. As a rule of thumb, make sure to:
- Take the time to identify names and titles of people in photos, and add context to each picture with a brief description.
- Add summaries to photo albums so that visitors can clearly grasp the “Who, What, When, Where, and Why.”
3. Don’t Forget to Include a Call to Action
While your Facebook goal might be to provide a forum for more authentic engagement with customers and prospects, remember that it can be a lead generation tool, too.
Use posts to redirect traffic to your website or blog, but avoid using tools like dlvr.it to do it — Facebook has a propensity to give less EdgeRank value to content submitted via third-party tools. Additionally, use your Facebook tab application to drive e-mail newsletter subscriptions, or downloads of your premier content like e-books and white papers.
The Bottom Line
The audience breadth on Facebook may always somewhat limit its potential as a B2B opportunity, but increasingly social marketing is Facebook. It cannot be ignored.
In fact, Facebook can be an incredibly useful tool if B2B marketers leverage it correctly. By using a little creativity and showing a little personality, you can strip off the corporate cloak and engage with customers in a way that reminds them that you are, indeed, human.
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth post in a multi-week series on how to effectively leverage social media for your B2B Business. In the previous post, social media coach Mike Sansone outlined 7 Steps to Successful Youtube Marketing. Prior to that, Nate Riggs shared 5 tips for using Twitter to build a groundswell for your startup.