Let’s clarify the B2B concerns around investing our time and targeting in Facebook.
Ahh, Facebook. So big—over 500 million users and counting—and yet so small in terms of what it offers B2B marketers. Or is it?
The answer is mainly a matter of opinion and case-by-case analysis rather than the outcome of solid research. Like every social media investment choice, “It depends.”
Yes, we can refer to reports like the Global Social Media Check-up 2010 by PR firm Burson-Marsteller, which notes that 54% of the Fortune 100 companies have at least one Facebook fan page—but how should that high-profile participation influence our own decisions about whether to invest time and attention in maintaining (or helping a client establish) an outpost on Facebook?
Here are some pros and cons to help you weigh the Facebook factors.
Facebook can help you if…
- Your customers are actively consuming information on products and services like yours there. In that case, you may want to establish a presence with a fan page and keep it active with content and updated information. You might also consider advertising on Facebook to target customers with interests related to your products or services.
- You’re a crossover brand, with a foot each in B2B and B2C. If there’s one Facebook fact everyone seems to agree on, it’s that Facebook is a mighty consumer platform. If you’re going to establish a presence for your B2C arm, it may make sense to add and maintain a presence for the business side as well.
- You just want to listen. Monitoring references to your brand on Facebook may or may not be effective for you…I tend to think Twitter is the better platform for this. But keeping up with references to your brand on Facebook can be integrated with your other social-media monitoring activities and is not a huge extra investment.
- Attracting user-based content is part of your strategy. If you want to your target audience to share photos, videos or experiences related to your product or service as part of a campaign, a Facebook fan page can be a relatively simple and accessible aggregator and/or promoter of such content.
Facebook won’t help you if…
- Your target audience doesn’t research your type of product or service there. This is the best reason to leave it alone. To mangle Marshall MacLuhan’s famous proclamation: “The social media platform is the message.” If your targets don’t consider your brand to be aligned with Facebook’s, your fan page will seem like the suited-and-booted dad who suddenly starts wearing skinny jeans. No one will want to look at you!
- You can’t commit the resources to keep your presence active. This means refreshing content at least weekly, monitoring and responding to comments and posts daily, and monitoring mention of your brand on Facebook generally. Of course, you can feed atomized content into your fan page, but it should be optimized for your Facebook audience. Just don’t let anyone persuade you that Facebook is an easy no-maintenance option. An empty fan page is worse than none.
If all else fails (or confuses!) you, let “Connecting and engaging with your prospects where they consume information” be your golden rule for any social media platform participation. My gut feeling is that Facebook is not to be ignored, but needs careful consideration (based on the factors noted above) to be successful in B2b demand generation.
If you’ve used Facebook for B2B marketing purposes of any kind, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!