Leyl Master Black is a Managing Director at Sparkpr, one of the world’s top independent PR agencies. Leyl has more than 15 years experience driving high-impact communications programs for emerging technology companies.
A couple of months ago, we talked about ways to engage your fan base on Facebook. Several readers asked how B2B companies could take advantage of the tips we shared, and I know that some organizations are still wondering if it even makes sense to try to reach a business audience on Facebook ().
In my view, Facebook presents a unique opportunity to connect with and educate your target market in a way that your website and even your blog can’t match. The trick is coming up with meaningful content that people will want to share, and that brings them back again and again.
Here are some tips for creating a powerful presence on Facebook that will engage a business audience.
1. Become an Industry Resource
Whatever business you’re in, chances are that you’re keeping up with industry news and maybe even writing about it on your blog. You’re likely running educational webinars or speaking at industry conferences. You’re also engaging with customers, helping to solve their business problems and maybe even documenting the process with case studies. This means that you probably already have a large number of resources to share. Why not funnel this content onto Facebook and make your Page the go-to place for insights and information on your particular industry?
A good example of this approach is 360i, an award-winning digital marketing agency. Tapping the deep expertise of its team, 360i keeps its Facebook Page updated with industry insights on topics that matter to the brand marketing audience, such as how businesses are taking advantage of Google Places or new trends with Foursquare.
The 360i team showcases industry research and reviews cool new technologies that marketers can use in their programs. They post a weekly summary of all the important industry news, and provide readers with astute commentary that puts the news into context. In short, they’ve positioned themselves as experts in digital marketing and become a valuable resource for their target audience on Facebook.
2. Engage the Community
In the past, your customers may have had little interaction with each other, and the outside world could only see a list of customers on your website (if you put them there). As a marketer, you wouldn’t know what all your customers were doing with your products, or even how to reach them.
Now, you can use Facebook to engage directly with your customers and make them part of your marketing efforts. For example, you can ask customers to share their successes on your wall and get feedback on new product features. You can encourage them to recognize great service people and reward them for their input with a discount or other promotion. You can also solicit customer references for case studies and media opportunities and find out who’s doing something innovative with your product.
BigCommerce, a company that offers e-commerce shopping cart software, routinely reaches out to its Facebook fan base to identify reference customers and uncover interesting use cases for the media. For example, when the company wanted to promote the success of its recently launched Facebook shopping application, they simply posted a query on their page asking which customers had seen a boost in sales from the application and who would be willing to talk to the media. Within 24 hours, the company had generated fifteen new customer references and were able to immediately turn this information into media coverage.
3. Expand Beyond Your Wall
There are now a host of different applications for Facebook that let you do more than post on your wall. If you’re selling B2B products online, you can set up a shopping tab on your page to drive traffic to your e-commerce site and encourage viral sharing of your products. Get Satisfaction (), a popular social CRM and customer support platform, recently launched a Facebook version of its application so your customers can ask questions and get support right on your Facebook Page.
You can also set up a promotions tab using Fan Appz to offer special deals to your Facebook fans and even use these deals to support lead generation programs. For example, if you sell software licenses, you could offer a 20% discount on the annual fee for people who enter the promotion code at an upcoming webinar or bring the coupon to your booth at a conference.
4. Lighten Up
While many of us use Facebook in our day-to-day business, the vast majority are usually there to have fun and engage with friends. So no matter how serious your product is, inject some humor and levity into your page.
For example, if you’re selling enterprise security software, why not do a poll where people rate the most evil tech baddies in films like Hackers and The Terminator? If you’re a marketing agency, you could do a “Which Mad Men Character Are You?” quiz that assigns users an identity based on their answers, which can then be shared with their friends. Just keep it relevant to your industry and safe-for-work.
And even if your website needs to stay “all business,” Facebook is where you can give a face and personality to the company. You could do an “employee of the month” feature on the page where you profile someone who’s making a big difference at the company or who achieved a significant milestone. Include photos or even a short video.
You can highlight what the company or employees are doing in the community or in support of a particular cause, which has the added benefit of putting the weight of your fan base behind these efforts. You can also consider posting behind-the-scenes photos of engineers hard at work on the next product release, or a smiling customer service rep on the phone with a client. All of these ideas will help your fans make a stronger and more personal connection with your company.
These are just a few examples of how companies can use Facebook to engage with B2B customers, and I’m sure there are many more out there. If you’re using Facebook to market to other businesses, I’d love to hear what else has worked for you!