Did you know that the average Facebook user spends six hours and nine minutes (according to a November 2009 NielsenWire report) every month on the social networking giant? That is triple what the average internet user spends on Google (two hours and thirty four minutes)! So if you are using Google AdWords to reach your market, shouldn’t you be utilizing B2B social media marketing platforms such as Facebook for your business?
The Supplies Guys and Peripheral Visions is here to get your Facebook Page started by showing you how to maximize your time. eMarketer recently surveyed 643 marketers who used Facebook in their B2B social media strategy. The top five most effective tactics used were; Create a survey of fans, Friending recent customers, profiling customers, creating a Facebook application, drive inbound traffic to corporate material and finally buying targeted Facebook CPC ads.
We are going to review for you these B2B social media tactics and several others so that you’ll have solid ideas to how you power your own B2B web marketing objectives. Our first of three posts in this B2B social media series, the one you are currently skimming, will cover ways to find customers and how your Facebook Page can be used to profile your customers. We’ll also go over some basic Facebook Page optimization you can do and provide examples of best practices.
Your B2B social media journey starts when you setup your Facebook Page, populating it with your company information, choosing your publishing and privacy settings and perhaps even uploading a few videos or photo albums. We won’t go into detail about how to set-up your Facebook Page as there are plenty of blog posts out there for this – simply run a search for “Facebook Page Best Practices.” You need to get eyeballs on your Facebook Page, and the more the merrier. Our first suggestion is to let your visitors know that they can and should connect with you on Facebook.
A couple ideas for promoting your Facebook Page include; adding a Facebook URL link within the signatures of your e-mails (company wide), integrating your website with social badges – the Footer is the norm for placement, consider creating a Facebook landing page that describes the benefits of becoming a Fan, or even include a “Connect with us on Facebook” call-to-action in your e-mail newsletters or on receipt pages. Another unique way to use your customers for word of mouth marketing is to utilize the Facebook Sharer application. This function allows Facebook users to share a link through their profile wall. B2B companies can use this feature to promote a coupon code or sale. Simply add this code to your payment confirmation e-mails. When you have a decent following be sure to check out your Facebook Insights. These can be found in your Page’s admin section. Facebook Insights are statistics that anlyze; fan demographics, interaction levels such as engagement and page views and some sentiment analysis.
TOM’s Shoes, provides a “Share this coupon code on Facebook,” call-to-action prominently displayed in their payment confirmation e-mails. Customers partake in a good cause and save their friends money by simply clicking a link, genius.
Now I’ve been asked if there is a way to pro-actively / automatically search for and add customers to your Facebook page, and the short answer is No. As a Facebook Page administrator you can only “Suggest” the Page to friends on your personal account but this is of course limited to whom you are actually friends with. Facebook does not provide an e-mail upload tool for you to locate which of your past customers or those on your e-mail list on Facebook. This was a conscious decision on their part, because if they included this functionality then any organization that had your e-mail address and had a Facebook Page could bombard you with updates and messages.
There is one small hole in the system however, it is in violation with the Facebook community guidelines and user agreement and we do not recommend or sponsor this activity. Your company could create a personal account and use the e-mail tool to add your friends on Facebook. Now Facebook caps the number of friends personal accounts can have (last time I heard this number was at 5,000), so chances are you’ll surpass that number pretty quickly. However the idea is that companies are adding friends to their personal account, and then suggesting they become fans of their Page. Seems pretty confusing to us. We suggest abiding Facebook’s guidelines and growing your Page naturally!
So you have built a solid following of past and current customers, what do you do next? The answer is anything that you can imagine. We would suggest that your message remains consistent with that of others used in B2B web marketing initiatives; however, your Facebook Page provides unique flexibility to communicate with the ones who keep your business alive. In today’s environment it is increasingly important to interact with your target market on social technologies because they are a free* branding tools that aren’t necessarily construed as traditional marketing. FYI, your Page’s status updates are published to your fan’s news feeds, so create content that encourages and invites interaction. Do remember though that Facebook Fan Pages are opt-in, meaning that if your messages become over bearing in either frequency or message (don’t shout at your customers with loud marketing pitches, rather openly talk with them about how you can fulfill their needs). Below you will find several tactics we encourage you to use on your B2B Facebook Page as well as examples of companies who have best utilized these tactics.
Wall & Discussions
The Wall is the default landing section of your Page (which can be changed in your Page admin settings), and is a chronological listing of your Facebook status updates, and subsequently your fan”s comments to your status updates. If permitted your fans themselves could post onto your Wall, making them visible for the Facebook community (and beyond as many Facebook Pages get ranked in Google and Yahoo). In your Page settings you can change the settings as you see fit. It is important to decide whether you will allow your fans to post onto your wall or not. We recommend weighting the costs and benefits of allowing such a practice. However we encourage B2B companies to allow their fans to publish updates directly onto your Page’s Wall. This shows your fans that you are a transparent company, and that you are willing to communicate with them regardless of the message’s tone – improved communication is after all the primary benefit of B2B social media marketing! The Forrester Research group released a 2008 study in their book, Groundswell, that stated 80% of reviews and comments posted about products and companies are positive in sentiment. Even if 20% of your comments are negative, your company along with it’s fans will have the ability to address any and all negative comments. If someone is going to talk poorly about your company wouldn’t you rather it be right under your nose so you have the ability to challenge the claim, rather on a site you aren’t even familiar with?
Sun Microsystems, provides a great example of a company that has a balance of control and interaction on their Wall. By default Fans only see posts from the company, however they do have the option of seeing Fan posts.
iProspect, on the other hand encourages Fans to interact directly on their wall thus maximizing their transparency.
If you want to engage with your customers and provide them with a platform to share their opinion, but don’t want this conversation taking place on your Wall, then Discussions could be your alternative. Discussions is a default application that Facebook enables on your Page. Although this feature is somewhat under utilized, it can be extremely valuable if used correctly. The Discussions tab could be used as a product or customer support forum, or as an area to receive product feedback and if executed correctly you could even use the tab to conduct focus groups with your customers.
SAP, uses the Discussions tab of Facebook to share information, advertise job openings, and provide support. What could your company discuss with it’s customers?
A standard B2B social media tactic for companies to syndicate their corporate blogs onto Facebook so that they can streamline fresh content to their fans. There are two primary ways of adding your blog. The first of which is simply to import your blog feed into the Notes (a default application) section of your Facebook Page and then enabling the option in your Notes Tab. The second option would be to use a third-party application; the most popular being NetworkedBlogs. Use the following link if you want to directly add your blog to Facebook. No matter which application you decide to use, your blog title and a brief snippet of your content will be broadcast to your page’s fans, automatically when you publish a new post on your blog.
Forrester Research, uses the default Notes tab to import their blog feed. This simple tool enables Forreseter research to automatically update their Fans when they post a new blog entry.
Webtrends, has enabled the NetworkedBlogs app on their Facebook Page. Essentially this application functions similar to Facebook’s Note however aesthetically NetworkedBlogs wins.
Multimedia – Video & Photos
US American internet users love their video and photo consumption. comScore estimated that in July of 2009, 158 million internet consumers streamed a total of 21.4 billion videos. Between that fact and given the amount of time Americans are spending on Facebook it should be clear that in order for your B2B social media marketing initiatives to be successful the use of multimedia should be a substantial part of the equation. Stumped on what kind of video or photos to include? Then you are thinking too hard. The best use of multimedia is to show your transparency and enable you to connect with your customers on a more personal level, let me give you an example. Professionally created commercials and promotions are great however; consumers have been viewing these for years. Now is the opportunity to save some money and create content that shows the personal side of your company’s organizational culture and day-to-day happenings. Interview employees, show off the office, tape presentations or speaking engagements, have start a web series with an executive sharing their insight, attempt to create a viral video, maybe even poke fun of yourself throughout the process. After you’ve created some excellent content, Facebook makes it easy to upload content to your Page. Two default applications that Facebook supplies to Pages are the Photo and Video. If you don’t have a desire to upload your content directly to Facebook then there are multiple options for integrating content from other sources, perhaps Flickr (for photos) or YouTube (for video). We’ll discuss these third-party applications in B2B Social Media Marketing – Facebook for Business Part 2.
GoDaddy.com, uses their Video tab to broadcast past commercials and work-life around the office. Their Video tab is primarily used to entertain their fans.
MailChimp.com, makes use of their Video tab by displaying informational material on how their products work and the benefits provided to customers. They also include a couple work-life videos.
GSD&M Idea City, is a great example of a company that maximizes the Facebook Photo app. Their photo albums show off both their work and their employees. Who wouldn’t want to hire these guys?
Another useful B2B social media tactic is to publicize corporate events on Facebook. The Events tab could be particularly useful for; a service provider who will be holding a workshop, a company launching a new B2B promotion or sale, even a raising awareness for a sponsored event such as a “walk for the cure.” Once you create your event, you can then invite your fans to join. Facebook Events is an easy application that nearly all B2B companies could apply. If you are trying to promote your event, it would be wise to set the Events section as your page’s default landing section.
eMarketer, keeps there customers up to day by using their Event tab. They invite their fans to join them at industry seminars and tradeshows (sponsored and un-sponsored). A hyper-local social community, Cbusr.com also does a fantastic job of publicizing fun things to do in Columbus Ohio through their Facebook Page’s events section.
For more advanced and technically savvy B2B marketers, Facebook enables you to customize the design and function of Facebook applications or Pages using the Facebook Markup Launguage. FBML is a modified form of HTML and is the language available for development. Simply add the Static FBML application to your profile and you’ll then be able to customize your Page by creating box or tab. Again this feature can be used as an extension of your website so use your imagaination and create content that you feel would be of benefit and interest to your fans.
Intuit, has created a tab called “Small Business Spot,” which is their default landing section. As you can tell the tab provides three clear call-to-actions for their fans with the objective of pushing them onto their corporate site and into the sales funnel.
Sodexo, on the other hand has set up a Sodexo Careers Page aimed at young professionals. Their “Careers,” tab provides a brief overview to the benefits of working for Sodexo as well as a list of current job openings.
Our second post on Facebook B2B marketing in this series which will cover how you can integrate other B2B social media channels into Facebook, and how surveys can be administered. Then finally our third post will cover B2B Facebook applications and social shopping applications.
To keep up with all of our B2B marketing advice, promotions and updates then connect with us on Facebook.
The Supplies Guys