Why Some B2B Marketers Should Not Use Facebook
Facebook Marketing for B2B Businesses Not Always a Fit
I teach a full day workshop on Facebook for Marketers through the American Marketing Association. One of the topics we discuss is the use case for B2B Facebook marketers compared to B2C marketers. Below is a point-counter-point discussion between me and Gerry Praysman of Brainshark on this topic. I’ve excerpted key points from his blog post Does Facebook Make Sense for a B2B Business?
Gerry: A lot of people start by asking, “Does Facebook make sense for a B2B business?” I admire the desire to get straight to the point but with all due respect, it’s the completely wrong question. If I were to ask you what your company does, how it makes money, who your customers are, what your sales cycle looks like, the extent of your human and financial resources, and most importantly what your business goals are, would your entire response be: “We’re B2B?”
Bernie: Interesting point. But, the question is still valid. Boeing is a B2B company that sells airplanes and related aeronautic products. I don’t find a Facebook page for Boeing. Perhaps they’ve determined their customers don’t care to engage with their content on Facebook?
Gerry: You need to turn that question inside out and determine what it is you’re really trying to accomplish with your overall marketing strategy, how social media in general fits into that mix, and then determine if Facebook helps satisfy it. The thought-process seems kind of obvious and yet VERY FEW follow it. Understand your specific goals and then vet Facebook for the potential use cases in reaching them.
Bernie: I couldn’t agree with you more! That’s why I’m advocating that businesses stop thinking about social media as social media, but rather focus on their marketing strategy from their customer’s needs perspective. Then, just meet your customer’s needs. If Facebook offers a way to meet their needs, great. If it doesn’t fit that’s okay. In the end it’s always about meeting your customer’s needs.
Gerry: Facebook is a medium where your customers and prospects can potentially join the community represented by your brand and become emotionally associated with it. This drives loyalty, referrals, and both conscious and subconscious recognition.
Bernie: Maybe….Back to the Boeing example, it appears they have decided their customers are not likely to develop loyalty or generate referrals on Facebook. I argue that B2B marketers that sell a complex product to a highly specialized, niche audience (like Boeing) are much less likely to make “emotional” connections with their customers on Facebook.
Gerry: If all you’re doing is auto-posting your blogs and links for the SEO “value,” then no one will develop a connection with you (on Facebook). The most successful Facebook presences I’ve seen care about what the community wants and doesn’t want, provide constant value, and ALWAYS vary their content.
Bernie: I agree, but the benefit you’re describing is much more prevalent in B2C scenarios than in B2B. As mentioned in the previous point, if you can’t develop a community on Facebook because your customers don’t want an emotional connection with you there, there is no community with which to connect.
Gerry: To those who say, “No, don’t use it. It’s a waste of time.” – Are you sure?
Well, you may actually be right. There are other social media avenues such as LinkedIn and Twitter that have traditionally provided more value for B2B marketers. But just because you can’t sell your product or service on Facebook, or use it to directly connect someone to a sales rep (actually you can), it doesn’t mean that it’s a waste of time. Again, it all depends on your goals, but if one of them is to foster a strong online community, you might want to give Facebook another look.
Bernie: I generally agree. But, it comes back to your business goals and where your customers spend time online. On a daily basis, I hear B2B people say that they use LinkedIn for business and Facebook for personal. They go out of their way to say they don’t want business colleagues or business pages connected to them on Facebook. Each B2B business needs to make this assessment uniquely based on their customer’s behavior.
My Closing Thought on B2B Facebook Marketing
I’m not against Facebook for B2B marketers. Find and Convert is a B2B marketer and we have a Facebook page with a fan base that continues to grow (albeit slowly). Our fan base grows based on the content we share on our page. We don’t offer any promotions or “deals” because we know our audience doesn’t want that from us. Our audience wants relevant, informative content about inbound marketing strategies. By providing good content, we build and sustain our relationship with our audience.
Perhaps Boeing could develop a strong connection with consumers through a custom Facebook game? It would be fun to plan trips on my own private Boeing jet equipped with my custom features. I could invite friends to fly with me in my custom jet. It would be like a fantasy lived out on Facebook. While, this idea may be interesting and build consumer loyalty for the Boeing brand, it may not be the best use of Boeing’s resources at this time. Besides, the example I just provided is not a B2B strategy. It’s a B2C strategy targeting the consumer to build loyalty for their product. It’s doubtful it could affect their ability to win major contracts with airlines and Department of Defense projects.
Each B2B marketer should assess their overall marketing strategy and decide the role of each social channel including Facebook. I submit that B2C marketers generally have more opportunity to use Facebook more effectively than many B2B marketers. But, each B2B marketer should uniquely consider Facebook’s potential role in their overall customer communication and engagement strategy, or not.
Are you a B2B marketer using Facebook? Share your experience with Facebook marketing below in the comments area.