5 Ways for B2B Companies to Engage on Facebook

Recently, I looked at 5 Ways for B2B Companies to Engage on Twitter. If the micro-blogging tool is often cited as a social media marketer’s golden child, Facebook may just as often be considered the red-headed stepchild. Jeff’s post Facebook is Doing it Wrong for B2B Companies touches on many of the ways Facebook is ignoring marketers’ needs, in addition to its shaky privacy policies and recently ill-received Places launch.

However, Facebook has more than 500 million reasons for B2B companies to create and foster an interactive, informative community for employees, partners, customers, retailers and distributors. Here’s a starter kit for B2B companies to better engage on Facebook:

1. Original Content and Industry Content

The design principle “Keep it simple, stupid” also applies to content you’re already spending time to create. Have a newsletter, magazine, newsroom or blog? Repurpose that information on Facebook, making sure it’s relevant and interesting to this particular community. Take advantage of the Facebook status update’s 420-character limit, but keep your Twitter hat on and be concise.

Consider these types of posts reflections of your blog and Twitter editorial calendars, and find them in similar ways: Make sure your feed reader is full of relevant industry blogs and sites, and curate helpful Twitter lists and hashtag/keyword searches.

2. Questions

Sometimes, all you have to do is ask. There’s a reason many Social Media B2B blog posts end with a question – a call to action is a simple thing that often goes forgotten. Make it a habit to end status updates by asking your followers what think about a particular article, industry trend or new product.

On the lighter side, use questions as a conversation starter. Fun topics such as company or industry “Did you know…?” trivia or even a simple “Good morning! What did you do this weekend?” can go a long way to making your Facebook page a community destination instead of a promotional content dump. People enjoy talking about themselves and their experiences – let them do it on your page and learn from what they tell you.

If you’re asking your Facebook followers for feedback, remember it’s a two-way street. Be sure to check back often to reply to others’ questions and be part of the conversation yourself.

3. Photos and Videos

There are many applications such as TwitPic and TwitVid that facilitate the addition of photos and videos on Twitter updates. Facebook, however, gets a leg up on those tools’ shortened URLs by putting photos and videos straight into Facebook users’ news feeds. Photos and videos are welcome breaks from text-heavy status updates, and let businesses tell their stories with images and sound.

Take advantage of the provided status update space to give background on these types of media, and start dialogue by asking followers their thoughts, reactions and favorites.

4. Behind-the-scenes and VIP Info

People “Like” Facebook pages to have another way to track their favorites brands, products, people and places. Make your company’s Facebook updates stand out by offering up valuable information and interactions they won’t find anywhere else, such as behind-the-scenes photos, sneak-peek product announcements and Facebook-only contests.

Be careful with Facebook promotions, however. Facebook updated its promotions guidelines at the end of 2009 to better regulate contests held and promoted on its site. Here are a few things to keep in mind: You can’t make contest entrants perform any other action on Facebook other than “Liking” your page; be mindful how you frame Facebook and its images in the contest; and, as always, pay attention to local and national promotion rules. See the full guidelines straight from Facebook here, or check out this post on the Inside Facebook blog.

5. Tagging

Similar to Twitter’s “@ mention,” Facebook allows fan pages to tag other people and pages in status updates. This comes in handy when status updates touch on key partners and demographics such as trade media, associations and trade shows. For example, if you post an interview Trade Magazine Weekly did with your company’s CEO, include a short status update intro above the link that mentions the media outlet. This will show up on the outlet’s Facebook page Wall and will be visible to everyone who visits its page.

Similarly, when other people and pages tag your business, it will appear on your page’s wall. These posts break up your page’s usual stream of content, and show that others find your Facebook page (and company) worthy of a mention. Boost these types of mentions by regularly tagging others yourself, and asking employees, partners and followers to tag you in their posts.

How is your B2B company engaging with your Facebook community?

Comments

  1. says

    Karlie, thanks for a great article. I love finding articles that have to do with social media for B2B companies, since many focus on the huge consumer brands.

    I think our company will have to experiment with #5, but I definitely see how it will help. Our Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/glidewelldental) has been slowly growing in terms of likers, and I’m excited to start experimenting with it more. That’s one thing I love about Facebook — if some ‘strategy’ isn’t working, all you have to do is try something else until you find what works… basically for free!

    Thanks again!

  2. says

    Being active and engaging on your page is critical to its success. Engaging with questions, interesting articles, anything that adds value and interest are good ways to engage. Always try something, never be stagnant.

  3. says

    Great ideas thanks. We operate a Small Business and Technology Development Center through a University in rural northeast and North-Central Arkansas. We are constantly trying to help our B2B small businesses find ways to engage with social media with some hesitation am going to send this article to them AND since we are B2B’ers as well like a number of the ideas we can incorporate. Thanks

  4. says

    Melanie – glad it was helpful! I’ve also found it best to play around to see what works for your specific page in terms of update frequency, timing of updates, content, etc. It definitely takes time.

    Nick – I think we underestimate the power of questions and calls to action on Facebook. Thanks for commenting!

    Herb – I hope this will be a good resource for them, and for you!

  5. says

    Karlie,
    Thanks for the great article. I feel companies are having a hard time with Facebook. What they don’t realize is that it takes commitment and consistency to build your following on FB.

    #4 & #5 are especially great tips. If you are not sure what pictures to add to your site, use pictures from networking events, trade shows or any other event where you represented your business!

  6. says

    Nice post, Karlie!

    Asking interesting questions certainly helps to drive engagement, but there’s another reason why this tactic is so important. More Likes and comments to a post makes it more likely that that update — and subsequent updates — will actually show up in fans’ News Feeds, making it even more likely that MORE fans will come to the Page and interact, etc.

    Two other suggestions that you might add to your list:
    1) A visually friendly custom landing tab that non-fans will first land on that includes a really obvious call to action to Like the Page. I like the one that TOMS Shoes uses, for example. Check the “Wecome” tab here: http://www.facebook.com/tomsshoes

    2) Run Facebook Ads to recruit new fans to your Page and/or to drive current fans to take a particular action.

  7. says

    Thanks !
    facebook is trying many new directions and sometimes it makes it hard to follow but its importance to business keeps growing.
    Nice of you to focus on this

  8. says

    Good post and the comments add value as well. Facebook offers B2B many opportunities to connect and engage with customers and prospects and your suggestions are exactly right. We sometimes forget that people within the B2B space are also just people who may be interested in the “other side” of a business. A business can use Facebook to show human interest aspects, celebrate employee accomplishments and contributions to its local community, for example. While these are not necessarily requirements for a B2B relationship they do get noticed and commented on and help to build a more rounded picture.

  9. says

    Great article, but I feel like it is similar to what I read about the big consumer brands as well.

    I have two questions:

    1. Are people on Facebook in a B2B frame of mind? Is there really an opportunity to engage them?

    2. Is anyone really monetizing their Social Media strategy? Do all of these likes and effort lead to sales?

  10. says

    There are some great points here, thanks.

    Our challenge is we are several steps removed form the actual buyer of our product. We supply product to distributors who fulfill the needs of their customers. The distributor customers are the people who may specify or help the retail customer select our product category. We are trying to use Facebook to create interest and have retail and or professionals ask for our product. We will supply free samples to industry professionals to aid them in sell our product. We are seeing a very slow development with Facebook. I have been advised by others that many designers reside on Twitter and I need to dig deeper there at the same time.

  11. says

    Nice post, Karlie!
    I think that you hit it on the head. Most businesses are skeptical as to what Facebook can help them. They do understand that B2C find help but B2B not as much.
    Original content, questions, and more can make a difference for the B2B marketer.
    Gary E. Haffer

  12. says

    Thanks for sharing your hints and tips, I would have closed this blog with highlighting that it takes patience, resource, planning and time to make your B2B Facebook presence standout. You really must think what’s in it for the B2B buyer to engage with you on Facebook rather than in industry blogs, Twitter or one of the many business social networks or even the long established industry communities. Larger organisations may have the time and resource to invest in Facebook, but SMBs may just find it too time consuming and distracting to drive any real business benefit.

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