Do B2B Companies Really Need to Be on Facebook?

b2b-facebookMany B2B companies start their social media efforts by gravitating to the large, common platforms and setting up profiles. Step 1: Twitter. Step 2: Facebook. Step 3: LinkedIn. And once these boxes are checked, they struggle to find the right content to post to each of these platforms. And marketers wonder if they should even be on all these platforms, especially Facebook, as organic reach has deteriorated.

This approach ignores several important marketing questions that B2B marketers should be asking about Facebook.

1. What are you trying to accomplish with social media?

B2B companies need to use these social media platforms to achieve higher level business goals that others in the organization are tracking and supporting. Note that I said business goals, not social media goals. Getting more followers is not a business goal. Increasing sales is a business goal. Increasing the number of leads from online sources, especially social media, is a way to track success against that goal. Make sure you have properly framed social media in a business context to evaluate Facebook as an appropriate platform.

2. Are your customers on Facebook?

This is a critical question in evaluating the platform, but you have to do so in a business context. Even though 71% of online adults are on Facebook, many B2B buyers may not use Facebook during the day or like Business Pages. While there are B2B companies that have large followings on Facebook and have generated traffic and leads, if you are struggling to build an audience there, you may be chasing shadows. And even if you do get people to like your Page, if they don’t engage with your content, Facebook is less likely to display it in their newsfeed.

3. Are you able to provide value to customers and prospects through your content?

If you are creating content to educate, inform and entertain customers and prospects, that is the first step. If you see that your content is being downloaded and shared on any platform, then you know that the content is appropriate for your audience. At any point during this evaluation process, you can ask select customers or prospects about the value of your content. It is easy to make a list of the topics you think would connect with your audience and would drive action, but without direct feedback, it’s possible to miss the mark. And don’t survey them, ask them.

4. How do you reach them without advertising?

Facebook only shows the most interesting posts in the newsfeed, as determined by its algorithm. Interesting is defined as posts that people will interact with (like, comment, share, click). You need to use as many off-Facebook techniques to get people to interact with your content so Facebook will show them more of it. If you get good engagement on Twitter, then post exclusive content on Facebook and use Twitter to drive traffic to it. People need to know what’s there and to like it so they will see future posts. And don’t forget email signatures, newsletters and phone conversations. “We just posted this really fun picture of the sales team on our Facebook Page. You should like it.”

5. Can a B2B company quit Facebook?

And now the biggest question of all. What if your customers really are not on Facebook in a business context, those that are don’t engage with your content, Facebook doesn’t show your updates to many people who like your Page, and you just can’t justify advertising to increase reach, can you really delete your Page and leave Facebook altogether? Do your customers expect you to be on Facebook? Is there a stigma attached to not being on Facebook? If Twitter or LinkedIn are working for you, driving traffic and leads, and otherwise serving your business and its goals, and Facebook is not, it is time to leave. If you have tried everything and it’s only getting worse, you can go. There is more of an expectation for B2B companies to be on Twitter than Facebook. And when you leave Facebook, write a blog post about all your efforts and share the numbers of your lack of success. Nobody will fault you for dedicating your resources to platforms that have business value. One final thing to consider before leaving: It makes some sense to keep the Page alive, but not active, to keep the custom Facebook URL. If you do this, post a note on the Page where people can find you and your current content.

If you have Facebook success stories about your B2B company, please share it in the comments below, especially if you have turned around a low-performing page.

Top 10 B2B Social Media Posts of 2011

When I was reviewing the most viewed B2B social media posts of 2011 I had two choices. The first was to just pull the top 10 posts by number of page views no matter when they were published, while the other choice was to feature the top 10 posts that were published in 2011. I went with the first version for two reasons. The first is that there are always new readers to this site, and there is value in sharing old posts. Even if the stats are outdated, the lessons and ideas are still relevant today.

The other reason for including the most viewed posts, no matter when they were published, is to share the lesson of the long tail and the benefit of continued traffic to well-titled posts. The oldest post still draws traffic for the terms B2B and Facebook. Because this shows our site as an authority on this topic, other posts about B2B and Facebook have drawn traffic over time. As social cues become more important to search, and more traffic comes from social media, the long tail of search becomes less important for old posts.

One way to test this for your posts is to update the content to make it more relevant to today, without changing the URL address or the post title. If it still draws consistent traffic, then your audience continues to find your content through search.

Here are the most viewed posts in 2011 on SocialMediaB2B.com:

2009
[Updated] 10 Examples of B2B Facebook Fan Pages (December)

2010
7 B2B Social Media Tools You Haven’t Heard Of (April)

28 Awesome B2B Social Media Statistics (August)

10 B2B Social Media Case Studies and Examples (September)

5 Ways for B2B Companies to Engage on Facebook (September)

11 Predictions for B2B Social Media in 2011 (December)

2011
Top 10 B2B Companies on Twitter (January)

8 B2B Facebook Landing Pages (April)

Study: 93% of B2B Marketers Use Social Media Marketing (April)

75 of the Best B2B Facebook Marketing Tips (June)