Are you holding back on Facebook marketing just because you’re in B2B? It’s really only for B2C people, right? Or just for keeping up with friends.
That’s a belief I held for a while. It was reinforced by what felt like a bait and switch when Facebook killed organic reach. And because most everyone in B2B seemed focused on LinkedIn, I figured I could maybe just ignore Facebook.
I had a Facebook page all along, of course. I posted automated updates to it about once a day. Sometimes I might even log in to like a few things. And I had it set up to capture email addresses. But all my real focus was on Twitter and LinkedIn. ‘Cause that’s where B2B people get results, right?
Um … maybe not. In the last year or so I’ve been seeing more and more evidence that Facebook is not just a good idea for B2B marketers – it’s a must. There’s just too much business and exposure there to pass up.
First, there’s the content sharing. Based on a 2013 survey by Pew Research Center’s Internet Project, the most popular social media platforms, in order, are: Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter (Google+ wasn’t rated). But popularity and sharing were not necessarily linked.
Facebook dwarfs every other social media or content channel in terms of sharing, according to research by Fractl and BuzzSumo. And now that we’ve swung into the age of instant articles, it’s even more important.
Next is just how plain ubiquitous Facebook is. Some people say it’s simply eating the web. Then there’s the new features they keep rolling out. Facebook Live. Facebook Messenger. Facebook Guacamole. (Oops – I’m not supposed to say anything about that yet.)
There’s also the issue of the competition. Plenty of B2B marketers are using Facebook. Most, in fact. According to Social Media Examiner’s 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, B2B marketers are more likely to use Facebook than any other platform. Facebook even beats out LinkedIn for adoption, though it’s barely by a nose.
So almost everybody’s using it. Big deal. Are they getting results?
Eh … not so much. But some are. In that same study, 36% of B2B marketers said they agree or strongly agree with the statement, “My Facebook marketing is effective.”
Compare that stat to what the B2B marketers in another survey said. In the 2016 B2B Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report from Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, 30% of B2B marketers said Facebook was effective for them.
Frankly, that’s not so hot. But on the sunny side, 30% of those marketers did say their Facebook marketing is effective. Based on the two studies, I’d guess that roughly a third of B2B marketers are getting results from this platform. That’s not great, but clearly some people are getting Facebook to work for B2B.
So the question is … what are those successful B2B Facebook marketers doing?
1. They’re advertising.
You already know Facebook has become basically a “pay to play” platform. Now that we’ve had a few years to forgive them for that organic reach thing, more and more companies are leaning into Facebook advertising.
There’s good reason for this. Facebook’s advertising costs are usually cheaper than other social media platforms (lookin’ at you, LinkedIn). They’re also substantially cheaper than Google AdWords. Throw in the targeting capabilities that Facebook offers and it gets even more attractive. And there are plenty of case studies of how advertising on Facebook has gotten B2B companies great results.
To be more specific, the smart marketers on Facebook are:
- Using custom audiences to laser-target their ads.
- Uploading their email lists to Facebook advertising so they can create lookalike audiences
- Using Facebook’s retargeting options so they can show ads to anyone who’s visited a specific URL. So if someone looked at a whitepaper download page, or a webinar sign-up page, but didn’t act, clever B2B marketers can show them a customized ad to entice them to finish the process.
Those are all really cool features – and they work. The downside is you’ll have to get good at Facebook advertising or you’ll lose a truckload of money. But you’re a marketer in 2016, so I figure you’re pretty good at learning new things.
There are plenty of experts to teach you, too. Like Jon Loomer, Mari Smith and Andrea Vahl. If you’d like some creative inspiration to get started, check out Ad Espresso’s epic post of 50 B2B Facebook ad examples.
2. They’re focusing on lead generation.
Lead generation is most B2B marketers’ bread and butter. Facebook serves it up better than you’d think.
First, of course, are all the advertising options. You can get your landing pages and white papers and other lead gen tools in front of almost anybody. You can also use your posts to promote lead generation offers. And you can set up your Facebook page to promote your email newsletter.
But don’t forget about using quizzes and other interactive content. These are proven lead-generation devices, but they also play into the context of the Facebook experience.
People tend to give into distractions on social media, so if you can create a quiz or an online assessment that gathers information, entertains, and provides some value to your users, you might have a nice little lead generation engine. Tools like Formstack can help.
There are plenty of good reasons for B2Bers to embrace video. We wrote a whole post about it not so long ago.
4. They’re using Facebook for what it’s best at – being human and social and accessible.
Facebook is an ideal platform to “humanize” your brand. More specifically, it’s a good platform to show your company culture. That can help with recruiting and give your employees some incentive to stay active online, too.
This post from B2B agency DemandBase is a good example. It’s not a professional photo shoot – just a quick shot of an in-house event that shows off their company culture.
Don’t hesitate to post photos from around your office to your Facebook page. Meetings in action are great. So are shots of employees working solo at their desks. These type of posts give prospects an idea of what it would be like to work with you. They also give potential hires a peek into what it’d be like to work for you.
Being more accessible on Facebook can also help your sales team. B2B sales rock star Jack Kosakowski says he usually closes a sale a few days after making a connection with a prospect on Facebook.
He starts the relationship off on Twitter, because that’s low commitment. Then he’ll reach out to them on LinkedIn. “A week later, after I’m connected with them on Facebook – I get the deal.”
5. They curate great content.
One of the cardinal rules of social media is to not make it all about you. So don’t make your company’s Facebook page all about you, either. There are several ways to mix up what you share:
- Curate great content from industry resources.
Want to get peoples’ attention? Be useful. Share useful content from sources you trust, like Exchangeleads has done here:
- Share posts and celebrate milestones your existing clients have achieved. Enthusiasm works on social media – especially if you’re rooting for other people. If one of your clients has a big win or hits a milestone, share their update about that, or post your own update about their success.
Content curation has several things going for it. First, it means you’ve got less content to create. Second, it means you’ll be adding value to your page (thus making people more likely to come back). Third? It actually works for lead generation. Especially if you use an overlay, so when people click-through to that third-party page, they still see your logo and a call to action as a reminder.
Facebook is simply too big – and too effective – for B2B marketers to ignore. And while the tone of the site may be more social and B2C-oriented, there are plenty of ways to focus in on the people you want to connect with. There are lead gen opportunities here galore.
What do you think?
Are you one of 30% of B2B marketers who are getting good results from Facebook? Come on – leave a comment. Share just one tip with the rest of us.