Is Facebook really a valid B2B marketing channel?

Social media is becoming an increasingly large element within the B2B marketing landscape and with 79% of B2B markets feeling that social media is relevant to B2B organisations (The B2B Barometer, 2011) this is unsurprising. Whilst everyone seems to agree that it is relevant, there is far less consensus on which channels are most suitable in a B2B setting. In this post I will be looking at the validity of Facebook as a B2B marketing channel, although our new guide to social media will explore in depth the application of traditional marketing theories in a social media context.

Perceptions of Facebook

In the past Facebook has been highlighted as incompatible with B2B marketing. Many highlight that Facebook was not designed as a business environment and because it is so highly social, being interrupted with commercial messages can ruin the experience and negatively affect brand image. Equally there are those out there that believe the Facebook bans in many offices make it unsuitable for communication in working hours. Recent statistics provide evidence for these beliefs, top social networks according to B2B marketers are Twitter (87%), LinkedIn (77%) and then Facebook (67%). (Circle Research, August 2011).

Why it should still be considered

Despite the numbers Facebook should still be considered a valid channel for B2B social media marketing. Facebook remains one of the largest potential audiences, even in the B2B setting. As of this year there are over 800 million active users, each with on average 150 friends, half of these people log in every day making it is difficult to argue with the numbers. So many people use Facebook regularly that it is a fair assumption that at some point, the B2B sales manager you are targeting will interact in time.

The argument that the social environment of Facebook makes it incompatible with business marketing can be rebuffed with an equally compelling argument that in the modern world, Facebook has paved the way for the blurring of professional/personal lines. The fact that there are 350 million active mobile users adds weight to the argument that even with office bans in place, reaching your target audience in working hours remains possible.

Ultimately however using Facebook for marketing, be it B2C or B2B is wholly reliant on one factor. This factor is the content you produce. Content is your currency on Facebook, your means of engaging with leads, of nurturing relationships and improving brand awareness. Compelling, interesting, engaging, accurate, amusing and relevant content is imperative across all social media, but to be shared across the highly social landscape that is Facebook, these attributes are all important.

How to get the most from Facebook

As with any social media you should plan precisely how you are going to use Facebook, don’t simply jump headlong into it. Identify your target audience and assess the opportunity for engaging with them on Facebook. Strategise what content you are going to produce and when and how you are going to distribute it. Do this and do this well and it is possible to realise the potential of Facebook as a B2B marketing tool.

 

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