Selling to Businesses? Don’t Bother with Facebook
If your target audience is businesses, my advice is: Don’t bother with Facebook.
Social media is huge in marketing circles these days. All kinds of companies are experimenting with blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and many of other new channels. Everyone else is feeling sheepish, and worried about missing the boat, or looking like a Luddite.
There are plenty of useful social media tools for B2B marketers, but Facebook is not one of them. Here’s my case:
- It’s the wrong environment. Facebook has been wildly successful in opening itself up beyond the college crowd. I give them a lot of credit for broadening their business model, and in the process marginalizing MySpace, their once-dominant competitor. But to anyone who has a child under 30 years old, it’s painfully obvious: Facebook is still a rollicking consumer environment, for personal messaging, versus professional networking.
- It’s a time suck. Maybe very large enterprises have the resources to feed the Facebook beast, but for most companies, the ROI just isn’t there. It’s tough enough to keep up with LinkedIn, and your corporate blog, where you can actually establish thought leadership and join conversations with confidence.
- It’s an inefficient lead generator. Facebook is a “pull” medium, where marketers can post their stuff—press releases, videos, product announcements, staff party photos—and hope that people drop by. The only way to “push” is by generating “likes,” to whose walls your posts will be fed. These fans are likely to be a good quality bunch, but it’s difficult to scale. You can also advertise, but the targeting options are limited.
I’ve heard a few compelling arguments for Facebook in the B2B world. Paul Dunay recommends Facebook as a good “listening platform,” where businesses can do market research and get an early bead on customer service problems. I get this. In his book The Digital Handshake, Paul Chaney suggests that a business’s Facebook Public Profile has the advantage of being indexed by search engines, which can drive higher rankings for the firm.
Clearly, for certain businesses, being on Facebook does have value. If you sell products or services that cross B2B and B2C—like Office Depot or CDW —then a brand presence on Facebook serves your world well.
The more common argument t says that Facebook is just another touch, and any medium offering free access to 600 million individuals should not be ignored. There have to be business buyers somewhere in that pile, right? Well, certainly. And it is “free,” after all, except for the time—and the risk—involved.
I’d rather reach business buyers where they work, or at least where their children are not behaving badly. A client of mine who upgrades industrial boilers to convert wasted energy into electricity asked me about Facebook recently. For him, I recommend a more targeted, business-like environment like Linkedin or an IEEE working group.
Put Facebook at the bottom of your B2B social media to-do list.
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stoneysteiner/