Can you use Facebook for B2B?

Over the holidays, I was approached with an interesting question. The person I was speaking with could understand how Facebook could be used to connect with consumers; but they failed to see how Facebook could be useful to a business-to-business (B2B) company.

On the surface, it would appear that the dynamics of a B2B prohibit it from being effective on Facebook. After all, how do you use a social networking system to market to an entity?

Interestingly enough, the Social Media Examiner, a leading online social media magazine, performed an industry report to investigate the use of social media by businesses.

Within the “2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report“, they actually cited “… More B2B companies have been using social media longer (52.6% reported 1 year or more) than their B2C counterparts (46.2% indicated 1 year or longer.)”

Why B2Cs are late to adopt Social Media

If you consider the dynamics of the relationship, their results actually make a lot of sense. Traditional businesses that work with consumers already have a built-in social aspect, namely the client interacting with someone in the business.

The driver for B2C is to extend the social interaction with potential customers. However, given they have already so many traditional outlets that target local consumers, online social media tends to be one of the last outlets they turn towards.

In addition, developing an effective social media outlet requires a plan which is custom and unique to the given business. There is no magic formula to immediately capitalize on the power of social media; it only comes with time and dedication.

However, the opportunities for B2C companies are huge. Unlike traditional forms of marketing, online social media is like having your doors open 24-hours a day. It relies less on “luck” that the right people see your advertisement and the wind hasn’t decided to blow down your flyers. Instead, it is all about interactions and building loyalty, something that most successful B2C companies are able to do in their daily work.

The Power of Social Media for B2B

For B2B companies, the idea of “cold calls”, or having to enter into another business to try to pitch what you do, is very common. The idea of one business sharing their competitive advantage with another is less common than a friend sharing their favorite store. Thus, B2B must find other social outlets to reach their potential clients.

Online social media efforts allow B2B to communicate with potential clients directly in two-way interactions that lead towards removing the need for cold calls. Social media provide a platform to providing more trusted testimonials because the statements are connected to a real person and account that can be traced and reached. Social media allows for B2B to highlight their expertise in more than just a few blurbs that catch someone’s attention.

However, just like developing a cold call, social media isn’t a panacea for B2B marketing. Just like B2C, a good effort requires planning and consistency. You can’t simply throw up a page or create an account and expect it to suddenly translate into business.

Keys to Successful Social Media

Surprisingly, the keys to successful social media are same for both B2C and B2B. They involved:

  1. Clearly identifying your target customers
  2. Monitor, analyze and be willing to adjust your strategy
  3. Commitment in your efforts to stick to your schedule
  4. Sincerity in not just selling but helping your customers

… and of course, the #1 key

  1. Have a great product that people or other businesses will want

Need help with your social media efforts? Drop us a line at Creekside Creative Solutions and we’d be happy to discuss some options available to your business to meet your goals.

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