Originally published on Entrepreneur Magazine on February 25, 2016.
Business-to-business (B2B) marketing on Facebook is not new, yet the usage is getting more common among businesses. Facebook is quickly becoming the most powerful platform in social media because of the sheer numbers of users, the engagement levels (when done right) and the targeting possible for paid placements.
Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner, published the “Social Media Marketing Industry Report 2015” last year. This survey analyzed about 3,700 marketers across many different sized companies doing marketing through social media. Much of the focus for B2B marketing in social media was lead generation and establishing thought leadership. In the B2B arena, marketers said they used the top-two platforms in 2015:
- 41% used LinkedIn
- 30% used Facebook
This article focuses on Facebook for 2016.
Many businesses feel like Facebook does not apply to their business. In some niche specific industries, this can indeed be true. However, there are two key reasons that businesses need to pay attention to Facebook.
1. Advertising intelligence
Create customized messaging to a highly targeted audience. Then couple that with powerful analytics to make smart decisions. Facebook has developed the most robust platform to reach your prospects. And with 1.55 billion users on Facebook and over 1 billion users active each day, your audience is likely on Facebook.
I spoke to Valerie Shoopman, co-author of the number-one Amazon Best-Seller, The Book on Facebook Marketing, about Facebook ad strategy. Valerie says, “One of the strongest and highest return-on-investment (ROI) factors is the Facebook re-targeting that allows you to show ads only to people that have visited your website.”
2. Brand and reputation management
Even if a business is not depending on lead generation from a business page, not being on Facebook means not showing up in the largest social-media conversation on the planet. You can certainly find top brands like NIKE and TOM Shoes are using the Facebook platform well. However, if your business is smaller than these, you should still pay attention to what is going on here in 2016 to position better your company in your market.
Megha Rodriguez with Social Enchantment is seeing lots of lost opportunities with brand and reputation management in the B2B sector of social media. Megha said, “Brands that are not actively engaging with projects and clients are missing it.”
Increase your effectiveness on Facebook.
Be aware of shameless self-promotion versus strategic storytelling with value! So many people disenchant their potentially raving tribe of fans and followers by going straight for the kill rather than building value through strategic posting.
If every post you use is a link to an offer or coupon, you are likely missing the power of the Facebook platform. Understanding and telling your story is essential to your success in any social media.
Megha says, “To make Facebook work for you, you must not try to fool your audience. You must be willing to be honest, vulnerable and transparent. The social environment of Facebook rewards a certain rawness that we were never taught to use in business school.”
There is a fine line between unfiltered and transparent messages. The most successful Facebook marketers in 2016 will thrive because of their ability to master the storytelling of an approachable business culture.
What is new for 2016 on the Facebook platform?
- Facebook live video: This new feature is going to take center stage once it is fully deployed to all mobile users. Currently, it is being introduced in limited release to iPhone users. The important thing about this development is that it will likely shift engagement opportunities and behavior that has been rapidly adopted in the explosive growth of live-stream channels such as Periscope, Blab and YouTube Live.
- Facebook video posts: Video is continuing to be a big part of 2016. Last year the amount of video from people and brands in Facebook’s news feed increased 3.6 times year-over-year.
- Facebook advertisement: We continue to see the rise of the cost of advertising, but also the effectiveness of targeted reach that Facebook can offer to marketers is increasing too.
Valerie says, “The newest thing on the Facebook platform that has people talking is the new Lead Gen ads. It is lowering the cost to acquire new leads and works extremely well with mobile.” There is power in Facebook advertising for your business.
Wrapping up the trends for 2016 is mobile usage, he shift to mobile viewing is the fastest growing area of social media — which is not solely a Facebook issue.
Don’t miss your chance to connect, engage and add value to your clients, and just because you are in the B2B area — don’t write off Facebook.