With its millions of active users, Facebook is the social platform where every business wants to be. However, because Facebook is such a personal and recreational platform, businesses often have a hard time finding fans and, even more so, inspiring fans to interact.
In particular, small and mid-size B2B firms struggle, because they seldom have widespread brand awareness and often have products or services that don’t lend themselves to discussion on this most social of social networks.
Here are 10 tips to help you find and engage a Facebook following for your fan page.
1. Use geographically targeted Facebook ads. These are ideal for businesses in a local or regional market. Be sure to include your location somewhere in the ad copy or image.
2. Use interest-oriented Facebook ads. Few people will self-identify as interested in cement mixers, so this approach won’t work if that’s what you manufacture. On the other hand, people may well call out an interest in human resources in their profiles—which makes a great target if your firm offers executive recruiting.
3. Offer exclusive content. If your firm’s Facebook page is a rehash of content that your customers and prospects can find on your website or in your literature, you give them little incentive to connect. In contrast, if you make all of your product videos available exclusively on Facebook, you’re offering a very powerful incentive to connect. Somewhere in between is the happy medium that keeps Facebook fans engaged.
4. Promote Facebook through other social channels. When you offer exclusive Facebook content (as opposed to a rehash of what you offer on your other social pages), you can effectively drive people to Facebook via Tweets and LinkedIn communication. A lot of users frequent multiple platforms, and occasional Twitter and LinkedIn participants who spend most of their time on Facebook will be glad to know you offer something of value there.
5. Promote on your website. Large, well-placed, and recognizable Facebook links belong in your site and blog templates. Give people a reason to connect as well; for example, “Join us on Facebook for an inside look at the executive recruiting industry.”
6. Promote Facebook in your email marketing. Many B2Bs find email to be a highly effective marketing tool. If that’s the case for you, what better medium to tout the advantages of connecting with you on Facebook?
7. Encourage customers to connect. I’m often amazed by how reluctant B2Bs are to approach their clients about connecting on Facebook. Established customers are favorably disposed to your brand, and they are the very ones who are likely to enjoy learning more about and discussing your products and services. Reach out to them on sales calls and with messages in presentations and literature.
8. Allow and encourage user-submitted content. Customers are usually more interested in talking about themselves than you, which fits in quite well with Facebook page functionality. By encouraging fans to upload photos of your product in action, you’re not only providing an appealing incentive for engagement, but also giving your fans a reason to share the content and draw others to your brand.
9. Use Facebook for as a communication hub for events. One of the most effective techniques for B2Bs is to make Facebook the virtual meeting place for conventions, seminars, and outings. Facebook is ideal for displaying convention photos in real time, when interest is high; for sharing vital information, such as your organization’s booth number or location; and for facilitating communication among participants on the fly, such as figuring out where to meet for dinner.
10. Put someone in charge. None of this will work unless your Facebook presence has a leader. Too often, companies set up a page and expect it to attract interest through spontaneous combustion or something along those lines. But social media is identical to any other marketing campaign: Success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration.
Brad Shorr is director of content and social media for Straight North, a Chicago marketing agency. A version of this article originally ran on The Straight North Blog. Contact Shorr on Twitter via @BradShorr.