How B2B Marketers Are Successfully Using Facebook

social media how toAre you wondering what the secret ingredient is to business-to-business (B2B) marketing on Facebook?

The answer may surprise you.

Facebook, by its nature, is a more compelling consumer communications channel than it is for business-to-business.

Let’s not forget that behind every business are consumers. With 900 million active users, you can bet that your target customer is on Facebook.

Data indicates that B2B marketers are still using Facebook at a lower rate than B2C marketers. No matter what type of business you run, think about Facebook as a complement to, and extension of, your existing communications channels. After all, the more channels you use to reach your audience, the better!

page insights

Page Insights illustrate the effectiveness of your Facebook marketing beyond the Like.

Likes Still Matter, but They Are the Beginning, Not the End

Many marketers have been obsessed with Likes to the exclusion of other important considerations. Looking at the number of Likes on your Facebook Page without analyzing other engagement and conversion metrics is not going to win you more business.

However, it is necessary to have an audience you can communicate with about your company and products. That starts with fans who have liked your Page.

So with that in mind, here are five steps for B2B Facebook success.

  1. Build your fan base—use proven methods such as fan-gating content, whereby you require visitors to like your Page before they can access content on a tab on your Page. Or consider running a contest or promotion to grow your audience.

    fan gate and contest image

    On the left you can see Cvent's fan-gate image for those who have not yet liked the Page, and on the right is the contest image for those who have.

  2. Share engaging content—think about content that is relevant to your business customer, such as an ebook. But also remember to share photos and videos, which drive much greater engagement on your Page and in the newsfeed.
  3. Capture leads—use every possible opportunity to capture contact information, whether it be opting in to an email list or completing a form to download a white paper.
  4. Make it personal and fun—even if you are a business selling what may not be an “exciting” product, your customers will connect more with your brand if they can relate to you. You need to remain consistent with your brand image but there is always room to have a little fun and engage in a more personal conversation, as opposed to just pushing your product.
  5. Amplify through ads—it starts with your fans, but one of the most powerful features of Facebook is the ability to reach friends of fans. Facebook ads offer a variety of ways you can segment and target to ensure you are reaching the right customer profile. Facebook has introduced a number of new ad formats in recent months, but this post is still a useful primer for those new to Facebook advertising.

Here are three examples of B2B companies that are using these five steps effectively.

#1: HubSpot—All-in-One Marketing Solution

hubspot page

HubSpot uses its cover photo to get personal and acknowledge its customers.

HubSpot is a B2B company that delivers software primarily to other B2B marketers. So it should come as no surprise that they’re doing a great job with their Facebook Page.

They have grown their fan base to more than 350,000 on Facebook and they intelligently link to their Facebook Page from their blog, which is a prominent destination for marketers (i.e., their potential customers).

HubSpot has a wealth of content on its website to offer to fans on Facebook as well. Posts on the timeline encourage fans to download ebooks and marketing guides, which takes users directly to a lead-capture form.

Once they have captured an email address, they’re able to use their marketing automation software to nurture the lead.

In addition to communicating with fans, HubSpot amplifies the distribution of their posts by utilizing Facebook advertising to reach an even wider audience.

hubspot post

An example of a Sponsored Post promoting one of HubSpot's ebooks.

#2: Cvent—Online Solutions for Events and Surveys

Cvent is a meeting and event management company with approximately 12,000 fans on their Facebook Page. The company recently embarked on a more aggressive strategy to grow and engage their audience on Facebook.

One tactic they utilized was launching a contest inviting people to share their stories about how they built a crowd for an event. Cvent is promoting the contest on their Facebook Page and have fan-gated the promotional tab.

They are also cross-promoting on their website and Twitter to reach an even wider audience and potentially convert those people into fans on Facebook as well.

Another tab on the Cvent Page entices users to provide their contact information on a lead form in order to watch a product demo video and receive a $50 gift card. Cvent also shares photos of their team members to provide a more personal experience for customers who engage with their Page.

cvent timeline

Cvent uses its timeline to promote the contest and also share fun photos.

#3: Intel—Technology That’s Changing the World

Intel is the quintessential example of a B2B company that has successfully adopted B2C tactics in its traditional marketing. With the original “Intel Inside” campaign, launched more than 20 years ago, the microchip manufacturer became a household name to consumers who would never buy a product directly from Intel.

The philosophy of connecting with end users has carried over to Intel’s Facebook Page as well, where much of the content is geared toward consumers rather than toward the hardware manufacturers that purchase Intel’s chips.

The company provides fans with access to interactive games and a quick scan of its timeline reveals many fun and cheeky posts, all with photos (of course) to optimize engagement.

intel posts

Here are two recent posts on the Intel timeline, where the message in binary code generated a significant number of Likes.

angry birds

Intel taps into Angry Birds to offer its fans a fun and engaging way to interact with the brand.

Ekaterina Walter, social innovator at Intel and author of the upcoming book Think Like Zuck, who has taken Intel from 0 to 20 million fans globally on Facebook says:

“We get too hung up sometimes on the definition of B2B or B2C. The reality is that on Facebook we are people connecting with people. Facebook is an opportunity for us to connect on a personal level and through that to humanize our brand.

We try to do our best to serve the most appealing content and to engage our customers in various ways. We offer entertaining programs, utilize custom images quite often as our fans love visuals, we share videos, do fun trivia, geek out by posting messages in binary code, ask open-ended questions, say thank you and happy holidays and address any questions or concerns that our fans might have.

We are in this to build long-term relationships and love engaging and growing our passionate community of fans through transparent and fun dialog.”

These are but three examples of many B2B companies that are embracing Facebook marketing, each at a different scale. I believe that any business can achieve its own level of success if they apply the concepts outlined in this article.

What do you think? What examples of B2B success on Facebook have you seen? Please leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Ben Pickering

Ben Pickering is a digital marketing executive who has worked with many of the world’s top brands. He has written and spoken extensively on the topic of social media marketing. You can follow Ben on Twitter @bpicks. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.winningstack.com/ Adarsh Menon

    Good points. The engagement factor is crucial to your posts, since only a small percentage of a page’s actual fans will see a typical post. However if that post encourages likes and comments, then you can increase the percentage of fans who see the post, while also hopefully creating new fans in the process.

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  • http://www.kaushalam.com/ Kaushalam

    Facebook is prominently growing platform for business, it’s no doubt. But, when it comes to B2B market, when the audience itself are running their own business, it’s hard to do marketing whether it’s online or offline. Here businesses are audience and we know it could be limited as compare to the customer base for any shopping site.

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Awesome points Ben. We have done most of the things you have mentioned on the post, and some of them worked, while others did not. I just want to know your thoughts on what is the best contest to run to promote a podcaster’s page and what kind of prize would entice more people to join our community? 

    Thanks in advance. I really look forward to your answers! 

    Keep rockin SME!

  • Talking Finger

    John, Give away some device they can listen to the podcasts on :-) A really good iPod touch is perfect in this case. You can even have the back engraved for free to thank them.

    Be sure to use a 3rd party app for the contest…remember you cannot have people use the Wall for a contest. However, everyone does and Facebook doesn’t do a thing about it so…I always feel like an arse telling people this. 

    Best of luck!

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Hi John – Thanks for the feedback and question. William makes a good suggestion of providing something that targets your audience and a behavior you want to encourage (listening to your podcast!). Without knowing the content/theme of the podcast it’s hard to give a specific recommendation but I would recommend a contest theme and prize oriented around the area of interest (e.g., if it’s an investing podcast offer a 1 hour financial advisory session, if it’s a sports podcast offer sports memorabilia).

    In general if the goal is just number of new fans or subscribers then a simple enter to win sweepstakes is a good tool. But things like photo contests are great for deeper community engagement. I have two prior articles here that may be helpful as well:
    http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/social-media-promotion-tips/
    http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/how-to-run-a-successful-social-media-contest/

    As William says, you do need to run the contest via an app to comply with Facebook policies. I’m not here to sell but if you’re interested please check us out at strutta.com and let us know if you have further questions.

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Good suggestions and thanks for reminding people about the policies. :) 

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  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    I want to apologize in advance for any questions asked today as I am traveling and will likely not be able to respond until later. But please fire away!

  • Info

    What should a professional services firm do to bring in more leads? We are currently doing a monthly email newsletter that features 3 articles from our partners that speak directly to our audience’s concerns. That is launched through Constant contact which is linked to our social media. FB, Li, Tw. We also schedule tweets that are also shared via hootsuite. All of this links back to our WP article library on our website for the full article. On CC we get an average 25% open rate and 20% click through average per article.What can we do to grow our audience?

  • http://www.Zoomerang.com Jason Miller

    Hi Ben, 
    Nice post. At Marketo, Facebook has become an incredible lead generating machine using a combination of sponsored stories, traditional ads, promoted posts, and mirrored PPC ads. It actually became a top lead driver last month generating qualified prospects at less that $7. 

    You can see the actual metrics, trending results,and methodology we used in a post I wrote a few weeks ago: http://blog.marketo.com/blog/2012/11/does-facebook-work-for-b2b-lead-generation-hell-yes.html

    I think the important thing for businesses who are not seeing good results with Facebook is to understand and manage Edgerank while continually trying new things. That, in addition to using our own content and software, is how we turned this into a lead generating/ nurturing juggernaut. 

    Jason Miller – Marketo

  • Sarah Bauer

    Hey Ben,
    Thanks for underlining the value of Facebook for B2B marketers as an extension of their web presence, and not as THE epicentre of branding and customer service. To depend too heavily on Facebook (or any other social media platform) for company presence is dangerous, as the content created and managed on these sites is sustained at the whim of the site’s administrators, and not by the company owners themselves. Focus on creating an engaging website and compelling content for customers, and use Facebook to share the results with them! CheersSarah BauerNavigator Multimedia

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Thanks Jason. Agreed that advertising on Facebook to complement and amplify campaigns and content is crucial.

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Hi – It sounds like you are doing a lot of the right things to start. Continuing to optimize the content you are sharing to get more click-throughs, retweets, etc. will be ongoing (but a 20% click through is pretty good). In terms of growing the audience, I would suggest focusing on 1-2 channels initially and then using that to cross-pollinate. What I mean is, for example, if you have a decent size email subscriber base, use that to drive traffic to a Facebook promotion where people must Like your page to participate and grow your Facebook audience. Or if you have an audience on Twitter but want them to subscribe to email then Tweet out an offer where people must fill out a form to be eligible and can opt in to your email list in the process. I know that isn’t too specific but without knowing about your business I hope it helps!

  • Info

    Problem is the email list is under 500 all the social media is MUCH lower (less than 50) and the three partners have limited time and interest in spending the time to manually grow their accounts. How can I help them grow the accounts to extend to the larger area network of businesses?

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  • Tiffany

    Marvellous article,learn a lot,tks.

  • http://www.indigoinboundmarketing.com/ Nichole

    I love that quote from Ekaterina – 

    “We get too hung up sometimes on the definition of B2B or B2C.  The reality is that on Facebook we are people connecting with people. Facebook is an opportunity for us to connect on a personal level and through that to humanize our brand.”

    It’s a great reminder to get out of the “marketing” mindset and actually talk to people.  

    Great post Ben, thanks!

  • http://www.how2acquirecustomersonline.com/ Neil Licht, HereWeAre, CEO

    Nicole, I clicked onto your profile. You have opened my thinking re Facebook and B2B

    I’m curious, As a marketing consultant which you are, would you give your client, remember, they don’t have a limitless budget, the same advice you gave all of us? If you used your approach as you wrote it here, would you close any business? 

    I’m now thinking that the answer to those questions may depend on the target audiences of the B2B plus the type of service or products they offer. There is a very big difference between connecting as humans and spending marketing or sales time trying to acquire paying customers. Facebook is indeed a way to connect and have conversations and its for anyone.

    To grow customers, B2B which is very different than a consumer type of market, maybe it depends on what type of customers the B2B trying to attract

    Lets look at this a bit different.

    Lets define types of B2B’s that benefit from using Facebook.
    Can services B2B use facebook? Perhaps.
    Can MD’s Lawyers, Plumbers use Facebook as a way to acquire paying customers?

    Can a distributor of Physical Security devices selling through installing dealers use facebook to acquire paying customers?

    See what I mean – It seems to come down to the type of prospect/logical audience and where they are best reached online.

    Please do read my referenced article and then comment: http://mybusinessreputationonline.wordpress.com/

    Its about another way of looking at and deploying social media and how a business can best use it to acquire paying customers.

    I’ll look forward to your comments. Thanks, Neil Licht   ndlicht

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  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Thanks Nichole. Totally agree!

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  • http://gary.allman.uk.net/ Gary Allman

    Interesting and positive post. Unfortunately It doesn’t mirror our experience, which is much more small/local  business based. From what we observe Facebook is intentionally crippling business to business communication.

    How so? Try opening a conversation with another business page. Page owners are not told of new comments – you have to remember and go back and check. Page owners are not told when another page likes your page. The Page Newsfeed is dire and sporadic at best. It aggregates posts resulting in unintentional spamming of your page’s Newsfeed (20 entries of x likes y for example). The timing of Newsfeed updates and the content picked for display is unpredictable.

    It’s got so bad we’ve had to add business pages to lists on our personal accounts to try and see the updates from other business pages. Of course, business pages don’t have the ‘lists’ facility :(  We have one page we maintain for a customer who’s Newsfeed hasn’t updated properly in nearly a week. Checking followed pages by hand shows that this is purely a Facebook issue – the followed pages are making posts, they just aren’t being shown on the Newsfeed.

    I could go on, but you get the gist. We’re migrating customers away from Facebook to channels where they have more control – that’s not to say we aren’t keeping a Facebook presence for them, it just that we are adjusting the mix and Facebook now has a much lower priority, with efforts biased towards SEO, email and Twitter – and the results are encouraging.

  • albertkaufman

    sadly Hubspot emails are formatted terribly. I usually subscribe and then unsub quickly. 

  • http://www.qnary.com/ Lauren Welles

    One of the most important things to do when creating social media pages for your company is to figure out who your target audience is.  Once you know who your target audience is, it will make it easier for you to create content that is specific to them!

  • http://twitter.com/KevinSChase KevinSChase

    Another way of looking at it is how are your clients reaching you? While it probably doesn’t make sense for a security system dealer to use Facebook the same way that Coke does, there are still tactics that can be integrated with other digital and social media.

    Those purchasing the security systems may look to see if you have a Facebook page if they have never heard of you before when the dealer mentions the system. In this case it would be beneficial to have a simple page that gives an overview of the company and then drives the potential customer to the company website. I think it is extremely important to make sure that when a customer looks for you, they find you.

  • http://www.wisestep.com/ Anderson

    Oh when i got the title i don’t think that facebook is used for B2B marketing but after reading the article i came to know that’s true it is possible thanks a lot 

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    I read a really interesting article a few weeks back that said “most people aren’t surfing Facebook with their credit cards in hand.” A lot of businesses and brands use their Facebook page as a way to sell and promote products as a B2C channel. Refocusing as a B2B connecting tool allows other businesses (and customers who are following you) can help you share a behind the scenes look at your company, express corporate culture, and make connections with potential partners. 

  • http://about.me/bpicks Ben Pickering

    Hi Gary – Sorry to hear that you’ve had such negative experiences. One of the original sub titles in my post, which was later removed, was that B2B needs to think more like B2C to succeed on Facebook. My point being that the platform is primarily a tool to communicate with consumers but businesses can play that game too. But I do agree there is a lot more Facebook can do to encourage business to business communications.Thanks for your comments.

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  • Tarikul

    Social
    media marketing is not only about brand recognition though. Google now
    factors social media use into its ranking of web pages, counting links from
    Facebook, Twitter, and others in their inbound link count for a website. This
    means that social media is now also an important branch of a complete SEO
    strategy, making it of paramount importance that businesses engage fully in
    social media marketing.I’ve been using socialbakers, hootsuite and socialkik
    to increase my followers and fans.
     

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  • http://www.sherwinramnarine.com/ Sherwin Ramnarine

    Think you hit the nail on the head here Nick. I’m no expert but I advise clients to try using it to show the human side of your business.

  • http://flippingbook.com/ Sasha Zinevych

    Those are awesome examples! I specially like the humanization part. So what’s the edge between fun and relevant that companies should look out for to become succesful on Facebook?

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