Is Facebook effective for B2B lead generation?

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Mar 4, 2013, 2:40 PM

Today’s Question-MARKeting challenge will be covered by fellow Bentley University Alum Andrew Nadeau. He helped me get my first Marketing job out of college, so I'm extremely excited to have him contribute to my blog. He'll be tackling Kate's question on Facebook for B2B lead generation. Take it away, Andy!

Kate asks:

"We have a low number of followers on Facebook, it is mostly our employees. As we are B2B company, I often wonder if Facebook is really a good social network to generate leads, and are we wasting our time? I like the fact that we link back to our website in the majority of our posts and I see the value of Facebook for recruiting people to our company but not so much for generating leads. What are your thoughts? BTW LinkedIn works well for us as a lead generating source."

f2b

This is an outstanding question, so let’s jump in… In this post, first I’m going to investigate why Facebook isn’t typically a good network for B2B companies then I will lay out a framework to determine if investing time and money into Facebook will make sense for your company. Finally, we will cover other reasons why it might be a good idea to have a presence on Facebook.

Why Facebook is NOT good for B2B lead generation

Yes, you read that right – success in terms of lead generation for a B2B company on Facebook is typically the exception rather than the rule. Here’s why…

People go on Facebook to escape from work

You might have heard the analogy that going on Facebook is the new 5 minute cigarette break. This is because people go on Facebook to escape from work and catch up with family and friends. This can make it tough for B2B companies to get the attention of prospects and get them to engage.

The viral effect is minimal

Facebook is so effective for B2C companies because people have friends that are very similar to them in terms of interests, age, geographic location, income, education, etc. This similarity among friends allows for content to go viral. When looking at Facebook with a B2B lens you’ll find it is a slightly different story. Yes, some people will be friends with their colleagues, but you’ll find they are less likely to share or engage with content related to work making the impact of the viral effect minimal.

B2B and B2C are completely different ballgames

I’ve already touched on this topic in the two sections above, but I think it is so important to reiterate that you can’t apply the same strategies and techniques that were successful for a B2C company to your B2B company and expect success. The dynamics of B2C and B2B are completely different.

Framework: Is Facebook right for you?

Can you easily find 10 customers on Facebook?

Here’s the first test – can you easily find 10 of your customers on Facebook? If you find this task difficult, how do you expect to find prospects that you can turn into leads? If you can find 10 customers, can you easily get them to “like” your company on Facebook and engage with your content? If you can’t turn your best customers into raving fans, it might be a sign that Facebook is not right for you.

What characteristics or trends are common across all your customers?

If you passed the first test and were able to identify 10 of your customers on Facebook, it is now time to do some analysis. What characteristics or trends are common across your customers? Their job titles? Industries they work in? Other products they use? Location? Other? This is an important exercise because if you don’t know who you’re looking for, how can you find new leads?

Can you target those commonalities on Facebook?

Now that you know exactly who you’re looking for on Facebook – can you target these people on Facebook? And not only can you target them, but can you target them at scale? Use the Facebook Ads targeting tool to understand how you will target your prospects or maybe you can be creative and target prospects another way (Groups, Pages, etc).

Do you have resource (time and money) constraints?

This is topic that is often overlooked. The reality of social media marketing is that at times you can’t do it all and at the same time do it well. So the question for you would be - if you spend additional time/energy/money on Facebook, will it negatively impact your performance on other networks that are working? If the answer is yes, you should double down on the networks you know are working and put Facebook on the backburner.

Would your customers feel Facebook is the right platform to engage with you?

Finally, if everything above checks out, the last thing you’ll want to think about is if your prospects/customers will actually feel comfortable engaging your business on Facebook. In some industries you’ll find that your target audience just isn’t willing to engage or you can’t get a critical mass to engage in order to build a successful presence on Facebook.

Other reasons to consider Facebook as a platform:

Recruiting

As Kate mentioned, having a strong Facebook presence and giving the impression that your company is “hype and cool” can be important to recruiting then next generation of young talent. Many B2B companies maintain a Facebook page solely for recruiting purposes.

Building a customer community

If you’re a large, established B2B company with many customers and part of your mission is to build a community among your customers, then Facebook might be the right platform to encourage your customers to connect and communicate on their own. Hopefully this post will help you better understand what is required to be successful on Facebook as a B2B company.

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