Initially developed as an internal social networking tool for students at Harvard University, Facebook has now become a global phenomenon. Used by one in every 13 people, there are currently over 800 million active Facebook profiles, an increase of over 50 per cent from 2009.
With 400 million people logging into Facebook every day, many consumer brands are using the social networking site as a channel to engage with customers and get their messages across. Unlike b2c, many b2b companies have been slower on the uptake of Facebook marketing, unsure as to whether it’s a relevant tool for them.
However, this is starting to change. With the recent addition of tools like Facebook timeline, an interface which allows users to share and interact with content more easily, business uptake is set to increase. As a result, there has been plenty of discussion, both within the industry and here at BDB about the relevance of Facebook for b2b companies, and specifically those in industrial sectors.
To Facebook or not to Facebook?
So, what is the verdict? As with all communications channels, just because it’s there, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right tool for your business. Before giving Facebook, or any other social media platform a try, you need to ask yourself a number of questions, including:
- “Are we ready?” Do you have social media guidelines and the human resources to commit to the development and curation of a Facebook page?
- “How do my customers use it?” Facebook is still largely a personal tool and many businesses still restrict access to social media sites. It may have 800 million users, but do your contacts use Facebook as a business space?
- “How can we make it work for us?” Facebook may not be the best place for b2b lead generation but it could be useful for building brand awareness and garnering opinion on your latest products and services.
Should I take the plunge?
The b2b case for Facebook is currently not as strong as that of Linkedin and Twitter, which both have a strong following in the business arena. However, this does not mean that it wouldn’t work given the right message and the right target audience. If you decide to go for it, start off small, set some SMART objectives, test your tactics and evaluate them. And remember, all social media activity should be carried out as part of a planned marketing communications programme which includes both on- and off-line elements.
Do you use Facebook for business? Share your experiences below on how Facebook or other social media platforms work for your business.