I have a constant internal debate over the use of Facebook as a B2B marketing tool. I truly believe in social media as a B2B marketing channel. LinkedIn, Twitter and other popular sites relevant to technology have proven to be quite effective as listening devices, and communication channels. But when it comes to Facebook, I have some comfort issues as I perceive Facebook as a more personal oriented forum. This may be due to the fact that my family uses Facebook to communicate with their friends and other family members. Most of the activity is very much oriented towards their organization and coordination of personal activities.
So when I step back and think about Facebook as a B2B marketing vehicles, I start to question how B2B content is going to be relevant in this type of environment. Perhaps if you are a smaller business, this may be a valuable social media choice, but when you think about enterprise based technology, even though your tech buyers and clients are probably on Facebook, are they there for personal reasons? Do they want to participate in business banter or is Facebook more of a respite from their busy work day?
But here’s my observation– most of the really good examples out there are of B2C companies using Facebook to reach their target audience. There are far fewer concrete examples of successful use of B2B companies using Facebook. And I’d caution that it’s not a very good tool for B2B companies to use – as least not right now, anyway.
Why? One simple word: blocking. Those of us who dabble around in social media all day from our laptops, iPhones, or the comfort of our Web 2.0-crazed agency jobs can easily forget that many people work for companies who block Facebook at work. For B2B companies, their target audience is usually (obviously) other companies, but more specifically, it’s the decision-makers within those other companies. This could mean purchasing managers, marketing managers, IT managers or the C-suite. You can have the coolest Facebook fan page in the world for your business, but if none of your target audience can actually access it during the day while they’re at work (and making those decisions about whether to use your company’s product or service), then it’s probably not the best way to engage your potential customers.
It’s not as easy to see how Facebook might be useful in the business-to-business marketing context beyond personal connections and networking. That’s in part why the B2B answer to social networking is often “We are all on LinkedIn (or Twitter)”
What do you think?