How to connect with your B2B audience on Facebook

Realistically, we all know that Facebook is not the place to sell, sell, sell. But deep down, we still want to. After all, the goal for any business is to sell more products or services. And Facebook provides thousands, if not millions, of eyeballs (and wallets) to do just that … even for B2B brands. With 1.7 billion users on Facebook and over 1 billion active users each day, your audience is likely on Facebook, and they’re already engaging with brands every day.

Facebook has become a powerful tool for B2B marketers because of its proliferation, engagement levels and targeting capabilities. According to this report from the Content Marketing Institute, 84 percent of B2B brands use Facebook as part of their content marketing efforts. But it’s important to keep in mind that Facebook is not just another place to broadcast marketing messages:

“Just treat them like human beings who want a good experience, to be heard, to learn something, to have fun and to not be sold to all the time.”

Patrick McGill, our marketing insights director, wrote this in a blog post on how B2B companies can create brand fanatics. He perfectly captures the important fact that behind every B2B transaction is a person. A person who probably has a Facebook account. And their employees, who are probably the ones using your product every day, most likely are on Facebook, too.

A major difference with many B2B and B2C companies is that B2B companies are less likely to make a purchase through social media or even the company website. Many of the brands we work with sell equipment through a dealer network — so it’s critical that social media be part of your integrated marketing strategy, and not a standalone tactic. A customer’s engagement with your brand on Facebook should be consistent with his or her engagement on your website, in a dealer location, or reading your content in an industry publication.

A recent study found 24 percent of B2B decision makers say Facebook is their preferred social channel when seeking information on a purchasing decision. So, how do you use Facebook to engage your customers at the right points along the path to purchase? Here are some ways to meet their needs while building affinity to increase brand loyalty and advocacy.

Make a memorable first impression
“Entertain them, and they will remember you.”

Leslie Maynes, one of our PR directors, made this point in a blog post about content creation. She couldn’t be more right. We live in a time of skimming and scrolling; you don’t have long to make an exciting first impression on Facebook … every time you post.

– Tell stories
Storytelling has become a great way to give B2B brand a personality. Whether it’s your story or your customers’ stories, it’s about connecting with your audience and moving away from the sales-focused advertising that doesn’t work for B2B brands anymore. High-quality photos and videos are also important to make a good first impression with Facebook users.

– Share customer testimonials
A recent study from Accenture Interactive found that 94 percent of business buyers do some form of online research, 41 percent of which read user reviews. It feels a lot less like selling when someone else says your product is the best. Tap into your customer base to find those loyal businesses with great stories.

– Take them behind the scenes
People love getting the inside scoop. Whether it’s showing photos from the factory or a first look at a new product, brands become more personal and relatable through this type of content — the feeling of exclusivity deepens a customer’s connection to the brand. Historical photos and videos are also great ways to connect with fans. Treat your fans like friends by inviting them in to experience your brand story.

– Be timely
Talk about things that are timely and relevant to your audience. Discuss seasonal aspects of the industry or weave in a pop culture reference that’s a fit for your audience. Not every brand can make a connection to the latest blockbuster movie or big sports game. Once again, make sure this aligns with your brand voice and values go to this web-site.

Any of these ideas can be used in various formats — from photos to live videos to graphics.
Once you share new types of content, it’s important to evaluate how they performed. Measure your results, and try to determine why certain posts did or didn’t resonate with your audience to help the next posts be more engaging.

RELATED: Simple steps for B2B companies to create brand fanatics 

Target the right audience
Great content is only effective if it’s reaching the right audience. Fortunately, the amount of data Facebook has on its users is nearly endless, which allows for extremely targeted ad campaigns.

– Personal information
Reaching your page fans is easy — but oftentimes digging deeper will provide better results. Targeting ads to users based on interests or job titles allows you to narrow the field. You can also reach Facebook users based on other professional interests including professional organizations and events, trade shows, and even competitive brands.

– Retargeting
One way to reach those highly engaged people is by placing a Facebook pixel on your website. The pixel tracks traffic from the website to users on Facebook. You can target users who visit specific pages on your website, or people who start a “request info” form but don’t complete it. Running a financing deal on a new product? Target your ad to people who have visited that product page on your website.

– Lookalike audiences
You can reach new people by creating a lookalike audience. Facebook does this by finding similar traits between your current audiences (e.g., website visitors, page fans, custom audiences) and other Facebook users.

– Video engagement
Facebook records who watches your videos and for how long. This is an effective way to follow up with people interested in a specific product. For example, if you share a video of a product, you can target people who watched that video for your next post on the same product, a similar product or a complementary product.

Generate sales leads
Fans are engaging with your content. Now, it’s time to help them make a purchase.

– A newer Facebook ad format for lead generation could be a good option for your brand. These ads are designed for mobile and allow users to fill out an information form without leaving Facebook. Ask users to request a quote or redeem a special discount code. When they fill out the form, you’ll receive their information in real time. You can also include a context card, which gives you more space to outline features and benefits of the product, which could lead to better conversions.

– Connect potential customers with a dealer or agent to make the purchase. Offer an incentive for a fan to contact a dealer or do a demo. This tactic requires a consistent customer experience, both on social and with dealer communications.

– Asking Facebook users to subscribe to your email communications is an effective way to create another touch point with them. Give customers a reason to subscribe by consistently sharing valuable content.

Related: The state of social media advertising in 2016

When considering which B2B tactics will work for your brand, it’s important to keep in mind why your audience is on Facebook. Take advantage of the insights and ad reporting tools Facebook provides, and use that knowledge to connect with your audience in an authentic way that’s meaningful to both them and your company.

We’ll leave you with this final thought from our marketing insights director, Patrick McGill.

“Don’t sell all the time. There’s a time for selling, but there’s also a time for building a relationship and cultivating a brand fan over time.”

About Jessica Wardenburg

As a blogger and former journalist, Jessica Wardenburg has found her niche in social media and public relations at Two Rivers Marketing. In her personal blog, she shares stories of her first-time experiences. In her professional life, Jessica loves that every day brings new challenges and opportunities to help clients. Her responsibilities include social media, media relations and writing. Email her for the first time (or 100th) at jessicaw@2rm.com.