I’ve been paying more attention to Facebook with regard to B2B, especially with all of the changes going down (including Timeline, which deployed worldwide last week). I’m particularly intrigued with the competition between G+ and FB. I absolutely LOVE how G+ has forced FB to become more transparent and easier to use.
I also love how it’s now much more transparent that FB is no longer a strictly social networking platform — which it used to be. It’s now a network marketing platform.
Viewing FB from this perspective has made me re-evaluate it with regard to B2B. Can B2B companies use FB effectively? I say yes, but with a couple of caveats. One, FB is a place where you talk to people versus selling to them, which a huge mind shift for companies bent on measuring “ROI” in hard numbers (i.e. leads that become sales), and two, FB is a place where you can let your hair down a little bit and have some fun, also a huge mind shift for companies that have a more conservative approach to business in general.
With all of this in mind, I was particularly interested in the new report from Eloqua — 10 Ways to “Solve” Facebook for B2B. After reading it, I had a few questions, which Joe Chernov, VP of Content Marketing, was happy to answer.
Dianna Huff: Joe, in this report you talk about sweepstakes. How can B2B use these? They seem more B2C.
Joe Chernov: Dianna, you’re correct. Sweepstakes can be tricky for B2B. After all, the potential audience for a B2B product is typically more finite than for consumer goods. That said, sweepstakes can work for B2B marketers, it just takes a little creative thinking.
For example, we ran a sweepstakes in concert with EmpireAvenue a “virtual” stock exchange in which members invest virtual currency, called Eaves, in one another. EmpireAvenue is immensely popular with our target audience: marketers and digital media professionals. So when we gave EmpireAvenue members a chance to win Eaves by joining our Facebook community, it was a natural fit. We were attracting the right audience.
DH: Interesting! You’re actually the second person I know to mention EmpireAvenue. Now I’ll have to check it out.
Regarding weekend posting, which you talk about briefly in your report, I think this is a really important consideration for B2B, especially since so many companies block FB. Can you expound on this a little bit?
JC: You’re exactly right: the “weekend Facebook” audience is comprised of different people than “work hours Facebook.” The goal on weekends isn’t necessarily to reach massive numbers of business professionals, but rather to reach new members, like those who work for companies where Facebook is blocked, or those who just don’t think to get on Facebook during work hours. A community is comprised of all members, not just the members who are available when it’s convenient for the brand.
DH: Joe, I like how you put that — reaching new members. That ties in with the report comScore and Facebook put out in July, The Power of Like: How Brands Reach and Influence Fans Through Social Media Marketing. According to the report, only 16% of Fans are reached by branded content by a brand that posts five out of seven days. One reason for this is that people miss content if they’re not logged on when you post the content.
In your report, you mention the Golden Ratio. Can you explain what this means?
JC: The Golden Ratio is a mathematical term that is derived from nature. Apparently the shape of a nautilus, the veins in leaves, even the proportions of humans, all share the same mathematical dimensions. So we decided to see if on Facebook there was a “Golden Ratio” … that is, a normal balance between “Likes” and comments, and whether or not that ratio differed between B2B and B2C companies.This data is in the deck so that brands can see if the way their Fans engage with them is consistent with these norms or if it differs sharply from them. It’s a baseline.
DH: Ok, excellent. And one last question. You also mention that automated posting tools have a NEGATIVE impact on posts being seen. Can you talk a little about that, too?
JC: In our experience, auto-posting tools had a NEGATIVE impact on our posts being seen. Historically Facebook’s algorithm has frowned on third-party publishers.That appears to have changed, according to a November 7 post at AllFacebook, but in our experience, our “jobs at Eloqua auto-publisher” had a negative impact.
Joe, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions!
Be sure to download Eloqua’s report. And, if you haven’t already, come join me on Facebook. I post content that you might find interesting — everything from links to new reports and data to articles that have ideas about how to improve your thinking.
What do you think about Facebook and B2B? Do you think Timeline will be a game changer and force more B2B companies to incorporate FB into their marketing campaigns? Leave your comments below.