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September 9, 2010

5 Ways for B2B Companies to Engage on Facebook

by trevoreade

Recently, I looked at 5 Ways for B2B Companies to Engage on Twitter. If the micro-blogging tool is often cited as a social media marketer’s golden child, Facebook may just as often be considered the red-headed stepchild. In a recent post Facebook is Doing it Wrong for B2B Companies touches on many of the ways Facebook is ignoring marketers’ needs, in addition to its shaky privacy policies and recently ill-received Places launch.

However, Facebook has more than 500 million reasons for B2B companies to create and foster an interactive, informative community for employees, partners, customers, retailers and distributors. Here’s a starter kit for B2B companies to better engage on Facebook:

1. Original Content and Industry Content

The design principle “Keep it simple, stupid” also applies to content you’re already spending time to create. Have a newsletter, magazine, newsroom or blog? Repurpose that information on Facebook, making sure it’s relevant and interesting to this particular community. Take advantage of the Facebook status update’s 420-character limit, but keep your Twitter hat on and be concise.

Consider these types of posts reflections of your blog and Twitter editorial calendars, and find them in similar ways: Make sure your feed reader is full of relevant industry blogs and sites, and curate helpful Twitter lists and hashtag/keyword searches.

2. Questions

Sometimes, all you have to do is ask. There’s a reason many Social Media B2B blog posts end with a question – a call to action is a simple thing that often goes forgotten. Make it a habit to end status updates by asking your followers what think about a particular article, industry trend or new product.

On the lighter side, use questions as a conversation starter. Fun topics such as company or industry “Did you know…?” trivia or even a simple “Good morning! What did you do this weekend?” can go a long way to making your Facebook page a community destination instead of a promotional content dump. People enjoy talking about themselves and their experiences – let them do it on your page and learn from what they tell you.

If you’re asking your Facebook followers for feedback, remember it’s a two-way street. Be sure to check back often to reply to others’ questions and be part of the conversation yourself.

3. Photos and Videos

There are many applications such as TwitPic and TwitVid that facilitate the addition of photos and videos on Twitter updates. Facebook, however, gets a leg up on those tools’ shortened URLs by putting photos and videos straight into Facebook users’ news feeds. Photos and videos are welcome breaks from text-heavy status updates, and let businesses tell their stories with images and sound.

Take advantage of the provided status update space to give background on these types of media, and start dialogue by asking followers their thoughts, reactions and favorites.

4. Behind-the-scenes and VIP Info

People “Like” Facebook pages to have another way to track their favorites brands, products, people and places. Make your company’s Facebook updates stand out by offering up valuable information and interactions they won’t find anywhere else, such as behind-the-scenes photos, sneak-peek product announcements and Facebook-only contests.

Be careful with Facebook promotions, however. Facebook updated its promotions guidelines at the end of 2009 to better regulate contests held and promoted on its site. Here are a few things to keep in mind: You can’t make contest entrants perform any other action on Facebook other than “Liking” your page; be mindful how you frame Facebook and its images in the contest; and, as always, pay attention to local and national promotion rules. See the full guidelines straight from Facebook here, or check out this post on the Inside Facebook blog.

5. Tagging

Similar to Twitter’s “@ mention,” Facebook allows fan pages to tag other people and pages in status updates. This comes in handy when status updates touch on key partners and demographics such as trade media, associations and trade shows. For example, if you post an interview Trade Magazine Weekly did with your company’s CEO, include a short status update intro above the link that mentions the media outlet. This will show up on the outlet’s Facebook page Wall and will be visible to everyone who visits its page.

Similarly, when other people and pages tag your business, it will appear on your page’s wall. These posts break up your page’s usual stream of content, and show that others find your Facebook page (and company) worthy of a mention. Boost these types of mentions by regularly tagging others yourself, and asking employees, partners and followers to tag you in their posts.

How is your B2B company engaging with your Facebook community?

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