I’m a big advocate of social media, including Facebook, but whether or not it’s right for your business depends largely upon what you expect it to do and the type of business you’re in. Having been active in social media in the B2B space for the last several years, I often compare what we’re doing on social media with some of my favorite brands (most of which happen to be B2C brands) and the audience we’re able to build, the engagement we’re able to experience, and the results we’re able to see pale by comparison to a strong B2C social media presence—but I’m pleased with the growth we see when compared to other B2B brands in our space.
We also regularly experiment with advertising on social media with limited to moderate success when compared to other direct marketing channels. Nevertheless, I’ve seen and read about the same marketing approaches reaping great results for consumer brands. In fact, I’ve even responded to adds that offered me products I might be interested in—and have even made purchases. But, I don’t want to be a focus group of one.
According to Erik Sherman, “Facebook marketing? A must according to many companies. Not worth the trouble to some. But most of the voices you hear are in the business-to-consumer space.” He continues, ” After all, people go onto Facebook for fun. But what if you’re trying to reach other businesses, making the seemingly reasonable argument that the users don’t stop being involved in business just because they’re taking a break?”
I have yet to be convinced that social media like Facebook is a viable direct marketing channel in the B2B space, but it’s definitely a good vehicle for promoting content. Social media has proven to be a good media for building an audience that’s interested in your industry, interested in learning, and willing to engage with you online. And, they often become some of your very best customers.
Three or four years ago I think it was Marketo’s Phil Fernandez who suggested that people who engaged with their social media before entering the sales process were better informed and prepared to make a purchase than those who didn’t. He suggested that it was time to stop thinking about the sales cycle and start thinking about the revenue cycle. He suggested that social media was a great vehicle for planting seeds that eventually became prospects and entered the sales funnel. He also argues that the traditional linear approach to marketing handing off a lead to sales and sales closing the deal doesn’t seem to work as well as when marketers continue to nurture, educate, and inform all throughout the revenue cycle.
I’m convinced that social media and content marketing play an incredibly valuable role within the revenue cycle. With that in mind, I believe social media is worth the effort for small business—I’m just not convinced that it makes sense to advertise there.