How to start a B2B professional services Facebook page
by Meryl K. Evans, Professional Services Journal Editor
Search the Internet and you’ll find many examples of business-to-business (B2B) companies using Facebook. Recent interviews with Cisco and ServiceNow have confirmed that B2B companies can connect with customers through a Facebook page.
Given these successes, Professional Services Journal publisher Hank Stroll and I talked about creating a Facebook page for InternetVIZ. We decided not to pursue it because we couldn’t commit to it. At the time, we decided to focus on our Twitter (@internetviz) efforts and didn’t want to split our attention with another social network.
Later, Hank and I talked again and decided to give it a go with Facebook.
Capturing the purpose of the Facebook page
First, we defined the purpose of the page and posted it in Facebook:
On this page, we’ll cover social media, online communications, marketing, email newsletters, webinars, blogs, surveys, e-books and email campaigns. We will do our best to serve up piping-hot content you can use.
This keeps us on track and lets people know what they can expect when visiting the page. We also deliver personal content because it helps us get to know each other better.
As you define your page’s purpose, remember that rules don’t exist for social networks, which keep changing, and what might annoy 50 percent of the audience doesn’t annoy the other 50. Here’s an example. Several people, including Dan Zarrella, tested asking for retweets (RTs) in Twitter to encourage people to retweet (RT) their tweets. Doing this led to a notable increase in RTs. Yet, Peter Shankman reflected what many people think of this practice — it needs to stop.
Creating Facebook page guidelines
Along with defining our page’s purpose, we set the following ground rules to guide our efforts to ensure our Facebook page provides value to readers rather than promotes us.
• Offer more content than links. Who wants to read a Facebook page that’s nothing but pointers to other articles and resources? Valuable content includes using polls, asking questions, adding photos and sharing nonbusiness content. If we create videos, we’ll share them.
• Engage. We ask for and respond to comments.
• Monitor self-promotion. Aside from helping customers, B2B companies want to make sales when using social media. You wouldn’t hang around if we just talked about ourselves all the time, right? Exactly. We take extra care in linking to our own stuff.
• Control automation. Automation means that whenever someone posts a new blog item, it gets posted on Facebook and Twitter. This is another sore spot for social network users. That’s why we suggest you “control” automation, meaning that we spread out these posts, not put them up back-to-back. If someone visits your Facebook page for the first time and sees many messages from your blog, they won’t follow back or interact. They might as well as subscribe to your blog and skip the Facebook page.
• Link to the Facebook page. No one will know about the Facebook page without some action from us. Relying on one marketing tool limits a company’s reach. We don’t just send email newsletters. Not everyone subscribes to newsletters. We use multiple tools: a blog, email newsletters, webinars, social networks and our website.
• Be patient. The Facebook page has a few “Likes” and votes. Spreading the word and compelling people to read and return to it won’t be instantaneous.
• Have fun. We’re serious about our business, but we also like to have fun. So we’ll share interesting or humorous finds.
It takes time to gain trust and build interactions in social media, including Facebook. As we manage our Facebook page, we’ll share our experience in what works and what doesn’t.
Does your company have a Facebook page? Why or why not? What are your favorite company Facebook pages? What draws you to them? Please share your thoughts in comments.
About the editor
Meryl K. Evans is senior editor at InternetVIZ and the content maven behind the Connected Digest, IT Solutions Journal and Professional Services Journal. Follow her on Twitter @merylkevans.