I’ve been having a lot of conversations recently with people about Facebook, and in particular the role Facebook plays in the business-to-business environment. When running social media training I’ve had a lot of questions about Facebook for B2B businesses.
Personally I think Facebook is becoming a much more interesting platform for B2B communications, but it’s not about having a Facebook page for your business. I think where the strength lies is in Facebook groups.
Many organisations will have a LinkedIn group and then they struggle to populate it, people don’t really take part in discussions or if they do it’s just the same few people each time. Facebook groups seem to be getting more traction and I think it’s because postings in those groups will appear in people’s Facebook timelines, so integrate much more seamlessly into their online lives. Thus people are much more aware of what’s being said in the group and far more likely to contribute, and they’re also much more likely to share rich content like videos and images with the group in a way that LinkedIn just isn’t really set up for.
A Facebook Group can be a B2B community
So if you’re thinking about setting up an online community, setting up a group of some description to bring together maybe your customers or people interested in the same topics as you, think about setting up a Facebook group rather than a LinkedIn group.
The other advantage of Facebook groups is that they appear in people’s timelines whenever there’s a posting (if they have notifications set correctly). The problem with Facebook pages is that unless you are willing to pay to promote the posts, a lot of your posts just won’t appear in people’s timelines; it’s part of Facebook’s strategy to ask you to advertise instead. So think about setting up a group rather than a Facebook page, but bear in mind you cannot set up a profile (i.e. a personal page) for your group – if it’s seen as such by Facebook, they will delete it.
So, just to recap: Facebook groups are a great way to build online communities, particularly now I think in the B2B environment. If you want to look at an example, check out the Professional Speaking Association (the PSA) by finding their Facebook group. It’s an open group – you can apply to join and I think pretty much everybody is approved, or you can see most of what is going on without joining – and it’s just an interesting way to see a B2B discussion going on. It is moderated; anything too self-promotional is deleted. So they are careful about it, it’s not full of spam or people just selling their own products or services. I think it’s a great example of a B2B Facebook group.