10 Success Tips for Industrial Companies on Facebook
I’ve written in detail about ways that manufacturers and industrial companies can start using Twitter and LinkedIn for engagement and relationship building; but I’ve stayed away from the subject of Facebook. I’ve struggled myself building a community on Facebook, and honestly don’t see many small to mid-size industrial companies building an interactive community, either. The word “interactive” is key. I see plenty of “likes” for posts on industrial companies’ pages, but not a lot of comments or ongoing conversations. Granted, I follow a fraction of the industrial companies that have a Facebook page; however, everything I read and everyone I talk to seems to agree with me. With over 500 million active users on Facebook, why aren’t more industrial companies fostering interactive, informative communities for their employees, vendors, customers, partners, distributors, and those looking for their expertise? How can industrial companies “do Facebook” and be more successful?
If you’re an industrial company with a Facebook page that isn’t really meeting your expectations, here are 10 tips that will help you build a more vibrant Facebook community.
1. Figure out the challenges your customers face, and provide them with expertise and solutions.
Whether you are the business owner, a social media manager, a marketing person, or something in between: find a source that will tell you what objectives and needs your customers have. That may be inside sales; manufacturers’ reps; distributors; or if you are dealing with customers on a regular basis, you may have that knowledge yourself.
2. Don’t just talk – listen.
Don’t use Facebook simply to push out company news – be a resource and “go to” for your customers and prospects. You can be pro-active with your content by monitoring what is being said on Twitter (through your own group of followers or with keyword searches and hashtags) and in the LinkedIn groups you belong to. Take the time to listen to the questions your customers and prospects seem to be asking, then answer them with your Facebook content.
3. Repurpose all forms of relevant content from within your company.
Larger manufacturers and industrial service companies usually have a wealth of informative content at their fingertips that is not “marketing hype.” Do your engineers write articles for trade publications? Do they give presentations with PowerPoint slides at conferences or symposiums? Do you have documented case histories of successful applications of your product or service? Have you ever done a webinar or podcast? What about a company blog? Use all internal resources at your disposal to provide value to your Facebook followers that they can’t find just anywhere.
4. Ask questions to spark discussions.
Have you noticed that many blog posts end with a “call to action,” or question to spark further discussion? Ask questions of your Facebook followers and give them the opportunity to share ideas, experience and opinion. They don’t always have to be about your company or industry. Go a step beyond, and bring up questions and discussions in the broader context of what’s happening in your city, our country or the world.
5. Don’t get stuck in the traditional BtoB mind-set.
Industrial marketers are sometimes locked into a mind-set that what works in BtoC marketing rarely applies to them. That mind-set is becoming more and more outdated as opportunities to engage with customers and prospects through social media blurs the line between BtoB and BtoC marketing tactics. The whole point of social media marketing is to build relationships that benefit not only your company, but the individuals within your community.
6. Get creative with contests.
I know this is a radical idea, but what if the next time you were about to launch a new product or service, you held a contest on Facebook to decide its trade name? Offer an incentive to the contest winner like an iPad, or a $500 Amazon.com gift card. (You can ensure you end up with the “right” name by opening up the contest to employees.) Wouldn’t it be worth $500 to engage a large number of your followers? Be sure to reach out to each person that enters the contest, and promote it like crazy!
7. Make it easy for followers to interact with your company.
Do you have an inside sales or customer service person who is usually at their desk? There are now Facebook plug-ins that allow your followers to chat, real-time, with someone in your company! Put that inside sales person to good use, and make them not only available by phone and email, but by “live chat.”
8. Use “Polling” to gauge widespread response to a question.
Really not sure what your customers think about your company? Wondering if you should invest in R&D for product improvements? Want to know what your followers thought about a webinar or podcast you promoted? Facebook gives you the opportunity to poll your followers and get answers from them directly. It’s one more way to engage your community and obtain insight into what’s important to them.
9. Cross promote whenever possible.
Through social media, you will undoubtedly develop relationships with other like-minded individuals whose business offerings are either complimentary to yours, or possibly even slightly competitive. These individuals are often open to the idea of cross promotion. Not just on Facebook, but on Twitter, LinkedIn, and company blogs, you can use your social media platforms to promote other companies, while they in turn promote yours.
10. Humanize your company.
Facebook, for the majority of users, is still a place they go to have fun and engage with friends. No matter how technical your products or services are, you can still interject some light humor and human interest related posts into your content. Use Facebook to give a face and personality to your company. Examples? Highlight an employee of the month; give kudos to a loyal vendor; talk about your company’s support of a community cause; post pictures of people in your company doing their jobs and briefly describe what they do; do a poll that’s somehow tied to what you do, but is really just for fun.
If you are one of the fortunate industrial companies that are already successfully using Facebook to build important relationships, then hats off to you! However, in most instances, industrial companies have a long way to go in fully utilizing this increasingly important social media site for business. Learn to use it wisely now – and you’ll be ahead of the curve when Facebook finally ranks up there with LinkedIn and Twitter as the social media sites of choice for BtoB marketing.