Important points B2B businesses should consider before launching a Facebook brand page

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By Alexandra Reid

Francis Moran and Associates now has a branded page on Facebook. As the community manager here and a social media professional, I’m delighted. But I think it’s important to explain why we took so long to decide that this was a good idea, in case any of you are also humming and hawing about allocating resources to support activity on this platform.

The value of Facebook to B2B businesses has been debated for some time. While the platform was launched in 2004, it didn’t gain major traction among businesses until 2009, and even then it was considered to be primarily a B2C channel. Only until recently has it become more or less conclusive among social media professionals that Facebook can also be an extremely powerful B2B channel.

As Facebook is still so new to businesses, best practices for using brand pages are still in the works. In fact, Facebook didn’t launch it’s own advisory guide, Facebook for Businesses, until July 2011.

Reports on brand progress on the channel have emphasized evolution, maturation and even triumph, with many highlighting “experts” who have seemingly managed to conquer the platform and steer their brand pages towards success.

Indeed, in 2012, brands are expected to become more sophisticated in their use of the channel. Last year, the focus of brands on Facebook was engagement, but in 2012, “it’s going to be all about performance and monetization,” reports VentureBeat.

Return on investment — that’s the social media kicker. While we have long understood the value of Facebook for spreading brand awareness, promoting content and establishing thought leadership, the real value is in fostering great relationships with individuals for the purpose of business development. While we agree that many businesses have “figured out Facebook” in that they use it for more than simply broadcasting messages, the vast majority is still working out kinks in their strategies.

While there may very well be Facebook pros out there, I’m skeptical of the inclusiveness of reports and the tooting of self-proclaimed experts who say businesses are dominating the channel and therefore all businesses must immediately establish a presence there. I can’t conceive of why we are producing all of these guides and “how to” blog posts if there is not still a substantial number of brands out there seeking help.

That’s why we gave ourselves the time to pause, think deeply and take three long breaths before joining. We learned the potential pitfalls, studied the merits, developed a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities for success and worked out a sound strategy for engaging on the channel before diving in with shallow knowledge headfirst. We recently joined because we feel that more businesses have ironed out major wrinkles in their strategies and are starting to engage more effectively. It is now more discernible to us how ROI can be achieved.

A lot of learning is done through doing, yet arming yourself with knowledge before jumping into action can only be beneficial.

Here are some points you should consider before launching your B2B brand page:

  1. Identify your goals: You can’t determine ROI if you don’t know what you’re measuring. Goals could include, but certainly aren’t limited to, brand awareness, thought leadership and business development and sales. Once you know exactly what you want to get out of the channel, you’ll be able to conduct further research to devise a strategy to meet those goals.
  2. Research your competition: What is your competition doing on the channel and what potential areas are they failing to address? This step is the start to developing a unique voice on the channel and providing competitive content.
  3. Find your people: A lot of these individuals will be uncovered as you research your competition, but you can also seek them out on other channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn and personal Facebook profiles and address books. Build a list of connections that you can invite on your launch day.
  4. Lay out a content strategy: What, exactly, will you share with your community? How often will you post? You should be able to determine this by researching your competition and also the individuals themselves on their own social channels. Lay out your content strategy for the first three months if possible. This should include both written and multimedia content.
  5. Determine your promotion strategy: How will you let people know you’re on Facebook? For example, you could use other social channels to promote your page, add a like button to your website, comment on other blogs of relevance while linking back to your page and even blog about it. (Gasp! My motive for this blog post has been revealed!)
  6. Set up measurement methods: Facebook provides insights for its pages, but this information is quite limited. Depending on your goals, you will want to set up separate spreadsheets for measuring progress over time. For example, I measure page likes, comments made on our content, comments I make on other page content and number of posts published per week. I will also keep track of important individuals with whom I’ve engaged and track any leads, if and when they come about.

If you are a B2B business facing problems or have questions regarding any one of these activities, we’d love to hear from you. You can drop us a line in the comments section below, tweet us, connect with us on LinkedIn or Facebook or contact us through the additional options provided on our website.

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