Facebook: The Social Network Manufacturers Can't Figure Out

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In my end of year review, I found that approximately 25% of PCB manufacturers have a Facebook page. Of those companies, 70% had given up. It was like something sinister had happened to the company’s Facebook poster. One month there’s five posts, the next month six, and then...silence.  

Of all the social networks out there, Facebook is the biggest. Some of the more incredible statistics (collected and posted by Craig Smith, January 29, 2014 on Expanded Ramblings Website):

  • 128 million daily users (not total users, daily users);
  • 66% of millennials (age 15-35) use Facebook;
  • 76% of users log in every day;
  • 8.3 hours per month per user logged on to Facebook; and
  • one in every seven minutes spent on the internet is spent on Facebook.

Aside from the raw numbers, there are other advantages to using Facebook. Perhaps as a defensive posture against Google, Facebook and Microsoft have a tight relationship with Microsoft’s Bing search engine ranking Facebook pages highly.

And Facebook stands by itself in being a place where conversations and comments are welcome. Posting comments is an expected activity on Facebook. This goes back to the fundamentals of social media. With social media, people become engaged with you and your company. They become involved with what you have to say. Facebook is really good at this aspect of social media.  

But PCB manufacturers haven’t managed to get any real traction using Facebook and have largely abandoned it. I think there are a combination of factors in play here:

Alternatives to Facebook Exist

In particular LinkedIn, with it’s pure business focus, has proven to be a good alternative to Facebook. Many companies see the two as an either/or situation, with many retailers using Facebook, and the B2B people using LinkedIn.

Many Companies Just Use Facebook as an Advertising Outlet

I saw this in a lot of the posts on the now abandoned Facebook pages. Sales pitches, come-ons, and straight on “invitations” to go to their website and order something. No wonder these companies failed. Who would ever want to come back a second time when the message is just “buy something from me?”

Many Companies Only Want to Talk About Themselves

Success in social media is largely dependent on how much a company helps its readers and followers. This is the “give to get” principle. A company gives in terms of resources and helpful content through its social media and, in return, it develops relationships with followers who may become customers down the line. But many companies are too busy talking about how wonderful they are they don’t want to hear about a follower’s problems. They just want that follower to order something.     Many Companies are ImpatientAnd this brings up the final mistake many companies make on Facebook: They lack the patience to see it through. When they don’t see immediate results they fold their tents and run away. This is an interesting phenomena, in that the same sort of attitude in sales would be a disaster. A sales rep can’t walk in and expect to make a sale in the first introductory meeting with a prospect. Yet companies expect that kind of response from a Facebook follower. “People come to our Facebook page, but no one buys anything.” They give up.

Companies in the B2B space are, in fact, making Facebook work for them. They understand how to use it, how their customers use it, how Facebook fits with their other social media efforts, and how their social media efforts fit with their sales and marketing strategy.Bruce Johnston is a sales consultant specializing in social media and especially LinkedIn. He has over 25 years experience in high-tech sales and management. He can be reached at brucej@practicalsmm.com or through his profile on LinkedIn.


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