In a Webinar today hosted by DemandResults client Appirio, Clara Shih made a convincing case that Facebook is fertile ground for big B2B marketing wins. Shih, author of the popular book The Facebook Era, cited the oft-repeated advertising phrase, “I know I’m wasting half of my marketing and advertising dollars, I just don’t know which half,” as the customer pain point that would drive ever-more B2B marketers into Facebook, where info-rich profile pages make targeting and measurements more possible than ever.
With the possible exception of companies embracing evidence-based marketingstrategies, Shih is correct that most companies are still faced with vast areas of untrackable marketing spend. Clara Shih Discusses B2B Lead Generation on Facebook Shih’s assertion that Facebook is ready for B2B marketing is something for all of us to ponder.
In an illustrated discussion, Shih cited four environments – Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – as ones where it was possible to leverage what she termed as “Transitive Trust” among B2B customers. She posited that most networkers in the B2B space would research a company in advance of a contact in not just one of those environments, but two, three or perhaps four of them – cross-referencing for consistency and other factors – and that introductions were made based on relationships garnered in at least one of the four. As an example of this, she cited Appirio’s Facebook Referral Management Solution, a social media recruiting-and-lead generation tool most utilized by Dell. Although the level of the program’s success was not quantified during Shih’s presentation, she explained its viability by hypothesizing that the definition of a “friend” in Facebook is changing over time to one that favors use by businesses. Indeed, it’s now possible to modify what information is displayed depending on whether a “friend” is in fact a friend or really a business contact, colleague or customer. To further her thinking along the lines of B2B lead generation and advertising, Shih went so far as to call Facebook a “CRM for individuals.”
The truth behind this rapid evolution is undeniable. While Facebook may still be the world’s best tool for managing a community of real friends, and keeping in touch with distant ones, increased anecdotal use of Facebook for business networking is undeniable. It’s no longer rare for a new business contact to add you as a Friend in their network (as opposed to requesting that you join their network on LinkedIn or Plaxo, which have been far more business-focused in the past).
This shift to social media will have major implications on B2B marketers. It’s not hard to envision a day when registration Web pages and lead generation contact forms are a thing of a past, replaced by one-touch “levels of permission” accessed via a social network such as Facebook.