Facebook has long been a marketing boon in the B2C arena, allowing brands to effectively reach out and connect with their customers directly, gathering data and insight and signaling which users – read as “influencers” – are worth a closer look. In B2B, communications are less informal as a general rule, and you don’t see many companies proactively reaching out unless a stated concern or need is publicly posted. Does that mean Facebook isn’t useful for businesses to connect to other businesses? Not by a long shot. There are plenty of B2B decision-makers on Facebook, and a great deal of them can be coaxed into listening via Facebook groups.

Make an Event-Centric Group

Trade shows, industry conventions, niche seminars – there’s no end to the event-based opportunities to cross paths with potential customers. Prior to the event, create a Facebook group linked to your company’s page and send out invites to users – whether prospects or not – that have listed themselves as attending. An informal rationale makes for a low bar to entry – a discussion of well-reviewed restaurants local to the event center is a great way to get discussion started, for example. Once connections are made and conversations are started, the group can be used after the event to continue communication with those same, now-warm, leads.

Try Out a Review Panel

If you have any leverage when it comes free products or services from your company, offering a token gift for “honest reviews” is another way to populate easy-entry Facebook groups for pages. This is an especially effective tactic when used with lower-level decision makers, provided the invitation calls out their opinion as an important one. A little authority-ascribing can go a long way – if your company intimates those individuals are important enough to invite them to an exclusive, private review panel as a thought leader / influencer, they’ll remember that boost to credibility as they climb the corporate ladder later on. Opening a line of communication with newer hires will also give you a valuable, fresh-eyes look into the decision-making processes within their companies that can be folded into your approach later on.

Showcase Your News

If you frame a Facebook group as the primary source for your company’s newest products and services, it becomes less of a casual option and more of a must-join for B2B customers that are already invested. Even a few days’ worth of a sneak peek is a tempting carrot to dangle in competitive circles, and once you have that attention, you can use it beyond simple announcements. A word of caution: if you take this tack, be sure to ease slowly into non-announcement posts, or else your new members might feel like they’ve been duped and leave the group. Facebook tools, such as thelive broadcast feature, also give you access to “product reveal” streaming without the usual headaches of downloading software, troubleshooting for individual users, device incompatibility, and so on – Facebook is Facebook, and if your B2B group members have it installed as an app or are accessing it on a computer, they’ll be able to see your stream embedded within Facebook – no software necessary.

Facebook groups for pages are an excellent way to expand the reach of your message beyond PPC and other paid social media ad options, ensuring that you’re reaching customers outside of strictly-business platforms like LinkedIn. If you approach Facebook engagement carefully and treat it respectfully – no spam, please! – you’ll be able to connect with your customers outside of the office and drive home brand interest and loyalty.

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