B2B companies flock to Facebook, but aren’t engaging

I’ve often found the reluctance of B2B brands to get involved in Facebook surprising. Yes, it’s traditionally been the domain of ‘friends’ that know each other in ‘real life’ but, in the last year, Facebook has taken steps to open the network up with the addition of features such as Pages, Subscribe and Lists.

So I was intrigued to learn, from some research we’ve conducted, that UK B2B tech brands have flocked to Facebook over the last 12 months.

Today, we’ve released a report that analyses how 50 of the UK’s leading tech companies are using social media. The results echo the conversations that I’ve had with companies over the last 12 months. Increasingly I find that businesses now appreciate the need to get involved in social media, they just don’t know how to go about it.

And the B2B Facebook issue is a case in point. The study found that although 70% of the B2B brands we assessed were now on Facebook (compared to only 40% last year), engagement levels were very low with only 22% of companies using it to engage with users, compared to 63% of consumer tech brands.

Using social media to be social

This last point about the lack of engagement is echoed throughout the research. Of all the social networks we assessed – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and blogs – levels of engagement were still very low.  Only 14% of tweets were replies and retweets and, when it came to the companies that had a blog, only 20% received comments and only one company took the trouble to reply to comments received.

It just goes to show the mind-shift required for companies to really use social media effectively (by being social) is tough. Marketers and PRs are used to decades of push techniques where carefully crafted messages are sprayed out to audiences in the hope that something, somewhere will stick.

It’s a strategy that just won’t work with social media.

I’m not saying social media can’t be integrated with other PR and marketing campaigns, just that the approach needs to suit the medium. That means training, processes and ideas that will work specifically for social channels.

A new approach

Where we’ve had notable success with clients is where companies are willing to change traditionally held mindsets; to be open and transparent and let their employees and other stakeholders properly engage with prospects and customers.

It’s not rocket science; it just takes a different, social approach. So I welcome the move to Facebook by B2B tech companies, let’s hope they use the next 12 months to up the engagement too.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

You can download the full report here. Danny Whatmough is an Account Director at EML Wildfire. You can follow him on Twitter here.