Don’t link to your Facebook brand page from your B2B corporate home page just to show your CMO you know what Facebook is.

Forrester has long-viewed our POST — people, objectives, strategy, and tools/technology, in that order — methodology as a primary tool for social marketers to use when developing a social strategy. This requires thinking about your audience and their social behaviors first (people), then your business objectives that you are using social to meet, then what your strategy should be, and finally, what tools, technology, and platforms will help you reach your goals. Yet I’m having more and more conversations with B2B marketers who haven’t articulated their audience’s business social behaviors about social platforms they maintain a corporate presence on and link to on their corporate home pages.

Your customers’ and prospects’ use of social is exceedingly context dependent — and you only care what they are doing in a business context in relation to your solution. Forrester’s data consistently shows that Facebook is not very influential in the B2B purchase process. For this reason, before you decide to put a link to your Facebook group (or page) on your B2B corporate home page because your peers in other organizations have done so, or your CMO requested it, consider the following questions:

  • Does my audience use Facebook in the context of my solutions (e.g., to talk about networking hardware or financial services), or just in a personal context (e.g., to look at photos of their children’s soccer game or talk about their upcoming vacation)?
  • Do I have an active community on Facebook so that when a customer goes to my Facebook page, they will have a positive experience with my brand?
  • Do I have the community management resources to engage with (and produce content for) my audience across five or more different social touchpoints (e.g., Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and my own owner community on my own website), or do I need to limit my commitments?
  • Do I have a process for connecting Facebook users who engage with me to my lead management and CRM systems?

This doesn’t mean that Facebook cannot be an effective tool for B2B marketers, but it does mean that you should think carefully about if you want to promote it from your corporate home page, especially over a community you fully own and operate yourself. When we ask business buyers about what sources they are influenced by, Facebook is consistently at or near the bottom of the list (along with Twitter), while both your website and community or forums are both much more important.  However, this advise doesn't just apply to Facebook —  these questions should also apply to links you're considering for any large public social network.

Please share if you’ve found marketing with Facebook groups, and linking to them from your corporate home page, effective for you, and what approaches you are currently trying — I’m always excited to speak to marketers who are experimenting with these topics!