Why Your Company Isn't Making Any Money From Facebook

Doing "social media" isn't enough. Seeing a return from social interactions requires "social demand generation."

You know, it's funny. I did my first really large Facebook advertising campaign last week, and I think the results were pretty great. But it's only because I had a real conversion path. I spent $122 on 510,000 highly targeted impressions on Facebook, aimed at my prospective customers, and then I directed the people who clicked on the ad to sign up for a free teleseminar. The whole program cost me about $300, in total, and it netted three highly-qualified leads, at a net cost of about $100-much lower than what I'm normally willing to pay for a great lead.

This wasn't just done using Facebook. I was using an enterprise-grade teleseminar platform and a really excellent piece of marketing automation software. I also had a great CRM platform, and a top-notch demand generation team behind me.

The reason most businesses (especially B2B) don't make any provable revenue from Facebook is because they're doing "social media" and not "social demand generation." Putting up cute little status updates on your corporate Facebook page about your product or services features and advantages isn't going to do anything for your bottom line-most sales and marketing professionals learned that "telling isn't selling" somewhere around 1981.

What does make a difference, however, is 1) providing timely information that solves your customers' problems at the point-of-need, and 2) nurturing these leads carefully, until they are ready to buy, by dispensing this content at the correct points in the customer's buy cycle. I was looking at the Facebook page this morning of a well-known telephony software company; they're publishing a series of blogs on social media for small business owners. So far, they've addressed eight or 10 topics in some pretty high-value posts. For example, if these blog posts were a book, I'd recommend that the average small business owner would be smart to spend $5 on it.

So, this telephony software company is halfway there. They've got the content piece figured out, as they're providing valuable content. But it's not aligned to the customer buy cycle, and it's not being dispensed at the exact point of need. From the social perspective, it's being shared, a little bit (a few Facebook Likes, and a few tweets), but there's not a high level of social engagement. In fact, nearly 50 percent of the messages on the company's Facebook wall are customer service inquiries (which the company promptly responds to, to their credit).

The key problem that this company has is twofold: 1) there are no conversion paths to purchase (directly or indirectly) from their social content; and 2) it's not tailored to the needs of individual consumers. Further, their efforts are being undermined by social-media-help-desk inquiries that clutter their channel.

Here's a few best practices that will help you avoid the problems that this company is having, driving demand from the social customer.

  1. Banish the help desk. This doesn't mean to remove it from the social web, but make a specific customer-support channel so that it doesn't interfere with benefit and problem-solving driven dialogue.
  2. Figure out how to narrowcast social content. There should be offerings for prospective customers at every stage in the buy cycle (and customer cycle), with corresponding nurturing flows. And the customer can always opt-out. It's good business, and it's the law.
  3. Have assessable metrics for every campaign, driven by real business objectives. As a strategist, I never saw anyone get promoted or get a raise because they got their Facebook page a lot of "likes." Good things happen when you align social business and social demand generation to your company's mission. If you figure out how to do that, and solve problems for the social customer, you'll be in good shape.

+ + + + + + + +

About the Author: Adam Metz is director of social business for The Pedowitz Group