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I know lots of business owners who think that Facebook—and, indeed, most social media—better serves B2C companies than it does B2B firms. But I'd argue that although communicating via social media might be easier for B2C companies, B2B companies can still take advantage of social media to connect with their current customers and convert prospects into new customers.

The B2B audience might be smaller, and B2Bs face unique challenges, but social media is worth B2Bs' time and effort. I know firsthand, because at my company we function as both a B2B and a B2C. And we use contests all the time to engage with our users and to convert new ones, and we create apps for clients to use with their clients.

So if you've ever wondered whether a Facebook contest might work for your B2B company, I have some tips that will help.

1. Remember that social media is a friendly way to get in front of your clients

Let's say you use email newsletters to share information about your company and products. Newsletters are a great way to alert both current and prospective customers about special deals and new features.

Newsletters, though, are also likely to be filed—figuratively, anyway—under "business," whereas if you have a presence on Facebook you are engaging with your customers in the same place they engage with their friends and families. Your post, which might be an invitation to enter a contest, could potentially show up in between pictures of their children or grandchildren.

In other words, via social media you have an opportunity to have a dialogue with your customers that might not have anything to do with sales.

2. Host contests or promotions to get in touch with your customers more often

If yours is a B2B company, when you "talk" (i.e., get your message out) you are talking, for the most part, to people who already know about your business. But hosting a Facebook contest gives you an opportunity to have those customers share information about you with their friends and customers. We host contests with prizes like T-shirts and coffee mugs with our logo on them, and customers love them.

3. Give your users an incentive to share news about your contest

One of the reasons to host a contest is to spread the word about your company beyond your customers. So when you set up your contest, make sure your app allows you to offer a feature that doubles the chances of winning for anyone who shares the entry form.

The people who enter your contest are more likely to share news about the contest if there is something in it for them—in this case, an increased chance of winning your prize.

4. Use your contest to show off your company's personality

Remember that the very reason social media has taken the world by storm is that people like to share information about themselves and their businesses. And people like to learn about the culture of businesses and brands.

Whether you manufacture shovels to sell to hardware stores or you design cookie sheets to sell to bakeries, your business and the people who work for you have stories to tell and your customers want to hear these stories.

5. Share details about your contest everywhere

When you get your app up and running, don't be shy about promoting it. Add a link to the bottom of that email newsletter. Put the contest on your website, tweet a link (if you happen to be on Twitter), and even add a link to your email signature. Don't neglect a single opportunity to get the word out.

6. Use the contest as an opportunity to learn more about your customers/clients—but make sure they know that one of your goals is to be able to serve them better

When people fill out your entry form, ask them a few questions that will help you. What products are they looking for? What products do they wish you offered? What is their budget for next year? What is the time frame for these major purchases?

Collecting that kind of information will help you meet the future needs of your customers and clients.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Jim Belosic

Jim Belosic is a co-founder and the CEO of software company Pancake Laboratories, best known for its flagship product, ShortStack, a self-service custom app design tool.

LinkedIn: Jim Belosic