There's More to Using Facebook for Dynamics ISVs Than Collecting Lots of New Friends--Is It Worth The Effort?

Social media, social media, social media! If you aren't using social media to promote your company and its solutions, people won't notice your existence. Or so we are being told. But is that really true? Or more to the point, are there special considerations for ISVs trying to gain marketing benefits from the social media?

Recently, I've come across articles and advisories regarding "best practices" for using social media tools to promote your brand. Most of these articles provide general "tips" for getting started with marketing on the social media sites. For instance, the one attached advises "Plan Your Strategy", "Do Your Research", and "Get Cracking". I don't mean to pick on this one as problematic; like most, it is well conceived. I just question whether such articles probe deeply enough for the special needs of Dynamics ISVs.

Let's try to examine the social media with a more critical eye, a business-payback eye. Each platform serves a different purpose. I'll examine Facebook in this article, and in subsequent articles consider LinkedIn and Twitter.

On its face, Facebook would seem to offer little in the way of opportunity for Dynamics ISVs, since it is a personally-oriented site of connected friends and acquaintances.

Do your friends really care that you can provide software that integrates with one or more Microsoft Dynamics products? Indeed, how many even know what Microsoft Dynamics is?

Your friends are more likely to "like" mainstream consumer products or companies like Nike or Apple, or be interested in learning about the latest good movies or interesting restaurants.

Yet it is possible on Facebook to establish a page devoted to a particular product, and if your company's offering is especially intriguing--say, a consumer marketing tool or an HR tool for encouraging improved employee health habits--a special page may make sense. Just understand that business executives you are trying to reach aren't inclined to access Facebook for such info, so your page may have difficulty gaining traction.

So the real question I am posing is this: Is it worth your while to try to turn Facebook into a marketing tool for your company?

To answer that question we need to return to marketing basics. The fact that you are selling in a highly specialized marketplace like Dynamics makes you a niche-oriented company, rather than a mass-marketing company. The best way I have found for highly specialized technology companies like Dynamics ISVs to attract interest is to use informative and targeted content--case studies, white papers, and prescriptive articles.

How do you disseminate such content on Facebook? Not easily. Certainly one way is to send friends and followers to web sites where you keep the content. Even better is to send them to third-party sites publishing your content.

After all, part of the challenge in using your own content is to position it as independent and objective--not simply as promotional material. Sending friends and followers to your own web site immediately suggests the content is promotional.

To get your content onto third-party sites generally requires that it be of a certain quality to warrant publishing. In other words,that it has been assessed, vetted.

Credible content can possibly attract people outside your company to recommend it, to "like" it on Facebook, and thus attract additional readers. What makes Facebook so successful is that it serves as a place to create "buzz," word-of-mouth.

But Facebook is best at creating buzz for video games or new sneakers, or movies, not for highly specialized Dynamics content. Prospective customers are not inclined to check out Facebook for their Dynamics solution enhancements. I am a believer in putting your marketing resources to work where they gain maximum leverage, and leaving the marginal stuff to your competitors.

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