When you think of “fun business Pages to visit on Facebook,” the Pages of manufacturing companies probably aren’t the first to come to mind.

Finding interesting and exciting ways to use Facebook to engage with their target audience is a huge hurdle for businesses that don’t sell directly to consumers but still want to have a social presence.

To make things even more difficult, these manufacturers have the challenge of trying to engage other businesses that are already busy trying to connect with their own social audience.

How can manufacturers use Facebook? What can they put on their Facebook Page that will actually engage people?

Ready to get new manufacturing deals and repeat business — all in one place?

One company may have found the solution.

Flora, a Canadian manufacturer and distributor of natural health supplements, recently decided to try something a little different. Rather than trying to reach potential clients, they created a page that appeals directly to consumers.

“We wanted to support our clients’ business by helping them market our products,” Brand Manager Kathy Shwydky explains. “With our Page, we stay top-of-mind among consumers, so when they do go to the health store, they’re more likely to think of us.”

Manufacturing a social network

One of the first steps for Kathy was Liking the Facebook Pages of clients. In turn, they Liked the Flora Page. The brand pages frequently interact with one another, which broadens the reach and exposure of both businesses even further.

“The main target is the consumer, so we share a lot of recipes and health news,” Kathy says. “Sometimes, we’ll talk about events. We try to keep it to 50 percent general health information and 50 percent posts about our products.”

Even when Flora does post about products, it’s often in the context of a larger issue —  whether suggesting the flowers and berries of a black elder plant to help combat congestion during the winter or discussing the benefits of consuming omegas.

By creating and sharing content that actually benefits consumers and that their audience really cares about, Kathy is able to overcome the hurdle that often keeps manufacturers away from social media.

A contest for fans

To jumpstart fan growth and celebrate the newly launched site, Kathy decided to run a contest for her Facebook Fans.

Kathy created a contest that would not only reward her current fan base but also offer her the opportunity to attract new fans and grow her audience on Facebook.

And because Kathy had already been sending a consumer-facing email newsletter, she could promote the sweepstakes to her contacts outside of Facebook and encourage them to enter the contest, as well. She also printed out flyers with QR codes to give customers the opportunity to get in on the action.

Fans provided their email address in order to be entered into the contest, which allowed Kathy to grow her mailing list as well

In December, Kathy ran her first contest — just in time for the holidays — giving Fans the opportunity to be entered to win a prize pack of Flora products.

In less than two weeks the contest attracted 126 new Fans and 90 new email contacts.

It was a good start, but that was just the beginning.

The next month, Flora ran a second contest offering $300 to help one Fan with their New Year’s resolution. Entrants had to enter their email address and share an inspiring story on the Page itself.

The second contest netted 102 new fans and 85 new email subscribers.

Thanks in large part to these contests, the three-month-old Facebook Page went into 2013 with over 300 fans. And, as a bonus, Kathy had 175 new email contacts for the Pulse newsletter.

The strategy of purpose

For Flora, the best part of the Facebook Page is that it allows the company to help clients.

“This way, we can provide value to clients and reach people we otherwise wouldn’t,” Kathy says.

At the end of the day, that’s the core of any social media marketing strategy. When it comes to Facebook, there are often questions about metrics and ROI, especially for businesses that know their primary clients aren’t active on social media.

“You have to sit down and ask, ‘Why am I doing this? Who am I talking to? What am I getting from this?’” Kathy explains. “I always think as the consumer. ‘If this were me, would I read this? What would I want to read about?’”

The key, she adds, is switching your brain from marketer to consumer. “I think some people forget to do that,” she says.

Want to learn more about how Facebook can boost your business? Visit our Facebook 101 Page.