Tips on How Manufacturing Can Utilize Social Media

Manufacturers should get on the bandwagon and start using social media. You can be afraid of it and then you’re missing lots of opportunities to tell your story and generate interest in your company and what you do.

This guest post was provided by Dean Vella who writes about social media training and Internet marketing for University Alliance, a division of Bisk Education Inc. and talks about ways you can get started. Enjoy.

Social media campaigns have grown in staggering numbers over the past few years, with business-to-business (B2B) manufacturers among the companies now using this relatively new method of marketing to develop their businesses.

A recent survey by Forrester Research found that B2B marketing budgets are expected to increase an average of 6.8% in 2012. Manufacturing firms projected a 7% increase, up from 4% in 2011.

Social media offers companies the opportunity to distribute their brand message far and wide at faster-than-ever speed. There are pitfalls, however. The viral nature of social media means that companies can quickly lose control of their message. Once that control is relinquished, it can be extremely difficult to regain.

B2B Manufacturers and Social Media
Whether it’s through Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, B2B manufacturers are using social media networks to notify recipients about developments in the industry, offer advice on how best to use their products and answer customer questions. As a result, manufacturers are discovering that they now can connect directly with end users in addition to their business partners.

This can create a myriad of benefits. B2B manufacturing companies can acquire information first-hand from their users and business contacts. That provides them with tangible information from a variety of sources that can be leveraged into product development and innovations.

Social media campaigns also can help B2B manufacturers give a “face” to their organization. For example, with an estimated 800 million users, Facebook offers access to a massive, and potentially untapped, consumer base.

An Effective Strategy
Among the first steps in developing a social media campaign is to understand how the platform is different from traditional marketing methods. As previously mentioned, the spontaneous nature of social media makes it tricky – if not impossible – to control the message, the recipients or the timing of the dissemination of information.

Manufacturing companies can consider these factors before implementing a social media initiative:

  • Where are the customers?
    Knowing which social network your users or customers prefer – whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+ – is the first step in entering the social media fray.
  • Monitor carefully
    As much as it is critical to spread information about your organization, it’s just as imperative to carefully and consistently monitor the feedback from users and customers. As such, social media is more about the conversation than it is about the message. It’s important to identify those employees who have the social media training, knowledge and savvy to monitor feedback and post answers to questions and comments.
  • Use tools
    One of the major benefits of social media is the array of technology and tools it puts at a company’s disposal. Videos, links, blogs, podcasts and photo sharing – firms can use each of these components to share more information about their company with their customers. The interactive nature of the technology makes this a two-way relationship.There certainly are challenges with social media campaigns in terms of controlling the message. Despite those potential stumbling blocks, there is immense potential for B2B manufacturers and other companies to build new partnerships and attract new clients and customers through social media.
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