How Effective is Your Social Media Strategy in Reaching the Professional Tradesman?

By Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer, Sonnhalter Social media has been an essential cog in every consumer brand’s marketing machine for more than a decade, but manufacturers in the trade industries have been slow to embrace the many marketing advantages that come with social media. I believe this comes from the perception that social media had originally only targeted the younger generations, and with the average age of the professional tradesmen skewing higher and higher, these manufacturers felt more comfortable using more traditional methods with their marketing dollars. However, with Facebook and Twitter both grossing hundreds of millions of users, it quickly became clear that almost any brand had customers and prospective customers on these platforms. While many companies in the trades have adapted and are actively using Facebook and Twitter to connect and engage with its audience, there are plenty of other digital and social platforms whose features can be useful to companies in these industries. And with only so much time, effort and money available, brands should examine all of these platforms and their potential and effectiveness in reaching the professional tradesman. Here is a rundown of some of the most popular social and digital tools out there, how they help reach the professional tradesman and how well they do it. Facebook Despite its well-documented PR hiccups, Facebook still casts a wider net than any other social media network…for now. Facebook has more than two billion users, and there are more than 65 million businesses using Facebook Pages. Because of the sheer volume of users, every company should be on Facebook to regularly promote new products, announce trade show appearances, share positive media coverage and company news, etc. 14843read more >

Social Media As a Profit Center

Today, we have guest post from Jeff Guritza, a marketing professional in the power tools accessories industry, on the incorporation of social media in a company's business plan. We’ve all heard the term “social media,” and you may have even been afraid to ask, “What the heck is that?!” Regardless of your awareness level, you shouldn’t be asking yourself if your business should be engaged in social media. You should be asking yourself how. Practically overnight, social media has become a cultural phenomenon. Simply stated, social media is defined as people going online to find, read or share content that interests them. Commonly used platforms are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not just a personal platform that millennials use during their free time. Increasingly, people of all ages and nationalities jump online 24/7 for practically everything: researching gift ideas, sharing photos, reviewing products or getting directions Social media is not a fad that will fade in time. Like your morning cup of coffee, it’s here to stay. Social media transcends personal opinions, pastimes and hobbies. Its vast influence is felt in industries both large and small, near and far. Baby Boomers are embracing social media in droves, looking to communicate with grandkids and reconnect with friends. Whether you like it, people right now are vetting your business based upon content they find about you online. To help guide you, here’s three smart steps to follow when looking to jumpstart your company’s social media engagement. 1. Social Media Lite: First, realize in this day and age you absolutely must have a social media presence. At a bare minimum, your company should set up accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. To do so, find your most tech- savvy associate and have him or her get online with…read more >

From MAGNET: How to Use LinkedIn to Promote Your Innovative Company

Each month we be feature a blog post from our friends at MAGNET (Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network). MAGNET’s mission is to support, educate and champion manufacturing in Ohio with the goal of transforming the region’s economy into a powerful, global player. You can visit MAGNET online at manufacturingsuccess.org. How to Use LinkedIn to Promote Your Innovative Company If you haven’t adopted LinkedIn as a means for promoting your company, now is definitely the time to do it. As of this week, LinkedIn has modified the format of company pages and this may prove to be especially beneficial for manufacturing companies. The change LinkedIn unveiled is the removal of the “Products & Services” tab of your company page in order to make way for showcase pages. Showcase pages allow you to extend your company page presence by creating a dedicated page for your most innovative products and services. On these pages, you can share content just as you would with company page status updates. The new format helps your company build long-term relationships with LinkedIn members who want to follow specific areas of your business that interest them most. In addition, it can help you attract the hard-to-reach younger workforce by presenting your company as an innovative and lively company. As many manufacturing companies have a complex and vast array of products and services, each with different audiences, showcase pages allow you to address different markets with customized content. Whether on purpose or not, LinkedIn’s showcase pages provide the ability to segment your audience and these people can choose to subscribe to any of your pages in order to receive content that’s tailored to what they’re interested in.  Keys to Showcase Page Success  Showcase pages have a lot of potential and provide an opportunity to highlight what makes your company…read more >

What’s a #Hashtag? And 5 Ways to Use Them in Marketing

Today we have a post from Rachel Kerstetter, Sonnhalter’s PR Engineer, answering one of the questions she’s frequently asked and sharing some tips on how to use hashtags. The basic mechanics of making a hashtag include putting a pound sign (#) in front of a word, phrase, acronym or combination of characters (but not punctuation). But beyond calling attention to the words in a tweet, post or whatever, hashtags allow you to join into a more broad conversation. Hashtags have become a standard part of online conversation and stretch across many social platforms. Hashtags originated on Twitter and very recently Facebook added hashtag capabilities to the platform, but you can also use hashtags on: Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and newcomer Vine. There are many ways to use hashtags, but they all boil down to participating in public conversation. Here are some common ways to use hashtags in marketing communications: Promote engagement during events. Whether your event is online or offline, it will have a presence. When you create your own hashtag (and publically identify it) you can then monitor and interact with the conversation around your event. Most conferences, trade shows, webinars and other events announce the “official” hashtag, put it on publicity materials and have a designated person using it. Mostly this happens on Twitter but permeates into other social media use. Host or take part in a Twitter chat. Twitter chats are a simple way to have a conversation with multiple people on the same topic. Chats are traditionally an hour and have a prescribed hashtag. Most chats happen weekly at the same time and center around a prepared set of questions, due to their growing popularity services have been created to help you participate more easily, for example Tweetchat is a Twitter application to organized the…read more >

Spring Clean Your Social Media

Since the social media scene developed many years ago, it’s become cluttered. There are accounts on all social platforms that sit, gathering dust for years. Do any of those accounts belong to you or your company? Today Rachel Kerstetter, our PR Engineer, is sharing some pointers on how you can spring clean your social media. When I entered into the realm of public relations with a broad social landscape, I was a little surprised that much of my social media consulting and instruction wasn’t about getting social programs started or operating them, it was a lot of clean up. It doesn’t take much time to get your social media back on track if you know what to do. 1. Take a look at what you have. How long ago was your last status, tweet, post or picture? Do you have messages or invitations that are waiting to be read? When you look at an old account, try to see where/when things went stale and identify what may have been the cause. Did you have an intern running your social that has since left? Did you “run out” of content or ideas? Do you need help? 2. Check your branding. If anything in your company’s branding has changed, all of your social accounts should reflect that. Get your logos, profile pictures, covers and banners up to date. Make sure that you have a Twitter cover, a LinkedIn banner and a Facebook cover for your company. Use your own company and product names correctly. 3. Is your profile complete? Fill out the boxes with information about your company. Make sure there isn’t a blank spot where an About section should be and make sure that you have links to your website and contact information on there. Here's what the About Section on…read more >

LinkedIn Changes

Social media is transforming to be more visual and ultimately more mobile-friendly. LinkedIn recently introduced some changes to improve the overall Company Page experience and made it easier to interact with your connections.read more >

Are You Using LinkedIn to Build Your Business?

For those of you who read me on a regular basis, you know I'm high on LinkedIn and what it can do to help you grow your business contact list. With over 161 million business members, there are certainly opportunities there if you know where and how to look. That's why I'm always trying to improve how I use this important business tool. As Reid Hoffman the founder of LinkedIn says, "It's better to be the best connected than the most connected."read more >

Are You Using LinkedIn to Generate Leads?

LinkedIn has always been one of my best sources of activity to my blog. It also allows me to network with others who have the same interest in groups that I join, and I can always count on input from those who are linked with me if I need something or a question answered. That's why it wasn't a big surprise to me when a recent study by HubSpot said that LinkedIn generated the highest visitor to lead conversion rate of 2.74%, almost 3 times higher than both Twitter and Facebook.read more >

5 Tips to Stay on Top of LinkedIn

If you’re not on LinkedIn you should be, and if you are, when was the last time you updated your page? Did you set goals when you first went on, but as time has passed you kind of let it slip a little? You and 131 million of your possible friends are on this site. How many are you connected with? read more >

Are You Capitalizing on LinkedIn?

For those of you who read this column regularly, you know LinkedIn is one of my best sources for links to my blog. With 100 million plus on LinkedIn, how many potential customers are out there wating to be connected? In a recent post on emarketer.com there were highlights from a recent study from Lab42 that reinforces the notion that users are highly engaged. Here are some highlights: read more >

LinkedIn: 5 Ways to Make the Most out of Your Connections

I'm totally amazed when talking to people that they complain that they're not getting anything out of LinkedIn. LinkedIn, like anything else, responds to someone who is active. In other words you need to participate and engage people in order for the network to be effective. For those of you who follow me know that I personally think LinkedIn is one of the most useful business tools out there.read more >

Want to Find Out if Professional Tradesmen are Active with Social Media?

If you're reading this blog, then it would be safe to say that you aren't asking the "why" or "should" we be using social media. What you're looking for are ways to answer the "where" and "how." Companies should follow, not lead their customers in the social media arena. I read a post recently from Jay Baer, one of social media's thought leaders, Four Ways to Find Out if Your Customers are Active with Social Media, and I thought I'd share some of the highlights:read more >

LinkedIn: 5 Ways It Can Be A Powerful New Business Tool

I tell everyone if they only could use one social media tool to generate new business, I'd use LinkedIn. While my blog is important (long term), and Twitter is very useful once you get your followers, LinkedIn offers you a way to be more proactive. Before you start utilizing it, you first have to make sure that your page is updated and as near to the 100% mark as you can get it. Once that's done, dig in and have some fun.read more >

You Should Know the “Why” Before the “How” If You’re Going to Jump Into Social Media

One of the first things we talk about is the "Why" you want to participate in the social media scene. If you can't answer the Why, then the How doesn't matter. Don't get into social because you think it's cool or that this will be the "silver bullet" that will save your business. You need to treat social like any other marketing program.read more >

Social Media: Who Uses It and Why?

Would it surprise you to learn that the biggest gains in who's using social media are among older users? According to a report in eMarketer, "consumer internet barometer" U.S. internet users who visited a social site in the 2nd quarter of '09 rose 16% over last year. The most popular sites in order were: Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Twitter.read more >

How Do You Measure Social Media?

Before you answer that question, you first have to have something to measure it against. Set expectations and goals, then make a plan execute it and then monitor it. Why are you even playing with social if you're not looking to reach new prospects. You first need to identify your audience, make them aware of who you are and then engage them. Use metrics to keep you on track, but don't get obsessed with them. read more >

Social Media Survey to Editors of Top Trade Publications is Very Enlightening

Many manufacturers are still skeptical about social media in a B-to-B arena. Since we deal with the professional trades, we know most of the editors very well and recently asked many of them to participate in a survey on social media. The majority of them are responsible for end user books that serve the likes of plumbers, electricians, HVACR contractors and mechanical contractors.read more >