Even During a Pandemic, Influencers in the Trades Build On: Part Two

By Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer, Sonnhalter With the stress and anxiety of the COVID-19 pandemic constantly looming, finding silver linings throughout this situation isn’t always easy. But with millions stuck at home with their phones acting as their main source of entertainment and social interaction, influencers and content creators in the trades have been able to use this time as an opportunity to expand their audiences, connect and engage with their online communities and use their platforms to spread messages of positivity and encouragement. Sarah Listi, who runs Tool Girl’s Garage, is one of Instagram’s leading voices in the woodworking, home improvement and DIY communities. Based out of Texas, Sarah is a full-time tool reviewer, builder and all-around storyteller who has partnered with some of the industry’s biggest brands and built a loyal following of more than 51,000 Instagram followers. Sonnhalter spoke with Sarah to learn more about how the pandemic has affected her personal and professional life, the content she creates and how the situation has affected her brand partners and the online community at large. Sonnhalter: How has it been trying to create content in the midst of the pandemic? Sarah Listi: There is a lot of fear and concern out there, so I try to generate content that is useful and positive. There is that feeling of, and I don’t want to say “obligation,” but you want to put out positive content when things are going on that are difficult to escape. This is a hard time. It’s weighing on everybody. So, I’m trying to stay positive and focus on what the content is meant to do, whether it’s meant to inspire, bring positivity or just be funny or irreverent. What have been some of the challenges for you and how have you overcome them? Trying to…read more >

Benefits and Challenges of Unpaid Influencer Partnerships

by Andrew Poulsen, Content Engineer, Sonnhalter Lately, we have seen tremendous growth in the number of influencers in the trades. In fact, it has grown so much so that Sonnhalter clients are forming partnerships and relationships with these influencers much in the same way we would with traditional media. What defines an influencer can sometimes be broad, so there are categories like “micro-influencer” and “nano-influencer” that distinguish these social media content creators by the size of their audience. Many influencers make a full-time living by working with brands to make sponsored content that involves financial compensation. However, there are plenty of influencers who are slightly less established and are looking to start a relationship with a brand and are willing to make content in exchange for free product and cross promotional opportunities. Since the company is only sending product samples, unpaid influencer partnerships are great for increasing brand awareness and social media numbers when you have a limited marketing budget. Below is a real-world example that outlines some of the pros and cons of unpaid influencer partnerships. The Origin of the Campaign One of our clients had a strong reputation overseas as one of the leading manufacturers of spirit levels, laser levels, and layout tools, marking and measuring tools, but had yet to make a major splash in the U.S. We had experienced a decent amount of success in getting this client featured in many key trade publications, but with the rise of influencer marketing in the woodworking, construction and DIY markets, we thought we could gain more traction with our time by exploring this new, grassroots approach. We wanted a better method for conveying the client’s product ingenuity in a way that was more interactive and visual. We figured that the quickest way to grab the attention and build…read more >

Influencer Relations: Is It Right for Your Brand?

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman Recently, you’ve been hearing a lot about “Influencer Marketing” or “Influencer Relations.” But what exactly is it, how does it work and is it right for your company’s marketing strategy? Sometimes referred to as the “new media,” a comprehensive marketing communications strategy often will include influencer relations as a tactic for expanding a brand’s awareness. What is an influencer? An influencer is someone that has a large social media following and actively engages with its audience to “influence” them on his or her opinions. While “influencer” might conjure up ideas of Kim Kardashian touting the latest waterproof eyeliner or designer handbag, there are influencers in the industrial, manufacturing and contractor space, as well. While some of these influencers might not boast the same Instagram audience numbers as Kardashian’s 149+ million followers, their audiences can be very significant for the market they are in. A large social media following can be relative. Nano influencers, with 1K to 10K followers, have small, niche and highly engaged audiences. Micro influencers, the next tier up, with 10K to 50K followers, are often the most informed opinion leaders in their niches and typically have a very engaged community of followers who rely on (and trust) their content. If you are a nano/micro influencer in a niche market such as woodworking, developing relationships with companies that are promoting the tools or supplies you use can be mutually beneficial for both parties. For the influencer, it provides the opportunity to be the first to experience innovative products and share their experiences and opinions with their followers, providing appealing content that keeps their followers enthralled and looking for more. For the brand marketing products, it provides an authentic, engaging opportunity to get your products or services endorsed by an opinion leader and visibility…read more >

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 >

Best Practices for Dealing with Negative Feedback on Social Media

By Andrew Poulsen, Public Relations Technician, Sonnhalter When social media was in its dinosaur days, the technology’s potential seemingly capped out at reconnecting with old friends who live abroad, or more commonly, sharing with your peers that you were having a taco salad for lunch. Few would’ve predicted that social media would become not just a helpful, but an essential tool for companies to connect with customers in ways that are faster, easier, cheaper and more personal than almost any other asset within a marketing strategy. Social media allows companies to speak with customers directly and display trust and accountability in ways that did not exist 20 years ago. However, for companies new to these platforms or unfamiliar with the volatile nature of Internet commenters, seeing countless strangers saying hurtful and profane things about your products or services in real time can be jarring, if not infuriating. Uncomfortable as it may be, these kinds of comments are inevitable. Even the most beloved brands in the world have comment sections filled with negativity from disgruntled commenters and trolls. The reality is that there is no way to avoid negative comments and reviews, but by internalizing some of these best practices, you can learn how to maintain an even keel and turn some of these upset commenters into lifelong customers. Be quick to respond, even if you don’t have an immediate answer Customers who leave negative feedback are often coming from a place of disappointment or unmet expectations. The last thing you want to do is make them feel like you are avoiding them or as if their opinion doesn’t matter. If someone comments on an issue they have with your business, publicly reply to the comment immediately, even if it is just to say, “Can you please email or message us…read more >

How to Repurpose Content for Contractors

by Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect, Sonnhalter For those of you who might be looking for ways to generate more awareness and conversations, generating new content may not be your only option. It makes sense to use other social media outlets as a way to get your existing messages out. To achieve higher reader engagement you need to know your audience, their habits and pain points. Different social media outlets reach people differently. So whether you’re looking to repurpose existing data or convert outdated info, consider delivering them in smaller bite size pieces using alternative avenues. Looking for ideas on how to do this? This article in Social Media Examiner, “19 Tools to Create Social Media Content,” shows you ways to repackage existing material and use other social media outlets to get the message out. They outline several ways and give examples of tools to use. Here are some highlights that I think manufacturers could use in reaching the professional tradesman: Present your business via video. Tell your story, not the corporate one, but the one that talks about ways to come up with solutions to help contractors do their jobs better. Use infographics. They are 30 times more likely to be read than pure text. People like visuals and are more likely to share them. Convert long form content into slides. Use existing presentations and break them up into smaller groups. You can use them as PowerPoint presentations or there are programs that will easily allow you to incorporate animation. Use podcasts to share your voice. Podcasts are one of the fastest growing mediums for social media and it comes as no surprise. Interview contractors and talk about the newest technologies. I’m sure you can come up with a multitude of topics to cover.  read more >

Spring Clean Your Social Media

By Rosemarie Ascherl-Lenhard, PR Foreman Since the social media scene developed 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? Thanks to Marie Kondo’s recent popularity, we’ve become obsessed with decluttering and organizing, so we thought it might be a good time of the year for a little spring cleaning of your social media. By now, most companies have several social media accounts that have been running for quite some time and even a few accounts that have shut down (Google+) or become less relevant as a social media platform (Flikr). It doesn’t take much time to conduct a quick audit of your social media platforms and get back on track, if you know what to do. Here are a few pointers to get you started. 14552read more >

Social Media: Does it Affect Marketing to the Professional Tradesman?

By Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect Are you trying to increase your exposure, traffic and leads? Are you trying to provide insights to contractors and generate leads? If so, social media should be part of your overall marketing program. Social media is a targeted way of getting your message out and letting prospective customers find you. Social media benefits are: Reach – get your message distributed to a broader audience. Influence – both existing contractors as well as new prospects. Conversions – marketing insights lead to engagement that leads to sales. Here are some tips to maximize your social media efforts to the contractor market. Reach – Use several different social media platforms, i.e. YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, to reach contractors. Make sure what you do share is relevant, as you don’t want to waste contractors time. They want quality content, not quantity. Repurpose existing content that they may not have been aware of. Influence – You may not have to impress your existing customers, but you do for potential customers. Here’s where you have to become a thought leader. Don’t push your company or brand, but communicate a solution to a potential problem. Develop thought leaders within your company (no need for marketing to bear all the responsibility). Tap seasoned customer service reps, your engineering department and sales force. They are the ones on the front lines that deal with problems and arrive at solutions. Conversion – This is a hard metric if you want to tie it directly to sales. In many cases where products are either specified or sold through distribution channels, it’s nearly impossible to track sales results. You can, though, create landing pages with offers for white papers or other items that would help the contractor in their day-to-day operations. Be patient, and as you…read more >

Blogs and Forums for the Professional Tradesman

There are around 505 million blogs in the world today and not all are created equal. So, how do you identify and communicate with the right blogs and forums to get in front of professional tradesmen? The first question to ask yourself is: are your products or services applicable to your end users using social media? If the answer is “yes,” then your goal should be to do comprehensive research to identify the right communities, monitor them and jump in and get involved in the conversations. As you get involved in these conversations on social media, keep this in mind: Your brand can be affected positively or negatively. You don’t control the message. Your brand depends on the “loyalists” who are passionate about your brand. Key blogs or social media sites are authored by thought leaders from your industry. Social media demands transparency, so be honest in your engagement.   Here are a few sites that may be of interest to brands attempting to reach and interact with the professional tradesman: 14451read more >

Should Your Company Start a Blog?

Join Matt Sonnhalter for a "Marketing Minute" and learn the pros and cons of starting a blog as part of your company's marketing strategy.     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhlFipdzA6w To view other videos from Sonnhalter, visit our YouTube channel here and let us know if there's a B2T marketing topic you'd like us to cover.read more >

Old or New: School is Back in Session

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent There are still some hot days to get through, but Labor Day is fast approaching and most schools are back in session. So make sure you stop for busses, keep an eye out for kids and stop worrying about chasing the latest marketing craze. Wait, what? This is the perfect time of year to reassess what school your marketing efforts are going to. Are you “Old School,” still utilizing print, convinced social media is just a craze and missing printed catalogs? Or are you “New School,” only marketing to mobile, boiling your message down to 140 characters and laughing at the dinosaurs amongst you? Guess what: it doesn’t matter. Because in the end, what will make any and all of those marketing tactics succeed or fail is what you bring to it – a personal touch. Old School Personal Touches Print Ads – Make sure your advertising isn’t just a product catalog and includes a call to action, such as a dedicated phone number or website. This will be your best way to gauge ROI and allow you to make a personal connection with people who respond to your ad. Catalogs – Be smart with distribution. Don’t just dump them in a distributor's office or on a table at a trade show. Offer them on your website and free upon request. Just make sure you have a plan to follow up and utilize the customer info you get in return. 13934read more >

Getting the Most out of Your Company’s Instagram Account (Part 1)

By Andrew Poulsen, PR Technician In less than 10 years, social media has evolved from a fun distraction to keep in touch with college friends and distant relatives, to an essential tool needed by any brand looking to engage with its customers or maintain relevance amongst its competitors. Regardless of how millennials feel about the Baconator® or Moons Over My Hammy®, brands like Wendy’s and Denny’s are winning over young people more and more every day with their funny and relatable social media presence. While not every company needs to adopt to the latest meme or pop culture phenomenon to have a healthy online presence, social media has opened the door for brands to be transparent and relatable in new and exciting ways. By now, companies from international brands to local muffler shops are utilizing Facebook and Twitter to engage and share company news, updates, sales, etc. But over the past few years, we’ve seen more brands incorporating Instagram into their social media plan. What was once considered a platform exclusive to tech-savvy young people with smartphones, Instagram is now just ubiquitous across all demographics as Facebook and Twitter. And businesses across all industries are starting to take notice. That’s because, if used correctly, the app’s photo and video features allow a new way for brands to give their audience a peek behind the curtain. Here are five ways your company can take advantage of the unique features Instagram has to offer. Give Your Audience Something Different Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all bring something different to the table, otherwise we wouldn’t need to be on so many different social media platforms. While this seems obvious, companies often make the mistake of letting their social media content be too similar across all platforms. Instead, companies should reward their audience for following…read more >

Chart Your Online Conversations

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter Brian Solis is an interesting person. Digital analyst, anthropologist, and self-described futurist. One of his key areas of focus is the effect of disruptive technology on business and society. In 2008 as a part of that research he decided to map the social media landscape in what he called the “Conversation Prism,” coming up with a few categories that neatly classified the landscape as it was when Iron Man, The Dark Night and Twilight were in theaters. Times sure have changed... 12817read more >

Manufacturers: Is your social media participation developing new business leads?

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter If not, it’s important to know WHY. Most manufacturers finally got on board with social media back in 2010. They created their company blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram accounts and jumped in. 70% of marketers reported that social media marketing delivers poor or average return on investment. Many manufacturers thought that by merely having a social media presence, it would give them social media credibility. But they’re learning it takes more than a social media presence to produce new business opportunities. I recently saw a post from my mentor on the social media scene, Michael Gass. Here are some things you need to review and possibly revisit your social media strategy and implementation: Here are 11 reasons why social media doesn't lead to new business: 12614read more >

Reaching Contractors with Social Media

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter You probably set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account a few years ago when social media was the new shiny object for marketers. But now, your social media is anything but new and exciting … and it doesn't help you reach contractors. You might be wondering if you're wasting your time on these channels or if you're better served by switching to the newest social trend. As a longtime leader in Business-to-Tradesman marketing, we’ve developed 12 helpful tips that will help you use social media to effectively reach contractors. In “12 Tips for Reaching Contractors with Social Media,” you’ll learn how to evaluate the social media you’re already using and pick the right avenues for connecting with contractors. The tip sheet shares best practices for social media in this niche space using content and integrating it into your overall marketing programs. Download 12 Tips for Reaching Contractors with Social Media by signing up here.read more >

LinkedIn Groups: Your Blog Away From Blog

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter According to a recent survey from The Content Marketing Institute 89% of B2B Marketers use LinkedIn as a way to distribute content. But if a potential customer isn’t already following you, all you’re doing by posting it to your company page is having a closed conversation with friends. While that’s good for strengthening relationships, it’s not an effective strategy for growing business, brand or thought leadership in your industry. So, short of requiring all employees to share everything you post, what’s a marketer to do? Join Groups. If you’re not familiar with them, LinkedIn Groups are smaller "communities within the larger LinkedIn community where people and companies can connect by shared interest rather than work or personal connections." The advantage here is that instead of waiting for people to find you or your company, you can use your industry, process or other qualities to go out and find them. How do you find the right group, and what do you do once you’ve found them? A lot of things you’re already doing. 12124read more >

Podcast: Issues affecting contractors

By John Sonnhalter, Rainmaker Journeyman, Sonnhalter Listen to insights from John Mesenbrink from Mechanical-Hub.com as we discuss industry issues that include: Updates to their website and what contractors are looking for What’s new on integrating the latest technology and products in actual installations The skilled labor shortage How the election might affect businessread more >

Social Media: More than an Excuse to Employ a Millennial

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter How to Keep and Generate Business with Social Media So, you’ve got a social media presence. Congrats, but if you’re just looking for likes, and pushing out press releases, all you’re doing is pushing out. How do you also use Social Media to pull in potential customers? Utilize a two prong strategy. Part One – Tell us How We Messed Up 10713read more >

Run Social Media the Way Your Grandfather Ran His Business

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect How should you run your social media?  To answer that question, perhaps you should ask instead, "How would my grandfather have run his business?" Or at least that's the question Mark Schaefer asked. Mark is a globally-recognized speaker, educator, business consultant, and author, and he blogs at one of the top marketing blogs of the world. One of his recent videos, "Social media marketing lessons from my grandfather, the plumber," dug into the attributes that made his grandfather successful in the plumbing business and how they can be applied to social media. For those of us marketing to the trades, his example is even more important. How did Mark's grandfather, a plumber from Pittsburgh, grow a successful business? 10439read more >

Get Your Message Across in an Ad-Blocked World

By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect, Sonnhalter A recent report shared that 32% of global page views are impacted by the use of ad block and mobile sees three times the rate of ad block use than desktop. Did you know that even some people who work in advertising block ads? Let’s face it, website ads are mostly annoying. If you’ve ever opened a webpage and had an ad start talking to you that you couldn’t turn off, you know what I mean. Although digital advertising has a solid place in integrated marketing programs, accompanying it with other tactics can get your message to audiences that wouldn’t be reached otherwise – those who use ad blockers. How do you get your marketing messages past ad blockers? 10247read more >

Are you ready for the true digital natives?

The Millennial generation has been a hot topic for managers and marketers for many years now; in fact you used to call us Generation Y. Not everyone agrees on the exact years for each generation, but it’s generally accepted that Millennials are those born between 1980 and sometime between 1998 and 2000. read more >

Passion Isn’t the Problem

By Chris Ilcin, Account Superintendent, Sonnhalter I recently listened to a report on NPR about how big companies are analyzing their social media followers to make sure they’re “passionate” enough. It’s not enough for these brands anymore to just rack up followers; they need to re-tweet, blog and be engaged enough to matter. In manufacturing, the opposite could very easily be said. There’s no shortage of passion, but social media numbers and avenues continue to be a struggle. Passion side of the argument, the case is easy to make. There simply aren’t people more passionate about their work than skilled craftsmen. It’s part of what makes that jump from simply doing a job, to doing a job right so distinct. And look at the time and effort the average tradesman puts into sharing knowledge with others and the next generation, it’s unmatched in any other field. Lastly, look at the brand loyalty and rivalries that do exist in our industry. The passion generated by Ford/Chevy, Lincoln/Miller, Deere/Case IH, Snap-On/Mac/Matco and a hundred other make Coke/Pepsi look like a kindergarten sandbox dispute. So how can you use that passion to improve your social media numbers? Be on the Right Channel – Facebook can allow for a more direct line of access, but it can also be demographically wrong. Twitter allows for quick hits of info, but requires more monitoring. LinkedIn is great for professional development, but has a structure that takes some getting used to. You don’t need to have all your eggs in one basket, but you should prioritize your message and messaging. It’s Not All Rah Rah – If you’re only going on social media to talk about the latest products and re-post press releases, stop now. Be a source for more than just self-promotion. Know What Your Audience…read 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 >

Jerks are going to be jerks: Do’s and Don’ts for dealing with jerks online

Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer, Sonnhalter Sometimes in life you encounter people who are jerks. As children, we were often told to ignore the jerks. As adults we find ways to cope with the jerks we encounter throughout our days. It’s a little more difficult for companies to deal with the jerks on social media. Unfortunately social media also provides jerks with a megaphone for their poor attitudes. You can’t make everyone like you on social media, but you can take the high road when it comes to the social jerks who you encounter. Don’t fire back at them. If someone tweets nasty things at your company, don’t tweet nasty things back at them. It makes you look petty and like a jerk yourself. Do fix legitimate problems. People often use social media for customer service problems. If someone is having a problem that has them upset, they might come off as a jerk on social media. Publically respond that you would like to do what you can to fix their problem and ask for contact. For example, “We’re sorry to hear you’re having a delivery problem, please direct message us your email or phone number so we can find out more about your problem.” Or “We have been experiencing some issues with x, please call customer service at 800-xxx-xxx for an update.” Don’t let jerks scare you away from using social media. Often when we consult with a company who either refuses to join social media or has their channels locked down, it’s because they’re concerned about negativity on their social media channels. People will say what they want, if you let them say it on your channel you can be aware of it, try to fix it, or let your community come to your defense. Do let the rest…read more >

Social Media For Manufacturers

Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer Awhile back, we presented a webinar on social media for industrial manufacturers. Many in our clients' industries wonder if social media is worth their time, and we typically say yes. Social media is a broad and sometimes intimidating part of marketing. To simplify it just a little, we focus on the four areas where we see manufacturers receiving the greatest value: YouTube SlideShare LinkedIn Blogs To get the scoop, you can watch the webcast on YouTube and follow along on the slides below.   Webinar: Social Media In Manufacturingread more >

A Picture is Worth…

We’re deep into mapping out marketing plans for 2014. When meeting with an editor to talk about their content needs in the next year, one comment stood out to me the most, “We found that pictures are the most popular.”read more >

Relevant Social Media and SEO

Today we have a guest post from Rachel Kerstetter, our PR Engineer, about the evolution of social media and SEO. In our B2T niche, as well as in the general B2B market, we use the word “relevant” frequently. When it comes to B2T social media, quantity does not equal quality. Quality social media engagement can’t be measured in simple number of followers or likes. The relevance of those follows and likes is where we find the quality. It can be hard to keep up with current SEO tactics that will land you on the first page of Google search results since the algorithms change every day, but as social media continues to grow, SEO is getting easier because it’s no longer optimizing for search engines that will land you on page one of Google. Social engagement is becoming the new SEO. One of the many benefits of being involved in social media that I explain when we create social strategies is improving search visibility. I was reading, “6 Reasons Social Media is Critical to Your SEO” on Social Media Today and Stephanie Frasco explained the concept so well when she wrote about the old SEO strategy of link building, “Think about it - why did Google ever allow links to determine which websites ranked above all the others? The answer is simple: links were like "votes" for your website. The more votes you get, the better off you are. So SEO companies started building links (aka "votes") manually[…]The idea behind links as a ranking factor is a very good idea, but since it's become so easy to manipulate, Google has been forced to turn to social media channels which do the same thing but are much harder to manipulate. Link building was always about social proofing.” The shift toward social…read more >

The Scary Side of Public Relations

Today Rosemarie and Rachel from our PR department are sharing some of the aspects of public relations that can be the scariest to clients. We find the realm of public relations to be fun, exciting and consistently fresh, but some areas of our field can be scary to our clients. Here are the top five fears people have about public relations, and why you shouldn’t be spooked by them. 1. You can’t control what the media does with a story once you’ve given it to them. “Earned media” is highly credible because readers know that you didn’t purchase the space to promote your company. Public relations and media relations professionals cultivate positive relationships with media, we work with these folks on behalf of multiple clients most of the time so we’ve built the foundation for positive coverage before they even get your story. In B2T public relations, we’re working with trade publications primarily and their goal is to be a source of helpful information for their readers. It can be scary not to see the actual article before it’s published, but with long lead times of trade media, it can be a sweet surprise to see your words in print. 2. Negative comments on blogs and social media. Your responses to negative comments offer an excellent opportunity to show off your wonderful customer service. Negative comments happen, and if they happen on your social media, you can control the outcome with your response and the community response from your other fans. It’s actually scarier to hide your head in the sand or cover your ears when it comes to social media. 3. Giving interviews is intimidating. When we set up interviews with trade publications, they often send some sample questions ahead of time to help you prepare. Knowing how you…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 >

Social Media, How Can Tradesmen Connect?

Mile Free, Director of Industry Research and Technology for the Precision Machined Products Association, is posting today with advice for connecting on social media. Miles blogs regularly on PMPA's blog, Speaking of Precision. As tradesmen, advertising used to be pretty easy to figure out. A yellow pages ad in the local phone book, small display advertisements in the newspaper and maybe some classified advertisements in the weekly as well. Near a big city? Maybe you would have bit the bullet for a display ad in their yellow pages too. As a customer, in the old days, that’s how I would have found you… So who uses a phone book these days? Who still has a land line phone? How many folks with smartphones walk around carrying a phone book? That’s a trick question. While no one is carrying a phone book, the fact is that when they need to find something, they go search for it. On their smart phone or web device. How easy are you to find on search? For what kind of things are you on Google's page one? I’m not suggesting that you need to pay for advertisements on Google to get to page one, but if you use  social media tools correctly, you can be found on Google for the services that you provide, and that your customers want. While I am a staff director for a trade association of precision machining companies, the lessons I learned about how to increase visibility in online search are just as applicable to tradesmen to build your credibility, and thus your visibility online. Here are 5 steps to increasing your online visibility: Make sure that your website covers the products and services that you provide. Having an up-to-date website with photos is key to engaging your potential customers…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 >

Sonnhalter to Hold Free Webinar Social Media in Manufacturing

Sonnhalter to Hold Free Webinar Social Media in Manufacturing: Why It Should Matter To You Social Media in Manufacturing: Why it Should Matter to You BEREA, Ohio – March 2013 – Sonnhalter, a communications firm marketing to the professional tradesman in the construction, industrial and MRO markets, is hosting a webinar on why social media is crucial to manufacturers. This free, one-hour webinar will be held on Tuesday, April 9 at 2:00 p.m. EDT. Participants can visit, SocialMediaInManufacturing.notlong.com to register for the “Social Media in Manufacturing: Why it Should Matter to You” webinar. In this presentation, John Sonnhalter, rainmaker journeyman at Sonnhalter, and Greg Habermann, chief operating officer and vice president of SageRock, Inc., will share how social media is an important part of marketing initiatives for manufacturers, along with real examples and tips on how to do social media well featuring various social media platforms including blogs, YouTube, LinkedIn and SlideShare. “So many in the manufacturing industry either don’t think that social media can help them or don’t know how to make social work for them,” said John Sonnhalter. ”We won’t only tell participants why they should care about social, but we’ll show them real-world examples of good social media use.” About Sonnhalter Established in 1976, Sonnhalter is the leading B2T marketing communications firm to companies that target professional tradesmen in construction, industrial and MRO markets. Sonnhalter’s brand identity highlights its expertise in marketing to the professional tradesmen. Its tagline, “Not Afraid To Get Our Hands Dirty,” promotes the employees’ willingness to roll up their sleeves and dig deep into clients’ businesses, also, it refers to the market it targets: the tradesmen who work with – and dirty – their hands every day. Sonnhalter developed the acronym “B2T,” which stands for “business-to-tradesmen” to capture the essence of its specialty.…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 >

Why Are B-to-B Marketers So Reluctant To Embrace Social Media?

The B-to-C space has been using it successfully for the last 3-5 years. So why are B-to-B practitioners slow to adapt? I think it's because they don't know where to start. You should probably start by developing a strategy that is included in your overall marketing plans. If you use social media to help build better relationships with your customers, I think you'll find that it can help with more than just brand building. read more >

Social Media: Is Your Marketing Team on Board?

Social media, if used correctly, can be an untapped treasure for marketers. All too often though, marketing departments treat social media just like any other channel they use to PUSH their marketing message. What they don't seem to understand about social is that it's about engagement and interacting with real people!read more >

Awareness of Twitter Has Exploded: Great Way to Reach the Professional Tradesmen

Contractors are busy people, and the 140-character message is just enough to peak their curiosity and have them click through to your message. Twitter is one of the social media tools that can be used as a tool for your company's social media marketing strategy to generate online traffic and a pipeline for new business leads. Over the past year, the leading traffic generator to my blog has been Twitter. 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 >

B-to-B Marketers: When Should You Outsource Social Media?

For those of you who haven't yet dove in to the social media arena, whether it's because of fear of the unknown or the fear of it's going to be too time consuming, I have some friendly advice. I can't force you to try it but I can tell you it won't hurt and you can't break anything. For those who are willing to to give it a try but are worried about the amount of time it will take I have some suggestions for you to consider. read more >

Can Social Media Results be Quantified?

That's the $64,000 question. Marketers are split on whether social media will deliver measurability according to a recent study by Datran Media's 4th Annual Marketing and Media Survey. 87% of those surveyed said that accurate online measurement was at least somewhat important for driving increased brand awareness, revenues or performance. Marketers Worldwide Who Believe Social Media Will Generate Quantifiable Results in 2010 (% of respondents)read more >

Why Your Brand Should Vie For Credibility In Social Media

Social media is continuing to expand its reach (an estimated 940 million people worldwide) and businesses and their brands should look to social media as a place to build their brand. Granted, a majority of the activity is on a personal level, but interactions involving information about products and services have increased significantly, according to a recent article in eMarketer.com as brands encourage word of mouth. read more >

B-to-B Marketers: 5 “Must Haves” Before Starting Social Media

Unless you live under a rock, everyone knows about social media at least in broad terms. Social media holds a tremendous amount of potential for businesses looking to grow. Many companies, in an effort to get started, jump right in, and while that's not the end of the world, I think if they really want social media to have a positive impact on their business, they should consider the following.read more >

Social Media: Will Be Focus of B-to-B Marketers in 2010

According to a recent study completed by Alterian in their 2009 annual survey, social media will become the focus of marketers in 2010. This should come as no surprise to us in the B-to-B marketplace where budgets are still tight and management is continuing to demand accountability for marketing efforts. The survey covered 1068 marketing professionals. The respondents came from Europe (36%), from North America (62%) and from Asia Pacific (2%). Here are the highlights:read more >

The Best Way To Reach The Professional Tradesman: Social or Traditional Media?

The answer is both. Contractors are busy folks and they get their info from various sources and sometimes it's on the fly. I've done several interviews of contractors from HVAC/R, electrical, plumbing to general contractors that have said that they get info about how to run their business from both the traditional trade publications as well as various sources on the Internet.read more >

2010 Outlook: B-to-B Marketers Plan On Increasing Social Media Budgets

According to a recent survey by emarketer.com, B-to-B clients are going to increase their spending in the social media arena in 2010. It certainly makes sense that the ones who have tried various aspects of social must be getting some traction or they wouldn't be spending more. It's interesting to note that the 3 top areas they plan on increasing are web sites, e-mails and search. The three main reasons are: Thought leadership Lead generation Customer feedback What are you planning for 2010?read more >

Businesses are Moving From Adoption to Utilization of Social Media

I think it's safe to say that social media is here to stay. For those of us who have accepted that fact, we are moving on from adoption to trying to understand how businesses can take advantage of social in a work context today. A recent 2009 Business Social Media Benchmarking study (download a copy) was compiled from approx. 2900 responses and is an excellent overview of how businesses are trying to utilize this media. The report covers both how businesses are using social media to find relevant information and how they judge its success.read more >

10 Ways to Engage Tradesmen

When we communicate with our target audiences, whether it's through traditional methods or the use of social media, we want to inform and hopefully engage them. It's through the engagement process that we start a dialog with them which hopefully will turn into something more (hopefullya sale). I've enclosed some tips on how we successfully engage tradesmen:read more >

Top 5 Tips for Prioritizing Time Spent on Social Media

We all have limits on our time, and those of us who have dived into social media have to find time in our schedules if we want these marketing tools to work. The key like anything is organization and setting priorities so you optimize your time spent. I recently read a post by Adam Singer (worth reading), 21 Must-Follow Tips for Optimizing Time Spent on Social Media, and it got me thinking of several ways to make the most out of your time.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 >

3 Ways Tradespeople Can Use Social Media To Boost Credibility and Business-Part 1

Many tradespeople feel they don't really need to have anything to do with social media. Perhaps because their business comes mostly through referrals, or they don't see immediate value in social media, or they feel it may take up too much time and they need to be out getting new business. And many tradespeople feel intimidated by social media.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 >

What’s Your Grade on Twitter?

Social media is trying to be taken seriously, and in late 2008 came out with several tools to measure the effectiveness of Twitter. Two of the more popular tools are Twitter Grader and Twinfluence. How much credibility do you put into these type tools? I use them as a guide post to make sure I keep on track. read more >

B-to-B Marketers Have Opportunities to Build Better Customer Relations Using Social Media

Why should B-to-B companies use Social media? Oliver Young from Forrester Research sums it up, "Marketers who embrace social media will outdistance competition, build community following and boost loyalty." Is there a better time than now to start making that impression? People are still buying things, and with budgets being tight, decisions are often made on relationships.read more >