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.
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 a logo, some pictures, key contact information, company facts and reasons for being (think elevator pitch.)
This first step is non-negotiable and must be done ASAP. If you don’t have capable internal resources, it is worth the investment to have an outside vendor handle this on your behalf. Just ensure they share all account info (user names and passwords) to enable you to self-manage your accounts in perpetuity. This step isn’t expensive, complicated or even time-intensive. People are already forming opinions about your organization and likely sharing them online. As any PR counselor will tell you, it’s important to control the message, and having a social media presence is a way to accomplish this. This first step truly is the baseline cost of doing business today.
2. Define Your Brand: Step two focuses on building online content within the framework established in step one so that you’re engaging social media in a timely and purposeful way. From new product launches and success stories, to employee service anniversaries and customer awards, there’s plenty of content that industrial businesses can post.
And you should post. Many of your stakeholders find value in the content shared. Social media is a powerful new channel-to-market primed for you to get your business noticed in a positive way. And with step two, you’ve now taken what was a simple online presence and launched a bonafide program.
A valuable byproduct of this second step is tangible ROI. Like most online efforts, you’ll be able to track and quantify all activity (number of visitors, page “likes”, etc.) This is powerful data to capture and analyze to help guide strategic planning. It’s good to know what your target audience and stakeholders think about you and your company, warts and all.
With step two complete, you’ve effectively created an online measurable forum for people (customers, vendors, former employees, etc.) to engage with your organization on a personal, yet professional, level where they can provide feedback, ask for technical support and provide critiques that ultimately reflects how your company (brand, associates, policies, service levels, prices) is perceived by the market.
3. Establish A Process: (a rare final step today within the industrial distribution realm) is creating a daily, strategic online content management system. This only happens when you commit a dedicated resource (FTE) to reinforce and grow your brand in meaningful ways each and every day via social media.
This final step follows a structured, formal daily process to engage your company’s online audience by posting content that positions your company as the best in breed. This includes content from your team on best practices, helpful hints and upcoming trade shows and events.
Great content is king. Post anything that you consider valuable. This includes how-to videos, conversion charts, technical specs, best practices, success stories, etc. The goal is consistent, quality content that is aligned with your brand’s promise.
Make no mistake. Companies that have embraced step three can directly attribute business success (leads, sales, VOC improvements, etc.) to the social media process. Therefore, social media is making them money.
With step three, your social media function is now part of the expected, daily workflow and has become an integral component of your overall, multi-faceted marketing plan.
All industrial businesses must be present online in some formal fashion or you risk being viewed as outdated or even irrelevant. It’s like choosing not to travel to an industry event you’ve attended for years or forgoing an annual display ad in a trade publication. You become conspicuous by your absence. Forgo social media, and you’ll be viewed differently.
A fully operational social media process at your organization will allow you to educate, engage and convert readers into leads. And you will close more business (direct sales) because of your social media program.
Keep in mind it’s not an overnight process; it’s brand-building. And like Rome, it wasn’t built in a day.
The granular nature of online audience segmentation allows surgical strikes to an audience of one, a concept previously unattainable with traditional media.
People do business with people. And social media is people. This isn’t a lifeless magazine ad or a direct mail postcard; social media is one person’s thoughts, opinions and perception of your business. In this manner, it affords you the chance to identify opportunities and seize upon them.
As the information age continues to advance at a seemingly ever-increasing pace, any perceived lack of presence online is to your company’s detriment. Do yourself a favor now and invest the time to establish a baseline social media profile for your business. It’ll help attract land and retain customers, vendors and employees. You’ll thank me later.
Jeff Guritza is an international sales and marketing professional with more than 20 years of experience working for both manufacturers and distributors within several industrial markets: power transmission, fluid power and power tool accessories. This post originally appeared on Industrial Distribution.
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 tweets on a hashtag and shows them in real time, allowing you to tweet in the action and pause the conversation to catch up.
- Run and follow a marketing campaign. If you have a campaign that will get people talking, adding a hashtag to it isn’t a bad idea. Often you’ll find ads that have hashtags to see more online.
- Contests. Hashtag-powered contests work the best for photos but can also be used for sharing experiences or answering a question. Just ask your fans/followers to post their entry using your hashtag.
- Research. See what people are saying or posting about a topic, brand, event or anything by searching hashtags. If you see a relevant topic hashtagged on your own feed, click it to see what else is being said.
If you still aren’t sure you’re ready to use hashtags, at least get your feet wet by identifying them when you see them and find out how they’re being used.
What are some ways that you’ve seen hashtags incorporated into marketing plans?
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 Sonnhalter’s Facebook Page looks like:
4. Don’t stand alone. If you only have one person in your company with the Facebook or LinkedIn admin rights or the passwords to your accounts, you’re in for some trouble. What happens if that person leaves your company, takes vacation or falls ill for an extended period of time? You may have one main point person on social media, but always have at least one other person in your organization with social access.
5. Approach the rest of the year with a plan. If you’re having trouble with content, consider setting up a schedule monthly, quarterly or annually with the general topics you want to address on your social media and recruit help if you need it.
You may also be getting overwhelmed on your personal social accounts because your connections are active. Here are just a few tips to save some personal sanity this spring:
- Take advantage of lists, circles, etc. to organize your connections into logical groups. That way you can easily check information from one group at a time (or find information you’re looking for).
- Change your email preferences so you don’t end the day with 50 Facebook email notifications or opt to receive daily or weekly digests from your LinkedIn groups.
- Use your readers. Put all of the blogs you read in one place to minimize jumping around from site to site. We’ve recommended a couple of options in a previous post.
Yes, there are rules (even though some should be self-evident) on the do’s and don’ts on Twitter. Heidi Cohen does a great job identifying them in a recent post giving you 24 guidelines. Here are just a few:
- Use a recognizable Twitter handle – keep it short and align it so it can go across several platforms.
- Brand your page – make sure your Twitter page has the same look and feel as the rest of your branding efforts.
- Twitter bio – should be there to help others figure out what you’re all about.
- Let followers know if you’re going to be increasing your tweets – an example would be going to a conference or trade show.
- Give credit where it’s due – acknowledge the originator.
- Beware of TMI (too much info) – tell what time it is, not how to build a watch.
- Pay-it-forward – contribute helpful info and re-tweet and support others without expecting anything in return.
What can you add to the list?