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.
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. (more…)
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.
By Rachel Kerstetter, PR Architect at Sonnhalter
Periscope, Meerkat, Hangouts, YouTube Live, etc. are all names that are appearing more and more in social media marketing news. Many in the B2T (and B2B) space may not even be familiar with those names, or have heard them and wonder what they are.
At the end of the day all of these apps and services do basically the same thing: Live video streaming.
The concept of livestream is by no means new, we’ve been doing live webinar and video conferences for years. The transition of livestreaming from desktop to mobile for more than just FaceTime and Skype is what’s making these services newsworthy.
Here are a few applications where live video streaming can be beneficial to your business:
2. Meetings (for shareholders, employees, partners, etc.)
3. Large public announcements (product launches and large announcements)
5. Virtual press conferences
7. Live Q&A sessions
8. Focus groups
Obviously many of these applications are cross-functional. Livestreaming can be an effective way to get everyone in one place in a business or industry that can be geographically scattered.
The service you select for livestreaming depends on your needs and capabilities, including:
- Your audience size
- Mobile device capabilities
- Public vs. closed audience
- Interactivity needs
- Recording needs
I personally recommend recording anything you stream live, even if it’s a closed meeting. Keep a library of your videos for your own records, to share with anyone who missed the event, for later promotion on YouTube or Vimeo, to provide as a resource and for reference for various content development needs.
If you’re hosting webinars, services such as GoTo Webinar, WebEx and others are probably still the best option as they are primarily for screen sharing of presentations. For live Q&A events or virtual press conferences, Hangouts and YouTube live may be best, but apps like Meerkat and Periscope also work. Meerkat and Periscope can be great options for streaming presentations via mobile devices at an offsite location.
Regardless of the service you use to live stream, here are a few tips for an improved experience for your audience:
- Make sure audio is clear
- Keep the video device stable
- Start streaming before the event officially starts and end after the event ends
- Incorporate your livestream into your social media promotion
- Make sure users can easily access the stream
- Record for future use
Do you have experience with livestreaming? What tips would you share?