Social Media for Manufacturers

4 Social Media Sites for Manufacturers

Social Media for Manufacturers

As most of us know, the manufacturing industry can have, shall we say, a bit of an old school approach to marketing and the digital tools available. Many manufacturing execs do not see the need for social media channels to enhance the searchability of their brand and create qualified inbound leads that makes the sales process easier. Unknown corners of the Internet can seem a bit scary, and most prefer to stick to the old tactics they know best.

Now all of this does have to start with a website. For sake of conversation, we’ll assume you have a killer website already created.

Think of your website as Central Station and social media channels as the tracks leading in and out of the station. People coming and going and taking in as much as they can in short bursts. We’ll take a look at some of the key social media channels and the importance of using them for the manufacturing sector.

1. Twitter

Twitter is likely the hardest social media channel to convey its importance to manufacturers. “Why do I need Twitter?” “I don’t know how to use Twitter, why should I bother?” “Twitter is for the younger generation, not us.” First and foremost, Twitter is not just for the younger generation. More and more companies are finding usefulness in Twitter, no matter the age of the manager utilizing the program. Sales teams use it to quickly build what I would call an online roladex to call on later when the time is right. With Twitter, the fire can build so fast that a company can expose their message exponentially in a matter of minutes. The more eyes you have on your message, the more opportunity to sell your product/service to the right target with minimal effort.

2. LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a necessity for manufacturers for 2 reasons:

  1. It’s another great avenue for a digital presence. LinkedIn profiles are showing up high in search results without having to do any extra work, other than building a profile and maintaining steady posts. LinkedIn does the rest.
  2. Recruitment. LinkedIn is a resource that many young professionals looking for jobs are using as a tool to find companies of interest, and to make sure they see something interesting coming from the company. Manufacturers know that it is difficult to find good employees that are qualified or trainable. A good LinkedIn presence will help weed out those that may not be the right fit.

3. Facebook

Facebook helps bring humanity to a relatively sterile looking industry. The messages are light and the imagery is friendly. Again, like LinkedIn, Facebook will help in search results and those looking for a manufacturing job. Like Google Places, it also provides location and contact information in an accessible fashion for those trying to look you up. Searchers also consider an active company time-line to signal the credibility and success of a business.

4. Google+ and Google Places

We are all aware at this point that Google loves itself. So it’s simply a necessary step to be on the platforms Google owns. Google+ will help in search rankings and Google Places is what’s seen in the map search. Both are important and should be used simultaneously. These profiles greatly help drive relevancy for Google users as well, meaning, Google wants to be sure that their users are getting the right search results. A lot of it is location specific, so having those profiles again helps get you the right customers to your website or social sites.

There are many more social sites that can be utilized, such as, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, etc. It is highly important to talk to your marketing professional about the right social media channels to be on. Not every one of the channels is right for every company. Your target audience is out there, both buyers and potential employees; it’s using the right tool to engage them that gets your inbound marketing engine up and running.

Social Needia

Social Needia - The Intrinsic Value of Social Media

Social Needia

One morning last week, a couple friends of mine shared a link to video on social media. It was a short production based around a poem titled, “How to Be Alone” by Tanya Davis. It’s a poem that can be interpreted as showing people that being alone is acceptable and empowering. One thing I feel the poem and video are both missing, though, is a differentiation between being alone and being lonely.

Humans are social creatures. We have superior brain function that encourages us to form relationships with each other. I could offer a study, or several, to support that statement, but I think we can all agree without needing to consult further evidence. Communication is vital to our survival, not only this but it’s also vital to the survival of your business. Communication is key in everything from customer service, to sales, advertising, public relations and customer relations. Everything begins and ends with the customer, and you’re in the middle.

This is where social media can be a useful tool, and we have an article to help you determine if social media is right for you and your business. Social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others allow you to be the hub of information and action, driving people to your business.

Why is this significant?

  • People need to be in communication.
  • People need to be social.
  • People need to belong.

Social media outlets give us all those needs. People need social media. Those outlets help us talk to one another, connect us with our friends, even host groups and provide interests to follow and participate in.

Now more than ever, people need social media. We’re stuck in our cubicles or offices all day, staring at a computer screen. We’re in coffee shops with our laptops. We may have others in our workplace and all around us, but let’s face it – when our work is done on a computer, our work can isolate us.

This isolation is what turns us toward social media. We can keep working while simultaneously staying in touch with our friends, letting others know what’s going on in our world, and gleaning information and other tidbits from the likes of Twitter. So, in that respect, social media outlets are not going away, and many who thought it was a passing fad, are now fully on board either personally or professionally. It even took me almost three years after its mainstream launch to finally start using Facebook, and I’m not about to stop. Facebook got me back in touch with old friends, and keeps me in “the loop” with all of them. Twitter gives me information faster than ever.

People need to communicate. People need information. People need to be social. People need to belong. People need social media. Social media provide instant connections to others, even when we’re alone on the couch or at the desk; gets us in touch people and information when we need it.

As useful as social media is, it can be pretty miserable that our lives revolve around looking at a screen all day. This is how we stay connected, how we do our jobs, but it can lead to pretty negative effects on the body. So many of us will suffer from computer vision syndrome due to the blue light of our screens, with constant headaches and eye strain. However, as technology evolves, so do ways to prevent these nasty ailments from happening due to screens; companies are now producing blue light glasses that allow us to stare at our computer screens all day with no physical impact. Never have we been so able to connect.

Think about how you communicate and organize. Hard to imagine your life without a mobile phone, isn’t it? Soon it will be with social media. They have apps for that, you know.

Twitter or Facebook?

Twitter or Facebook?

Twitter or Facebook?

I came across a blog article titled “Social Media 101: Get your feet wet with Facebook” written by Jeff Larch of Digital Solid.  He was participating in a panel discussion the other day on the hot topic of social media when a member of the audience asked, “I know of MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., but the only one I am a member of is LinkedIn – and I barely know how to use that.  How do I prioritize as I get my feet wet in them?”

Mr. Larch went on to give four valid reasons to why he would advise Facebook over Twitter.

I would like to take a moment to offer my advice to the questioner along with any of you that may have the same question.

Before making any clear calls, I would ask the #1 question we ask all of our clients prior to offering any advice, consultation, or service:  “What are your objectives?”  The questioner did state that they wanted to get their “feet wet” in the social media universe.  But I’m curious to know, “Where did they plan to go or what did they plan to do once they learn how to swim?

Based on their response to that question, then, and only then, do I believe you can offer the best advice on which would be better for a beginner because usage of each current service can lead to a different result.

What is the purpose?

If the questioner simply wanted to connect with friends and family, then Facebook may be the best option at this time.  If they had an interest in music and entertainment, then a few years ago, MySpace would have been a better option. Although today, that social media platform is largely considered defunct, even for those in the music industry. If they wanted to professionally network, then LinkedIn would be a better fit.  If they were an information junkie and had an interest that they wanted to read or share frequently, then Twitter may be the best option.  In addition, the questioner should know that some sites are limited to only allowing the user to brand themselves, while other sites are more business and organization friendly.

Learn how to use multiple networks to reach your audience

Getting your feet wet in the waves of an ocean is a different experience from getting them wet in the calm of a pond.  Knowing which experience the questioner was looking for would best determine which direction I would point.  Based on your objectives, you may need to familiarize yourself and learn how to use multiple networks and tools to reach all of your target audience.  I can tell you from firsthand experience that beyond the signup stage, each site and tool is unique in how it can be and should be used so test driving one will not give you a beginner’s understanding of them all.

If the questioner was a business owner or executive, then there are even more questions he or she would need to answer before I could offer my best advice.  Do you have a marketing plan?  What is your market?  Can you describe your ideal customer?  What is your annual marketing budget?  And in terms of social media marketing and/or networking, I would definitely need to know if he or she had “more time than money, or more money than time.”

Most importantly in terms of business, Tom Snyder said it best in his Trivera blog: “Social media is an advertising activity, and not marketing.  Social media is a tactic, and not a strategy.  Advertising = Tactic  /  Marketing = Strategy.”

Social media is only part of the plan

At 360 Direct, we agree that social media should be part of an overall marketing plan.  If it’s done in an ad hoc fashion, especially since most of your potential customers and clients are still unfamiliar with social media, then it poses the risk to either disappoint or possibly damage you and/or your company’s brand.  Based on the news reports I’ve seen time and time again, it’s clear that simple mistakes like posting a politically incorrect comment, or sharing a private picture can lead to big problems for you and your company.  Once it’s on the web, you lose total control over how it will be used or depicted by everyone who views it.

Look before you leap!

If you or the questioner would not be comfortable handling a public relations campaign for yourself or your company, then you should think twice before promoting and branding yourself or your company through social media without consulting with a professional prior to creating your first screen name.  No matter which new social media services you ultimately choose to “get your feet wet” in or implement into your larger marketing strategy, the old axiom still remains true:  “If you fail to plan, you fail to plan.”  So look hard before you leap.

For whatever it’s worth, in case you are wondering how I came across Mr. Larch’s article… was through a “tweet” on Twitter.

Social Media Cube

Should my business enter the social media network?

Social Media Cube

Social media & the age gap

Years ago, this question began resonating in marketing meetings across the country as the Internet steadily becomes more of a necessity than a commodity. However, in spite of its prevalence in our society, the percentage of businesses aware of social media is still fairly low. There is not only a technology barrier involved, but an age gap. Social media, also called Web 2.0, is an evolutionary sector spawned through the Internet primarily by college students and youth, hence the age gap. Business owners today may feel like they have the Internet well in hand. They understand the web, email, and ecommerce. They may even have FastSpring software helping to fuel their services. However, just when they thought they had mastered the technology around them, new trends made it speed by at light speed. If you find yourself in that group, don’t feel too bad. Even technology “geeks” in their 30s and 40s have been caught by surprise and are grappling to fully understand this continually evolving phenomenon.

Social media already has powerful marketing capabilities. Products and services are being marketed through the viral nature of this network every minute of every day. If your business has customers or is seeking customers that are using social media, you will need to understand this network or hire someone to manage it for you. Alternatively, you could consider seeking some popular influencers on these social media platforms to market and promote your products and business for you. By working with these people, your business doesn’t have to worry about creating your own content, as these popular influencers will do it for you. To learn more about this sort of marketing, get in contact with an influencer marketing agency today. It will become an evolution of your overall web strategy. As social media use expands, so do the age demographics that utilize it, which increases the number of industries for which social media becomes a vital marketing tactic.

The technology is always changing

Facebook and Twitter have taken the population by storm for the past several years, and have led the way in developing the social media space. You adapted, broke down, and yes, created your own Facebook page. You smiled, as you thought you were now up to date on the new technology. Don’t get too comfortable though, because now you must learn the ropes of Tumblr, post photos to Flickr, and utilize Medium to promote your blogs. The bottom line is technology is always changing, and as soon as you adjust to the nuances of Web2.0, Web 3.0 will start to loom on the horizon. Remember that about 20 years ago the internet did not exist for all but universities and the military. How did business function without email in 1994? I scarcely remember.

Stay ahead of the game

360 Direct is riding the technological storm and staying up to date on the trends so that our customers don’t have to. Find out more about what 360 Direct is doing to bring together your business and cutting edge technology at our blog.

The Business of Twitter(ing)

The Business of Twitter(ing)

The Business of Twitter(ing)

What is Twitter?

The best definition and breakdown we have come across was in a article titled “Can all that Twitters turn to gold amid the gloom?” by Michael Liedtke from the Associated Press (AP) when he defined twitter as:

“….the 21st-century version of the telegraph.  Here’s how Twitter works:  After setting up a free account, people are encouraged to post frequent updates about what they are doing, seeing and feeling.  The messages, known as “tweets”, must be limited to 140 characters and can be sent from a mobile phone or a computer.  Althought updates are available for anyone to see, Twitter users usually set up their accounts to monitor the tweets of people they know and admire.  These “followers” are automatically fed tweets from people they are shadowing.”

Other good definitions we have heard thrown around are the “next generation of a AOL instant messenger away message” or a “independent variation of Facebook’s status update.”

Use Twitter to benefit you & your business

Twitter and Marketing: A General Overview

Twitter is one of the 4 top social media sites for marketing.  There’s been a great deal of articles on how Twitter can be used for marketing purposes and we think most of them can be condensed to the simple aim of tracking and directing attention. Twitter allows you to monitor how influencers think or feel, you can also get into their attention zone via active networking.

For businesses, Twitter is another channel which connects current and potential customers with your product or brand. It allows deeply infiltration into the lifestyles of interested participants, which helps to build brand persistence/loyalty.

In its most obvious form, Twitter can be seen as a traffic generation tool. The placement of links within profiles and conversations can direct visitors to a specific website and is especially powerful if you pitch to early adopters and influencers.

As a lead acquisition tool, it doesn’t always reach the audience you want. Most Twitter users are somewhat web savvy and it is extremely difficult to target a specific subset of the general demographic and determine their level of potential interest.

As there isn’t an option to advertise within Twitter (unlike Facebook), Twitter marketing is a task that involves two-way audience engagement, on the part of the marketer or business owner. In a way, this is a good thing.

The problem with Twitter

Twitter is not a difficult tool to use so there’s a low barrier of entry; Anyone can pick it up. What really matters is how it impacts your online habits and daily life. For many, Twitter is a distraction, albeit one that is very much welcome.

It saps your attention and pulls your focus away from other tasks. Kathy Sierra goes a step further and talks about the very real fear of being disconnected:

Ironically, services like Twitter are simultaneously leaving some people with a feeling of not being connected, by feeding the fear of not being in the loop. By elevating the importance of being “constantly updated,” it amplifies the feeling of missing something if you’re not checking Twitter (or Twittering) with enough frequency.

The issue here is that effective Twitter usage necessarily involves an investment in time and attention. One needs to be plugged in to a certain extent to reap the benefits that come from using Twitter. Even listening takes an effort.

17 ways to use Twitter

Here is a quick summary of all the ways you can use Twitter for both your professional or personal life. Some of these methods go beyond the use of Twitter as a lifestreaming device:

1.        Personal Branding. Twitter is a social media platform you can use to build your personal brand. It has the primary benefit of developing a casual persona and establishes you as a social personality that is connected and approachable. As Twitter adoption increases, new users will be drawn towards well established Twitter personas.

2.        Get Feedback. Need an alternative perspective on how a website looks or the right course of action to take? Blast out a message asking for advice and you’ll receive replies from other users. This collective intelligence can be used as fodder for articles or projects.

3.        Hire People. Need a good logo designer, marketer or programmer? Send out a message asking for recommendations. This is a very quick and easy way to hire freelancers or even companies based on familiar recommendations.

4.        Direct traffic. Twitter can be used to get traffic to your websites or the sites of friends. If you ask your friends to tweet about it, the message will spread faster and further as other active users pick it up. There is a viral nature to all types of news, even on a site like Twitter.

5.        Read News. Twitter users often link to useful sites or articles and can be a source of scoops and alternative news. You can also subscribe to Twitter feeds for specific websites/conferences, which allows you to receive and view content quickly. This is very useful for active social news participants.

6.        Make New Friends. Like any other social network, Twitter has a built-in function for you to befriend and track the messages of other users. This is an easy way for you connect with people outside of your usual circle. Make an effort to add active users you find interesting. A Twitter acquaintance can be developed into a long lasting friendship.

7.        Network for benefits. Twitter can be used as a socializing platform for you to interact with other like-minded people, especially those in the same industry. It can be used to establish consistent and deeper relationships for future benefits such as testimonials or peer recommendations.

8.        Use it as a To-Do list. Use Twitter to record down what you need to do while you are away from the computer. Mark the tweet as a favorite to file it for referencing. Another alternative is to use an Online task management service that is synced with Twitter. One example is Remember The Milk.

9.        Business Management. Twitter can be used as a company intranet that connects employees to one another. Workers can liaise with each other when working on group projects. Particularly useful when certain workers go out often in the field. Updates could be set to private for security reasons.

10.      Notify Your Customers. Set up a Twitter feed for the specific purpose of notifying customers when new products come in. Customers can subscribe via mobile or RSS for instant notification. Twitter can also be used to provide mini-updates for one-on-one clients.

11.      Take Notes. Twitter provides you with an easy way to record important ideas or concepts you want to explore further. Include links relevant to ideas you want to explore. Note taking can also be done offline via mobile applications.

12.      Event Updates. Businesses can use Twitter as a means to inform event participants and latest event happenings/changes. This is a hassle-free way of disseminating information, especially when you don’t have the means to set up a direct mobile link between you and the audienc

13.      Find Prospects. Twitter can be used as a means to find potential customers or clients online. Do a search for keywords related to your product on Twitter Search and then follow users. Tweet about topics parallel to your product and close prospects away from public channels by using direct messages or offline communications. Discretion and skill is needed in this area.

14.      Provide Live coverage. Twitter’s message size limit prevents detailed coverage of events but it can allow you to provide real-time commentary which may help to spark further discussion or interest on the event as other Twitter users spread the message. Very useful for citizen journalism.

15.      Manage Time & Analyze. Twitter can simply be used to keep a detailed record of what you are doing every daily. This might be boring for others but this type of usage is useful when you want to analyze how you spend and manage your time.

16.      Set Up Meetings. Twitter can help you organize impromptu meetups. For example, you can twitter a message while at a cafe, event or art gallery and arrange to meet fellow users at a specific spot. It’s an informal and casual way of arranging a meeting.

17.      Acquire Votes. Send a link to your stories you’ve submitted in other social news sites like Digg. Sometimes your followers will vote up the stories because they agree with it. This allows you to acquire more support for your efforts on other social media websites.

Above is the best introduction that we have found on the web to introduce the business world to the social world of Twitter.  I hope it helps you out because we look forward to learning more about your business (and what you ate for breakfast) 140 characters at a time!