Social media. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying its power. Today, nearly 210 million Americans engage in social media communities, from Facebook to LinkedIn, Twitter to YouTube. In California alone, there are nearly 30 million active social media users—that’s nearly 80% of the state’s population. By embracing social media, California’s small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMMs) benefit from a low-cost marketing tool that can drive more sales, engage a wide variety of social-demographic groups, recruit new talent, and much more.
Here are four ways you can promote your business with social media:
1. Create a Video Library on YouTube
YouTube receives over 1 billion unique visitors each month. And they’re not just watching funny cat videos. Today, savvy manufacturers are creating their own YouTube channels and using the social site to post educational videos highlighting the capabilities of their facility, their products and specific product features, and to perform product demonstrations, among other initiatives. By creating an online library of content, viewers can learn about products to stimulate purchase. If there is a learning curve to using a product, a searchable library of videos can also solve for common issues that arise. According to the Harvard Business Review, the most important factor for customers is the reduction of customer effort; they want simple solutions and they want them quickly. By providing a searchable library of helpful videos, customers gain self-service capabilities allowing them to find solutions to challenges on their own. This can also reduce frequent calls or emails to customer service teams.
YouTube is also a great way to recruit new talent. Videos of upbeat employees telling their stories can be inspiring, and facility tours can show off innovative technologies and help quash the notion that all manufacturing work is “dark, dirty, and dangerous.”
2. Create a Business Profile on LinkedIn or Facebook
Arguably the best social network for making business connections is LinkedIn. A LinkedIn Company Page can be a very powerful tool, operating as a portal for prospective customers and potential employees. To be truly effective on LinkedIn, you’ll want to join groups and get active in discussions to boost your brand’s visibility.
What about Facebook? Manufacturers struggle more with Facebook because they’re often Business-to-Business (B2B) operations, while Facebook is generally used for more casual and personal connections. However, it can still offer value. You can still create a business page on Facebook, and occasional posts about the inner workings of your operations or employees engaging at team-building events makes your company seem more approachable. You’ll want to try to garner as many “likes” as possible, as Facebook likes are now becoming factors into the way companies stack up in Google search.
3. Tweet With Customers
Twitter is one of the more misunderstood social sites out there. Manufacturers may think, “what am I going to say in 280 characters?” It’s just a matter of knowing what to say. Aerospace manufacturer Boeing is an example of a manufacturer that gets Twitter. One day they’ll tweet a smile-inducing post thanking Han Solo for inspiring them on Star Wars Day:
A few days later, they’ll post a feel-good photo of their humanitarian aid efforts:
These type of posts benefit Boeing by putting a human face on their company, while also helping to keep them top-of-mind amongst customers.
A word of warning: Since it's easy come up with a 280-character post, many companies have posted something without much thought that Twitter users deemed inappropriate—and they can be the harshest critics. This has caused a PR nightmare for many businesses. So remember to always think before you post!
Also, it’s important to know that hashtags can be hijacked. That’s exactly what happened to McDonald’s with their #McDStories tag, in which users took control of the tag to tell the exact opposite type of stories it aimed to promote.
4. Use Social Media to Complement Other Efforts
They say content is king. Most organizations share or engage in some form of content marketing, often sending information and updates through email. However, creating valuable content on your website and then sharing it out through your social media channels can have an enormous impact on engaging customers, and having it shared out to others. Social media also integrates seamlessly with other inbound marketing tactics such as blogging and newsletters. It allows you to share valuable content offering solutions to problems, such as case studies, white papers, quick tips and industry articles. By providing content versus just another sales pitch, manufacturers can establish themselves as subject matter experts to nurture leads.
Despite the challenges some SMMs may face in deciding how to get social and which networks make the most sense for them, having a social media presence is critical in today’s “always-on” world. By embracing the benefits of social media, manufacturers can generate leads, drive sales, and recruit new talent.