The decision to use social media as part of your overall marketing strategy is a vital one, considering how pervasive the outlet has become over the last several years. By not posting on various social networks, you are ignoring an important part of your target audience – even if your products are industrial.
Content is king. “No matter how many ads you buy, if you don’t have anything entertaining and useful to offer, people won’t stick around…” Curating photos, creating videos, and finding useful articles to share can be time-consuming, but they are essential if you want to have a holistic marketing strategy for your range of products.
Before diving in, you want to get an idea of what others are saying about your company and your competitors. Sign up with a social media listening tool, like Awario, to follow different accounts and hashtags, and even mentions of your industry in general. You’ll quickly come up to speed on what the market is looking like from the social media side of things.
Next, keep an eye on what the competition is doing. Start by seeing which social networks your competitors post on, how often they post or update, and how quickly (if at all) they respond. Are they doing something clever or different? All of this information will give you a good idea of the social media landscape for your industry and can inform you of what you could be doing. It is especially helpful to point out where the competition is lacking so that you can take that opportunity and do it better.
You will want to first decide why you are posting. Like any other marketing activity, it must have clear goals. Are you posting because you want to improve sales or increase brand awareness? To recruit talent? Are you using it for customer service? Each activity you engage in should have the answers to these questions in mind.
What and Where?
Next, you’ll need to decide what you intend to share on which platforms. Here are just a few things that you should consider focusing on:
- The use of video can be extremely powerful and could increase brand awareness, thanks to the millions of unique visits YouTube gets every month. Consider creating a YouTube channel, and sharing tutorials, product training, as well as safety videos. “YouTube lets manufacturing companies tell the story behind their brand and provide educational industry content in a video format. The videos posted should include anything from how-to videos, product introductory videos, or product feature videos.”
- As the de facto official social media site for businesses, LinkedIn can provide essential opportunities to network with those in your industry. Join relevant groups on the platform, and join in conversations about your industry. Humanize your company by posting pictures, quotes, and updates about employees on the site as well. This will not only show the personal side of your industrial brand but can also act as an effective recruiting tool for talent within the industry. Sharing behind-the-scenes posts and company culture can show someone what it would be like to work for you in the future.
- Educate your audience with your content: “For example, share behind-the-scenes access to your manufacturing process or your products in action.” Generating an interest in what goes into making your products engages potential clients and partners on another level. You can also share unique applications of your products across social media.
- Facebook While Facebook is generally more casual than LinkedIn, it can still offer a space to connect with people. “[F]ocus on more positive brand-solidifying messages. This should be accompanied by plenty of product photos, posts, graphs, and videos.” You can also join various relevant communities on the platform and get involved in conversations to increase brand awareness.
- Keeping people up-to-date on things like items back in stock, product promos, new products or services, or overall news about your company can be a simple and valuable way to keep your name relevant online.
- Relevant articles – original and shared. If you find an article that speaks to your brand’s values, then by all means share it (with a caption, of course.) You should also take the opportunity to create original content that covers a hot topic in your industry. Creating articles on a blog page on your website, and then sharing them across social media can help solidify your company as an expert in the field. This strategy also allows others to keep you at the top of their minds when it comes time for a purchase.
- Get Feedback. You can use platforms like Twitter and Facebook to start a conversation with your followers. You can use these sites to share information during product development to get helpful input that you would have otherwise missed. As an example, “Toyota shares everything from industry news to humorous photos, and its public list is a great resource for other manufacturers in the industry to find each other.”
- Instagram. While Instagram is often used in the B2C realm, many manufacturing companies have utilized the platform to share the beautiful side of the industrial realm. General Electric has done an excellent job with the site, by posting captivating and artistic images of its machinery, products, and personnel:
As you begin implementing your social media strategy, you will find that there is no one way to do it. You will have to figure out what frequency of content, and what types of content, work best for your brand. Keep track of everything, and soon you will find your groove. Just remember to keep up with your posts across your platforms, to respond when someone comments or asks a question, and to keep experimenting with content that engages and informs.