It should not be a surprise that social media needs be an integral part of any marketing strategy being executed today. While social media implementation has become common in business-to-consumer (B2C) campaigns, the business-to-business (B2B) world has been slower to incorporate it.
Roughly 81 percent of B2B companies reported using social networks to some extent in 2011. The manufacturing segment of the B2B crowd has been somewhat less active. As Jeffrey L. Cohen, a Social Media Marketing Manager at Howard, Merrell & Partners, points out, “most manufacturers aren’t even online, let alone using social media.” — Derek Singelton, Software Advice
As print manufacturers, we need to be aware that the majority of our customers are using social media to look for information, discuss our products and services, and network with other customers. Our companies need to be there, hosting the forums and actively listening and dialoguing.
Building Your Social Media Strategy
Small and mid-size printers and their suppliers have a great deal to gain by building their social media channels. The word-of-mouth and “virality” of information dissemination via the various social media layers can quickly put your products and services in front of present and potential customers and help you stand out from the crowd.
But, while today’s social media tools are quick and cost-effective to implement, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to plan your strategy. You need to decide which social media channels to use, based on your target audience’s preferences. You need to decide what type of information to share in each of those forums and how often to make postings. And finally, you need to make a commitment to engage and respond to people commenting on your postings. Answer questions, thank people for following and participating. Social media is a dialogue, not a monologue, and if you are unresponsive, your followers will quickly leave for another forum that provides the information and connectivity they are looking for.
Social Media Tools
Facebook and Twitter are by far the most common social tools being used today. They are free to use and easy to set up and maintain. Facebook’s Branded (Business) pages are a great way to share short messages, stories, and updates, while Twitter limits you to 140-character messages or teasers that should link back to your Web site or blog with the bigger story.
Blogs and YouTube allow you to educate your customers and promote your brand and product with a bigger story and richer media. It’s a chance to tell your story and make a call to action. They are also forums that allow you to share information that helps without actually “selling.”
LinkedIn is your professional network where you can build you contacts and network with your peers within Linked Groups. None of us can go it alone, and using LinkedIn to stay on top of the latest industry news, share information with peers, and offer and receive relationship-building advice can be invaluable.
The newest, and some argue the hottest social network out there is Google+, a collection of different social products that includes a Stream (a newsfeed), Sparks (a recommendation engine), Hangouts (a video chat service that everyone should try out), and Circles (a friend management service that gives your great versatility in what you share with specific people. It integrates well with any of the Google Cloud products you may be using, and it helps place your brand at the top of Google searches.
So, are you using any of these social media tools to build your brands and increase your sales? We’d love to hear from you what you are using and the benefits you’re realizing.
And, if you’re not using social media, Salmon Creek Media & Marketing can help you jumpstart your efforts! Visit us today to find everything we can do to help you navigate the social media maze and cost-effectively reach your customers.