The Do's, The Don'ts, The How's of Social Media for Industrial Companies
Did you know that there are 1.23 billion monthly active users on Facebook? Or that the average American will spend about 37 minutes per day on social media? This makes social media the dominant form of online activity, ahead of even email, which occupies only around 33 minutes of the average user's day.
Despite off-the-charts stats such as these, it can be difficult to understand how you can use social media to your advantage, especially within a niche market. After all, how many of those 1.23 billion users are interested in industrial products and services? And how do you find and engage with them?
To fully evaluate how you can use social media to your advantage in the industrial sector, you first have to look within your company. Analyze how you and your colleagues are using social media. Examine how many social media platforms you belong to and if you are using them for work-related activities.
In a survey conducted by IEEE GlobalSpec, they found that within the industrial sector, just 31% of the survey participants report using social channels to research industrial companies. It highlighted that industrial professionals typically prefer to use search engines, online catalogues, supplier websites, and word-of-mouth via peers and colleagues. In addition, they found that nearly half of the surveyed participants use social media to find product reviews, the latest industry news and technologies, and to source expertise. Nearly 80% use both Facebook and LinkedIn regularly and the use of Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube users within this area are growing.
So what does that mean? It means social media is not yet among the primary, go-to resources for researching specific work-related topics and potential suppliers. 55% of professionals claim social media has too much 'noise' and not enough 'substance'. It has been viewed as an inefficient platform for finding quality, relevant, work-related information. Frankly, social media likely will not become a powerful lead generation tool for you. However, that doesn't mean social media can't be a powerful tool for your business.
The key takeaway from this data is that social media is not yet among the top places to generate leads however, it has other uses to benefit your business. These channels have the ability to enhance brand awareness and promote leadership positioning that can give companies a distinct initial advantage. In brand equity terms, it gives you an edge on the competition before a potential customer is ready to engage vendors. In order to achieve this leg up and reap the benefits, you need to ask yourself one very important question: Does my company appear in the media spaces your audience is most likely to use when looking for work-related information? If your answer is "no", your marketing strategy probably isn't making the impact it could.
The key to successfully using social media is to examine how you can put your brand on the feeds of the people you want to see it.
You can start by reassessing your social media strategy/marketing goals. Marketing content on social media should be tailored around constantly driving brand awareness, engagement and leadership positioning before the sales cycle even begins. That's where social media demonstrates value as an industrial marketing tool. You may be wondering what that looks like and how you can accomplish it. By posting “fresh” industrial content such as industry news, technological innovations, and product reviews, you are showing your involvement in your industry. To be more specific**, your approach to social media shouldn't be about you (crazy, right?).** By sharing content from sources other than your own company and lending your support to aligned organizations you can develop connections that will help increase your industry influence. This may ultimately foster more tangible business-to-business relationships and highlight your expertise within your market.
Social media is the ideal medium to demonstrate that the manufacturing world isn’t just for seasoned engineers. As the generation of millennial engineers becomes more and more prominent in the industry, it is important to analyze who your audience is and where they are looking for information. Almost 80% of millennial engineers check their social media accounts at least once a day, and around 36 percent check their accounts daily for work purposes.
LinkedIn is by far the most popular social media network, 74 percent of technical professionals have active accounts on the platform. Millennial industrials use LinkedIn as much as their older colleagues, but they’re more likely to use the account for work-related activities.
Internally at Blackbean, we wanted to put this methodology to the test and see how it would impact our business. We started to use social media as a tool to engage with other industry professionals, discuss relevant industry news and put out relevant content that our target would find interesting and engaging.
Before heightening our engagement on LinkedIn we had generated 0 leads through the platform. In two months with our new social strategy of sharing industry news, we generated 6 leads from LinkedIn alone.
Sounds great, right? You may be asking yourself: if it's that easy then why doesn't everyone do it? **For this social media strategy to work, you need to be fully committed.**It’s not just a matter of establishing social media profiles for your company. At the very minimum, you need to post regularly, keep an eye on what people in your field are discussing on social media, and simply “be present” on the networks. You need to cut through the noise by engaging in specific topics of conversation on specific platforms to ensure your brand is in view of your desired target.
In other words, be social, engage in discussions with your peers in the industrial sector, share relevant news, and highlight your professional opinion. By doing this you're not only increasing your brand awareness within your industry, but you're also showing your expertise.
This strategy doesn't mean you shouldn't give yourself credit where credit is due. Share internal content such as whitepapers, link to your website when it's relevant, show your pride in your accomplishments and your team. These are personable elements that the people you are targeting will appreciate and respect. So go forth, and see how social media can serve your business.