If you’re the leader of a manufacturing company and you haven’t made the leap into social media for your business as of yet, you’re not alone. According to a Forrester Research study done in March 2011, 30% of manufacturers said that they were planning to increase their spending in social media and community marketing. Contrast that number with over 50% for other industries.
Like many other B2B companies, you may have started to see other companies use social media with some success, but you aren’t quite sure how your company can benefit from it, incorporate it or even get started with it. In this post I’ll share some manufacturers who are finding success with social media as well as some tips to for your business to get started.
Who are some manufacturers that have seen success in social media?
Channellock, Inc., is a tool manufacturer headquartered in Pennsylvania that recently won a PRism award for a best-in-class, multi-faceted marketing campaign that incorporates YouTube videos, a Facebook fan page, Twitter and a blog.
According to Michele King, the Communications and Training Manager at Channellock, “The biggest advantage of being relevant in social media as a manufacturer is having a direct line of communication to the people who use and enjoy (our products). It affords us the opportunity to ask questions and get answers.” She says that their social media profiles have attracted visitors and fans from all over and from all walks of life. Source
Jim Carr, President of CARR Machine and Tool Company in Elk Grove, Illinois, has been successfully using social media for a while now and believes that social media will be leading the way in helping small and larger corporations reach out to a new customer base. When his company experienced hardship during the economic downturn, Carr turned to a marketing company to design a strong web and social media presence. He believes that, going forward, corporations need to embrace the online culture because that’s where their next generation of customers already exist. Source
Steelmaster, a manufacturer of prefabricated steel buildings, got involved in social media about a year and a half ago. They found out that Facebook was a great place to post photos of their customers’ steel buildings and that social networks gave their products greater exposure to other vertical markets, such as chicken farmers and woodworkers. Source
What are some tips we can use to get started?
Make sure you have a strong brand and an updated website. Do some work up front to make sure that your company’s brand is well-represented and that your website looks current. Manufacturers often have the least attractive logos and websites. Even if your company is producing the most technologically advanced products, if your website looks like a clunker, you could be sending a message that you’re behind the times.
Showcase your company’s values, mission and culture- in addition to your products. Manufacturing is often extremely complex, with some companies producing literally thousands of parts that may become part of larger products manufactured by other companies. While some manufacturers do sell directly to the public, this is very often not the case. Most manufacturers are marketing to businesses, so social media has to be viewed as a place where a company can share its values, mission and culture as well as its products. It all comes down to, “Why should I buy from you instead of Company X?” Videos and photos can do a stellar job of answering that question.
Give value. If you just think of social media as a place where you are just going to sell your products, your efforts will drop like a lead balloon. Instead, think about information you can share with your potential customers that will be beneficial to them- as well as remove barriers to the buying process. Good content makes prospects notice your company. Blogs and videos accomplish this goal very well.
Encourage interaction and be prepared to listen. Many manufacturers are using social media as a forum to connect with prospects and receive feedback that can be used to improve product quality, stay current, and improve customer service.
Let your products tell stories. Like many manufacturers, your products probably end up becoming part of another product, and so on. Use photos and videos to tell a story of how your products become part of something larger. And if you can connect your products to people’s lives, so much the better! Most people have little information about how their favorite products come to be. Although you probably don’t sell directly to consumers, you can still connect with prospects in a unique and strong way when they are in the information-gathering phase.
Attract new employees. Although this isn’t a tip on how to get started using social media, it is a tip that can benefit manufacturers. We often hear that young adults don’t have knowledge or interest in the manufacturing field and that there is a perception out there that all manufacturing jobs are dirty, hot and don’t require much skill. You can use social media to change that. Young adults use the internet and social media constantly to search for information on everything under the sun, including careers and companies. You’ll appeal to the younger generation if you have an updated, mobile-accessible website and a strong social media presence that includes photos, videos, Facebook and Twitter.
With a strong U.S. sentiment toward manufacturing “reshoring”, companies can use social media to help make the case that they are ready, willing and able to provide the best products with a commitment to quality and integrity.