Hey, Manufacturers - It's Called 'Social' Media For A Reason

Social Media for manufacturers can be tricky. Many are trying it out with the "Broccoli Mentality" - "I don't really like it, but I'm eating it because I've heard it's good for me."

But Social Media - whether it's Twitter, or Facebook, your own Web site/Blog, other Blogs, Forums - only work if you accept that you have to be social. Gone are the days of trumpeting a message to the masses and watching the lemmings come shuffling in the door. Conversations are important, and they lead to deeper exchanges. Just like relationships.

Here are 5 tips to help you get the most out of Social Media for your shop or manufacturing business.

  1. Engage - Have conversations. Don't just talk. Listen. Exchange. Share information. Offer advice. Accept advice. It's a dialogue, not a monologue. And be prepared to lead prospects or customers that engage you through Social Media to the parts of your organization they're looking for - sales, customer service, engineering, etc. Social Media for business is the new receptionist. On steroids.
    scream

    Don't just talk 'at' people via Social Media. Listen. Engage. Collaborate. Exchange. You'll be more successful and see greater ROI.

  2. Don't just talk about your products or services - Share insights about your industry, the economy, manufacturing in your region AND your business. No one wants to talk to a one-dimensional person for very long. Build credibility as a well-rounded, knowledgable professional. Everyone wants to do business with those. If you only talk about your products or services, you're leaving money on the table.
  3. Write for and talk to the people you want to do business with - Good writers don't write for other writers. They write for their audience. They build loyalty. So can you. Know what makes a good prospect for your business. Form your content and message for them. Not the sales department or the CEO of your company.
  4. Be consistent - Engage social media regularly, but not necessarily frequently. It doesn't have to be "all you, all the time." A little everyday - some posts, some tweets, some engagement - adds up over time.
  5. Don't worry about numbers, worry about quality - Don't measure success primarily by how many visitors or followers you get. Like your personal friends, it's better to have a few you can count on than a lot you don't know well - or that don't know you. Working with a few high-quality prospects means greater return on social media investment, and that's especially true in manufacturing where higher levels of specificity and technical prowess define success.

Comments

Couldn't agree with you more, well done. I would also encourage manufactures to think about different ways they can use social media i.e. recruiting, new customer acquisition, increasing brand awareness are the obvious routes but consider new partnerships, mentoring student designers, influencing and informing public opinion. All the ways they can demonstrate who they are and contribute to the world around them will in turn bring them more like minded customers and opportunities.

KSL - it's the great irony with manufacturers. They are not as adept at these things as they are exceptional at engineering and absolutes. It's not much different than if I gave you the CNC code for a part and a pallet of titanium cutting tools, and pointed you toward a Mazak Nexus 6800 with a palletizer and a Fanuc control and told you to have it. We're not wired for it. The key is patience, and to give them good advice like you've listed. Thanks for the comments and for your generosity. BTW - what industries were the 2 companies that weren't so ... successful?

Thanks, Dave. Interesting to me that that small & midsized manufacturers don't see those media as 'tools.' I mean, who knows tools better than those guys, right? And thanks for the comment.

Joe, that's spot-on. I tried to portray that in #1, but yours makes this post so much better. Thanks so much for the comment - means a lot coming from you. I hope the remainder of your LaBron-less summer rocks ;O) TTY soon ...

AJ...these are fantastic (of course). I would add this as #6 Go out to the people... So many times companies create great content (to your point #2), but expect that their customers will always come to them. You need to go out to where your customers are at on the web first...their communities, other influential blogs...and get active and participate. To spread our message, we need to first go out to the people. Great stuff Joe

I really enjoyed the BMA conference last week because everyone seemed to understand that social 'engagement' is a strategy, and 'social media' is a tactic. You are so right in all five points about how to do it right.

I'll protect the innocent (meaning me) and not name names but I will state for the record that Graphicast (@graphicast) is in manufacturing and they have really excelled with their use of social media. At the heart, it's just communication, a new phone. The way a company communicates is an extension of the corporate culture. Graphicast is empowering and transparent, a direct reflection of the company president (Val Zanchuk) and the essence of their social media successes.

KSL - I certainly get that ... protect the innocent by all means. Great point re: the telephone. <a href="http://sweattnbullets.com/2010/06/14/hey-manufacturers-social-media-is-your-new-receptionist/" rel="nofollow">Check this out</a>. And @graphicast rocks! bumped up against them on Twitter many times. Great work all around, including their site - great use of Wordpress, too. Props to them, and to you.

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