Using social media to your benefit
By Micah Brown
Some industrial distribution companies view social media as an optional marketing strategy – a nice-thing-to-do if they have time. And those who view social media this way probably aren’t doing it very well. In today’s fully mobile and connected world, social media is not a strategy to be overlooked. When performed well, it can become a valuable avenue to communicate with your customers.
So, who exactly is using social media these days? According to the blog Think with Google, about 50 percent of B2B researchers are millennials (ages 18-34); a percentage that has nearly doubled since Google first studied this group just four years ago.
What’s interesting about this statistic is that while industrial suppliers and distributors target other companies’ C-Suite executives for expanding sales, it’s the millennials who are using social media and making more of the purchasing decisions. They are becoming an influential group within your market place; they’re online and looking for information about you and your company. The question is – are you set up and prepared to be found and communicate back with them?
Here are four tips to get your company thinking about social media and how to get started.
Accommodate your audience
As you can see, millennials and young tech-savvy professionals comprise a sizable group of people who are searching for companies like yours. These individuals understand how social media works, and are familiar with most of the latest techniques, such as using keywords and hashtags, to maximize their searches and find the information they’re looking for. Social media is constantly evolving, and this group is definitely keeping pace with the latest trends.
Millennials are no longer solely relying on Google to search. They’re using YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Why? That’s because they’re searching for the most up-to-date information. They know your website may be outdated and not have the latest they seek.
If your company isn’t capable of providing consistent updates to your website, social media offers a great opportunity to keep your audience engaged with the
most current information.
In addition to timely updates, you want your company to be listed within the top search results. When users type in keywords relating to the product or service they’re looking for, you should easily be found. By having an active social media presence and using language your prospects are using through engagement, you may find your company receives increased search results.
Make a strategy, but make it work for you
Like many things, there is no one template strategy for social media. Your company’s goals and objectives are different from your competitors’, so you need to first identify what you want your social media strategy to accomplish – that will serve as a good starting point to creating a program that will work for you.
An effective social media strategy should begin with a goal and end with a fully attainable plan. Here’s where to start:
Goals: Develop one or two overarching goals that you want to guide your social media efforts.
- Example – To increase company sales leads
Objectives: Like all of your business moves and endeavors, your objectives should be S.M.A.R.T.: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based.
- Example – To bring in 75 new leads per month by the end of the year
Audience: Identify your target audience. What types of prospects are you trying to attract? What attributes in your products/services are most important to this audience?
Platforms: Using what you know of your target audience’s needs and your social media goal, determine which social media platforms would yield the best results.
- LinkedIn: Great for lead generation and as a professional portfolio
- Twitter: Best for industry news, facts, and linked content
- Instagram: Ideal for visual and engaging content; photography
- Facebook: Works nicely as a company bulletin
Messaging: Will your messaging be predominantly informative, humorous, and light-hearted, or promotional? This will be partially determined by the platform(s) you choose touse within your strategy.
Choose the right software
Just because social media is free does not mean you have to stick to using free posting tools. Investing in software tools that allow you to analyze and schedule posts in advance, optimize SEO, and quickly create reports will drastically improve your chances of reaching and exceeding your social media goals. Software platform examples include:
- Sprout Social
- Agora Pulse
Put in the effort
With about 65 percent of American adults using social media, up from just seven percent a decade ago, there is no denying its popularity and practicality. Social media marketing offers a wide audience reach, targeted and sponsored posts, and the opportunity to reach audiences with differentiated messaging through distinct platforms. Consistency is essential in fully reaping the benefits of social media.
Reaching your desired audience through social media requires as much work and skill as all other marketing tactics.
Your social media strategy should include:
Implementing social media without concise goals, messaging, and effort will only waste your time and money. The last thing you want to do is implement a Twitter strategy by posting once a week or even once a day with content that is not curated. To make the most of your resources and to reach the audience searching for your product or service, consistent implementation of the actions listed above are the only way to get there.
Often, when companies within their industry category join social media platforms, there is little effort put into it because of the initial skepticism and lack of knowledge. There is more to know about social media scheduling than that a tweet is 140 characters and there is more to prepare than a few posts a month and hope for spontaneous lead generation.
Making social media work for your industry is not farfetched; it’s attainable and can significantly benefit your overall business goals. Don’t be intimidated by it. Rather, by creating a plan, identifying goals and objectives, and following through, your social media program can become a valuable tool to help you win new business and stay ahead of the competition.
Micah Brown is content coordinator at Brookfield, Wisconsin-based LePoidevin Marketing, a full service B2B marketing and communications agency. She works with a team to coordinate, manage, and facilitate social media programs for the agency’s clients. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; www.lepoidevinmarketing.com.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2016 issue of Industrial Supply magazine. Copyright 2016, Direct Business Media.