Social media marketing is an essential part of any marketing mix. Manufacturers and professional associations can use social media tools and social networks to both expand marketing and communications efforts as well as for professional networking. Here are just a few opportunities.
Any professional can benefit from a personal profile on LinkedIn and manufacturers are no exception. Businesses and organizations can also have a presence on LinkedIn through free LinkedIn Company Pages, similar to Facebook Pages.
Through LinkedIn, you can form connections with others, get introductions and warm leads, ask for or give Recommendations and Endorsements, and showcase your business expertise through the information you post to your profile or Company Page. You and your employees can add links to your Company Page within your profiles, and then your team will show up on your Page.
Consider joining an industry-specific LinkedIn Group for professional networking, knowledge sharing and collaboration. A quick search of LinkedIn under Groups reveals online communities covering relevant topics such as continuous improvement methods, outsourcing and offshoring, and automation and control engineering. Members of national associations are also “meeting” on LinkedIn. Participants include the National Association of Manufacturers and the Association for Manufacturing Technology.
To market to professionals outside your own industry on LinkedIn, showcase your expertise by posting regular updates that your connections can see and share. Expand your connections through warm leads and introductions, and Endorsements and Recommendations. You also can run affordable and highly targeted ads on LinkedIn to zero in on your target market.
Set up a Facebook Page if you’re looking to reach a broader audience and tap into your personal connections with business information. Facebook remains one of the largest social networks in the world – plus you can run Facebook social ads that target Facebook members based on their interests and on demographics including location. Doing this can help you reach a more specific audience of business professionals.
For an even wider reach, try Twitter. Use Twitter’s search function or search directories such as Twellow and WeFollow to find industry peers or other people to follow. List your own account on these Twitter directories, too. Search Twitter for keywords relevant to your own business, the kinds of customers you seek and the areas where you’d like to establish relationships. For a more targeted approach, try Twitter’s ads for businesses.
Google and Google+
While search engine marketing isn’t directly related to social media, the power of Google search is tied in with their social network Google+. Set up a Google+ My Business Page as you would a LinkedIn or Facebook Page and tap into Google’s ad opportunities and local search results.
Flickr , Instagram , Pinterest , YouTube
Images tell powerful stories and visual social networks such as Flickr, Instagram and Pinterest can be useful repositories and showcases for your images and videos. Even if you upload photos and video to Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+, enhance your messaging by using a more visual online community.
YouTube is still the top social engine and social network for video from commercials to product demos. If you’re advertising through Google, you’ll also be able to promote your videos since Google owns YouTube.
SlideShare and Scribd
If you produce slide presentations that can be shared with the public, both SlideShare and Scribd let you upload and showcase your presentations. You can also embed your presentations into your website or blog.
Managing Your Networks
To manage multiple social media accounts, use social media dashboard tools. Such as Hootsuite, SproutSocial, and MarketMeSuite, among others. Each integrates with at least several popular social networks such as Facebook for Pages and profiles; LinkedIn Pages and profiles, Twitter, and Google+. Buffer is a useful app for scheduling posts across multiple accounts, and Facebook has its own built-in scheduler.
Social media dashboards also include tracking so you can analyze the metrics surrounding your social media marketing activities to monitor growth of your channels and calculate your ROI.
Even if you’re using social networks, keep building up your email list and encourage people to sign up for it when you post online. Email is still a very effective way to reach your customers and prospects. Social media can enhance your online communications and not necessarily replace everything else you use.