Manufacturers can use social media channels for communications and marketing to enhance their existing Internet presence beyond a website. Still, many manufacturers operate in the business-to-business or B2B space; so you may wonder whether or not social media can strengthen relationships between companies versus general consumers.
The answer is “yes.” In fact, studies suggest nearly 100 percent of business-to-business decision makers used some form of social media in the last couple years.
Social media can help you:
- Build brand awareness
- Facilitate communications with customers and vendors
- Showcase your capabilities and expertise
- Attract new customers
A well-designed social media presence can help position you as an authority in your field while providing others with the content they need to understand what you offer, make contact with you, and hopefully share positive information about you with others.
Before setting up your social media channels, implement these key actions:
- Review compliance guidelines that may come into play as you expand your communications into less controlled online environments such as social media.
- Develop internal policies and guidelines to set the stage for using social media for everyone from executives to employees.
- Craft external policies and guidelines that you post publicly on your website, blog and social networks to help you let others know what you consider to be appropriate - and inappropriate - interactions online. This way, you can better moderate conversations.
Wise Choice of Social Media Tools
Pick the social media channels that not only help you achieve your company goals but that also are manageable for you based on your skills and resources. Creating a presence on popular social media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter require a steady time commitment to maintain them properly and an ongoing effort to integrate them into your overall communications and marketing mix. Don’t let your social media presences languish.
Create a strategic plan for communicating your marketing messages consistently, effectively and frequently online. Make sure to:
- Develop an editorial calendar to plan and schedule your key messaging and to stay on message.
- Craft social media messaging that encourage your audience to act: to connect, inquire, respond, make a referral, and share information.
- Balance your marketing messages with news and other relevant information so you don’t come across as too commercial.
- Interact with others in social networks to make genuine connections rather than simply broadcast content.
- Use internal social networks and blogs for information exchange within your company that strengthen communications throughout a product lifecycle.
- Build knowledge bases and collaborate with your team using private or corporate versions of some of the same tools you employ to communicate with the public. You can open up these channels to existing or prospective customers or vendors to better inform them of product development, project management and other processes.
Finally, pay attention to resources about social media published by your local or national trade associations to stay up-to-date with the latest developments most relevant to your industry. Get the most out of social media tools by doing your homework and keeping an eye on how both your colleagues and competitors use them. Learn from their successes and their mistakes, as well as your own.