781435_43180658I was having dinner with my husband last night and he was relaying the conversation he had with a colleague the previous day, regarding what she has referred to as “that social media stuff.” She said she was noticing more and more that all those social media “button thingys” seem to appear on most websites. She wondered what was it all about and, more importantly, should her organization be “doing that?” Really?

My hubby’s industry is manufacturing, and true or not, there is a tendency for some to assume that manufacturing, especially manufacturing in the south, is prehistoric when it comes to all things technological. The fact is, however, that most manufacturing companies in the south, and the textile industry in particular, have been busy updating, innovating and upgrading since the early ‘80s. This is mainly related to inefficiencies in their production processes, but they have more recently started to shift that focus toward their digital presence as well.

Southern manufacturing facilities, for the most part, are as competitive or more competitive than any in the nation. The problem is that US manufacturing companies, no matter what region they are in, now have to compete with global entities that have very little to no environmental regulations, cheap labor and manipulated currencies. But these subjects are for whole ‘nother blog. The point is, competition is fierce, and it is necessary to get a strategy in place to differentiate your company.

The problem isn’t with production. The problem actually is more in the area of spreading the message and gaining a foothold in brand awareness, thought leadership, and increased leads. Some of this stems from a disconnect between decision makers at manufacturing firms and the quickly evolving digital world.

The problem is with education. No, I am not insinuating that manufacturing execs are not college educated. In fact, the ones I know are some of the smartest people I have ever met. The lack of education that I refer to is in regard to social media and the importance of a content strategy. But never fear—help is on the way. Content marketing and social media can generate a significant return on the money and time that you invest in them, but in order to make it happen, you need to start with a strong strategy. 

When looking at strategy, here are a few things to consider:

  1. What do you want to accomplish with the information presented on your website?
  2. What end do you want to achieve? If your company is unclear about its goals, there are pros that can help with that.
  3. What actions are you taking now to achieve your goals? You may be accomplishing all but perhaps one or two pieces of your total goal puzzle. For example, if you have a need to have your information refreshed on a regular basis, and you just don’t have the resources, consider hiring an agency.
  4. Does your overall content strategy include social media? If not, you may be way, way behind the proverbial curve. Social media is here to stay (for the moment). It’s time to start now. Don’t just set your intern up in front of a computer and set them loose across your social media channels. That’s just asking for disaster! Make sure you have an expert team in place, as well as a strong, structured strategy, complete with goals and metrics.
  5. Not sure how/where to begin? Read blogs about social media and content marketing, give an agency a call and talk to an expert, or sit down with a team from your own office. I guarantee you that there is someone in your office that would jump at the chance to sell you on why you need to be social and tell you that your content needs to change.

Finally, laying out an entire content strategy is not possible without a strong understanding of your business. It’s about telling the story of your brand and creating an experience for the reader or viewer that makes them want to take that next step with you and forge a professional relationship.

Content marketing is about providing your target market with information that they need to know, packaged in a form that they can enjoy, benefit from, and ultimately crave more of. With a strong strategy, you can achieve your objectives and get on the road to strengthening your position in the market place. Are you implementing any of these practices within your organization? Let us know how.

Martha BowenHuman Resources Manager

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