Like most other industries, the manufacturing industry has seen traditional marketing begin to give way to digital marketing in recent years. Social media is playing a bigger and bigger role in these efforts. One problem that arises, however, is that presenting proof of the value of a social media campaign within a B2B company can be a daunting task.

Cisco Facebook PageFacebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social outlets have historically been used in marketing campaigns when businesses have a direct link to customers, not businesses. However, despite a slight lag in social media adoption, there are many B2B companies that are succeeding.  Take Cisco’s Facebook page for example. The company keeps their page lively with updates on products, tradeshows attended and games to engage their audience. Providing new, valuable content to keep site visitors returning for more. And as a result, the information they post is being seen by more than 425,000 followers.

Despite there being examples of social media ROI in plain sight, some Manufacturing marketers still are of the school of thought that a social marketing campaign is useless.  One view is that the company is putting money into something and not seeing a return.

Before you make that judgment yourself, think of it this way… you just met a new person and you want to learn more about them. You decide to Google them, follow them on Twitter, connect with them on LinkedIn etc. Now you have just reduced some uncertainty and learned more about them. How were you able to find out all of this information about them? They had a social media presence.

The same goes for your potential customers or clients. Having a social presence is one of the most important things a company can do, in their marketing efforts. It is important to remember that your clients are real people who interact socially all the time.  Forrester, in 2008, found that 3 out of 4 Americans use social technology.  That includes your potential clients and customers.

 

Need more information?  Check out these stats from Anthony Gaenzle’s presentation from MMI2013 on Social Media ROI:3 out of 4 on Social Media

  • There are over 1 billion Facebook subscribers
  • There are over 100 million LinkedIn subscribers, 80% of which are in the category of “decision maker”
  • Manufacturing industry accounts for the 3rd largest subscriber population on LinkedIn
  • Twitter has more than 500 million subscribers
  • More than 70% of Fortune 500 companies have an active Twitter account

So what’s the moral of the story? Not having a presence is almost like not existing at all. Even if you don’t start with many followers, having content on social media pages is important to show your presence.  Get that content out there.  Then begin targeting your audience.  Investing a little money in targeted ads on your social media platforms can be a cost-effective way to reach your target market.

Of course, if you aren’t producing the highest quality, most highly engaging material, any of these efforts are bound to fail.  As guest blogger Jason McClain says, businesses can’t just talk about themselves. No one wants to see the same products advertised on their news feeds over and over again. Content should be sharable and engaging.

A company’s social media pages should be used as a way to build relationships and forge personal connections with followers, rather than advertise products. No ones cares about your promotions.  What they really want to know is whether or not the company that they are about to purchase parts from to use in production of their new line is knowledgeable, experienced, and can offer them what they need.  Let them know all this before your sales team even picks up the phone.

It’s understandable that showing ROI from a social media campaign can prove a bit frustrating at times.  The important thing is to keep in mind that, if it’s done right, social media can be extremely valuable in generating brand awareness, creating new leads, offering up tons of data about your customers or clients, and the list goes on.  It’s important, however, to throw traditional ROI out the window and learn to look at ROI through your social media glasses.

According to studies of social media in the manufacturing industry, two-thirds of the global Internet population are visiting social networks, so just because people aren’t interacting does not mean they aren’t seeing your posts. Often times I have heard someone say things like, “O yea, I saw that on Facebook.“ That doesn’t necessarily mean they clicked “like”, but social media can be the best word of mouth source for a company. They may not have made the effort to click, but there is a good chance, if the content was engaging, that it resonated with them and they made mention to a friend or two.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. Try new things and find out what works and what doesn’t. Most importantly, listen to your fans, followers, or whatever label you want to apply.  You may find that your social media ROI comes in the form of a new product idea from a fan, a new way to reach your customers more efficiently, or a blog about your latest innovation being shared with a potential client.

 

Elizabeth MuckensturmSocial Media Manager

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