How Manufacturers Should Use Social Media

October 4, 2019 Scott Dieckgraefe

How Manufacturers Should Use Social Media

While most B2C marketing and sales pros realize the benefits of social media platforms, many of their B2B peers in manufacturing either dismiss social media’s value or fail to take a strategic approach to creating and placing content properly optimized to the respective channels.

Here, Studio/D focuses on the benefits of social media for B2B manufacturers and the types of content they should consider for each of the “Big Four” platforms: LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

General benefits to manufacturers who include social media as a part of their outreach are:

  1. Increasing company and/or product brand awareness;
  2. Maximizing search engine optimization (SEO) – that is, the likelihood your company/product is listed favorably in searches on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. and;
  3. Recruitment and retention of key employees.

Here are our suggestions to maximize your impact with the four key social media channels for manufacturers:

LinkedIn

Users: 630 million worldwide; 150 million+ in the U.S. (or, about 45% of domestic adult population)

The LinkedIn platform is a ready-made source for identifying B2B prospects and buyers by a number of characteristics such as company name, title, years of experience, etc.  Much of the information previously gleaned from paid subscriptions to outlets like Hoover’s or Dunn & Bradstreet can be easily amassed with relatively little effort.

With LinkedIn’s paid advertising, sponsored content, and for-pay research data, the platform can provide manufacturers with targeted and trackable outreach to their customers and influencers.  Because of LinkedIn’s “gated-access” model – where interaction with any professional requires either an existing relationship or the intervention of a shared contact – the platform enjoys a high level of trust compared to other social media outlets.

What’s in it for sales?What’s in it for Mar-Com?
Allows identification and personalized pitches tailored to specific buyer profiles.
Endorsements by profile connections.
Tailored content to targeted, measurable audiences. 
Content type:
Thought pieces on industry/business.
Product white papers, eBooks.
Posts regarding product features/benefits.
Employment-related posts.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs):
Increase in web traffic from platform.
Number of followers.
Indications of engagement through clicks, shares, comments.

YouTube

Users: 1.9 billion worldwide; 150 million+ in the U.S. (equal to LinkedIn)

A 2015 survey revealed:

  • By a margin of four-to-one, customers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it and, conversely, 25% of customers actually lose interest in a product if it doesn’t have a video.
  • Email recipients are 50% more likely to open and read emails that include video embeds or links.
  • Four out of five customers rate a video demonstrating how a product or service works as “important.”

YouTube provides manufacturers with unlimited, free video storage, and a free, customizable video channel (including live streaming) from which to promote products, services, people and brands.  

What’s in it for sales?What’s in it for Mar-Com?
Instant access to video presentations from phones, tablets, laptops, etc. Content does not take up own website server bandwidth
Videos, channels, and playlists can be segmented by content and/or audience type
Viewer access can be linked from any digital communication effort: website, email, other social media site, etc.
Content type:
Product/process demonstrations.
Vlogs.
Event live streaming.
 
KPIs:
Views/time spent.
Traffic to/from platform.
Shares/Comments.
Number of followers.
Brand mentions.

Twitter

Users: 326 million world-wide; 55.2 million in the U.S. 

With its short, immediate communications capabilities, Twitter is an excellent augmentation to customer service departments’ communications mix.  Organic Twitter website, image, and video cards can be used to showcase manufacturers’ products while simultaneously driving traffic to websites and other social media channels.  Paid versions of the above methods allow advertisers to target their messaging based on a number of characteristics, including demographics, industry types, etc.

While its user numbers pale in comparison to the others, it shouldn’t be entirely dismissed.  

What’s in it for sales?What’s in it for Mar-Com?
Up-to-the second info on what their customers and prospects are thinking about and discussing.
Immediate feedback on customer experience. 
Tailored content to targeted, measurable audiences.
Measurable method for driving web traffic and/or promoting content on other platforms.
PR pros can follow reporters’ feeds to tailor pitches to the topics on which they’re focused at the moment.
Content type:
Tweets regarding product features/benefits.
Tweets promoting thought pieces on industry/business, product white papers, eBooks, etc. housed on other platforms.
KPIs:
Increase in web traffic from platform.Indications of engagement through likes, retweets, comments and brand mentions.

Facebook

Users: 2.4 billion active worldwide; 170 million in the U.S. (or, over half the country’s population). 

Facebook remains the 900-pound gorilla of social media due to its sheer size alone.  A lot of exposure can be had on this platform.

Facebook is tailor-made for promoting a B2B company’s culture and core values – the intangible “touchy-feely” aspects of an organization and its employees.  Community involvement, charitable giving,  observances of holidays and key corporate events are the kind of content Facebook is all about.

It’s also perfect for use as a company’s internal (albeit public) communications platform.  A free company page followed by all employees provides a convenient one-stop-shop for non-sensitive information sharing.

Lastly, Facebook ads offer enormous exposure for driving web traffic, positioning the company or its products in the market, and seating brand messages.

What’s in it for sales?What’s in it for Mar-Com?
Prospect and customer Facebook profiles can help build buyer personae for tailored sales presentations. Communicate company/brand core values and mission statements.
Measurable method for driving web traffic.
Mass audience reach, or more narrowly targeted exposures through segmentation options.
Content type:
Posts regarding company culture, core values, mission statements, and events.
Posts promoting thought pieces on industry/business, product white papers, eBooks, etc. housed on corporate website.
KPIs:
Increase in web traffic from platform.
Indications of engagement through likes, shares, comments, brand mentions.

When a strategic social media plan is utilized, it becomes easy to see how creating, posting, managing, and tracking impactful content can consume resources and require a dedication that is rarely found corporately. Often, if carefully written, much of the content produced for social media can be repurposed for other marketing purposes.  For this reason, we recommend working with a marketing agency experienced with using social media to build brands and to grow revenue.

In future articles we’ll discuss best practices for growing followers on respective social media channels.  If you’re not achieving success through your social media efforts, please let us know how we can assist your efforts.

Scott Dieckgraefe

Managing Partner, President, Studio/D