Social Media Marketing: A Strategy for Manufacturers
In the last article, we discussed the benefits of social media and the 10 different types of social media, and we identified the best types of social media combinations for the three primary delivery segments within the insulation industry. To recap, those segments are:
Delivery Segment Combinations:
- Manufacturing: Bookmarking, Video, Photo sharing, Forum, Professional, and Gadget News and Review.
- Distributors: Search, Professional, Purely Social, and City/Regional.
- Owners and Engineers: Bookmarking, Search, Professional, Forum, Video.
In this article, we will build a social media marketing strategy for the manufacturers. We will go through some of the types of social media helpful to manufacturers and include a real-life example of how each could help your company.
There are dozens of social bookmarking services on the web, many of which can be accessed using the “Bookmark” button on our web pages. What follows is a brief description of some of the most popular services, all of which are free to use and easy to learn, and their best usage:
del.icio.us: Instead of saving bookmarks (a.k.a. “Favorites”) on your computer using your web browser, you can store them on the Internet using a del.icio.us account. This allows you to access your bookmarks from any computer in the world, share them with other people, and find new web pages that have been bookmarked by others.
The benefit is that bookmarks on del.icio.us can be organized using “tags” such as “insulation” or “manufacturer,” making it easier to find groups of popular pages on a particular topic faster without having to dig through search engine results. For instance, assume you have a salesperson who has committed the sin of not having literature with them. They could simply say: “Do a del.cio.us search for these particular tags: XYZ, R-Value #, insulation.” If the tags are unique to your products, only your products will show, whereas a search engine search might suggest competitor products and potentially cost you a sale.
Furl: Furl is similar to del.icio.us in that it allows you to save and share bookmarks. Furl also enables you to save copies of your favorite web pages in a personal, searchable archive. This could be helpful for training and leadership development lessons for staff members.
Digg: Setting up an account with Digg allows you to submit webpages for other people to look at and review. If someone likes a page, they can give it a positive vote—known as a “Digg”—and submit their comments. Best of all, the most popular pages appear in categorized lists on the Digg website. This provides a way of sharing your favorite web pages with thousands of other people.
A great way to use Digg is to select your video social media (more on this later) and send it to your prospective customers to vote on. Since the votes will display the usernames, we could do two things: turn interested prospects into customers and directly contact the unimpressed prospects to learn what improvement you could make to serve their needs. This is also a great way for manufacturers to test drive a product’s concept prior to full-scale market research and development.
Reddit: Since you have the URL discussed under Digg, you might as well test it on several sites. Submit it here as well.
StumbleUpon: StumbleUpon works by adding new buttons to the toolbar of your web browser. Two of these buttons enable you to vote for or against any web page you visit. This does not mean you should have all your clients vote against your competitor, since all the extra visits, while negative, could help their search engine rankings. A third button provides a way to “channel surf” the web by taking you to similar web pages that other users have recommended. This will help you assess whether the competition is biting the bait and allow you to see if the story about you, a new product, or impactful industry regulation is gaining stream.
Video: Unless a manufacturer is selling directly to the ultimate end-user, video social media is best used by manufacturers in two ways: company introduction and education.
Company introduction is a video that, ideally, introduces the company briefly (no more than 60 seconds), addresses what problems it solves, and provides contact information. After about 3 months of the introduction video being published online and posted on the company website, another video showing how a product solves a problem is highly recommended.
Next, video that describes how a product is made can be used to give a plant tour. Be sure not to release any proprietary information in the video.
Photo sharing: Get professional pictures of your products into an album. I suggest Flickr and Picasa. Create two albums of photos: one of professional product images, the other of end users interacting with your products at trade shows and as the solution to their problems. Be sure to tag each album with keywords related to your website, as well as captions for each image. This is one of the best ways to get your images found by search engines.
Forum: A forum should be used first as a tool to engage directly with end users and secondly as an indirect advertising platform. You do not want to post comments about how great your products are; instead, write about the problem people perceive and why they might need to learn to think differently.
Professional: LinkedIn is an ideal place to meet other industry leaders. This professional social media site should be used for learning about industry trends, joining groups of like-minded people, and creating polling questions for potential customers to answer.
Gadget News and Review: Gadget blogs will not help all manufacturers; however, if your products incorporate technology and electronic components, they come in handy. Gadget blogs and review provide a sense of where hardware, software, and social interaction will intersect. They don’t describe this explicitly, but the devices are part of the equation and essential to forecasting and preparing for future trends. This insight, coupled with the knowledge gained for some of the other types of social media, will help point manufacturers in the right direction.
There you have it. Always remember that the different types of social media are tools, not the whole picture. Use them wisely, and don’t overuse them.