How Social Media Networking Can Help Your Manufacturing Business
A Break with Branding Tradition
By Beth Goodbaum
A few of the most prominent social networking sites are already within their five year anniversary mark, leaving B2B marketing leaders with a choice: go with the flow or stay the traditional branding route. As manufacturing web pages gradually undergo format changes from simple text to videos and links to networks, it’s clear that some businesses have embraced social networking as an ongoing public relations strategy. Yet plenty of others are questioning whether all the effort is worth the results.
“Social media and social networking tools are just better representations of technologies that we’ve been working with for over a century,” Chris Brogan, president of New Marketing Labs, LLC, a new media marketing agency says. “Shunning (social media) is shunning quality communication.”
Brogan, who co-authored “Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust” began working in social media networking back in the ‘80s, when bulletin board services were the leading way to connect with clients.
Social Networks and How Marketers Are Using Them
With the emergence of more recent social mediums, like LinkedIn, which launched in ‘03, Facebook in ‘04, YouTube in ‘05, and Twitter in ‘06, trade businesses have more marketing tools to choose from than ever before. While these are a few of the leading networking sites, other popular networking tools include podcasting, streaming video, and RSS technology.
Networks like Facebook, which supplies “fan pages” and Twitter, which allows businesses to stay in touch with clients via Twitter news feeds, are a good starting point for many small businesses by building business loyalty.
“White label social networking platforms allow for a place for people with unique information and skill set needs to gather privately and share industry specific information,” says Brogan. “Tools like YouTube allow for video information sharing and tools like the Flip camera enable simple video creation and sharing, so that field teams can convey more than simple textual and voice information,” he says.
Channellock, Inc., a pliers manufacturer based out of Meadville, Pa., that was named manufacturer marketer of the year in 2009, attributes much of its success to social media platforms, like a Facebook fan page, a BlueBoard blog and a Twitter handle.
“The biggest advantage of being relevant in social media as a manufacturer is having a direct line of communication to the people who use and enjoy (our products). It affords us the opportunity to ask questions and get answers,” says Michele King, the Communications and Training manager at the company who helped implement social media sites last year.
King says that Channellock’s social networking platforms has drawn in visitors from all walks of life, including plumbers, electricians, farmers, HVAC technicians, contractors, mechanics, handymen and home DIYers.
A meeting of the minds from those in various industries is a crucial factor in successful social networking, Brogan suggests. “Sharing information across these new toolsets provides organizations a chance to speed the information sharing process, to enable collaboration, and to empower multi-contributor environments, where people with mixed skill sets can collaborate better.”
Advice for the Critics
Yet with all the success stemming from social media networking, some companies, primarily Fortune 500s, and even smaller businesses, have been slow to conform to the social mass marketing trend, according to marketing studies. Many may determine that the social networking route simply takes too much time and for some traditionalists, too much effort.
For those with such a mindset, media experts like Brian Solis and Deidre Breakenridge, who wrote “Putting the Public Back in Public Relations: How Social Media is Reinventing the Aging Business of PR,” suggest hiring a community manager. By doing this, they advise that there will always be someone representing the company “in all things social with complement new PR.”
“I think many businesses will choose to skip using social media and social networking for some time,” says Brogan. “That’s fine. They can pick up the opportunity later. Their competitors, however, probably won’t wait around.”Kaplan Social Media is a full-service social media marketing agency located in Detroit, Michigan. Kaplan Social Media Detroit social media marketing company has expertise in Facebook, Twitter, Google+, blogs, Flickr, YouTube, Pinterest, WordPress, Content Strategy, Cause Marketing, email marketing including Aweber, Constant Contact, and Mailchimp, and social media account setup, social media management and social media consulting. Kaplan Social Media serves clients nationwide, locally in the metro Detroit area in Ann Arbor, Auburn Hills, Berkeley, Beverly Hills, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Commerce, Detroit, Dearborn, Farmington Hills, Flint, Franklin, Grosse Pointe, Livonia, Novi, Oak Park, Oakland County, Pontiac, Royal Oak, Southfield, St. Claire Shores, Sterling Heights, Troy, Warren,and West Bloomfield, and throughout the Midwest.