manufacturing

I’m often asked by industrial manufacturing businesses if there is any benefit to them using social media. The short answer is yes, the longer answer is…

Well, for a start – are you sure? It’s still early days for social media in the industrial manufacturing sector, so your customers may not have a Business Page yet, although many do, but are you sure they don’t use Facebook or Twitter on a personal basis?

In the UK there are 30 million people on Facebook, around 12 million on Twitter, with 8 million using LinkedIn and I find it hard to believe that your customers don’t account for some of these huge numbers …

However, if I’m wrong, does it really matter? Every post on social media is indexed by search engines, so as long as you use your keywords, you have a chance of a search engine finding that tweet or update when a potential customer is searching for a product. Isn’t that reason enough?

 

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Melting chocolate teapotLinkedIn has made cold calling a thing of the past for many of us – at least it should have. Unfortunately I suspect many people build their connections and then… well, nothing. LinkedIn is about as useful as a chocolate teapot if you only connect with people you already know – OK, maybe not a chocolate teapot, but certainly one with a dribbly spout. There are other teapots out there that do the job better if you just want to chat to people you know!

The search functions on LinkedIn are great for pinpointing the kind of people you want to do business with. Here’s a how to for you…

1. First you need to log in – see, not so hard, is it?

2. Go to the search bar and type in the search you want. Maybe you represent a packaging company and you want to make contact with company buyers. So you type in buyer and hit enter.

3. On the next page, down the left hand side you’ll see a whole host of search criteria designed to narrow your search. Some of this is only accessible if you pay, but the basic version is certainly good enough. I would suggest you refine your search to 2nd connections, as you want to meet people that you don’t yet know. Other refinements are down to what makes sense for your business – location and industry I would suggest makes sense for our sales rep.

4. For me, this search comes up with 633 results. Now I can work my way through and decide who is my best match, in terms of their role, and our products. When I’ve found someone who I’d like to talk to I can click on our shared connection and request an introduction. I could do that, or I could make contact with our shared connection to find out all I can about my potential client – are they the decision maker, are they on the lookout for a new supplier, what interests do they have… the usual stuff, and of course, are they willing to introduce me. This then makes it more of a referral instead of a shot in the dark.

It’s this last part that turns a list of names into a rich source of potential clients, information and referrals. Much nicer than driving to an industrial estate and knocking on everyone’s door in the rain, to see if they buy packaging, yes, I was guilty of that many moons ago. I’ve also taken my local phone book, picked a page at random and started a (fruitless) exercise of offering financial services to whoever answered the phone. I guess these ways still work, but LinkedIn offers a much better way; far more in keeping with the digital age we live in, faster, sleeker and more efficient – go on, give it a go.

 

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I think it’s fair to say that industrial manufacturing companies haven’t yet jumped, en masse, into the social media arena. Some are using it and it’s working very nicely for them, but I think a lot of companies are still sceptical and are sitting on the side lines, watching, a bit like many did when the internet boom first started over 10 years ago.

As with the internet, it was the early adopters who had massive success, which leaves you in a unique position now. Get involved, set the standard and reap the rewards, or spend years wishing you’d got involved at the outset.

Google makes a fortune from its “pay per click” advertising, because most people who use the internet use Google to find what they want. I’m sure that’s no surprise to you. But did you know that Facebook gets more page views per month than Google, and Twitter isn’t far behind?

The role of internet marketers is to increase traffic to their client’s website. So if several of the world’s most visited websites are already allowing people to use their sites freely to guide people to specific websites, why wouldn’t you take advantage of it?

Google now recognise Tweets in their organic results – and high up, too. There are hundreds of thousands of Twitter profiles showing on page 1 of Google for valuable keyword terms. Google also allows Facebook profiles and commercial “pages” to rank as well.

In short, these social media sites are SEO friendly, they love fresh content and allow you to post virtually anything you want at any time. Social media and SEO work well together, like strawberries and cream. Either are fine on their own, but put them together and something magical happens!

I recently read a report from Global Spec entitled “Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector” which stated that industrial customers are generally passive in social media. They’re reading, but not getting into conversations, nonetheless they’re involved, and perhaps, you should be too. Click through for GLOBALSPEC’s full report

 

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