1 0 Archive | Social Media RSS feed for this section

Social Media Can Give a Boost to Content Marketing

 The results of the recently-published IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions research report “2016 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector” show how your audience of engineers and technical professionals uses social media. Although social media isn’t a primary channel for this group for researching work-related purchases, social media does have its place in the engineer’s work routine—and in your marketing mix.

Engineers and technical professionals are passive users of social media, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Rather than creating, posting and sharing content on social media, or starting and participating in discussions, engineers prefer to read and watch. Their primary activities on social media are reading product reviews and industry news, researching suppliers, keeping abreast of new technologies, and watching videos. They are content consumers on social media, not content creators.

Your target audience’s preferences for consuming content should be a clear signal to you: social media channels are an effective way to promote and distribute content. Your audience’s behavior also aligns with the social media mandate: content is the nourishment that keeps your social media program alive.

Have you ever visited a company’s social media account and discovered it hasn’t been updated with fresh posts in months? No doubt you came away with a negative impression. It’s better not to have a social media presence at all than to have one you let die on the vine. On the other hand, if you keep posting fresh content to social media, your audience will consume it.

Promote Content on Social Media Channels
There are a number of ways to take advantage of social media in your content marketing efforts:

• Social media updates tend to be short and frequent. You wouldn’t post an entire white paper or press release on LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook. Instead write a teaser and link to the full document, using social media to direct your audience to the content you are promoting.
• If a review of your product appears in the media, you should immediately be highlighting and linking to it on your social media accounts.
• Has your company scheduled an educational webinar, produced a new how-to video, or just published a new thought leadership article? This is the type of valuable content you should promote through social media.
• On video sharing sites, engineers like to watch how-to videos, tutorials and demos. Create an account on YouTube or another video sharing site and post product demos and how-to videos.

Integrate Social Media into your Marketing Plan
If social media is an integrated and essential component of your marketing plan, your marketing results should improve. More engineers and technical professionals will be exposed to your content and your brand, and you will continue to create a positive impression by keeping your social media channels active and a reliable resource for your audience to access the most up-to-date content you produce.

On the strategic level, map social media efforts to marketing and business objectives. On the tactical level, include social media links (such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) on your website and in newsletters, and promote your social media presence within your established marketing programs. Finally, be sure to include social media as an integral component of your content marketing efforts.

Suppliers that have a presence on Engineering360.com can include their social media links within their company profile pages. This helps build awareness and relevancy for their social media efforts. Suppliers can also add video content to their Engineering360.com company profile.

Leave a Comment

The Pros and Cons of Social Media

 As with any marketing channel, social media has its pros and cons as part of your marketing mix. Results from the recently published IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions research report: “2016 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector” reveal a number of key insights that can help you better assess social media’s role in your marketing plan and the level of resources you should devote to it.

On the Plus Side
One benefit of social media is that its use in the industrial sector has stabilized over the last few years. Engineers and technical professionals have clearly demonstrated their preferences in terms of social media.

LinkedIn is the leading social media platform for this audience, followed in order by Facebook, Google+, YouTube and Twitter. These preferences are consistent across all age groups. Only seven percent use Instagram; only six percent use Pinterest.

Engineers and technical professional use social media for a variety of purposes. The top work-related activities on social media are reading content or product/industry news, researching a supplier, watching a video, searching for contacts, following a company or group, and seeking a recommendation on a product/supplier. Fifty-four percent have used social media to find product reviews; 52 percent to keep abreast of latest company/product news/technologies. The most popular use of social media overall is found among the 18-34 age group, with 67 percent using social media to find new jobs/employers.

This demonstrated behavior can help spark ideas for marketers about how to connect with this audience on social media. For example, social media is an effective channel for posting news, product information, videos or other content, such as white papers or Q&As. In order to elevate your company’s profile and attract a new generation of engineers, you might want to post employment opportunities on LinkedIn or other social media sites.

On the Downside
While there is plenty of opportunity for marketers to take advantage of social media in their marketing mix, you may want to proceed with prudence. With the variety of activities performed on social media among engineers and technical professionals, this audience spends only a small percentage of their time on these platforms.

Sixty-two percent spend less than one hour of work time per week on social media. None of the activities they perform on social media take place more than a few times a month. LinkedIn is the only social media platform that a majority (65 percent) of engineers and technical professionals maintain an account on. All others have a less than 50 percent adoption rate.

The fact is that engineers and technical professionals experience a number of challenges using social media for work-related purposes. Sixty-four percent say that using search engines, supplier websites, online catalogs and other methods are more efficient than social media. Fifty-five percent say there is too much noise and not enough substance on social media. Thirty-eight percent say they can’t find useful content or that social media isn’t reliable. This audience still vastly prefers general search engines, online catalogs and supplier websites for researching a potential work-related purchase.

Another issue is that it’s difficult to actively engage your audience of engineers and technical professionals on social media—and in many ways social media is all about engagement and interactivity. Of those who have a LinkedIn account and belong to a group, only 27 percent participate in discussions; only six percent start a discussion. Activities such as posting or sharing an article, image or video on a social media platform take place at most a few times per year. Seventy percent never post or share any news or information about their own company on their social media accounts.

The conclusion to draw is that because social media is established in the industrial sector, you should develop a social media strategy and integrate social media into your overall marketing plan. However, keep in mind that other digital channels—online catalogs, your website, search engines, email, webinars—should get the bulk of your marketing investments, and that social media should be used primarily as a complement to your efforts on those channels.

1 Comment

The State of Social Media in 2016

 July is social media month at the Marketing Maven. We’ll be publishing a series of posts about the role and impact that social media plays in the industrial sector, how engineers and technical professionals use social media for work-related purposes, and how marketers can effectively incorporate social media into their marketing strategy.

Along the way, we’ll regularly reference results from the new IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions research report: “2016 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector.” You can download your complimentary copy here.

The Seas Have Settled
Not that long ago social media was on the cutting edge and was considered a disruptive digital channel. Marketers scurried to understand and use social media. Some dove in and tried every new platform that came along. Others stayed back, hesitant to get their feet wet. Smart marketers maintained their strategic perspective—they tested the waters, measured the wind, and charted an effective, goal-based course through the turbulent social media sea.

Today, the seas have calmed. Over the past seven years, the use of social media has grown, stabilized, and now has become business-as-usual in the industrial sector. Social media has found its position as an information resource for engineers and technical professionals. For example:

• Sixty-five percent maintain an account on LinkedIn, the most popular social media platform among this industrial audience.
• Fifty-two percent use social media to keep abreast of the latest company/product news/technologies.
• Eighty-six percent of those who use video sharing websites such as YouTube watch how-to videos/tutorials; 85 percent view product demos
• A greater percentage of engineers and technical professionals in the 18-34 year-old age range maintain accounts on nearly all platforms—Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube—as compared to their 35+ counterparts

Yet for all this social media activity, its impact in the engineering workplace is not overly significant. Social media is part of the media mix, for sure, but 82 percent of engineers and technical professionals spend no more than two hours per week on social media for work-related purposes, with no major difference between the various age groups. Very few engineers contribute to social media in terms of creating and posting content. Seventy percent never do. This is an audience of passive social media users, who prefer to read and watch.

Other Channels Take Precedence
Engineers and technical professionals consistently report that for work-related purposes they find other digital channels more efficient than social media. The top four valuable resources for engineers and technical professionals researching a work-related purchase have remained the same year over year, with general search engines, online catalogs, word of mouth and supplier websites topping the list. Among social media platforms, Google+ and LinkedIn ranked highest for researching a work purchase. Facebook, SlideShare and Twitter have the least value.

Does this mean that social media is overhyped and a waste of the industrial marketer’s time? Not at all. But it does mean that engineers and technical professionals have clear preferences, and that you should view social media as a supplemental channel to the more established and proven digital channels in your marketing mix.

The way to approach social media marketing is no different than other marketing. You must first define your strategy and goals for using social media. Goals may include increased brand awareness, recognized thought leadership, or community engagement and expansion. It’s important to realize that social media is not a primary driver of leads and sales. Again, think of it as complementing other marketing strategies, such as a vehicle for distributing content.

With goals established you can develop a plan to achieve them. And although social media accounts are free—open a new one, anytime, anywhere—they take time and resources to grow, or even to maintain. Consider what level of resources you should devote to social media and what metrics you should track to determine your success. The takeaway is to use social media, but not at the expense of your other digital marketing channels.

Leave a Comment

Five Ways to Encourage Employees to Spread the Word on Social Media

 Employees in the industrial sector are already active social media users. Sixty-six percent of engineers and other industrial professionals have a profile on LinkedIn, according to the IHS Engineering360 research report “Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector.” Forty-nine percent have a Facebook account. These percentages are even higher among technical professionals 18-34 years old.

Yet only one-third of technical professionals ever share or post news or information about their company to their social networks. That represents a large opportunity gap. If you can get engineers, sales people, customer service reps and other employees to post about your company on their own social media accounts, you will gain an extended team of social media ambassadors that can help spread the word and increase the visibility of your brand, products and services.

In this era of competitive content marketing, the more people you have on your team to get the word out, the greater advantage you’ll have in winning mindshare with your audience. Plus, using employees as social media team members results in free exposure for your company, expands your reach to a wider audience and provides the cache that each post is being personally recommended by a professional in your company.

Here are five ways to encourage your employees to participate:

1. Educate employees on your brand and social media program
Any employees who might post about your company on their social media accounts should understand the meaning of your brand and your company’s core mission and values. Understanding the essence of the brand and your company’s purpose provides employees with a yardstick to measure anything they might want to post on their social media accounts. Embracing your company’s mission and core values also helps employees to be generally more engaged in their work.

Also, like any good recruiter, you should pitch your social media program to employees to get them to participate. Depending on the size of your company, you might customize your pitch for each department, or you might introduce your concept to everyone at the same time. One of those free “lunch & learn” sessions tends to draw a crowd.

2. Develop social media guidelines and best practices
While the goal of using employees as social media ambassadors is to spread the word about your company’s news and initiatives, social media is as much about the individual as the brand. Each person has their own style and voice, and although you don’t want to discourage individual style, you should provide guidelines to make sure anything they post or share about your company is appropriate.

Important topics to cover when setting guidelines include how to respond to any negative comments (no fighting, no arguing), how to avoid disclosing confidential information, and recognizing what’s appropriate (or not) to share on social media. Instill in employees a few simple rules such as using common sense, thinking carefully before posting, and being polite and professional at all times.

3. Provide curated, approved content
How do you get those two-thirds who never post news or information about their company on their own social media accounts to start participating? You make it easy for them. One way is to provide a library of curated, approved content and status updates for them to share. This also helps you maintain more control over the message being disseminated.

You could create a central repository where all social media content resides. Add entire posts to the repository: headline, copy, link, etc. All employees need to do is copy and paste to their own accounts. You can also use this repository as a place where employees can offer their own ideas for posts, provide links, ask questions and more. As employees sense they are being heard and their ideas are taken seriously, participation should increase.

4. Encourage employees to “like” your company’s social media accounts
Encourage employees to like or follow your company’s accounts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media properties. This simple step helps spread the word because your company’s updates will now appear in their social media feeds, exposing your message to a broader audience and potentially increasing the number of people who follow you.

5. Share social media statistics
One way to boost enthusiasm among employees who become social media ambassadors for your company is to share statistics. Seeing for themselves how their participation might be helping to expand your reach and achieve goals will instill a sense of pride and motivate them to continue posting and sharing on your company’s behalf. A large part of social media’s effectiveness is “showing up” on a regular basis and staying involved. It’s easy to do when you’re getting results.

Leave a Comment

Seven Steps to Cleaning Up Your Social Media Presence

 Many industrial companies got started with social media by having dedicated employees with social media skills experiment with various platforms—LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others. There might not have been an overall strategy or vision attached to social media efforts. Some social media accounts may have languished, while others stayed active. In addition, other people in your company might have opened new accounts: customer service started their own, an executive or two took to Twitter, human resources began recruiting on LinkedIn.

You can see how easy it might be to end up spread out on social media, with no centralized control or guiding strategy. It’s time to change that. With social media having established itself in the industrial sector, your company needs a unified social media strategy, a consistent brand and a relevant message. Here’s how you can clean up your social media accounts and get the most out of your social media efforts.

1. Perform an Audit
The first thing to do is take control by identifying and documenting all of your social media profiles, both official and unofficial. The easy ones to find are your official company page on Facebook or LinkedIn. But did you try out Instagram once and never return? Start a YouTube channel and then forgot about it?

Look also for unofficial accounts by performing a general search for your brand on all the major social networks. You might find accounts that have been set up by well-meaning employees or even by rogues and spammers.

2. Check Your Social Media Strategy & Goals
Once you’ve compiled a list of all social media profiles associated with your company, see how each one fits with your social media strategy and goals. Are you trying to build thought leadership, get the most followers possible, interact with customers and prospects, or generate engagement opportunities? Ask how each existing account fits in with your goals, and prune out the ones that are not essential.

3. Understand How Your Audience Values Social Media
How does your social media presence align with the way your customers and prospects use social media? For example, LinkedIn is the most popular social media outlet with 66 percent of engineers and technical professionals maintaining an account the platform, according to the IHS Engineering360 research report, “Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector.” For technical professionals researching a work-related purchase, Google+ and LinkedIn ranked highest in value of all social media platforms. Facebook, SlideShare and Twitter have the least value.

4. Choose the Accounts to Keep
Based on steps 1-3 above, you can decide which social media profiles you should keep active and which you should close down. If you have followers for some of the accounts being closed, you will need to notify them and ask them to follow a different account. Some social media platforms, such as Facebook, offer the ability to merge accounts and pages that you manage.

5. Identify Your Social Media Team
Depending on the size of your company and available resources, your social media team might be one person or it might be a cross-functional team of people. You’ll need to know who’s on the team and what role each person will play. It’s also a good time to determine login credentials and permission levels for the various social media accounts. You probably don’t want a free-for-all when it comes to posting social media updates. If you don’t have a set of guidelines for social media publishing, now is the time to create one, to help ensure inappropriate content is not publicly posted and that all published content is aligned with your social media goals.

6. Update All Profiles
Time to freshen up. Banners and backgrounds don’t have to be the same on every social media account, but they should complement each other and work with your brand. Make sure company descriptions are clear, consistent and offer value to your audience. Don’t just describe your company—give people a reason to follow you, such as promising tips & tricks, or a new how-to article every week.

Fill out all the fields on your profiles. Update bios and photos of contributors. Check all links to other pages (also check the links on social sharing buttons on your website).

7. Consider Using a Social Media Management Tool
If you’re making a commitment to cleaning up your social media presence and plan to integrate social media with your other marketing efforts, you might want to use a social media management tool to plan and schedule posts across platforms, track followers and monitor your results. There are a number of tools available to help you with this task, based on your individual social media needs.

Leave a Comment

The Compelling Reason to Use Video in Your Marketing Mix

 Seventy-six percent of technical professionals watch work-related videos on video sharing sites such as YouTube, according to the 2015 “Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector Survey” from IHS Engineering360.

That’s a huge majority of your target audience, and a compelling reason to use video in your marketing mix. Not only can you connect with customers and prospects using video, it’s now easier and more affordable than ever to capture, edit and publish video. There may still be times when a professionally produced and polished video is appropriate, such as for a corporate or investor presentation, but many industrial marketers are finding success and a following with an inexpensive video camera and an upload to YouTube.

The most effective marketing videos tend to be short (1-3 minutes) and highly targeted. They focus on a single topic or concept, such as a brief product demo, or three questions with an expert, for example. In addition, short, focused videos with targeted keywords rank better for search optimization than broad, general videos.

What is Your Purpose?
As with any marketing tactic, start by defining your purpose. This will not only help you create a more concise and compelling video, it will guide you toward the metrics you need to track in order to measure your results. Your purpose for creating a video might be:

• Generate an engagement opportunity
• Build brand awareness
• Educate the market about a trend or new technology
• Demonstrate a product or technical concept
• Entertain

Whatever your purpose, there are a group of metrics that can help you determine how successful your video is. These include:

• Number of follow-throughs on your call-to-action (many videos end with a call to action, such as contacting a supplier or accessing additional content)
• Number of views
• Length of view (it’s important to know how many viewers dropped off before the video reaches the end)
• Number of shares
• Number of comments

Choose the metrics that are aligned with your goals, and track them for as long as the video is part of your campaign.

Most Popular Video Types for Industrial Professionals
Engineers and technical professionals have a strong preference for specific types of videos. According to the “Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector Survey,” the most popular types of content to watch on video-sharing websites are how-to videos/tutorials (82 percent), product demos (79 percent) and training videos (70 percent).

What each of these video types has in common is that they are information-dense. Your audience is seeking valuable, relevant information to help them do their jobs better.

Other types of videos may also be effective and popular with your audience, such as brief interviews with influential people or a customer testimonial. If appropriate, you can produce a video tour of your company, showing off your advanced production capabilities, processes or operations. Remember that customers are not just buying your product, but buying into your entire company. An insider look is a great tool. You can also create videos by recording presentations and keynote addresses for customers who were not able to attend an event.

Where to Post Video
YouTube is the most popular place to have an account for posting your videos, and the most widely used by engineers and technical professionals. You can add the YouTube code into your website and blogs and have the videos run within those pages. If you produce a library of videos, you might want to create a page on your website where they can all be archived by type or subject matter.

Video embedded directly into email can help you create differentiation in your customers’ crowded inboxes. Many email marketing service providers offer this capability, as well as the ability to ensure emails render well on mobile devices.

What’s Different about Video
Marketers have learned how to write for the web by understanding that their audience doesn’t read web pages beginning to end, but scans pages for content of interest. That’s why good web writing includes headlines, bulleted lists and short statements.

There’s no such scanning option with video. You have to keep your audience engaged, opening credits to fade out. That’s why short videos are more effective than longer ones. It’s also good to keep in mind the words of suspense-master Alfred Hitchcock, who once said that a good story is a lot like life but with the dull parts taken out. Trim your videos of anything dull, and you’ll keep your audience interested, perhaps even on the edge of their seats.

Leave a Comment

Social Media Use Holding Steady in Industrial Sector

 Social media has value among engineers and technical professionals, although not as a top resource for researching work-related purchases. This is one of the key takeaways from the IHS Engineering360 annual “Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector Survey.” You can download the white paper here.

Over the past few years, the use of social media by technical professionals for work-related purposes has stabilized. Engineers have determined how to integrate social media into their work activities and have chosen their preferred platforms. However, engineers prefer general search engines, online catalogs, word of mouth, and supplier websites to social media for researching work-related purchases.

HOW TECHNICAL PROFESSIONALS USE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR WORK
Sixty-one percent of technical professionals spend less than one hour a week using social media for work-related purposes. The most commonly performed work-related activities on social media are reading content or product/industry news, watching a video, searching for contacts, and following a company or group.

Fifty-seven percent of engineers and technical professionals use social media to find product reviews. This is the most popular use of social media sites. One trend worth noting is that significantly more engineers used social media sites this year than last year to contact a supplier or service provider (42 percent vs. 29 percent), to find expertise (44 percent vs. 29 percent) and to find product reviews (57 percent vs. 49 percent).

One-third (33 percent) of technical professionals report sharing or posting news or information about their company to their social networks. The age group of 18-34 has a slightly higher rate (37 percent). This low percentage represents an opportunity for industrial companies to recruit their employees to be social media ambassadors and to help spread the word on their social media networks.

PREFERRED SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
LinkedIn is the most popular platform among engineers, with 66 percent having an account. Facebook and Google+ are the next two most widely used. In the age group 18-34, Facebook is slightly more popular than LinkedIn.

Forty-six percent of engineers follow 1-5 work-related company profiles on LinkedIn. The majority of engineers (56 percent) belong to 1-5 groups on LinkedIn. Ten percent belong to more than 10. Most technical professionals are passive members of LinkedIn groups. Sixty-eight percent read discussions, but only 27 percent participate in discussions. Technical professionals prefer to read and watch on social media as opposed to posting and commenting.

Fifty-one percent of technical professionals use YouTube or other video sharing websites for work-related purposes. When segmented by age demographics, use of video sharing websites among engineers under age 50 is greater than those 50 and older. The most common work-related content watched on video sharing websites are how-to videos/tutorials, product demos, and training videos. Customer testimonials lag, with only 14 percent of engineers watching them.

THE VALUE OF SOCIAL MEDIA FOR RESEARCHING WORK-RELATED PURCHASES
The most valuable resources for researching a work-related purchase are general search engines, online catalogs, word of mouth, and supplier websites. These findings are generally true across all age groups. Among social media platforms, Google+ and LinkedIn ranked highest for researching a work purchase. Facebook, SlideShare, and Twitter have the least value.

Why isn’t social media used more for work? Sixty-seven percent of engineers and technical professionals say the biggest challenge is that social media is inefficient when compared to other methods such as search engines, supplier websites, and online catalogs. Forty percent say they can’t find useful content on social media.

RECOMMENDATIONS
Many industrial marketers are not sure what role social media should have in their overall marketing efforts. However, social media is no different from other marketing initiatives, and as such, you should approach it with a clear purpose and defined goals that map to your other marketing and business objectives.

To help you optimize your use of social media and better understand the level of resources to devote to it, download a complimentary copy of “Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector Survey.” The research report includes all survey results represented in chart form, along with analysis of the findings and recommendations on how industrial marketers can optimize their use of social media. Get your copy today.

Leave a Comment

Social Media is About Planning, Not Popularity

March is Social Media Month at the Marketing Maven, with blog posts focusing on how suppliers and manufacturers can best incorporate social media into their marketing efforts to connect with engineers and technical professionals. At the end of the month, we’ll report the findings from the latest IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions social media research survey.

A key concept that industrial marketers should embrace is that social media success comes from taking a disciplined, planned approach rather than thinking social media is some kind of popularity contest. Sure, you can do something outlandish on social media and you might get your post or video to go viral and garner many views, but whether that rampant visibility contributes to your marketing objectives and strengthens your company’s brand is highly doubtful.

Another thing to realize is that social media is no longer new. Its use has stabilized in the industrial sector, and research shows which social media platforms technical professionals prefer and how they want to use social media for work-related purposes. The more you approach social media as one of a portfolio of tactics in your overall integrated marketing strategy, the more social media will serve as a valuable asset to your company.

CREATE A PLAN BASED ON OBJECTIVES
As with any marketing program, social media is an effective tactic for achieving a certain set of objectives, and less effective at others. For example, social media is oriented towards interaction, education, and networking, and therefore may not be a direct driver of qualified leads and sales. On the other hand, it is effective for distributing content to your target audience and raising your brand visibility in the early stages of your customers’ buy cycle.

If you’re putting together a social media plan in order to generate fast leads and sales, you will likely miss achieving those objectives. However, if your plan is based around building thought leadership, fostering a sense of community, and generating brand awareness that will lead to engagement opportunities, then you may experience a high level of success.

FOCUS EFFORTS ON THE PLATFORMS YOUR CUSTOMERS USE
There are a multitude of social media platforms in play, and it seems as if new ones are popping up all the time. It’s impossible to spread your social media efforts across every platform available. Nor would you want to. Instead, focus your efforts on the social media channels your customers use.

According to the latest Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector Research Report, which will be released later this month, the three most popular platforms for engineers and technical professionals are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+. If you can devote resources to only a few platforms, those are good places to start. Also, more than half of this audience uses video-sharing platforms like YouTube, so video can play an important role in your social media outreach. Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest have much less value for this audience. No other social media platform is relevant to them at this time.

Use this information to inform your social media plan. You might include tactics such as establishing and maintaining a company LinkedIn page if you don’t already have one. Post news and content to it. Invite customers and prospects to follow you. You can do the same with Facebook and Google+.

GIVE CUSTOMERS WHAT THEY WANT
Two of the biggest complaints technical professionals have about social media are that there’s too much noise and not enough substance, and that other channels such as search engines, online product catalogs, and supplier websites are more efficient sources of information.

We’ll devote an entire post to the content marketing side of social media, but for now, follow this one guideline: use social media to deliver what engineers and technical professionals seek. Their top uses of social media are to find product reviews and to keep abreast of the latest news on companies, products, and technologies. Therefore, social media is a great place for you to provide links to reviews of your products, relevant news stories or press releases, and thought leadership articles and white papers.

As for videos, how-to videos, product demos, and training videos remain immensely popular with this audience.

Your social media plan should include an editorial calendar that lists the types of posts and content you will publish. Naturally there will be impromptu opportunities that pop up, such as a mention of your company, products in the media, or a published interview with an executive, but planning keeps you from scrambling for content and helps keep down the annoying, irrelevant social media updates that turn off engineers and technical professionals.

REVISIT AND REVISE YOUR PLAN
Your social media plan should support marketing and business objectives, and therefore you need to establish metrics to determine how your plan is performing. Here are a few measurements that might be important to your social media efforts:

• Increase interactions with followers by X percent
• Successfully resolve X number of customer service questions over social media
• Solicit X number of suggestions from followers
• Increase content downloads by X percent

These are just a few examples. Your metrics will depend on your goals.
If you’re missing your targets, you should revisit your plan. Do you have unrealistic expectations of what social media can do for you? Are some platforms not working as well as others? Are you missing opportunities to better engage your audience? Revise your plan as necessary or reconsider your objectives—or both.

Social media appears to be here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. If you have a solid plan in place and devote the appropriate resources, social media can be a valuable contributor to your overall marketing strategy.

Up next: social media and content marketing.

If this article was helpful to you, please spread the word by using the share buttons below.

Also, sign up for our monthly newsletter and receive our latest articles right in your inbox.

How are you using social media to reach an engineering and technical audience? What advice or tips would you give your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Leave a Comment

Why You Need a Social Media Audit

The majority of industrial companies (61 percent) use social media for marketing purposes, according to recent IHS GlobalSpec research. However, only 27 percent of industrial marketers are satisfied or very satisfied with their company’s social media efforts, and only one in five industrial companies have a full-time employee dedicated solely to social media.

social media800

These statistics may mean that your company’s social media use was developed in an ad-hoc manner, with some industrial companies getting involved without having a clear social media strategy or goals. If that’s the case at your company, or even if you have a social media plan, you can achieve better results if you take the time to conduct a social media audit.

Whether you’re a social media solo practitioner or part of an integrated team using social media, a social media audit will help you gain better control over your social media accounts, establish a social media strategy that supports business goals, and execute more effective social media programs.

Step 1: Inventory social media accounts
Start by taking inventory of your existing social media presence. It may be larger and more fragmented than you realized. Social media often starts at the business unit level as divisions create their own social media presence. In addition, new and existing employees open new social media accounts all the time. If your organization has grown through mergers and acquisitions, there could be multiple social media accounts operating under different brand names. If possible, centralize ownership of the accounts.

Step 2: Align social media strategy to business and marketing objectives
Once you have identified your overall business and marketing objectives, determine how social media initiatives can support those objectives. For instance, if one of your marketing goals is to drive thought leadership and establish your company as experts, then a logical social media initiative would be to publish educational and thought leadership content over social channels. If a goal is to better support customers, you might use social media to distribute user tips, invitations to training webinars, or how-to videos. If brand awareness is a goal, you’ll know that part of your social media strategy is increasing the number of followers and shares on your social media accounts.

One way to help shape your strategy is by tagging keywords and listening to what is being said on social networks about your company, products, services, industry, and competitors. You will be able to uncover opportunities for engaging with your audience and the market that you may not have considered.

As part of aligning your social media strategy with business and marketing objectives, you should establish measurable goals for social media, such as traffic delivered to your website, conversions, likes/follows, comments, shares and more. Only with measurable goals can you determine if your social media efforts are working.

Step 3: Determine how your audience uses social media
Are the social platforms you’re using the same ones that your customers use? Your social media efforts will be wasted if you’re not connecting with your target audience. The most popular social media platforms for technical professionals are LinkedIn and Facebook, and Google + is growing rapidly among this audience. You may not have the resources to manage accounts on all social media channels, so in your audit you might have to trim the ones that aren’t relevant.

Step 4: Evaluate your social media content
Content isn’t only what you post on social media, but what’s included in each of your social media profiles. Start by making sure the basics are all there: the appropriate company description, accurate urls and contact information. Next, are the header graphics consistent with your brand? Do individual users have profile pictures?

Then turn to the content itself. Is your messaging consistent? Are you publishing content across all of your social media networks to reach the greatest possible audience? Are you including links in your posts? You’ll also want to track what content is popular (measured by comments, shares, likes, clickthroughs, etc.) and what is ignored. This will provide the intelligence you need to develop useful, relevant content that your audience responds to.

Step 5: Create a social media “playbook”
Creating a social media playbook is an important action item in your audit process. Your playbook should clearly document your company’s social media strategy and goals, identify its accounts, define policies and guidelines for using social media (including any approvals or permissions needed to post on social media accounts), and identify team members and their roles.

Revisit the playbook on a regular basis—whenever there’s a change in your social media strategy, or a new team member comes on board, or you conduct your next social media audit.

Step 6: Consider using a social media management tool
If you’re committed to using social media for marketing purposes, then you may need to get more serious about managing your accounts and your content marketing efforts. There are a number of social media management tools (some of them free) that can help you be much more efficient on social media and gain centralized management of your entire social media presence. From a single dashboard you can schedule posts across multiple channels, publish content, track results and more.

If this article was helpful to you, please spread the word by using the share buttons below.

Have you conducted a social media audit? What tips or strategies would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Leave a Comment

Find the Perfect Balance of Content in Your Marketing Efforts

Now that most industrial marketers are deploying a content management strategy, they’ve also discovered how much work it is to produce and publish content. There’s also the question of what type of content you should put out there.

content marketing800

Content types fit into one of three general categories. Thought leadership content that your company produces. Curated content that others produce and you share with your audience. And promotional content that focuses on your own products and services. Each type has its place in your content mix. There are no rigid rules about the mix, but we think a balance and appropriate breakdown looks something like this:

  • 30 percent thought leadership content
  • 50 percent curated content
  • 20 percent promotional content.

Thought Leadership Content

Thought leadership is original content produced by your internal team. It’s usually educational in nature. It’s always relevant to your audience. Thought leadership is powerful stuff because it:

  • Demonstrates your expertise in specific areas
  • Showcases your opinion and point of view on issues
  • Builds customer and market perceptions of your brand

Thought leadership content is also the hardest to produce. It requires the most resources in terms of generating ideas, writing, illustrating and more. It requires the most time and money. But you need to produce thought leadership as part of your content marketing strategy, and if only thirty percent of your content is thought leadership, you should be able to handle the effort especially if you repurpose your content in multiple formats. For example, a white paper can be the basis for a blog post or a product demo can evolve into a YouTube video.

Curated Content

To curate means to pull together, organize, sift through and select for presentation. Curating content from other sources and sharing it with your audience offers a number of benefits:

  • Requires fewer resources on your part to pull together
  • Faster to get it out because you don’t need to produce it
  • Gives your audience other perspectives
  • Also builds thought leadership because of what you choose to share and how you share it

If you’ve ever retweeted and commented on a link in Twitter, or shared an article on Facebook and added your commentary, then you’ve curated content. You’ve also gone one step further by adding context for your audience with your comment on what you’re sharing. That little extra—a comment added to the share—can help put your own spin on curated content.

You can easily discover content to curate. Follow other industry leaders and industry news sites. Track relevant hashtags on Twitter. Use Google Alerts to be notified when specific keywords appear in the news. Evaluate what you find and then share with your own audience what you consider to be the most useful and relevant content. If 50 percent of your content is curated, you’re letting others do a lot of the heavy lifting for you—and you’re working smarter.

Promotional Content

Because you share thought leadership and curated content you “earn” the right with your audience to publish promotional content. And by keeping the mix at 20 percent of your overall content, you are unlikely to anger your readers for occasionally tooting your own horn. They’re following you for a reason: they’re interested in what you have to say.

You need promotional content mixed in because you need ways to talk about new and updated products, or enhanced and expanded services. You need to get your target audience interested in what you sell. You need to make offers, generate engagement opportunities and keep your sales and marketing teams excited. And you can do all of this through content marketing, as long as you keep the percentage down.

Even promotional content can offer value. If you know your audience’s desires well, you can make your promotional content more targeted and increase the likelihood it will be accepted.

Where, What and How Often to Share

You have three basic choices on where to share content: your social media channels, corporate website or blog and e-newsletters. That’s a start. You may want to look at webinars, online events, banner advertising, press releases and third-party list rental to help promote your content to a wider audience.

What to share includes your own or third-party curated articles, blog posts, white papers, eBooks, presentations, videos, infographics and more.

How often should you share? As often as you can as long as your audience continues wanting to hear from you. If you find comments, likes and shares increasing on your content, you’ve got your audience’s interest. If people are dropping off, you’re sharing too much or what you’re sharing isn’t relevant. Find out what’s right for you.

If this article was helpful to you, please spread the word by using the share buttons below.

How do you find the right balance for your content marketing? What tips or strategies would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Leave a Comment

Free eBook: Online Marketing for the Industrial Sector. Selection of marketing articles compiled from past editions of the Marketing Maven.

Subscribe To the Marketing Maven e-Newsletter

Follow Us

Subscribe to RSS