In a recent issue of the Marketing Maven, we explored the role that
social media should have in your marketing mix
. Our conclusion?
Although you may not be using social media as part of your online
marketing strategy right now, it makes sense to gain a better
understanding of it and how you might effectively use it in the future.

One of the options that the article briefly mentioned was social networking sites. While marketing opportunities may exist on social networking sites, they are primarily used in business to build relationships.

A social networking site provides a sort of “virtual community” where people connect with family, friends, colleagues and business contacts, as well as forge links with others who may have similar interests. On a more casual level, you may be familiar with MySpace or Facebook; professionally, you may use LinkedIn, Plaxo, or Xing

Regardless of your preferred network, you may be wondering, “Is using a social networking site really any different than keeping contacts in my address book?”  In short, the answer is “yes.” 

First, it makes it far easier for you to keep your contacts up-to-date, and to connect with colleagues, business contacts and customers that you may not have included in your address book. Additionally, social networking sites expose you to a wider network of people beyond those in your immediate circle. 

Another benefit of social networking sites is that you have a built-in group of professionals that you can reach out to for advice, references and recommendations to answer questions and solve challenges. A perfect example – earlier this year, I reached out to my network on LinkedIn in search of a business consultant to assist me with a challenge that I was facing. I received many valuable recommendations – many from people I didn’t know but were the connections of my connections. Surprisingly, I received one from a rather unlikely source – my husband.

My need for a business consultant probably wasn’t a challenge that I would mention during casual conversation at the dinner table because I didn’t think it was an area that my husband could assist. If my husband wasn’t part of my network, I wouldn’t have approached him for advice – and I could’ve missed out on a valuable contact.

The ability to reach out to your peers to network and find information is such a major advantage of social networking sites on a professional level.  I invite all of your to expand your network by joining our Industrial Marketing Mavens group on LinkedIn. It is designed for professionals like you to network, gain knowledge and share best practices about marketing in the industrial/manufacturing space. It is a great way to seek advice on common challenges and receive valuable recommendations for services from peers.

Not yet a member of LinkedIn?  Check it out. It’s a way to keep track of all of your business contacts in one place and to gain a better understanding of how social networking works… and what’s in it for you. Join the Industrial Marketing Mavens group and expand your network.

3 comments

  1. Chris,
    I share your suggestion that now is the time to keep abreast of the many social networking sites to see how they can be incorporated into the marketing mix in the future.

    I’ve been doing just that. And while I see great potential for B2B marketing, Social Networking strategies have been a difficult sell to my business clients. I too have gathered some interesting feedback via LinkedIn and made a few valuable contacts, but clients are having difficulty navigating through all of the solicitations and commercial messages posted in the Forums.

    Hopefully, we can muddle through that and start reporting marketing successes in the near future. I do believe great opportunities await.

    Tom Ricci

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  2. I am a marketer for a printing company and I have been using a lot of today’s new social media craze as a way for free advertising and branding on a lot popular web 2.0 sites. What about using LinkedIn for manufacturing companies? LinkedIn works well for professionals’ networking with each other but in manufacturing we are looking to “network” with contacts such as purchasers/project planners not the owners, CEO’s or VP’s of comapnies that make up most these contacts. It’s been said that most of the contacts within LinkeIn that our succesfully using the application are all making over $100,000 a year. Should I considder using LinkedIn for networking purposes or would you see this as a waste of effort?

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  3. Social tools are today not any more a “plus” in webmarketing strategies but an “have-to” in the SEO and emarketing process.

    Visibility/trafic increase due to viral effects from bookmarking or digg-like tools is the first step, notoriety get by being on social media is the next one. And its by notoriety that communities and groups get built and grow.

    Still lots don’t trust efficiency of such tools, Internet and media have been for a long time in a push mode, and now opening information process and the relation building process looks like scaring !

    The challenge is here now, being able for marketers to work in a social-networks pattern and reach new prospects, new opportunities with a new fair and peer leadership.
    Lots of community already succeed in this way : Facebook, beyond the just-for-fun groups, show lots of professional sharing groups, LinkedIn is the new meeting point of business and Viadeo in France is becoming also the networking building solution.

    New media, new marketing, (new spamming also, thats another subject…)

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