One of the most popular sessions at the recent Industrial Marketing Digital Summit was a panel discussion on how companies in the industrial sector use social media. The panel consisted of three experts: Rick Short, Director of Marketing Communications at Indium Corporation; Todd Sierer, Director of Product Marketing at Edmund Optics; and Gary Spangler, Corporate eMarketing Manager and Leader of the Social Media Center for Excellence at DuPont Corporation.

Below are highlights from each presenter. You can view the complete panel discussion, including audience Q&A, by clicking here.

Rick Short on Blogging
Rick Short likes mantras. The first one is: Begin at the end. He’s referring to the end goal of marketing projects. In Indium’s case, the end goal is market share. Short also likes to repeat the mantra: Content to Contact to Cash — meaning the company produces content, leading to contact with potential customers, and the closing of deals.

For Indium Corporation, these mantras are applied to social media efforts — in particular, blogging. The company currently has a dozen bloggers and 73 blogs. That may seem like a lot, but the blogs have become the number-one social media channel for the company to interact with prospects and customers.

This wasn’t always the case. When Indium first started blogging, they received no comments on their blogs. Soon they discovered that their audience didn’t want to expose themselves publicly on the blogs. In response, Indium set up many ways to contact blog authors or the company directly: through e-mail links and forms where prospects could pose questions.

As soon as the company made it easy for customers to interact with Indium without “going public”, their comment and contact rate grew 600%. They used the new contacts to build a prospect database. It’s a great example of social media working in unexpected ways.

Todd Sierer on Video
Todd Sierer says to start with your message, and then determine your channels for getting the message out. For Edmund Optics, one of the key social channels is video. Video is a simple way to interact with customers.

Video is helpful at all stages of the selling and buying cycle. In the beginning, you could use quick demos or even try humor to engage prospects. In the consideration stage, videos show product details or provide in-depth demos. Post sales, videos can cover FAQs and tutorial scripts. Edmund Optics has produced over 50 videos, many of them focusing on their products.

Sierer offers expert advice on the equipment you need to produce quality videos, along with tips such as producing a script or detailed outline first, creating a list of all footage you need, and using interns to help shoot and edit videos.

Gary Spangler on Social Media Policy
Gary Spangler believes all businesses should have a social media policy to protect the company and its employees. It’s not just Spangler saying this — the Federal Trade Commission also recommends all companies develop social media policies.

The fact is that your employees experiment with social media. Many of them are experienced and enthusiastic. And many of them will be talking about your company and products. Don’t wait until a crisis or issue surfaces on your social networks and you’re left scrambling to respond.

Spangler suggests making sure that senior management is on board in terms of social media governance, and using your social media champions to help create guidelines for using social media. Marketing, public relations, and legal should all be on the same team to develop social media policy that allows social media users to pursue marketing goals while still protecting themselves and the company. Produce a social media playbook, start a social media center for excellence, and educate all employees on your social media policies.

Need more in-depth information? View the entire Social Media Panel presentation here.

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