As reported in the upcoming “2018 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector” survey by IEEE GlobalSpec, social media continues to be seen as an information resource for engineers and technical professionals. While it isn’t their primary destination for researching a work-related purchase, social media serves as a channel for engineers to access news, discover information about products and technologies, and to learn about suppliers.
At this point, most manufacturers have integrated social media into their overall marketing mix, although most may not know that the most effective use of social media is for branding and awareness. Brand-building is important in the industrial market—no one wants to do business with a company they’ve never heard of or one that might evoke a negative impression.
Follow these five best practices to build and maintain a strong brand and greater awareness through social media:
1. Share Appropriate Content
Social media is ideal for demonstrating thought leadership. You can do this by sharing your company’s perspective on industry issues that are important to your customer base.
Share a combination of articles from the media, your partners’ posts, and your own original content. Whenever you share content from others, always add your own point of view—that’s what shapes your brand.
For your own posts, focus on educating your audience, not selling to them. Whether you’re offering an article, white paper, video, webinar or other content, use the opportunity to polish your reputation as a trusted information resource. One of engineers’ biggest complaints about social media is that there is too much noise and not enough substance. Don’t add to that problem.
2. Add a Human Face
What really can capture the attention of your audience is getting an inside look at what goes on at your company. We’re not talking about divulging trade secrets, but instead showing customers the people they work with, the daily activities that go on and a peek into what life is like at your company.
Show your human side. You can even have a sense of humor (as long as it’s tasteful). People are what make your brand, so this tactic is like a free brand advertisement, without actually being an ad.
3. Create a Dialog
Social media is for connecting and networking with others – rather than just throwing messages out, have a conversation. You can do this by following your customers, partners, and prospects on social media. Comment on and share their posts; it’s a great way to build equity and extend your brand across the market.
Use a social media monitoring tool to be alerted about mentions of your brand. Always reply to any comments or questions on social media that are directed at your company, even the negative ones. Be polite and professional in your responses, no matter what someone might say about you. You can also use monitoring tools to track mentions of products, competitors and anything else you consider relevant to your business.
4. Follow Your Playbook
You should have a playbook that provides guidelines to all of your employees who post about your company on social media. The purpose of this document is to clearly convey high-level social media goals; flesh out details about which channels to participate in; provide clarity on who, how and when to respond, and define success metrics for reporting and program refinement.
The playbook can also offer guidance on what your team can and cannot share or say about your company on social media. This helps create a consistent voice for your company on social media and can elevate and protect your brand image.
5. Stick with It
A social media account that is out of date or hasn’t been updated with fresh posts or content in months can tarnish your brand. If a potential customer comes across your stagnant social media presence and sees that it has been neglected, they might very well wonder what else your company neglects.
Don’t try to be everywhere on social media. Just choose those platforms that work best for you and that you can manage within your marketing portfolio. The two most popular platforms for engineers and technical professionals are LinkedIn and Facebook, so a good idea might be to focus your resources there.
Would you like to know the other ways your customers and prospects use social media, and how you can better target your audience? The answer to those questions, as well as others, will be revealed in the upcoming 2018 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector report. Stay tuned!