Industrial marketers have embraced social media marketing over the past few years and the trend is likely to continue. Seventy percent of manufacturers said they increased their use of social media for content marketing purposes compared to just one year ago, according to the 2019 Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends—North America: Content Marketing Institute/MarketingProfs.
Engineers and technical professionals are also embracing social media. Forty-nine percent report they have used social media to find product reviews, 43 percent have used it to keep abreast of product news and technologies, and 40 percent have used it to find expertise, according to 2019 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector: GlobalSpec.
However, for many industrial marketers, social media is a challenging territory without clear guideposts to build strategy and tactics. How much emphasis should you place on social media? What channels should be used? What content should be posted? How often should you post?
To help you better navigate social media and to become a successful social media marketer, we’ve put together this list of social media dos and don’ts.
Do: Establish and measure objectives
The underpinning of any marketing program is your objectives, and social media is no exception. Most industrial marketers use social media to increase the visibility and improve the perceptions of their brands, establish their companies and executives as thought leaders in their industries. Lead generation is secondary.
You can use a variety of measurements to track the success of your social media efforts. Views, comments, shares and downloads are popular metrics. If those numbers are trending up, you’re likely achieving your goals.
Do: Use the platforms your audience uses
It seems like every week a new social media channel appears on the scene, and it may be tempting to get on board. However, if you understand the engineering audience, you’ll know these professionals are not early adopters of the next great social media platform.
LinkedIn and Facebook have held steady as the most popular social media platforms among technical professionals, with 81 percent and 80 percent having accounts on those platforms, respectively 2019 Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector. YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram also have some penetration among the engineering audience. Aside from these examples, no other social media platform appears to be highly relevant to engineers.
Do: Show the human side of your company
Social media content should be more informal and conversational than other marketing content. Use a human touch. Create an interesting voice or perspective. Tell stories, appeal to emotions. Don’t be afraid to use “We” and “Our” to demonstrate there are people behind the posts.
Show the people who work at your company by posting videos and photos. Be humorous while still being helpful with the content you share. In other words, let your hair down a little on social media—without violating any of your company policies or social media guidelines.
Do: Keep social media profiles up to date
Once you decide which social media channels to keep or invest in, make sure you completely and consistently fill out the profiles. Your brand and what you stand for should be clear. Your company description should be consistent across channels. Use important keywords in your profiles. Fill out every available field the profile offers. Outdated or missing information reflects poorly on your brand and company.
Do: Follow your customers and prospects
Not only can you gain insight and intelligence by following your customers and prospects on social media, you can engage in conversations with them. Comment on their posts. Offer occasional advice. If you follow them, chances are high that they will follow you in return. Next thing you know a relevant community is forming.
Do: Integrate social media with other marketing channels
You should integrate social with other marketing by using social icons on your website and emails, linking from social media posts to additional content on your website, sharing and repurposing content across marketing channels, and using social media to promote other marketing programs such as tradeshows and webinars.
Don’t: Heavily self-promote
Engineers can smell a sales pitch a mile away and they will stop following you on social media if all you are doing is promoting your own products and services. A good rule of thumb for posting content is the 40-40-20 rule. Forty-percent of your posts should be original, educational content; 40 percent should be curated content from other relevant and respected sources; and 20 percent can be promotional.
Don’t: Argue or engage with haters or trolls
You’re bound to receive negative comments on social media posts. Some you will want to respond to if you need to clarify a point.
However, don’t get into arguments with the individuals who are simply out there to draw blood. You won’t be able to win. You’ll end up saying things you’ll later regret. Other members of your audience will be witness and be turned off by such back-and-forth juvenile behavior. You should block or ignore commentators who are repeatedly and excessively negative.
Don’t: Let social media accounts languish
A blog that hasn’t had a new entry in over a year. The LinkedIn account that hasn’t been updated in months. These are bad looks for your company because they indicate you don’t care.
To use social media successfully, make sure that you are posting regularly to your accounts. Whether that rate is once a week or once a day depends on your objectives and resources.
Don’t: Automate everything
Many marketers are using marketing automation to create social media content in advance and schedule automatic postings. This helps save time and ensures your accounts are active.
But don’t automate everything. You still need eyes on your accounts and fingers on keyboards to post that quick, newsy announcement or to respond to customer questions. Remember to be human and socialize.
Don’t: Give up too easily
Social media is a long game that doesn’t offer immediate payback. You must stick to your goals and slowly work toward growing your presence and building your audience. If you do, eventually social media will become an integrated, effective component of your overall marketing program.