Webinar Recap: Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector

Social media has made an impact in B2B marketing. According to Advertising Age, 58 percent of B2B marketers are increasing their social media spending this year, ranking it fourth among tactics with spending increases. Marketers are not only investing money, they are investing time, with 62 percent using social media for six hours or more each week and 36 percent for 11 or more hours, according to the Social Media Examiner.

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As spending grows and you commit valuable time to social media, this channel’s role becomes increasingly important in your marketing strategy. It’s essential to know how to do social media right. The recent webinar, Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector, shows how social media is being used by your target audience of technical professionals, presents the results from our fourth annual social media usage survey of technical professionals, and offers recommendations on how you can use this data in your social media planning.

Watch the webinar on demand.

Below are some of the highlights of the webinar.

How technical professionals use social media

  • The majority of technical professionals—56 percent—spend less than one hour per week on social media for work-related purposes. That still leaves a sizeable portion of this audience that is on social media for more than an hour each week.
  • For the most part, technical professionals are looking for content on social media: keeping up on company news, new technologies and products. But they’re also looking for you: 41 percent use social media to find new suppliers.
  • Technical professionals of all ages use social media, with some differences. Those under age 35 are more apt to use social media to find a new job, network and seek expertise, while older workers use social media for more traditional purposes such as reading news and product reviews.
  • Overall, technical professionals are passive users of social media. They tend to read and watch rather than post and participate. The most popular social media activity is watching video, with 27 percent watching a video a few times a month, whereas only 14 percent post a comment.

Preferred social media platforms

  • LinkedIn continues to be the most popular social media platform among technical professionals, with 74 percent having an account. Sixty-one percent have a Facebook account and 41 percent have a Google Plus account.
  • LinkedIn usage has shown growth every year for the past four years. Google Plus is also growing. Facebook and Twitter remain flat, but a large portion of technical professionals still use Facebook.
  • LinkedIn: 69 percent use LinkedIn to search for contacts and 47 percent to read product and industry news. Seventy-nine percent belong to at least one group, primarily to read discussions (62 percent). Only 27 percent actually participate.
  • Facebook: With the line between work and personal life continuing to blur, Facebook is not just for personal use. Top work-related activities on Facebook are following businesses and reading/researching content.
  • Twitter: 73 percent follow businesses and 27 percent read/research content.
  • Google Plus: 80 percent follow businesses and 25 percent participate in discussions.
  • Video: Overall, 48 percent of technical professionals use YouTube or other video sharing sites for work, although among 18-34 year olds, the percentage is 58. The most popular types of videos among technical professionals are product demos, how-to videos and training videos.

The value of digital resources

  • Your customers spend an increasing amount of time online using a variety of digital resources, but when researching work-related purchases, social media channels are not nearly as valued as other established digital channels. The top resources have remained consistent over the years: search engines, online catalogs, supplier websites and GlobalSpec.com.
  • Technical professionals report that social media is not more valuable because it is not efficient, too noisy and not reliable. Technical professionals also say it’s hard to find useful content on social media. In addition, about a quarter of workers are blocked from using social media at work; using a mobile device offers a workaround for that problem.
  • A key takeaway is that to be successful with social media you must deliver the content technical professionals want. This will help elevate you above the noise and become more valuable to your target audience.

Recommendations for suppliers

  • It’s worth using social media as a marketing channel; however, don’t rely on it too heavily or divert resources from more effective and established digital channels.
  • To get the most out of your efforts, integrate social media into your overall marketing strategy. Establish a vision, strategy and goals for your social media initiatives.
  • Tie your social media efforts to marketing objectives. Research shows that social media is best used for brand awareness and thought leadership.
  • Get more of your organization involved in spreading your message through social media. Seventy-eight percent of technical professionals say they have never posted news or information about their company on their social networks. Create guidelines and rules for using social media. Make it easy by providing content for your sales, customer service and other colleagues to post.
  • Gain a more in-depth look at social media usage by your target audience and how you can most effectively incorporate social media into your overall marketing efforts.

View the recorded webinar.

Content Marketing Marketing Strategy Social Media Thought Leadership

Nine Tips to Make Your Marketing Videos More Engaging

The use of video as an information source is growing among your target audience. About half of technical professionals use YouTube or other video sharing sites for work-related purposes, making video a strong channel for industrial marketers.

video marketing
Photo by bill mulder / cc by

Video belongs in your marketing mix. But just because you can create a video doesn’t mean it will be visually interesting or engaging to your audience. Follow these tips to deliver more powerful videos that your customers and prospects will watch from beginning to end and be more likely to remember.

1. Give technical professionals what they want
Not all video content is equal in the eyes of your audience. Technical professionals aren’t looking for big-budget, flashy marketing videos with all the bells and whistles. They simply want information to help them do their jobs better. The three most-watched types of videos among this audience are product demos, how-to videos/tutorials, and training videos. What’s common among these video types is they are focused on how to use something or do something practical and relevant to their work. Your audience also likes educational videos that present information on new trends and technologies.

2. Length doesn’t matter—but keep it short
The assumption is that if your content is compelling enough, your video can be long as you want. But let’s face it: none of us are Steven Spielberg or Quentin Tarantino. And attention spans in the Internet age are notoriously short. A good rule of thumb is to keep your video under five minutes in length – and even that might seem long. If you have a multi-step or complex how-to video, you can break it down into several shorter segments.

3. Provide good lighting and a neutral background
If you’re filming product demos, you’re likely showing computer screens. But if you have people talking in your videos, you need to be aware of lighting and background. Avoid casting shadows or uneven or harsh lighting. Make sure your subject is well lit. Don’t have anything that’s visually distracting in the background such as items on a desk, papers on a wall, or people passing by.

4. Eliminate noise, improve sound
There are two ways you need to deal with sound. One is to eliminate background noise: humming machinery, traffic, talking, the soda machine, etc. The other is to use a good microphone to clearly capture your speaker or narrator’s voice. Also, give your video some life by adding introductory, transitional and closing music. You can try lowering the volume and keeping the music throughout the video to provide a pleasant and subtle aural texture (as opposed to background noise). Most video editing software comes with music clips you can add.

5. Follow basic principles of composition
The “Rule of Thirds” has you break down the image window for filming or photography into sections so that you can better frame your subject and provide greater visual interest. Here’s a good primer on it. Apply these principles and you’ll notice a difference in your video quality.

6. Brand your video
Make sure to include your company name/logo at the beginning and end of every video. Use other brand elements such as colors in a consistent fashion so that your videos all have the same brand identity. Perhaps choose a few pieces of music that becomes part of your brand—if your audience consistently hears the same few pieces of music they will associate them with your brand. Use branding elements during video transitions.

7. Include a call to action
At the end of the video embed a call to action to a landing page or other resource. Ask your viewers to do something: watch the next video, download a white paper, attend a webinar, or learn more. Thinking about a call to action will also get you in the frame of mind to consider how any one video is integrated into and complements your overall marketing mix.

8. Share your videos
You need to spread the word about your videos. Post your videos on YouTube or other video sharing sites. Create thumbnail graphics and link to them in your email newsletters. Embed them on your website and in your social media platforms. Show them on your GlobalSpec.com page.

9. Track performance
Video sharing sites such as YouTube offer metrics you can track to analyze how well your videos perform. Number of views, number of shares, and length of viewing are all important. If you find that viewers are not watching your entire video, you may need to dig deeper and do some testing. Is the content not relevant? Is the video too long? Use the metrics to gain insight on how you can improve your video production. Maybe you do have some Spielberg in you.

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How do you use video as part of your marketing mix? What tips or strategies would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Content Marketing Digital Media Video

Why Industrial Marketers are Dissatisfied with Social Media Efforts—and What to Do About It

Social media has found its place in the manufacturing sector. According to the 2013 Trends in Industrial Marketing survey, 60 percent of industrial marketers are using social media. LinkedIn, Facebook and video sharing sites like YouTube are the top three social media channels.

Yet even though a majority of marketers are incorporating social media into their plans, only a paltry 20 percent are satisfied with their social media efforts. Which means 80 percent are struggling, floundering or unhappy. Why is this happening? And what can you do about it?

Setting Expectations
One reason industrial marketers may be dissatisfied with their social media efforts may have to do with unrealistic expectations. If you’re using social media in hopes of generating a flood of ready-to-buy engagement opportunities, you’re going to be disappointed. While your target audience uses social media to follow their favorite brands and companies as well as keep up with the latest news and technologies, they still rely more on other digital channels such as online catalogs, supplier websites, and e-newsletters to search and discover products, parts, services and suppliers.

Setting realistic goals for social media and a having clear idea of what you want to accomplish will help with expectations. In the industrial sector, social media is probably best suited for building brand awareness, distributing content and establishing thought leadership than it is for lead generation. If you focus on these objectives and measure results in these terms, you might find you are doing a better job meeting your expectations. It’s not that you’re lowering your expectations, you’re simply re-setting them based on reality.

Benchmarking Efforts
Your social media efforts might be getting better results than you think they are. For instance, have you benchmarked your social media presence against what your competitors are doing? Are they getting better engagement than you are? Chances are, your competitors are in about the same place you are.

You can’t really expect huge engagement numbers in terms of likes, shares and comments. Industrial professionals are largely passive consumers of social media. They prefer reading and watching to initiating discussions or adding comments. What’s most important is that you are trending in a positive direction in terms of having more of your target audience following your company on social media and being exposed to your content. Those metrics demonstrate you are doing something worthwhile.

Choosing channels
It seems every industry expert is shouting that you must do more with social media. And doesn’t it also seem there are new social media channels popping up all the time? Marketers tend to get anxious about shiny, new toys, not wanting to be left behind. But who has the time and resources to engage with every social media channel? Ninety-three percent of industrial companies do not have a full-time employee dedicated to social media, so it’s almost impossible to keep up. Plus there’s the danger of spreading yourself too thin and getting back very little in return for those efforts.

It’s better to focus on one or two social media channels that you know your customers and prospects use and that you’re comfortable using. Contribute regularly, post content, and engage with your followers. As you find success with these channels and gain confidence in your social media efforts, you can begin to explore other channels as well.

Remember that social media is just one aspect of your overall marketing effort—and not the most important one. Keep your resource and time investment at an appropriate level, your expectations in line, and devote the majority of your efforts to the digital channels your audience uses most often.

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Have do handle your social media efforts? What tips and ideas would you pass along to your peers in industrial marketing? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Social Media

Social Media: How to Use Your Resources More Efficiently

By now most industrial companies have some type of social media presence, and many of them are discovering what a resource drain it can be. Even companies with a dedicated social media person or team are finding it difficult to keep up with all the different platforms, posts, tracking, following, measuring and more. For small companies with a lone marketer, social media might be another to-do on a long list of responsibilities. That’s tough. No wonder social media can feel like a black hole where your time and resources disappear.

But with a few adjustments to your tactics and resource allocation, you can significantly increase your efficiency on the social media front.

Focus on the most important channels
There are many social media channels, with new ones popping up all the time. Don’t get sucked in. Focus on the channels that give you the best opportunity for connecting with your target audience. According to IHS GlobalSpec’s Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector research report, the three most popular social media channels for engineers are LinkedIn, Facebook, and video sharing sites (such as YouTube). The top performer is LinkedIn, where 63 percent of industrial professionals have an account. Forty percent of engineers who use LinkedIn read product and industry news, and 67 percent belong to at least two groups. LinkedIn may be a good place to post your news, link to blog articles, or moderate a discussion group.

A company page on Facebook might make sense as well. Fifty-four percent of engineers have Facebook accounts and 81 percent of them follow companies and groups within their industry. If your company produces videos, starting a YouTube channel is a good strategy, so you can post your videos and extend your reach. Google Plus is also growing in popularity among your audience. On the flipside, just five percent of engineers have an account on photo-pinning site Pinterest. Focus your resources on those channels—or the single channel—that gives you the greatest reach and best results in terms of followers, comments, and views.

Integrate content across social media channels
What a time drain it is posting content separately to each social media platform you use. Instead, look for ways to post once and share across channels. For example, Facebook and Twitter have a connection so that every Facebook post can be fed to Twitter and vice versa. LinkedIn’s polling feature allows you to share a poll from LinkedIn on Facebook or Twitter. Often times, you’ll want to customize the communication for the channel but there are occasions – a press release or new product rollout, for example – where the same message can be used across all platforms.

Another idea is to add social sharing capabilities to your web pages. This will allow visitors to share a link with their followers on their own social media accounts. It’s an easy way to get your customers and prospects participating in your company’s social media efforts.

Automate social media functions
There are a number of free or low cost tools on the market that let you schedule your social media posts ahead of time. This is ideal for your evergreen content or information that doesn’t get old or outdated. You prepare the content and schedule when it runs. This way you don’t have to spend time updating each channel. While automating your posts and tweets can be a time saver, you still can’t ignore what’s happening around you in social media. Major breaking news stories can dominate social channels and a pre-scheduled message delivered during this time may seem out of place or, at worst, insensitive. Have a plan in place to determine how and when to pause your scheduled posts. Two tools to consider are Hootsuite and Post Planner. Some tools offer additional productivity features, such as tracking conversations, measuring campaign results, and even suggesting content for posts.

Take a team approach
Possibly the best thing you can do to alleviate the burden on your resources is to recruit a team of colleagues to participate in your company’s social media efforts. Even if you work in a small company, you probably have a few people who are comfortable and knowledgeable using social media. You will need to educate your new recruits on your company’s social media goals, the voice and tone that are appropriate to your brand, and other social media policies and guidelines you have developed.

Look for team members who can help functionally in creating social media content, or participating in discussions/responding to comments, or planning and scheduling. You can have different people focused on different platforms, or divvy up the work according to days of the week, or any other way that works for you.

Social media is growing in importance and has established its presence in the industrial sector. If you use your resources wisely and efficiently, you will be able to have a successful and visible social media strategy, without disappearing into the black hole.

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Social Media

How to Produce Videos Industrial Professionals Will Watch

If you’re thinking of using video for marketing to engineers and technical professionals, that’s a good decision. With video you can connect with your target audience. Forty-seven percent of engineers use YouTube or other video sharing sites for work purposes. No surprise. Engineers are passive participators in social media. They prefer to watch and read rather than create and post.

Another benefit is the ease of sharing videos across channels: company website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, GlobalSpec.com, etc. So there are built in economies, plus it’s a natural fit for your content marketing strategy. But before you put on your director’s hat and call “Action,” here are five tips to make your videos a powerful force in your marketing portfolio.

1. Give your audience what they want
Based on our latest Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector research report, 85 percent of engineers and technical professionals watch product demos and 80 percent watch how-to videos. If you create product demos and how-to’s, you’re in the game. Use these types of videos to demonstrate what’s different and special about your products. Or how to use them. Check out the video resources page on FUTEK’s website. You can choose application, product and support videos among other categories.

2. Give your audience what they need
There’s more to your customers’ buying decision than just finding the technology or product that meets their needs. Your customers also are motivated to buy from the right company. They want confidence in you. Sixty-three percent of engineers watch videos on new trends and technologies. Sprinkle in a branding video, third-party testimonial, or your thought leadership series to let customers and prospects know why they should buy from you. Make sure you have a clear message and the right person to deliver it.

3. Always have a storyboard
If you have an off-camera narrator, you’ll want to write a complete script to ensure smoothness (practice narrating so it doesn’t sound like someone’s reading; that’s boring). If no script, you at least need a storyboard that documents what you’re going to film and the story sequence. If you can plan your shots in advance and script your message, you have a better chance to finish your project on time and create a polished final product.

4. Make equipment and production decisions
There are lots of ways you can go here: from grassroots videos from your smartphone, to high-def cameras, lighting, and audio. In the YouTube era, you can get away with casual production standards—sometimes. But if you’ve got the resources, you might want to get some gear. Good lighting and clear sound immediately improve production quality. You can also clean and spiff your footage with video editing software. Add music and transitions. Some editing programs are free. You might even have one installed on your computer. Higher-featured offerings cost a hundred dollars and up.

5. Allocate an appropriate amount of time
Even simple videos can take a great deal of time and effort. A good rule of thumb is that every minute of finished video will cost one hour of production time. That time is taken up planning your message, writing the script/storyboard, setting up shots, filming, editing, and publishing across channels. This ratio of one minute to one hour will help you keep your videos short—a couple minutes at most (that’s what you want; people have short attention spans). Also plan on tracking how well your videos perform. The number of views and length of view (stats which you can get from YouTube or Google Analytics) will give you a good idea of performance.

Okay, now you’re ready: Lights, Camera, Action!

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Have you created videos aimed at engineers and technical professionals? What are your tips and best practices? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Content Marketing Video

How B2B Marketers Can Leverage The Power of YouTube

Looking for a relatively easy and inexpensive way to enhance your current marketing programs? Why not try Video? After all, it appears that the age of experimentation and uncertainty is over regarding Social Media. 2011 is the year to keep doing what you’ve been doing in 2010, and even expand your Social Media initiatives.
So maybe you have a blog, a Facebook page, maybe you “Tweet”, but is your company using Video? Video is just another facet of Social Media to embrace, as well as a great way to accomplish a number of goals – including:
• Building brand awareness and visibility
• Positioning your company as a thought leader in your field
• And even generating leads

Video can also foster good relationships with current customers and prospects– for example, if you post your Videos to a video sharing site like YouTube, viewers can comment and in turn you can respond to them. In fact YouTube, according to comScore, has over 233 million unique visitors each month, and even with its consumer focus, YouTube, can also be an effective b2b marketing tool.
So as a b2b marketer, how can you leverage the power of YouTube? In BtoB’s article “YouTube for b2: How to use the popular video site to expand your branding” several key components are shared that can help you build a successful video strategy. Among them, create engaging, even humorous videos – as experts agree funny videos have the best chance of going viral and boosting your brand’s image. Another idea is to incorporate people in your videos that allow your company to have a human face.
And, after you have developed a video, make sure to get the word out using other social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and your blog. And beyond the obvious, why is how often your video is watched so important? Because the more plays your video gets, the higher it will place in YouTube’s search rankings.
For more great suggestions read the full BtoB article, get taping, and then share your experiences with us!

Industrial Marketing and Sales Marketing, General Social Media