There has been a significant shift in how medium to large size businesses are viewing, and examining, their Social footprints. They are wanting to find out if using the multitude of different Social channels to disseminate their respective company’s messages works better than concentrating on only the big two, Facebook and Twitter. Today we have a myriad of options for building our social universe within our companies. We need to look past the nearly one-way avenue of posting news and announcements strictly on Facebook, and start exploring what we can learn from our clients (they are willing to share!) and see also how they can benefit from having a centralized place where they can constructively share their ideas and have open conversations with each other about the products/services concerned. By doing so you have given your customers a voice…
We can use Facebook to share product photos, post marketing-centric announcements, listen to customer feedback, and thereby help build our brand. Facebook should not be a choice for enterprise level social requirements, and should be reserved for positive, brand-solidifying announcements and/or should be used when making a resolution-based announcement. By staying focused on the positive side of things on Facebook, your community of people who “like” your corporate offerings will grow and become more active.
Twitter can be leveraged to deliver small, easily digestible 140-character info-bits to your followers about breaking-news from inside the company, sharable industry news and information on upcoming trends. By utilizing hashtags (#) in their Tweets, they are able to reach a far greater audience (and potential customer base) than simply those who are following them. By using this one simple tool manufacturers can see a dramatic upturn of people reading their messages and retweeting them, thereby expanding their reach even farther with every tweet and re-tweet.
Blogs and Video Service Providers
It’s important to strike the right balance between education and self-promotion on a corporate blog. Blogging about your company too often can make people want to tune out and stop listening to your message. Blogging about your company to often quickly becomes a hassle for people trying to digest the information you’re are broadcasting, and can lead to a sense of distrust and over-all dissatisfaction with your company – simply because you’ve said too much. A video service is an ideal platform in which to educate buyers while marketing to them using video. Consider making video demonstrations of products and processes, a tour of your factory, or showcasing customer testimonials. The important thing is to share information in a video format that your customers would find relevant and interesting.
By using both your corporate LinkedIn account and your personal account in combination, you can quickly grow your network of business-based contacts and generate leads. LinkedIn allows you to have access deep inside many companies and access to their closely guarded internal corporate structures. This type of direct access was very difficult to acquire 10 years ago and has proven time and time again to be worth its weight in gold for the leads it has generated, and the millions in revenue changing hands as a consequence.
Another service offering from LinkedIn is the ability to join any of the thousands of Groups to stay in tune with what goes on in the different verticals in the manufacturing sector. This can be a quick way to keep tabs on what the latest industry-wide tendencies are in an open forum environment. These LinkedIn groups also gives companies a great opportunity to demonstrate their industry knowledge and expertise by answering community/group questions, thereby reinforcing trust in the company and giving their reputation a boost in the process...
Hosted Enterprise Level Social Tools
By utilizing a hosted social solution, you can have the ultimate in access to your customers and suppliers to find out what is motivating them and what issues they may be having today. If you’re truly paying attention, you can see early-on legitimate opportunities for growth, and pivot to meet those needs, well before anyone knows what happened.
Having direct and easy access to all of the metrics and user stats for everyone on your hosted social portal is invaluable and a must for those trying to grow their business by leveraging aggregated information about their customers’ habits and wants. Ultimately, you would want to find out which users are highly active on the site, and which users have greater influence in your community, so you can facilitate and encourage their participation by leveraging gamification techniques and by awarding them for high-quality interactions.
You can meet your customers on their terms, listen to them, and find out how to turn those customers and suppliers into fans, and those fans into company evangelists. These people will be generating content on your Social portal, willingly. Everyone enjoys helping someone out, or getting recognition for a good idea you’ve come up with. By using these various gamification and ideation techniques we can begin to see emerging patterns regarding which rewards influence which behaviors and motivations.
Everything Has a Purpose
Although the social revolution is a fad, it is has the long-term potential for growing new business and provides an opportunity for companies to start building brand-centric communities supported by (and even managed by) their users, customers and suppliers. If given the appropriate forum, people actually enjoy being brand ambassadors, they enjoy sharing their positive product/service experiences and they tend to bring along others in the process. Each of the social tools listed above has a place, a time and a specific use case in the footprint of your social initiatives. By utilizing them in tandem, and by completing these initiatives with a hosted, privatized Social portal, you’ve completed the circle and can now start to LISTEN to what your clients and suppliers are saying.
Must Have a Plan
No good strategy will ever get off the ground without plenty of planning and some aspect of foresight into your business’s future and where you want it to be in the next 5 years. Each of the Social tools, when used separately, can have little to no effect in highlighting and re-enforcing your company’s strengths and competencies. But when used together in combination, with a well-formed plan of action, a completely integrated solution will have a powerful and direct positive impact on the momentum of the company. (like DNN Social!) Having a complete solution will facilitate making longer-lasting connections with suppliers and customers - to build a thriving community around the brand.
Wide-spread and varied Social media use in the manufacturing sector is just getting started; manufacturers that learn how to nimbly leverage today’s social tools early-on will naturally be viewed as leaders, and this, in-turn will allow them to engage with and market to an entirely new group of customers faster and more efficiently with much more insight.
If there is no plan in place and only sporadic use of social tools like Facebook and Twitter, you are likely missing out on major opportunities to have an interface with your customers and suppliers in ways they are accustomed to and have come to expect and depend upon. They’re already using the technologies – if you’re not leveraging them, you’re missing out.