In our July/August issue of Industrial Distribution, we ran out of room to talk about all the social media tips we had, so here's Hone Your Social Skill: Part 2, a collection of tips and advice from marketing and community management experts in the distribution industry.
You’ve Convinced Me. Now What?
If you are already participating on a couple of social platforms, make sure that you are doing so with a distinct strategy. Leaving the task of managing the channel to whomever, whenever is a sure recipe for failure. If you are not on social media at all, pick one of the sites we suggested in the July/August article and make your first post!
Here are three tips as you form your social strategy:
- Use a conversational tone. “No one wants to feel like they are talking to a robot with they interact with you on social,” says Matt Sonnhalter, Vision Architect at Sonnhalter, a B2B marketing communications firm.
- Have a clear mission for each individual channel. “You need to know who is there and what kind of content is consumed there,” say’s Grainger’s Senior Manager of Social Bussiness, Sherri Maxson. “It is important to pair the brand you want to promote, the content that goes with it, and the dollars and targeting that you need to make the channel work for you.”
- Ask questions. Try to engage in back and forth dialogue with your customers. Don't just talk at them. Maxson says that is what Grainger did on their Facebook page initially to get their customers comfortable interacting with the company in the online space.
Social Media Is Visual
More than ever before, customers want pictures. In a world where they are inundated with marketing spiels and are reading more words per minute than ever before, a picture can go a long way to snagging their attention and prompting engagement. After all: a picture is worth a thousand words.
"Pictorial storytelling is much more of a milennial audience," say's Grainger's Maxson.
What does this mean for you?
Share photos on your social feeds. These can of course be new products, but innovative brands take it a step further than that and introduce their customers to their employees, their office, and what goes on in the warehouse through sharing photos. These "behind the scences" glances at what the business is about - not just the products - is crucial to making businesses stand out in the eyes of their customers. Sharing these photos will make the business more real to the customer - and allow them to put the many faces of your company together with your branding.
Check out these 5 Instagram tips for small businesses from Manufacturing.net.
Pay Attention To The Numbers
You would never attempt any other marketing endeavor without checking the numbers on it. Don't forget to do so with social media, too. Using a third-party social media aggregator can help. There are many free options out there that work well for no investment, and that work even better for a marginal cost.
- Hootsuite can keep track of your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ posts all in one place - you can even post to multiple channels at the same time. The service is very customizable, allowing you to have multiple feeds per service (example: the Corporate Twitter account and an Individual Branch account). You can also set up feeds to track hashtags and competitors names.
- Buffer is another service that allows you to house multiple feeds in one place - but is a little more limited in how many. The service allows you to load posts ahead of time, and sends them out according to a preset scheudle - it's really easy to add new content, compared to Hootsuite, but does limit the capacity with the free version.
There are a lot of others out there. Try one out, and if you don't like it - switch! The key is to find one that works for your strategy and that you find helpful. Both sites mentioned above offer basic analytics about how well a post did and how many people it reached - and don't forget the analytics that the actual sites themselves offer. Facebook Page Analytics are getting better and better all the time.
Don't Be Afraid To Try Something - Or Something New
If your current social media approach isn't working - change it up! Post more photos, at different times of the day, about different topics. Try sharing an article from a news source (like this one!), chatting about your weekend plans, or sharing cool facts about your industry.
And share the love: don't only post about your own company and its products. Share other people's posts that showcase innovation in the channel, or share a product that would do well if bought in a bundle with your own. Partner with your suppliers - or your customers - to run campaigns together, so that each of you are reaching more people than you would be able to on your own.
The key is to try. Try something. Try anything.
Just be social.