Social Media 101 For Mfg, part 3: Twitter

Welcome to part 3 of Social Media for Manufacturing.  In reviewing the analytics it seems that many folks have spent some time reading through the material on Social Media.  I hope that you’re finding it useful as there really is quite a bit to digest. I really welcome your comments and questions and look forward to hearing your opinions.

If you recall from a previous blog post “What’s all this about Social Media and where do I start?” , Twitter is a free social networking (micro-blogging) service that allows users to send and read messages known as “Tweets”
“Tweets” are text based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the authors subscribers “Followers”

What do you get out of it?

“Twitter’s like snack food: it’s fun, it tastes good, but there’s no nutritional value” as it was explained to me not too long ago.  In some cases this is true.  It really all depends on how you use it and what you expect to get out of it.  If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a business owner or manager and are probably on my LinkedIn network… so I have a pretty good idea of what you’re thinking. 🙂 So before we go into ANY details on what Twitter is and how you can use it let’s start off with some of the backstory.

Understanding the Generation Gap

I recently returned from the ISA Product Show & Conference and heard a wonderful speaker, Robert Wendover who heads up The Center for Generational Studies.  He spoke about:

As business to business continues to evolve, suppliers are discovering that the entry of young professionals into customer firms is presenting a number of unforeseen challenges. Veteran salespeople struggle to meet the demands of young purchasing agents who communicate in a digital world. They are confounded by the expectations of emerging professionals who expect to obtain instant quotes with the click of a mouse.

As I listened intently to the presentation I recalled an article from Fast Company in 2006, “Geny Y v. Boomer: Generational Differences in Communication”:

….The biggest one, however, has been the advent of technology and its offspring, email, IM and txt. Gen Y has grown up in and around this world of virtual communication. Unlike their parents, they have not had to spend nearly as much time socializing face-to-face. Their social interactions have been conducted while sitting alone in front of a computer, IM-ing with several people at once. Therefore they did not gain much experience reading the nonverbal cues inherent in face-to-face or even voice-to-voice communication, aka, the telephone. This dependence on remote forms of communication has left many younger workers bereft of interpersonal skills that Boomers value such as deference and respect.

The Boomers, on the other hand, have had technology thrust upon them, and although most have learned what they had to in order to get by and stay current, they have largely left the “technological heavy lifting” to others. Boomers have stuck to many of the old ways of doing business that their parents taught them, calling on clients in person, networking at business meetings, showing respect and deference to those who are more senior or with whom they would like to do business.

During the course of the wonderful presentation discussing Gen Y’s “work to live” vs. Boomer’s “live to work” I posited a thought about what I believe was a critical element missing from the presentation.  I suggested that Gen Y’s actually work 24/7 because of their adoption of technology.  The morning after the presentation I reached into my files and found the following from a LexisNexis Technology Gap Survey, completed in July & August of 2008. Here’s some of the important parts, but if you’re like me and work in engineering you’ll want to click on the link for the real meat of the data.  It’s pretty insightful stuff.

Additionally, Gen Y workers multi-task at even higher levels than the other generations as evidenced by the amount of hours in each work day that they report accessing various devices and programs. And this is especially the case for programs and web sites that may not be strictly work-related.

  • Gen Y workers report spending an average of 17.4 hours in a workday using a PC, a PDA and a mobile phone, whereas, Boomers report spending just 9.7 hours a work day using the same devices.
  • Gen Y workers report spending an average of 20.5 hours a work day using e-mail programs, Internet browsers, instant messaging programs and Microsoft Office programs, while Boomers only report spending 11.9 work hours using the same programs.

When I arrived in the manufacturing industry almost 20 years ago as a management & sales consultant, I quickly realized that our sector lagged behind most others in adoption of marketing and technology.  I had a conversation with a young engineer this past weekend who said to me: “We work with some of the most technologically advanced equipment and deal with complex engineering issues but we’re pretty far behind the consumer goods industries.  We’re not “early adopters” by any stretch of the imagination”

So Why Twitter?

Technically, me being in my mid 40’s a and the last year of Boomer’s (or first year of X’r as the first use of Gen X indicated back Forbes in 1989) I must admit that understanding how to manage and deal with younger generations is a learning experience. So I, like you, needed to think hard about Twitter. In the end we set up a Twitter accounts for Highlander Tool but only after about a year of watching and learning about twitter  with my personal twitter account before jumping in to the conversation.  Here’s the bottom line on WHY we did it:

  1. Search Engine Optimiztion  – as I discussed in the previous blog post
  2. Generational differences – As I explained above
  3. Get in now while the technology still evolving – This Social Media Space is evolving.  It’s going to be “something” so it’s better to get in and understand the evolution and be part of it than wait for everyone else.

If you decide it’s right for you please feel free to jump in and give us a follow. @Highlander Tool and I have a personal Twitter account as well @bernardtmartin.

How FAST can you make product or service corrections?

If you need some more reasons, then listen to what Jeff Hayzlett has to say about it.  Jeff is the Chief Marketing Officer at Eastman Kodak. You can follow him at @JeffreyHayzlett

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOOLmWbV07o]

Twitter Basics

Ok, now that you’ve decided that you may want to give Twitter a try, take a look at this slide show to learn the basics.  Once again, open a new window and just click through as you go through it step by step:

[slideshare id=807406&doc=twitterbasics-1228170748850330-8]

I connected with a great guy named Norman Wright on Twitter months back and I found some of his blog posts at “Wright-To-Know” to be so absolutely SPOT ON that we ended up connecting on LinkedIn, exchanging some emails and ideas, and discovered that we where actually both based in Pittsburgh.

I had to opportunity to to visit his company, DimensionX, a few Fridays ago.  I got there in the late afternoon and we ended up chatting until later evening.  I can’t say enough good things about Norm and his blog.  As luck would have it, he just tweeted a new blog this afternoon after I had been working on this posting for quite a few days and was trying to list out some do’s and don’ts.  I saw his Tweet, picked up the phone and  said “Norm, I’m going to embed your blog in mine with your permission! It’s fantastic!”

ONCE you go into the Twitter space these are the MISTAKES YOU DO NOT WANT TO MAKE!  Thanks much Norm for finishing up my post for me!

10 Twitter Mistakes Made By Marketers In The Manufacturing Industry

Many manufacturing companies that are finally jumping into social media have no strategy.  A good number seemingly are checking off a list of social media tools they have subscribed to show their participation. What is more telling is their lack of credibility and comprehension of how to use social media to generate new business for themselves.

Twitter is one of the social media tools that can be used as a tool for your manufacturing company’s social media marketing strategy to generate online traffic and a pipeline for new business leads. It is the leading traffic generator to my Wright-To-Know blog.

Here are ten mistakes marketers in the manufacturing industry should  avoid if they want to generate new business through Twitter:

  1. Signing up then not participate. A tell-tale sign that Twitter is nothing more than a check-off on your social media check-list. When you rarely post to Twitter it will show.
  2. Self Promotional Tweets. Marketers that sound more like cars salesmen, constantly using promotional Tweets to tout their company’s new hires, new business acquisitions, awards, etc.
  3. Hiding behind the Company’s veil. Using your company’s  name as the Twitter account without revealing who is doing the Tweeting. Even Ford Motor Company gets this right, having allowing @ScottMonty to be their social media spokesperson under his own Twitter name rather than through the company’s name. It’s awkward to try and engage with a company. Social media is about people. A lot of the same principals of face-to-face networking applies to social media networks such as Twitter.
  4. Auto Responses. These drive not only me but will drive your prospects crazy. They are impersonal, and usually contain no value other than to clog up your Direct Message box forcing you to scan through dozens and dozens to reach those who have sent you a personal one.
  5. Little if any value to your Tweets. 80 to 90% of my tweets are resources for my audience to help them with their new business challenges. They are a combination of posts from my blog and other resources that I usually find and pass on in my morning ritual of reading my RSS feeds in Google Reader. I use a tool called bit.ly to post an article, along with a shortened URL to Twitter.
  6. Fail to generate Twitter traffic ‘to anything”. I have recommended to manufacturers that they should have a blog that becomes the “gateway” to company and generate traffic to the blog through tools such as Twitter. The blog serves as the central component to your social media strategy.
  7. Failing to use 3rd party Twitter tools. These tools can help you identify your best target audience and build your Twitter account’s data base of followers within the ratios mandated by Twitter. Your company’s blog content can stay fresh with new postings but older posts have a very long shelf life from not only SEO but also through repurposing posts to Twitter using some third party Twitter Tools. At our firm we have a process in which we syndicate our clients content over and over again… very much like a traditional media schedule. It’s naive  to think if you have written a post and everyone has read it.
  8. Using the reply function when you should use a direct message. Not every reply needs to be share with your entire Twitter audience. Almost all replies should probably be sent by Direct Message to the person.
  9. Failing to engage in the conversation. It amazes me that most marketers in the manufacturing industry have reservations about engaging with their prospective client audience.  Social media and tools such as Twitter, provide the most efficient means of creating personal network with your agencies best prospects. I have thousands of followers on Twitter alone and it is easy to stay engaged and be part of the conversations without it requiring an undue amount of time. I probably spend no more than 15 minutes a day responding through Twitter.
  10. Allowing the early adopters of Twitter to mandate how your company should use it. Face it, Twitter has superseded anything envisioned by its creators or early adopters “way back in 2006.”  It’s amazing that it was the celebrities, not ad agencies, that first figured out the value and potential of Twitter.

Actually most of these rules apply to all of your social media interactions.

Final Thoughts

A while back I received the following email:

Very interested in hearing about how you are using these channels for work, how you got into it, and where you see it going. Do you see the shops or suppliers leading the way? What role do you see original content providers like … providing. How are you using it with your distributors…

What other leading thinkers have you identified in this space?

So many questions, so little time!

Perhaps this posting is the best place to answer some of those questions.  Social Media is so so much about conversation and sharing and giving credit where credit is due.  As I’ve already mentioned, I met Norm Wright via Twitter, I found out about Jeff Hayzlett’s video from Jennifer (Kelly) Altimore @jlkelly60 (Who, in my opinion, is the person most out-in-front of Social Media in our whole industry! In fact, she’s one of the very first people I followed on my personal Twitter account) and numerous other people have assisted me on Twitter in everything from social media, Italian cars to engineering conundrums.  I think that the best way to learn is to give a listen and pay attention. I would encourage you to give it a try.

“The young people who come to me in the hope of hearing me utter a few memorable maxims are quite disappointed.  Aphorisms are not my forte, I say nothing but banalities…. I listen to them and they go away delighted.”  ~Andre Gide

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