What’s all this about Social Media and where do I start?

We recently created a Twitter and YouTube channel for our distributor and I’ve been getting calls and talking to several people in our industry about all of this “social media” hype. Rather than continue to have the phone conversations, trying to explain the nuances, and sending the emails from my iPhone I thought it might be best to put all the information in one place.

Last evening I put together some information that I have been collecting with regard to Social Media. In the last 45-60 days, the manufacturing sector is jumping into it with both feet. But not everyone seems to know, exactly WHAT they are jumping into and they’re making some mistakes.

I hope you find this informative. I have tried to give credit to the original articles when possible, as much of this was cut/pasted into emails. First, I’m going to take you through a cursory overview and give you some background. Then I’ll list some recommendations.

Ironically, I just received a notification from Norm Wright on his new Blog posting at Wright-to-Know. Perhaps this is the better place to start…
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Digital Marketing For Manufacturers: Are You S.O.L. When It Comes To S.E.O., S.E.M. and S.M.O.?

Helps for the new marketing terminology for manufacturing marketers.
I hate to say it but we all know it’s true to some extent… the manufacturing industry is way behind the curve when it comes to using digital marketing. I believe it can be very intimidating to those of you who haven’t tried to keep up with the times.

You don’t have to be S.O.L. when it comes to the new marketing lingo.

You just gotta’ love the new “high-tech” sounding marketing acronyms. Not only do you have to learn a whole new way to communicate with your market but now you also have to learn a new language.

Well, to help get you on your way to learning this new “lingo”, I have put together a little list of links using Wikepida.com. Obviously, Wikepedia is the most popular website using Wiki technology… which is, in part, used in the new realm of Social Media. (More on Wiki’s another time)

So, below you will find some very informative links to help you with the new terminology… Happy reading

SM Social Media
SME Social Media Optimization
SEO Search Engine Optimization
SEM Search Engine Marketing
Blogging
RSS Feeds
Podcasting
Mobile Marketing
Social Bookmarks
Tagging
I hope this little bit of reading helped you to understand a little more about the new world of Social Marketing.

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There can be no doubt the the next paradigm shift is taking place on the internet. It’s called Social Media. Right now, it’s like the Gold Rush in 1849: You just stepped off the boat and now you are faced with the decision to buy the “Secret Hidden Gold Map” from the guy at the bottom of the gangplank. There are many many people coming out of the woodwork as an “authority”. However, it’s my opinion that the medium is still early in it’s evolution and it’s adoption. Let’s keep in mind “Moore’s Law“: Social Media is going to change as it grows; probably at the same rate as microprocessors.

Again, many people are jumping in with both feet:
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“Nearly 20% of Marketing Dollars Will Go to Social Marketing in 5 Years”
In just the last 6 months, marketers have shifted their attitudes toward social media marketing spending. This was recently affirmed in the new study, “The CMO Survey” from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the American Marketing Association. (“what’s a CMO?“)

 

A key finding: Social media marketing budgets continue to rise. According to the results, businesses currently allocate 6% of their marketing budgets to social media, an allotment they expect to increase to 10% during the next year and 18% over the next 5 years.

Back in August 2009, marketers had already planned on devoting more money to social media.  However, in February 2010, marketers reported that they plan to allocate one-fifth of their marketing budgets to social media marketing in the next 5 years.  This is a definite increase from the 2009 projections.  The study features the following comparison from August 2009 to February 2010:

Current marketing budget spending on social media:
August 2009: 3.5%
February 2010: 5.6%

Marketing budget spending on social media in the next 12 months:
August 2009: 6.1%
February 2010: 9.9%

Marketing budget spending on social media in the next 5 years:
August 2009: 13.7%
February 2010: 17.7%

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Who’s adopting Social Media faster than everyone else? Small Business.

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“Small Business Doubles Social Media Adoption”

A recent study, “The State of Small Business Report,” sponsored by Network Solutions, LLC and the University of Maryland’sRobert H. Smith School of Business, points to economic struggles as the catalyst for social media’s rapid popularity.
The study results show that social media usage by small business owners increased from 12% to 24% in just the last year, and almost 1 out of 5 actively uses social media as part of his or her marketing strategy.
Here’s a breakdown of what the small businesses reported as the main uses of social media marketing:
75% have a company page on a social networking site
69% post status updates or articles of interest on social media sites
57% build a network through a site such as LinkedIn
54% monitor feedback about the business
39% maintain a blog
26% tweet about areas of expertise
16% use Twitter as a service channel
According to the study, different industries are adopting social media marketing at different rates, and while many industries have started using social media marketing in their efforts to reach more customers, many still have not positioned it as their top priority.

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According to GlobalSpec’s social media survey of engineers, technical, manufacturing and industrial professionals, usage of social media varies by platform.

42% have a Facebook account, although it is not used much for work-related purposes.
32% have a LinkedIn account
82% of those belonging to at least one group in LinkedIn.
12% of individuals have a Twitter account
9% of companies have a Twitter account

Of those that do use social media, the majority of users are passive: they are much more likely to read and watch content than to actively participate by creating content such as commenting or posting.

Many of them are probably holding back and evaluating the usefulness of social media platforms, which means that suppliers who engage in social media must, above all else, be useful and relevant to their audience in order to build a network of followers.
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Why is it going to be very hard to get a handle on what’s going to happen? Well, in short, because small business and individual people are difficult to predict when it comes to Herd Mentality. (remember the Nietzsche stuff you read in college?0

Let’s not forget that in the metalcutting sector of manufacturing it’s primarily made up of small business and they are adopting SM pretty quickly. Everywhere you turn you’re now seeing “Follow us on….twitter, facebook, youtube” so the thinking seems to be “Well, I better get on here and do it”. Coming out of 2009 the manufacturing sector is grasping at ANY way to make money.

The reality is you can set up all three sites for free and have a pretty decent looking presence on each in about 2 hours. Yes, that’s right, all three of them in under 2 hours time and yes, it’s FREE.

Ok, so now you have some information but which one of the social media outlets should you choose?

Just hang on a minute. You should know about the 4 C’s of Social Media:
1. Communities
2. Content
3. Conversations
4. Conversion

1. Communities
Traditional advertising is about interrupting.
Social media is about sharing and interacting.
78% of social media users interact with companies or brands via new media sites and tools, an increase of 32% from 2008.
95% of new media users also believe companies or brands should have a social media presence.
89% believe that they should interact with their consumers using social media.

2. Content
No hard selling
DO NOT communicate a sales message
DO IMPLY a sales message
Consumers want entertained, informed, and educated.
If they like your content they will probably like you.
If you share good content consistently over time they will likely begin to trust you

3. Conversations
Traditional Advertising: Talking AT someone
Social Media: Talking WITH someone

What are “Conversations?”
A comment on a blog post,
A retweet
A comment on your LinkedIn or Facebook
A “Thumbs Up” on a Facebook wall
Yes, it’s going to take some time. Interesting that I recently had a conversation about Twitter. it was compared to snack food: “It tastes good, takes alot of time to eat, but has no nutritional value” At this point in time in the manufacturing sector, that is probably a true statement. In 6 months….?

THE KEY: You put out a message or content and someone chooses to respond.
These conversations and those among others will have an impact.
51% of respondents say that social media has influenced their online transactions.
78% of consumers trust peer recommendations

4. Conversion
All of the pieces should work together to lead to Conversion.
Common mistake: Send people to the home page. It builds traffic but may not help build DIALOGUE.

Remember when we talked about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? Did you click that the link at the beginning? You probably should. It’s pretty important. In fact, if you haven’t read it here’s the synopsis:
The time was when the search engines looked for key words to rank you via a formula. Now part of that formula is whom you are LINKED to from your website. The more links you have to someone who also has alot of links is a good thing and will drive searches to you. In fact, I recall a conversation back in 2003 with a principal of mine, when I was an agent, and he said that HIS company name and website appeared 2nd on a google search while my website appeared above it. I explained then that it had to do with understanding the links and how the formula works.

Ok, back to Conversion. in order to convert you have to move the potential customer through the buying phase:
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How the Buy Cycle has Changed
The four stages of the industrial buy cycle have remained constant over time. What’s changed, however, is how buyers go through the four stages.

Today, online methods dominate the four stages of the buy cycle. Buyers conduct
Research on the Internet
Contact suppliers
Request quotes online
Compare supplier offerings using content found online
Submit purchase orders online

Buyers use

Search engines,
Online catalogs,
Supplier Web sites,
Portal sites

They gather data, review product specifications, view drawings and more—all online. They often bookmark Web pages, download content, and print out information to share with other decision makers. Even traditional sales through offline channels such as purchase orders often are the result of buyers using online methods to move through the stages of the buy cycle.

Get Found Early in the Buy Cycle
In order to make the final short list of potential vendors, suppliers must get found in the early Needs Awareness and Research stages of the buy cycle.

A GlobalSpec survey found that 42% of buyers evaluate four or more suppliers during the Research stage, but only 26% of buyers get quotes from four or more suppliers during the later Procurement stage.

The conclusion is that as buyers move through the buy cycle, they eliminate suppliers from contention, as opposed to adding new potential suppliers to their short list. That’s why it’s so important to be found early

70% of buyers review four or more pieces of content for purchases greater than $10,000
17% of buyers review that much content for purchases under $1,000.

“Suppliers must create a robust library of content and make it available online to buyers. The content should be targeted to multiple different decision makers, such as the economic buyer seeking ROI and value vs. the end user seeking features and functionality.

Your content should include specification sheets, white papers, Webinars, e-newsletters, application notes and more. Only with this breadth and depth of content can you help build confidence in the buyer that your brand and solutions can meet their needs, and at the same time, distinguish your company from your competitors.”
-GlobalSpec newsletter, March 23, 2010
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One they go through the buying phase they have to LAND somewhere.

5 Actions of the Landing Page:
Get a visitor to click (to go to another page, on your site or someone else’s)
Get a visitor to buy
Get a visitor to give permission for you to follow up (by email, phone, etc.). This includes registration of course.
Get a visitor to tell a friend (all the more subtle)
Get a visitor to learn something, which could even include posting a comment or giving you some sort of feedback

Ok, Now let’s take a look at your options:

Do you have any idea how MANY social media sites there are?!??!
Take a Look at this link on a List of Social Media Sites

Now let’s dig a bit into the Big names;
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
YouTube

Facebook
Top Insights:
January 5th, 2009
The 35-54 year old demo is growing fastest, with a 276.4% growth rate in over the approximate 6 months since we last produced this report
The 55+ demo is not far behind with a 194.3% growth rate
The 25-34 year population on Facebook is doubling every 6 months
For those interested in advertising alcohol on Facebook, there are 27,912,480 users 21+, representing 66.3% of all users
Miami is the fastest growing metropolitan area (88.5%) and Atlanta (6.4%) is the slowest
There are more females (55.7%) than males (42.2%) on Facebook – 2.2% are of unknown gender.
The largest demographic concentration remains the college crowd of 18-24 year olds (40.8%) which is down from (53.8%) six months ago.
Take away? Parents and professionals are rapidly adopting Facebook.

A sidebar note worth thinking about:
The real interesting thing happening with FACEBOOK is the bleed of the Gen Z and Gen Y demographic. As the older folks have embraced FB the younger folks have begun moving to more specialized sites that meet there unique individual needs and interests. This is typically a footnote in most of the analysis.

“Facebook has just gotten too big & too commercial, I won’t “friend” a company and let them see all my info, but I’ll still Fan a page, You just gotta watch” I recently heard a 20-something say to me.

Remember when I said earlier that the whole concept of social media is evolving?

Ok, so you’re probably wondering what the difference is between a PAGE, a Group, and a Community on FB. You may want to check out Marketing Your Business on Facebook: Group or Page?

We have elected NOT to use Facebook as the demographic we are looking at, industrial buyers, are not using FB for research.

Twitter
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”

We are using Twitter. Why? Remember the search engine optimization stuff?

LinkedIn
LinkedIn is fast becoming THE business tool of social networking. Rather than summarize why just click this link to find the 33 Ways to Use LinkedIn for Business

At a minimum create a company profile page for your company. You can take a look at our company profile here: Highlander Tool Company Profile It’s pretty simple to create. One thing you will notice is that we have taken our brand message very seriously. The message we set up is to communicate what we do and who we are. …and we’ve used essentially the same message for every social media profile. (So once you create ONE you can cut and paste, albiet with some editing, for all of your SM sites.

YouTube
Creating a YouTube channel was really driven out of necessity. Below is an excerpt of an email I sent to everyone in our company when we launched our YouTube channel:
“I wanted to make you aware that this weekend I worked on finally getting a central place where you can show customer’s product videos from their computer while visiting their facility.

 

I’ve found out that trying to find video’s of products to further explain them to customers while at their desk can be a problem just finding them on the web. I’ve gathered many of them on our own YouTube channel for Highlander Tool.

Please take a look at it when you get some time”

Some products just need to be seen….

A Note about NLP
Why is television such a great medium compared to radio? It has to do with something called Neuro-Linguistic Programming. According to Neuro-Linguistic Programming Model people learn in different ways. This is often called the VAK Model (visual / auditory / kinesthetic). According to this model the general population learns according to the following percentages:
Visual – 75%
Auditory – 6%
Kinesthetic – 19%

Since 81% of people learn via visual and auditory ques, as the theory goes, video is the best method of communicating a message.

Summary Suggestions

Until the advent of YouTube, where you are creating your own video channels, there was no way to utilize this in marketing for the manufacturing sector.

This social media is probably the BEST one that we have found for communicating with our customers about new products AND for our salesforce to learn more about the product. Here’s why:

1. Statistically, knowledge retention from a sales meeting is about 20% at the termination of the meeting. Without “refreshment” and “review” this tracks down to a 5% after 14 days. (That’s why it’s important to have simple bullet point sell sheets, but that’s a topic for another time)

2. The more the salespeople show the video, the more they learn about the product. Kind of like my old college friend who saw Monty Python’s the Holy Grail so many times that now, 20+ years later, he can still recite the lines verbatim.

3. At the distributor level, creating a YouTube channel and “favoriting” your vendor’s video’s allows the salesperson to cross-sell other products because of the “wow, what’s this?” factor

4. SEO! Again, you are cross-linking by “subscribing” or “friending” others. Hence you are creating broad cross-links which raises YOUR profile in searching.

Do’s and Don’ts for YouTube:
DO look at several other channels within our industry before creating your own channel if you have not created one before. Yes, my 11 year old created his own channel for his stop motion videos he makes but you want to observe what others are doing, what you like, and what you don’t like.

DO add every video of every product that you still make and stock. Even if the video is 12 years old, load it. Our industry is disconnected enough that someone may be seeing it for the first time.

DO add different versions of the same video. You may have an old video and you’ve since redone it with some other language but you deleted some sections that you know longer felt where important.

DO add a link and and Icon to your company website.

DO create “tags” for your videos. Remember the meta-tagging section up top?

DON’T let your marketing person make it part of his or her own personal youtube page: it shouldn’t contain a picture of the family dog in the profile.

DON’T assume that “we already have that video embedded in our own website so we shouldn’t load it on YouTube”. YouTube let’s you enlarge to a full screen, provides embed code (so people can add it to their blogs, etc) and it’s ON the NETWORK.

IF you take a look at the left here on the blog you will see the most viewed videos on the Highlander Tool YouTube page

Final Thoughts

Ok, so now you’ve spend about an hour to create a Twitter and a YouTube site.  You’re ready to roll.  Well, maybe not.  You’ve got to put a link on my main website so that it says “Hey Follow us!”  You may have already thought about that.  Now, how much do you know about how the eyeball works?  Where do people see and what do they see?

There’s an absolutely GREAT video on StomperNET called

Click Fu: How to Double Your Conversion

Click on the link above and check it out.

Here’s a bit of a different take on it.  Take a few minutes and watch the video

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWStBRljjRg&feature=related]

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