Social Media For Manufacturers

September 25, 2014

Rachel Kerstetter, PR Engineer

Awhile back, we presented a webinar on social media for industrial manufacturers. Many in our clients’ industries wonder if social media is worth their time, and we typically say yes.

Social media is a broad and sometimes intimidating part of marketing. To simplify it just a little, we focus on the four areas where we see manufacturers receiving the greatest value:

  • YouTube
  • SlideShare
  • LinkedIn
  • Blogs

To get the scoop, you can watch the webcast on YouTube and follow along on the slides below.

 

Webinar: Social Media In Manufacturing

Are you Having Trouble Getting the Staff on Board Supporting Social Media?

January 8, 2014

I think most marketers realize that social isn’t going away and they need to plan to incorporate it into their overall marketing strategy. Marketers also know that adding social means more work for their existing staffs.

One of the biggest issues is push back from others within the organization. While marketing may be in charge of social media, it doesn’t mean they have to carry the entire load. I recently read an article by Stephanie Shkolnik in Social Media Examiner that outlines suggestions on why to get employees involved. Here are some highlights:

  • Define the end goal - like any other initiative, we need to define objectives on what we’re trying to accomplish and how we are going to measure its success.
  • Create a task force - whether you’re a one-man band marketing department or have a big staff, you need to get others involved and they can and should come from other departments. Tap into sales, customer service, engineering, R&D and general management to be part of the process.
  • Develop a strategy - that will involve the whole company.
  • Be consistent - hold regular meetings with the team and track your progress.

If you get others involved and explain what the goal is, it will become easier to get others on board and share the responsibility.


A Picture is Worth…

December 12, 2013

Today’s post is from our PR Engineer, Rachel Kerstetter.

We’re deep into mapping out marketing plans for 2014. When meeting with an editor to talk about their content needs in the next year, one comment stood out to me the most, “We found that pictures are the most popular.”

The #1 item they requested from us (and our clients) next year is photos. If you’ve been paying attention to marketing and social media trends over the past couple of years, you know that the entire internet is becoming more visual. In fact, a picture might be worth far more than a thousand words now.

According to Jeff Bullas’ blog post 6 Powerful Reasons Why You Should Include Images in Your Marketing, images encourage people to engage with your content. When I think about my own news browsing habits, I’m more likely to click on an article that has an intriguing image.

Jeff shared some interesting stats, including:

  • Articles with images get 94% more total views.
  • Including photos or videos with press releases increases views by more than 45%
  • Facebook engagement rates for photos are 37% higher than plain text

I highly recommend reading the rest of his blog post for some tips on integrating photos.

Courtesy of: B2B Infographics

Relevant Social Media and SEO

November 14, 2013

Today we have a guest post from Rachel Kerstetter, our PR Engineer, about the evolution of social media and SEO.

logo4wIn our B2T niche, as well as in the general B2B market, we use the word “relevant” frequently.

When it comes to B2T social media, quantity does not equal quality. Quality social media engagement can’t be measured in simple number of followers or likes. The relevance of those follows and likes is where we find the quality.

It can be hard to keep up with current SEO tactics that will land you on the first page of Google search results since the algorithms change every day, but as social media continues to grow, SEO is getting easier because it’s no longer optimizing for search engines that will land you on page one of Google.

Social engagement is becoming the new SEO. One of the many benefits of being involved in social media that I explain when we create social strategies is improving search visibility.

I was reading, “6 Reasons Social Media is Critical to Your SEO” on Social Media Today and Stephanie Frasco explained the concept so well when she wrote about the old SEO strategy of link building,

“Think about it – why did Google ever allow links to determine which websites ranked above all the others? The answer is simple: links were like “votes” for your website. The more votes you get, the better off you are. So SEO companies started building links (aka “votes”) manually[…]The idea behind links as a ranking factor is a very good idea, but since it’s become so easy to manipulate, Google has been forced to turn to social media channels which do the same thing but are much harder to manipulate. Link building was always about social proofing.”

The shift toward social search is an excellent opportunity to market more efficiently. Connecting with people (even in business-to-business social media, the decision-makers are still people) won’t have constantly changing algorithms because people have been communicating in similar ways basically forever. Social media is simply taking the natural, conversational form of communication that history shows taking place in the gathering places (think the Greek agora or the city coffee shop) and put it online, where it’s easier to be involved with the conversations that are relevant to you.

You can read the rest of Stephanie’s article here.


The Scary Side of Public Relations

October 31, 2013

Today Rosemarie and Rachel from our PR department are sharing some of the aspects of public relations that can be the scariest to clients.

jackolantern05We find the realm of public relations to be fun, exciting and consistently fresh, but some areas of our field can be scary to our clients.

Here are the top five fears people have about public relations, and why you shouldn’t be spooked by them.

1. You can’t control what the media does with a story once you’ve given it to them.

“Earned media” is highly credible because readers know that you didn’t purchase the space to promote your company. Public relations and media relations professionals cultivate positive relationships with media, we work with these folks on behalf of multiple clients most of the time so we’ve built the foundation for positive coverage before they even get your story. In B2T public relations, we’re working with trade publications primarily and their goal is to be a source of helpful information for their readers.

It can be scary not to see the actual article before it’s published, but with long lead times of trade media, it can be a sweet surprise to see your words in print.

2. Negative comments on blogs and social media.

Your responses to negative comments offer an excellent opportunity to show off your wonderful customer service. Negative comments happen, and if they happen on your social media, you can control the outcome with your response and the community response from your other fans. It’s actually scarier to hide your head in the sand or cover your ears when it comes to social media.

3. Giving interviews is intimidating.

When we set up interviews with trade publications, they often send some sample questions ahead of time to help you prepare. Knowing how you would answer those questions provides a foundation of confidence. Media people are not out to get you, and by providing an interview you’re helping them educate their readers and they’re helping you get your name and expertise out there.

Think of interviews as a conversation rather than an interrogation. Sometimes our clients are even given the opportunity to review and approve their quotes! And they’re often surprised by how articulate their quotes sound.

4. Am I missing out on all of the new things that pop up overnight?

There is actually a name for this condition, it’s a condition called FOMO, Fear of Missing Out. Your company can’t, and shouldn’t, join every new platform or use every new tool that is introduced. If you’re suffering from a severe case of FOMO, work with your public relations people to set your goals and evaluate which platforms and tools are the best for us to get our hands dirty with and which ones would be a waste of time and resources.

5. I want to use the excellent testimonial from my customers, but I’m afraid to share customer information that my competitors will find.

When you’re confident with a customer relationship and know that you’re giving that customer the best quality and service, there’s no need to be afraid of telling their story. Testimonials are an excellent tool for building your credibility, when others read about what your company made possible for that customer, they’ll wonder what your company can do for them too.

When you feature a customer in a testimonial, you’re also helping them get their name out there and gain more visibility. And they’ll love you for that!

 


What’s a #Hashtag? And 5 Ways to Use Them in Marketing

July 25, 2013

Today we have a post from Rachel Kerstetter, Sonnhalter’s PR Engineer, answering one of the questions she’s frequently asked and sharing some tips on how to use hashtags.

The basic mechanics of making a hashtag include putting a pound sign (#) in front of a word, phrase, acronym or combination of characters (but not punctuation).

But beyond calling attention to the words in a tweet, post or whatever, hashtags allow you to join into a more broad conversation. Hashtags have become a standard part of online conversation and stretch across many social platforms. Hashtags originated on Twitter and very recently Facebook added hashtag capabilities to the platform, but you can also use hashtags on: Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and newcomer Vine.

There are many ways to use hashtags, but they all boil down to participating in public conversation. Here are some common ways to use hashtags in marketing communications:

  1. Promote engagement during events. Whether your event is online or offline, it will have a presence. When you create your own hashtag (and publically identify it) you can then monitor and interact with the conversation around your event. Most conferences, trade shows, webinars and other events announce the “official” hashtag, put it on publicity materials and have a designated person using it. Mostly this happens on Twitter but permeates into other social media use.
  2. Host or take part in a Twitter chat. Twitter chats are a simple way to have a conversation with multiple people on the same topic. Chats are traditionally an hour and have a prescribed hashtag. Most chats happen weekly at the same time and center around a prepared set of questions, due to their growing popularity services have been created to help you participate more easily, for example Tweetchat is a Twitter application to organized the tweets on a hashtag and shows them in real time, allowing you to tweet in the action and pause the conversation to catch up.
  3. Run and follow a marketing campaign. If you have a campaign that will get people talking, adding a hashtag to it isn’t a bad idea. Often you’ll find ads that have hashtags to see more online.
  4. Contests. Hashtag-powered contests work the best for photos but can also be used for sharing experiences or answering a question. Just ask your fans/followers to post their entry using your hashtag.
  5. Research. See what people are saying or posting about a topic, brand, event or anything by searching hashtags. If you see a relevant topic hashtagged on your own feed, click it to see what else is being said.

If you still aren’t sure you’re ready to use hashtags, at least get your feet wet by identifying them when you see them and find out how they’re being used.

What are some ways that you’ve seen hashtags incorporated into marketing plans?


Social Media, How Can Tradesmen Connect?

May 30, 2013

Mile Free, Director of Industry Research and Technology for the Precision Machined Products Association, is posting today with advice for connecting on social media. Miles blogs regularly on PMPA’s blog, Speaking of Precision.

As tradesmen, advertising used to be pretty easy to figure out. A yellow pages ad in the local phone book, small display advertisements in the newspaper and maybe some classified advertisements in the weekly as well. Near a big city? Maybe you would have bit the bullet for a display ad in their yellow pages too. As a customer, in the old days, that’s how I would have found you…

So who uses a phone book these days?

Who still has a land line phone?

How many folks with smartphones walk around carrying a phone book?

My latest phone book is still on the front porch

My latest phone book is still on the front porch

That’s a trick question. While no one is carrying a phone book, the fact is that when they need to find something, they go search for it. On their smart phone or web device. How easy are you to find on search? For what kind of things are you on Google’s page one?

I’m not suggesting that you need to pay for advertisements on Google to get to page one, but if you use  social media tools correctly, you can be found on Google for the services that you provide, and that your customers want.

While I am a staff director for a trade association of precision machining companies, the lessons I learned about how to increase visibility in online search are just as applicable to tradesmen to build your credibility, and thus your visibility online.

Here are 5 steps to increasing your online visibility:

  1. Make sure that your website covers the products and services that you provide. Having an up-to-date website with photos is key to engaging your potential customers and audience. Think of it as your online showroom. Make it look like a showroom, a place where people would like to shop. Nice photos on your website and in your blog get you found on Google too.
  2. Create a blog to share your expertise. It will only take an hour or two a week to create some modest posts about your specialty, or show pictures and discuss a job you just completed, or why you should use a professional to do ____. Share it on both your business and personal Facebook pages.
  3. Use LinkedIn Groups and Facebook to increase your credibility in Google and other search engines. LinkedIn Groups are where you can post your blog posts as news items to get wider viewership. As Google finds your content on places other than your blog and website, it boosts your trust factor and credibility. Find them for your trade, your customers and your locale. Facebook provides a great way to have a conversation with your “natural market”- the folks you already know- and gives them material to help generate word of mouth. Even Twitter can have a role in your tradesman marketing.
  4. Repurpose what you already have. If you already have a sales brochure, repost sections of it as stand-alone blog content. Take photos from your jobs completed book, repost them telling a bit about the back story- How by doing it with your approach, you saved the owner $XXX in time or dollars. Or why these materials instead of XYZ…
  5. Share your expertise. Keeping your expertise hidden doesn’t help anyone. “3 things that can go wrong when you pour Liquid Fire ™ down your toilets instead of getting professional help” may just save someone’s eyesight, as well as help people think about what is really important when trying to solve their problem.

You are an expert. You don’t have to tell anyone why you use 1-1/4” fasteners instead of the 1” ones …but what’s the harm in pointing out that as a professional you use the right fastener for the job, as opposed to just buying the cheapest ones down at the depot store? And then showing them a photo of a job you had to fix because the other guy didn’t use the right fastener?

As you share more and more of your wisdom and experience online, if you tag it properly, you will soon discover that Google has put you on page one for some of products and services in your area that you offer. Because you blogged about them with credibility. And it happened without an ad buy- because to Google, you have become the credible expert in your area.


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