Industry Market Trends
4 Steps for Manufacturers to Increase Social Media Engagement and Sales
August 14, 2014
For manufacturers, especially small companies, merely being on social media is not enough. Companies need to have a content strategy that is targeted, offers subject variety, and sufficiently engages to lead to sales and revenue. Building a loyal following and fanbase online requires these four tactics. Today, social media marketing gives manufacturers the opportunity to improve brand awareness, build brand loyalty, and increase sales, and right now, 87 percent of B2B marketers are taking advantage of opportunities. Fifty-four percent of B2B marketers say that social media marketing efforts have generated leads, and 39 percent say that social media has generated revenue. Facebook, YouTube, and LinkedIn are the three most popular sites used by manufacturing marketers, according to the Content Marketing Institute. Social media puts manufacturers in direct contact with clients and consumers and allows them to extend the reach of their content by having current fans spread messages organically to their friends, increasing brand awareness. Brands can cultivate a stronger, more loyal following by creating online communities of fans and providing those communities with interesting, informative, and useful content. Despite the potential advantages of using social media, 70 percent of marketers say that they are concerned about brand integrity and execution in social media. To alleviate those fears, manufacturing marketers should keep in mind the following best practices to maximize their social media marketing:
1. Create Quality Content that Drives AwarenessWith the goals of increasing brand loyalty and awareness in mind, the key for every manufacturer should be to create content that drives the greatest engagement, response, and reach with target audiences. The increased reach gives greater opportunity to influence potential consumers and business partners. Every content action taken on social media should keep in mind the goal of connecting with target users. Quality content is informative, shareable, and actionable. However, it is also important to remember the social network's audience when creating content. What sparks a conversation on LinkedIn may not do the same on Facebook or Twitter. One type of content that rewards loyal followers and fans is creating specific deals for them to use, giving them another reason to follow, engage, or make a purchase. Marketers should try different posts to find the content strategy that works best for the specific target audience.
2. Use Visual Content to Increase EngagementImages and videos have been shown to increase engagement on both Facebook and Twitter. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 58 percent of B2B marketers believe that video is an effective marketing tool. With 70 percent of B2B marketers using videos as part of their overall content marketing strategies, it is important to consider what makes video essential. To create highly effective videos, start by identifying the target audience and desired outcome of the planned video., whether it is to connect, drive engagement, or draw sales. From there, the focus should be on the benefits of the product or service being highlighted -- but not the specific features. The length of the video should be decided based on the purpose of the content -- long enough to impart a strong message but doesn't drag out.
3. Sell the Brand, not the ProductSocial media should be seen as an opportunity to do more than simply sell products. Social media posts allow companies to impart expertise, share information, and converse with stakeholders on a personal level. Those that include a healthy variety of topics that include both self-promotion and community engagement will see increased benefits in terms of engagement. With the amount of social media content being produced daily, manufacturers must strive to stand out from the crowd to elicit engagement. For some companies, this may mean humor; for others it may mean showing in-depth knowledge on a particular subject. Marketers should not be afraid to experiment to see what works best for them, whether the experiments are successes or failures.
4. Respond to Users Quickly to Create TrustOne way to increase brand loyalty is to be responsive to followers who have questions, concerns, or comments. Those that have a strategy to respond quickly and sufficiently find solutions will slowly build trust not only with the specific users engaged in the conversation but with other users who see it happen in real time. Furthermore, success can be found by simply listening to users when they post and saying thank you. This strategy makes users feel valued, an important step in building a relationship and generating loyalty. Social media marketing has the ability to give manufacturers a leg up on the competition by advancing brand loyalty and awareness. With the majority of manufacturers already implementing digital marketing strategies, which include social media marketing, those that have not already are at a competitive disadvantage in a crowded marketplace. Top photo credit: Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net Heather Smith is the director of social media for ZOG Digital, a leading independent digital marketing company based out of Scottsdale, Ariz. ZOG Digital's discovery marketing solutions include search engine optimization, social media marketing, paid advertising, and design and development.