Social media: is it for our industry?
23 January 2017
Garry Lewis, Marketing & Communications Manager, Mitsubishi Electric looks at whether a business should be in or out of social media.
We all know that social media exists, we may even use it in our personal lives but as an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer), End User, Panel Builder or Automation Manufacturer, how many of us really understand what it can do for our businesses?
In a world full of social media, names, brands and logos, many of which if you are over a certain age you would never have heard of, it is easy to get lost and make the overriding decision that social media isn’t for your business; or a business-to-business (B2B) entity.
Think again, after all 81 percent of small and medium sized businesses can’t be wrong. Social media has never been more influential but getting updates in front of users has never been more challenging.
In today’s fast paced life, social media is where many go to for breaking news, to source information, share opinions, watch live events and view videos. From a business perspective, it is where companies network, build reputations, attract a loyal following and engage.
As one of the most influential communications platforms available to companies today, social media is a tool that can be used to promote your business and influence your followers. It is where you can demonstrate your capabilities, showcase your latest innovations, highlight your social responsibilities and still show that your business has a personality.
What this will help do is engage with a broad range of audiences, from existing customers, employees, partners, suppliers and those all-important and sometime elusive new prospects.
At basic level these sites remain free to join and update as often as you want - with consistency being key to success. Once you’re comfortable with the channel or channels of choice, sustained success requires utilisation of paid features including boosts and advertising. Remember, advertising on social media is different to traditional methods in being scalable and increasingly “DIY.”
So where do you start? There are many different social media platforms to choose from. You should opt for the ones that will best fit your business and your target audience -you can do this simply by selecting your top five or ten customers and searching which social media channels they are using.
Initially, just choose one or two and really focus on doing them well and keep them regularly updated, as we are often turned off from approaching a company when it looks like they have had nothing to talk about for some time. This will be far more effective than trying to spread content thinly across too many channels.
When looking for social platforms that will give you the best return on investment for B2B, there are generally two sites best suited, these are LinkedIn and Twitter. Personally, I would also suggest considering YouTube as a close third depending on your business. Facebook may seem tempting as it has the largest amount of users in the world and you may already be familiar with it, being a personal user, but might be the least effective depending on your business and customer base.
Now that you have decided which social media channels you are going to adopt, a more challenging and daunting question presents itself. What I am a going to talk about?
Every business has something to talk about. To start with, every business has a story to tell, which you can tell in your company profile. When deciding on what to post, consider your objectives for using social media; for example is it to increase traffic, raise brand awareness or is it to build a group of loyal followers?
Objectives will vary from business to business; so let your marketing strategy guide your posts. To give you a heads up, testimonials, case studies, charity events, new products, news stories, exhibitions and events are all great content.
Don’t forget that content doesn’t always have to be in the written form of updates – with the noted decrease in attention span, images, GIFs, Memes and Emojis, when used correctly, can convey important business-to-business messages.
Video content is set to dominate social media traffic in the years to come. So much so, that Cisco projected that global internet traffic from videos will make up 80 percent of all internet traffic by 2019. It has also been estimated that four times as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it and that tweets with images receive 150 percent more retweets than tweets without images.
I can already hear many of you dismissing it as an expensive and a time consuming exercise but hold on, “show me don’t tell me.” A video has become cheaper to produce (even free with new Facebook and Twitter live options.) If you are an OEM, Panel Builder or End User, you know better than others that what engineers like to see is an application that has been driven by an engineering solution. In an automation environment where most things are on the move a video is the ideal solution.
Improvements in technology make the production of a video easier than ever before - just use your smartphone! Video can show real life applications and it can convey many messages in a short period of time. Video done properly is a fantastic addition to your channel and significantly increases the chance of your posts going viral.
In summary, your social media presence is representing your business in the public domain. Everything you do, or don’t do, says something about you. Just remember to be authentic and show your company’s personality.
At the beginning it will often feel like you are talking to no one when your profile is still small and you aren’t connected to many people. You will wonder, “is there anyone listening at all?” The answer is: yes! Most people will initially only read your updates and never comment, share or like. Don’t throw in the towel, keep going and it won’t be too long before you are rewarded.
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