Social Media- It’s no Longer Just About a Feel-Good Message
KCMN’s January meeting featured three speakers who shared their insights on both the social media landscape, as well as providing practical suggestions for how other manufacturers can utilize social media themselves.
Doug Richard, of RH & Associates discussed social business, which is the use of social networks, like Linked In and Facebook, combined with social media, which are content sites such as YouTube. He suggested that if you Google yourself and you don’t have a presence on the first page, you are missing the opportunity to connect to your customers. Today’s web presence mandate is that you are both discoverable, and credible instead of just maintaining a ‘feel good’ image on the web. Your company’s web presence is no longer the sole domain of IT or marketing but instead should be a cross functional representation of the company. This ensures broader content and increased likelihood that your social business strategy is consistent with your overall strategy.
Doug stressed that formation of a company wide communicated social business policy should always be the first step in your strategy. From there, Doug’s 7 steps to social business development are as follows:
1 Identify your team – cross functional and include management
2. Listen – observe what others in the industry are doing in the space, what is being said about you on other sites
3. Participate in your communities
4. Respond to situations in real life that impact your customers
5. React – response to both positive and negative mentions
6. Grow your network
7. Research – monitor your feeds, sites, and presence
Lisa Sizemore, of Hit Resultz, described her work with Torotel Products to launch their social business campaign. Following company-wide rollout of a social media policy, key members of their social business team came together. Key themes were transparency – that customers can see inside the company (with some limits due to military contracts) – and credibility. Two goals were established: recruit qualified employees and increase number of sales prospects. To accomplish the first goal, the company’s Facebook page features footage of company recognitions, and prospective employees can get a sense of the company values and goals. Due to the success of their social business strategy, Torotel has been able to eliminate the use of headhunters and locate a broader more qualified employment base. Some interviewees even remarked that Torotel’s online presence was a determining factor in their application. To accomplish the second goal using tools such as LinkedIn and Jigsaw, the sales team reports an increased quality of new leads and can find additional leads based on geographic location. Since the sales lead time can be several years, the current measurements are the increased number of new proposals and contacts. Monitoring the online awareness of Torotel has proven to be positive and widespread. While they are pleased with their results, due to the long sales cycle the impact on the business bottom line cannot be measured yet.
Chris Vering, Executive Vice President of Knit-Rite emphasized that the key to their success is the perspective that social business is not advertising, it is relationship building. The company has sent product samples to influential bloggers and site owners that target communities who can benefit from their products, and asked for reviews. The company engages users by creating Facebook pages around their product lines, then uses the page to build dialog with customers. Customers who have a favorable experience then become fans, and talk about their products with other prospective customers. Dialog ranges from giving customers a sense that they are ‘real people building real products here in the US’, to responding to questions or problems, to sharing new product lines or developments. The company has seen dramatic sales increases in their product lines due to the additional exposure. Knit-Rite’s online presence is also tied to the success of their retail partners. Some ecommerce retailers have shared data on increased sales as a result of tying in to Knit-Rite’s online social business presence.