There is no doubt: Social media has altered the way we live our lives, from how we get news to how we interact with others. It’s ubiquitous and extremely powerful. And when used correctly, it can be an effective tool for increasing industrial branding, building trust, connecting with customers, and perhaps even some lead generation. How would you define industrial social media success?
This question might seem like a bit of a distraction for industrial marketers. At first glance, social networks appear to be of marginal use to industrial companies. One might wonder, “What serious industrial buyer will look for capital equipment on social media?” and “Which of the big industrial brands will reach out to a supplier via Instagram?”
And it’s true: Social media is not necessarily configured for industrial lead generation, when you think about it as an isolated tactic or channel that you can activate to produce a certain number of projected leads. According to the survey “Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector” by IEEE GlobalSpec, only 31% of the survey participants report using social media to research industrial companies, indicating some level of buying intent.
On the other hand, nearly 80% of GlobalSpec’s respondents are active users of Facebook and LinkedIn. And nearly half of the surveyed participants indicate they consume product reviews and the latest industry news on social media. In other words, a significant number of industrial decision makers are engaged users of social platforms. So how does one begin to interact with them and turn this engagement into engagement with your company?
The answer lies in shifting the emphasis away from leads, at least to start. Social media is not a brute-force lead-generation channel or tactic. It’s better suited to increasing your brand’s popularity, communicating with potential customers, and analyzing their needs and preferences. You can use social media, in other words, to get closer to your potential customers and instill that sense of connectivity that makes digital marketing so powerful, rather than just trying to get them in front of sales through via the most direct means possible.
Social Media’s Increasing Importance
In today’s marketing world, it’s often difficult to predict which strategy will get you to your desired goal in the shortest amount of time. This is because an organization’s relationships with its customers are constantly changing and one’s marketing approach needs to respond accordingly.
Before the global pandemic, for example, social media appeared to be too weak to compete with traditional methods of customer engagement. Nonetheless, during the lockdown, it became one of the most effective tools for both product advertising and increasing sales.
According to a 2017 Clutch survey, more than half (52%) of social media marketers said social media has helped increase their company’s revenue and sales, while 48% said it has had a limited impact but must still be managed. According to the statistical data by Oberlo, these figures have significantly increased over the last year. Thus, as of 2021, 73% of marketers believe social media is “somewhat effective” or “very effective” for their businesses.
The Benefits of Using Social Media
Here are some potential benefits of establishing a presence on social media for your industrial brand. Each of these requires focus, time, and dedication to achieve (i.e., merely creating social profiles will not result in these rewards) and can be used as starting points to answer the question, “What do I want to get out of social media?”
- Brand engagement. If you haven’t invested in social media previously, a presence on each social channel that is relevant to your audiences gives you another touchpoint for attracting new prospects and engaging with existing customers.
- Increased traffic. Using social networks, you can create a chain of links that direct customers to your website, growing significant sources of inbound traffic.
- Content distribution. Social media platforms are excellent for promoting content that you have published on your website or other platforms. But you have to begin to think like a publisher. If you have difficulties with the generation of high-quality content, look through writing service reviews to find a professional and get the writing assistance you need.
- Increased credibility. If you have a presence on social media, potential customers will be able to learn more about you when they search for your company. At this stage, a brand’s credibility is inherently enhanced by what amounts to a global presence on social media.
- Lead generation. Once you have a legitimate social media presence established — i.e., one with a relevant followership and decent engagement rates — you can begin to use social media to drive leads and eventually sales.
Designing Your Approach to Industrial Social Media
Once you know what you want to achieve with industrial social media, you’ll be able to determine what type of publishing strategy will help you get there. Examine your objectives and use them to develop a content calendar. It should consider:
- Platforms. Being on social media does not imply that your brand must be present on every social media platform. Instead, focus your strategy on the platforms where your target audience is most likely to spend their time.
- Publishing schedule. A schedule will assist you in determining what and when to publish. If you are perplexed, consider monitoring your competitors with social media listening tools to remain competitive with similar brands.
- Content formats. Create themes for the types of content you intend to publish. Consider various content types and how they relate to the goals you want to achieve. Use a mix of promotional-sales content and helpful-resourceful content that seems appropriate to your brand and market.
Fostering Social Media Engagement
A solid B2B social media strategy is not a one-way street. Besides posting content, you also need to make an effort to engage with those who see and consume it. Interacting with your customers’ social content, commenting on posts that are relevant to your brand, and following others in your community are all essential social engagement activities.
Before embarking on any social media marketing, it’s imperative that you outline details of how you will manage communication with your community and designate a person to manage those interactions.
Get to Know Your Competitors
Every brand and industry has a different definition of social media success. To understand how successful your actions are in your industry, you must set realistic expectations and examine your competitors’ performance and techniques for staying on top.
Take a close look at your competitors’ profiles and use tools to get a sense of what positive outcomes look like in your industry. Consider the following parameters:
- The channels and platforms they use to attract customers
- The number of followers on their social media platforms
- The frequency and type of content they publish
- The engagement of their posts
- The type of content that works best in your niche
- Popular hashtags
- The use of social advertising
Make a point of quantifying what you want success to look like and then reviewing your results regularly. Track your data on a monthly or weekly basis. Examine what is and is not working for your brand and consider ways to improve your performance by looking at metrics that are specific to social media:
- The number of new followers
- The most popular hashtags
- The number of shares, likes, and clicks
- Reach (how many people see your posts)
Industrial Social Media Is More Than Just Lead Generation
The promotion of industrial companies on social networks can be an excellent way to raise brand awareness, gain new audiences, and establish a professional reputation in a specific niche. These can all be worthy marketing and business goals. The first step in achieving industrial social media success is recognizing these parameters and seizing them as opportunities, rather than viewing social media as simply one more channel for lead generation.