Manufacturing marketers are finally wising up to the value of inbound marketing. According to Content Marketing Institute's 2017 report, 84% of manufacturing marketers plan to maintain the same level of spending or increase content marketing spending in 2017. Only 4% are planning to decrease spending.

But social media is still a question mark for many manufacturing marketers. The same CMI study indicated that while 78% of manufacturing marketers produce social media content, only 46% are using a social media calendar.

This leads us to think that manufacturing marketers may see the potential in social media. But, they don't know how to organize an effective social media plan or can't justify the ROI. That lack of strategy may be one reason why only 40% of manufacturing marketers said that their social media efforts were effective.

Hey, I get it. Marketers have a lot to keep up with. There are innumerable channels and methods available to modern marketers - both online and off. And, the ROI of social media for manufacturing marketers is not always obvious. But - we think that social media is worth your time and energy.

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Manufacturing Marketing Social Media Misconceptions

There seems to be a mix of incorrect assumptions and laziness that leads to an underutilization of social media amongst manufacturing marketers. Contrary to what you may think, social media is not just for younger audiences and "lightweight" interactions.

While channels like Twitter and Instagram certainly skew younger, a manufacturing target audience is likely spending time on Facebook and LinkedIn. On Facebook, 84% of people age 30-49 are active, as are 77% of people with an annual household income of $75,000+. The LinkedIn audience is also mature. 50% of people with college degrees are active on LinkedIn as are 45% of online adults with an annual household income of $75,000 or more (source).

What can manufacturing companies gain from using social media?

Benefits of Social Media for Manufacturing Companies

There are several reasons why manufacturers should allocate time and resources to social media. Here are a few:

  1. Reach new prospects - Social media and paid advertising on social media can be an excellent way to reach new audiences. One powerful and easy targeting strategy is "lookalike audiences" in Facebook ads. Upload a list of your current customers and Facebook will display ads to people that match the characteristics of your existing customers.
  2. Build relationships - Social media offers one more place where you can engage with prospects and customers. Manufacturers should quickly respond directly to prospects or customer questions to build trust. You can participate in discussions on LinkedIn Groups, too, to connect with new prospects.
  3. Demonstrate thought leadership - Social media is not typically a channel that will immediately drive sales. But, social channels can serve to introduce your company to prospects via shared content that you create. Use social channels to promote blog content that shows you know your stuff.
  4. Compete with larger companies - Use your social presence to build a reputation that helps you compete with larger companies. As Steve Jobs once said - "The Web is an incredible democratizer. A small company can look as large as a big company and be as accessible as a big company on the Web."
  5. Find the right person at a target account - Need to find the right person for your sales reps to talk to? Find the company and their employees on LinkedIn and find the person for the sales conversation. Your sales rep can connect and start the conversation on LinkedIn.
  6. Amplify your content - Sharing blog posts and other content on social media can improve search engine indexing and put content in front of people who might not otherwise have found it on your website.

Manufacturers Doing It Right

Here are just a few examples of manufacturers getting social media right:

  1. On LinkedIn: Take a look at James McDonald, a Certified Water Technologist, on LinkedIn. Every day, James asks a "Question of the Day" on a highly targeted Industrial Water Treatment group page. This positions James and his company, Chem-Aqua, as thought leaders. 
  2. On Twitter: Check out Toyota Equipment (@ToyotaEquipment) on Twitter. You'll find a mix of helpful self-produced content, shared industry content, humor and visuals, like infographics.

What To Do Next

  1. Learn it - Resources are available to learn social media. For example, did you know that Facebook has a full, free training program for paid advertising complete with certification test? 
  2. Define your purpose for each channel - Determine your goal and voice for each channel. Maybe you plan to use Facebook for targeted advertising. Facebook advertising allows you to target audiences by demographics, industry, job title, even email. Think hyper-relevant messages to qualified prospects. Use Twitter for thought leadership and engaging with influencers. Use LinkedIn as another platform for publishing your blog posts and building credibility for yourself and your company.
  3. Test and learn - Social ads have a low barrier to entry and can offer a high ROI. The CPM (cost per 1,000 impressions) on Facebook is very low. Run some tests and see what works.
  4. Take it seriously - Don't leave social media to an intern or entry-level marketer on your team without proper guidance. It's too important. And, the results of a mismanaged social media presence can be disastrous.
  5. Consult an expert - If you don't feel comfortable starting a social media marketing, an expert can help determine if it's right for your company and if it is, set a plan in motion or train you to do it right. We offer a free manufacturing marketing audit if you're so inclined.

If your manufacturing business's social media, website or online marketing is falling short, we offer a free manufacturing marketing audit.

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