Social Media in Manufacturing

The first step in utilizing social media for manufacturing is determining if social media makes sense for your business.   I’m not entirely convinced that social media marketing makes sense for every business.

At it’s most basic form, social media is simply having a conversation online and can take shape in many different ways. Interestingly, most companies jump on Facebook and Twitter completely missing out on other opportunities. Having a presence on these to social networks doesn’t guarantee success.

Here are some basic steps for developing a social media strategy for manufacturing:

1. Start with the end in mind

What are you trying to accomplish? Are you trying to reach new customers? Existing? Will you be promoting a new product or service? Choose one. It can be difficult to be all thing to all people.

2. Where are you customers?

Where do your customers spend their time online? If it isn’t Facebook or Twitter, figure out where the conversations are taking place.

3. Listen

If all you do is promote and share links, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to “network”. After all there is a reason why it’s called “social networking”.   Tools like search.twitter.com, Social Mention, and even Google search can give you real-time insights to what those in your industry are talking about.

4.  Participate

Especially in forums.  Forums are a great way for you to do market research, understand frustrations within your industry, and connect with those USING your product.  There are some excellent forums for the manufacturing industry.  Look for ways to engage.  Think about joining a Twitter chat. #MFGchat is a bi-weekly chat for the manufacturing industry. A great opportunity to have one on one interaction.

5.  Connect

A great way to connect with customers is by just jumping in.  It’s like a big networking event, those who already know each other will be having a conversation and you have to find a pleasant way to jump in, but be careful, online communities don’t take kindly to spam.

6.  Evaluate

Are you seeing results from your involvement in social media?  Know what metrics you should be evaluating.  You’ll be able to figure this out based on Number 1.  Start with the end in mind.  If it’s about making new connections, were you able to convert those online connections into real world meetings?  If you’re trying to grow you newsletter, how many new subscribers came as a result?

If you’re a manufacturing company, how are you implementing social media into your business?