TechniksUSA is a very careful company and we like to do our homework in both our products and our marketing efforts. We’ve moved to almost entirely to digital marketing over the past few years because we paid very close attention to our SEO analytics and saw that many of our customers found us through web searches as opposed to magazine searches. In our view, the magazines have a smaller circulation than the broader internet audience.
TechniksUSA had been using YouTube for a number of years and several of our people where on LinkedIn and participating in some groups. In the summer of 2010 we started looking at the various Social Media outlets on a more serious basis when the AMT (The Association for Manufacturing Technology) announced an official Twitter #Hashtag for the IMTS2010 show. (Thanks LeeAnne & Diyana!) We quickly learned that we didn’t even know what we didn’t know. We hired a social media consulting agency who specialized in our industry to help us learn how to effectively develop our branding strategy and our tactical implementation of Social Media.
2. Which platforms meet your objectives the best and why?
Most people are probably familiar with things like LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Blogs and Twitter. We use each one of them and a few others like Foursquare and Gowalla and even publish a daily newspaper of industry information called the TechniksUSA #CNC #Mfg Daily. We’ve found that customers visiting our facility really find our Google Mapsprofile helpful too. We also use several monitoring tools to manage and analyze our audience and their likes and dislikes so we stay on the right subject that are helpful to our customers.
What we have found is that each of the platforms is in a continuous state of enhancement. The functionality of each of them seems to change and improve almost weekly.
We treat each of our Social Media platforms as their own discussion. When we exhibit at Eastec, a Mid-Atlantic show,we try to have a good understanding of the types of work our customers are doing in that market and what they expect from us at that show. The same applies when we exhibit at IMTS, a North American show. The customers who visit us at medical device shows have different needs and expectations. In our Social Media platforms we recognize the different expectations of each platform too. The people that visit our YouTube channel have a different expectation than those who LIKE us on Facebook or those that follow us on Twitter.
Blogging – For many years we’ve complied reams of technical information to assist our customers. Often times our inside sales people are sending our PDF documents and some of them are pretty big files that don’t always download as quick as they need them in the field. We’ve started to post these to our blog site so that we can just send them a link to see it. With so many people using mobile technology it’s faster and easier to get to the specific technical information. As part of that process we’ve also started recommending that our customer install the “Whiteboard” app on their phones so that they can take a quick picture of the problem, email us and then draw on the picture live on our desktop. It’s really improves our customer service levels.
YouTube – We’ve created a number of product videos and some more –in-depth technical videos on usage and maintenance of our products. Some of them are sales oriented but we’re finding that our customer really appreciate the ‘after sale’ technical videos for in-shop training. We’ve also tried to make it easier for them find the videos that interest them by creating “playlists” on each product subject.
We’re planning on more videos and are thinking about some promotions to our friends and subscribers to our channel so we hope more people hit “subscribe” or “add as a friend” when they visit us (please add in our corporate link:
Facebook – We created a Facebook page in anticipation of the changes we foresee on the horizon. From what we are seeing they are quickly creating more and more functions to enable companies to use it for business. It seems that Facebook is in the process of competing with Google for people to find things that are relevant to their needs. We’ve found that many more of the younger engineers in our industry have Facebook on their smart phones, so we post our events and helpful information on our Facebook Page so that when they get together with their boss for dinner after Eastec they can pull up everything they saw at the show right on Facebook. It’s much easier than searching for the videos or blog information when it’s all in one convenient place.
Twitter – Twitter has been an interesting learning curve for us. It’s has it’s own language. We were not sure about Twitter at first but our consultant had recommended it to us as the “junction box” for everything. We’re finding that to be very true. By managing our Twitter account properly we can generate a daily paper, TechniksUSA #CNC #Mfg Daily, for our customers see exactly what interests them. It’s not all about our products either. It’s about the state of the manufacturing industry based upon the kinds of work our customers do. Again, we where somewhat concerned about jumping into Twitter at first. This past December we read a PEW study that said only about 7-8% of the people in North America are using Twitter. Recently we read a GlobalSpec study that said that about 15% of engineers are using Twitter. It seems that manufacturing is adopting the Twitter platform at twice the rate of the general population. We’ve found that the information people share with us on Twitter to be absolutely amazing. Our Field sales force can be in a shop talking about our products and letting our customers know about applications that may be arriving from their customers and how our tools can provide a solution to a problem they don’t have yet…. All because the new project was announced by someone we follow on Twitter. This all translates to us bringing more value-added to our customers than our competitors.
3. How do you handle the concerns (ROI, time, etc.) some have about use of social media in business?
It’s part of our business. We view it as another tool to better service our customers. We adopted email when we started the company when everyone was still using fax machines. We have smart phones. We view it as tools to respond faster and more effectively to our customers needs. If one of our customers wants us to use a piece of technology that enables them to be more competitive then we want to be using that platform. We’ve found that Social Media has really enhanced our entire value proposition.
4. What is the best way for a manufacturer to start using social media?
Do your homework. We’ve seen companies create personal sites on Facebook instead of company pages. We took a very serious look at all of the potential social media platforms we wanted to use and even those that we might want to use in the future. Because we think we have a good understanding of how search engines work we decided to ‘reserve’ our “TechniksUSA” brand name in many platforms.
Develop a plan. We spent quite a bit of time and energy thinking about our expectations and our customer’s expectations in each Social Media platform. We watched how some people just blasted out a Sales Message for hours on end and made sure that we didn’t become one those people. Just like our customers don’t build things with out a part print you need to have a plan.
Make sure that you’re ready to engage. We launched our Social Media in September 2010. We learned quite a bit. We slowed down our engagement efforts and re-worked how we’re doing some things. In hindsight, that has really worked out well for us. We had been contemplating our wish list for a brand new website that’s scheduled for this summer. The things we’ve learned from our Social Media experience has made us look at some functions we hadn’t considered previously.
o We know about the digital space
o We use pull interactions
o We leverage virtual communities
o We use the tech we recommend
o We understand consumer behavior
o We think strategically.
o We implement tactically
o We have Branding capabilities
o We have Creative capabilities
o We know how to measure success
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