- A. I wasn’t a competitor,
- B. Perhaps he should be connected to his competitors if he is that unsure of his customer relationships and
- C. It’s difficult for me to trust people who don’t seem to trust anyone else, as I find that the people most paranoid about trust are almost always the most untrustworthy people I meet.
I was sent an invitation to connect with someone who’s newsletter I have been receiving for many years. I found the information very informative and helpful in many cases. However, when I talked to him about his locked down connections he told me “I don’t want my competitors to see who I know” I explained that
A shorter version of this article appeared in the American Machine Tool Distributor’s Association “ToolTalk” newsletter in October 2010 starting on Page 4.
Is Social Media a Fad?
Social media is generating the same conversations today. The big difference is that the “tools” to use and manage social media are expanding exponentially and will continue to expand. The pace of change in the last 18 months in Social Media would be like moving from NC Tape Machines to full integration of MT Connect in the same time period.
….It’s not a fad.
Should I just wait to “get in?”
You already know that that is not realistic. But that is the same kind of thinking that is taking place in Social Media.
“Hey, we can just set up a Twitter account in a few minutes”
Well, yes you can, but, just like the first time buyer of a machine tool, there’s still an awful lot to learn. The sooner you start learning, the farther in front of your competitors you’ll be. This is a pro-active approach. Too many b-to-b companies, particularly exhibitors at IMTS, took a reactive approach. They jumped in and created their “social media brand names” without first having personal accounts so they understood how it works.
So the best way to learn is to set up some social media personal accounts.
Start with your LinkedIn Profile.
Be Sure to read the article Social Media for Industrial Marketing, Part 1: LinkedIn for more details.
What are the best Social Media places to be as a Machine Tool Distributor?
YouTube – It’s the simplest way to enable your sales force to have all of their product videos in one place. You don’t need to re-create the wheel or even upload any videos.
You can go in and “favorite” your builder’s videos after you create your own channel.
You can read more about this here: Social Media for Industrial Marketing, Part 2: YouTube
Twitter – “Twitter’s like snack food: it tastes good, it’s fun to eat but there’s no nutritional value” In some sense, the above statement is true. But with two BIG caveats: It’s all in what you make of it, and, most importantly, it's a FOUNDATION level application.
Without going into a lot of detail about API’s and tech jargon, what you need to know is that Twitter connects to almost everything.
It’s like the junction box in an electrical system.
Want to learn more? Click here: Social Media for Industrial Marketing, Part 3: Twitter
Blog – “I don’t know what to write about, I don’t have content” Press releases, news articles, technical information…. Cut and paste. There is lots of content available.
Obviously, clear all of this with the content owners. Actually a Blog is one of the very best things you can create. Think about this for a moment. When you type a search into Google, you don’t type just “CNC” you type what you are looking for: “cnc swiss screw machine multi axis.”
You have learned over the years that by typing more information you are more likely to find exactly what you are looking for in a topic.
Facebook – “That’s for kids.” Step back from any preconceived notions and think about this from a business standpoint. There is a war going on. Two data collection monoliths, Facebook & Google, are each trying to outdo each other.
In April 2010 Facebook announced at their annual “F8” conference the “Open Graph”: That’s why you are seeing the “LIKE” button appear everywhere. Here’s why that’s important: If you recall the first time you got a day planner you learned that you should not only put your business appointments down but also soccer games, weddings and personal events.
Time management 101. Your life is 24 hours a day. Facebook at it’s core is personal. But your personal life affects your business and vice-versa. Facebook collects personal data and associates it with your interests. If your title is “CNC machinist,” it permits advertisers to target that.
Although Google has a massive database, they have not “aggregated” demographics as deep down as Facebook. They are both competing for ad space. If you were at IMTS in Chicago and logged into Facebook, you may have seen some ads running. But you would have only seen them if you were with in 5 miles of McCormick Place, between 7pm -10pm, were male, between 35-55, and had some keyword in your profile indicating you were in our industry.
The “pay-per-click” cost .60 cents each and had a cap on the amount spent by the advertiser. Yes, you can do that level of targeted advertising. Creating a Facebook Page is a way to become “engaged’ and be in front of your customer when they get home from work. The busiest time on Facebook is Wednesday and Friday evening, but we’ll talk about that more later…
Where are my Customers?
They are “IN” all for the above digital spaces and probably another 1,000 more.
Have you ever purchased something online? Have you looked down at the product reviews and decided against the purchase of something because of the reviews? Then, did you think “Wow, I wonder why that manufacturer isn’t reading that and fixing it? They’re getting really bad press” The problem is that the manufacturer may not even know about the comments to address them. But B-to-B consumers ARE researching and engaging each other.
There are a number of free products out there to use to search for who’s talking about what. I would recommend going to Social Mention and type in your company name and brands and see what appears. You will find that you can drill down and drill down more and then drill down even more into exactly who is talking about what where.
Where to Start
“I’ve gotta interpolate down and then ramp into this corner with a ½” tool at an 8 thou chip load and I need a 32 finish. Which is better Linear guides vs. box ways? How’s your look ahead on that?”
The first time you heard that it would have been like a foreign language. Social Media also has it’s own language:
“I put the hashtag in the summary blog post & the metatag to increase my SEO”
So where do you start? You can’t arrive in our industry green and expect to know everything. Same thing applies for social media.
Start with a personal account on:
The first step is really about “learning” about how to use these tools for your business.
What NOT to do & Where to begin
Places like Knowem allow you to search for brand names.
You want to use the same Brand name in ALL of your social media spaces.
There are several considerations in the selection of THAT name:
There’s a big difference between watching Golf and playing Golf at a professional level. Social Media is no different that other professional efforts: Once you become in engaged in it you learn that it’s probably not as simple as you first thought.
In the course of talking to prospective clients I’ve found a mixed bag of comments that all go something like “I got plenty of people who are on Facebook all the time, you can create an account in 5 minutes”
Selecting your Social Media Brand NAME
Unlike when you registered your website with a registrar for your unique URL, which was all overseen via ICANN, there is NO singleplace that you can register all of your SOCIAL MEDIA brand name. The key to words there are “Brand NAME” and not “Brand NAMEs”. You have to create a profile in each SM space you want to present your brand individually.
As a marketer you already know the importance of using consistent images and names. It becomes even more important in social media because you want people to find you when they use a search engine. If you have a mixed bag of names your message may not reach the people you want to reach and, like two ships passing in the night, you will never engage in conversation. One very good service to use to begin the process is Knowem. However, Knowem doesn’t help you establish your brand in your industry specific niche forums.
Read the “Terms of Service” (TOS)
I’ve talked to some very well-known major companies about their Social Media efforts. When we sit and look at their SM spaces we discover that they’ve “jumped into” social media “Oh yea, we’re there!” But then we dig into it only to find that they have set up their company name as personal account and not created a COMPANY profile at all. They at risk with not only with the loss of the SM account but also the loss of all of the conversations that they are engaged in already.
Just like entering a new foreign market there are cultural “rules” that should be followed. By not showing respect for the local culture, and taking the time to understand it in advance, you risk creating a negative brand image that could take years to recover from to get back to zero. Don’t burn your bridges and not even realize that you’re doing it. Social Media spaces have their own culture. You are entering a cyber world. Be sure to have a good understanding of how things work before you make the trip.
Linking your Social Media
Once you have selected a brand NAME in your various spaces, you will need to have a good understanding of how the various “Status Updates”, “Wall Posts”, “Tweets”, “Blog Posts”, etc all connect together. The people you want to reach may be in one SM space while you’re posting, at that moment, in another. Determining which posts are shared and which are not becomes a very important decision.
There’s quite bit more to think about that I’ve put into the slide show below. Take a peek at it:
The above slideshow presentation should give you an overview of how to start your social media efforts. It outlines the reach and scope of social media (SM) for those new to the space.
Getting in & Staying IN the Space
Once you have gotten into the new cyber world to market your brand, stay acutely aware that the landscape in social media is changing. I’ve compared it to the 1849 Gold Rush in San Francisco. Everyone is new, Everyone is from somewhere else. What was the “best place” last week is not the “best space” this week. That’s led some to say “Let’s wait, and not be on the bleeding edge” The Bleeding Edge was several years ago and it was yesterday. The onslaught of new users hourly entering the social media cyber world is beyond compare.
Here’s an example, when I started using Slideshare as an add-in app on my LinkedIn profile it was NOT a social network. It was a place to put slideshows to pull up on customer & client computers. NOW, it’s a social network…. and the added functionality is expanding weekly it seems. Every social media site is doing the same. As they grow, they are becoming more and more niche, more and more industry specific, more and more topic specific. Getting IN is critical at this point so that you, and your company, can establish your brand as a thought leader and engage and develop relationships…. but, you MUST stay engaged and continue to drill down as the individual spaces evolve.
I recently had a conversation with a client about YouTube and how it has evolved. I showed them Don Fitchett‘s YouTube Channel Business Industrial Network. Don has been in that space (and many many others) for some time. He has over 430,000 upload views, has 1500 subscribers staying current with his latest news and he has over 5,000 friends. That didn’t happen overnight. Don is continuously engaged with his clients and potential clients. Now ask yourself two questions:
Conclusion and Take-Aways
The conclusion that should be drawn after reviewing this is that developing a structured Social Media Strategy and Tactical implementation plan is crucial to your company’s success.
Without a plan you may find yourself creating a negative brand image within the space and end up spending more money trying to undo what you created and start over.
I look forward to your comments and questions.
Special Thanks to @RonDavies for blogging about “Knowem”
It makes it pretty difficult to reconnect. Now, what happens if you meet someone and they’re looking for a product or service, and you know just the person in one of your groups who does EXACTLY what they’re looking for.
You click the “Add Christopher to your network” to contact him and Voilà! Turns out you where trying to do a good deed, but looks like that business is going somewhere else…. and it’s all because of the settings are closed down.
I've been asked a lot of late "How can we start to sell our stuff on Social Media?" Well, the first thing you're going to need to do is let people source and buy FROM Social Media!
If your network is locked down and there are different permissions for different people, you're going to have problems. If your marketing people post something and get a technical question that they cannot answer they won't be able to kick it over to an engineer, because she WON'T BE ABLE TO SEE IT if your network is locked down.
Step 1: Open your network. Remove your firewall for your employees so that they can gain access to LinkedIn, Twitter & YouTube. Some larger companies have some functions open and others closed. As an example, if you can access LinkedIn, but not get into the groups, then there is not going to be ANY conversations. (remember, Conversations is one of the 4C’s discussed in What Are the 4 C's of Social Media?). Let your employees access Social Media!
Step 2: Appoint a Leader. It’s going to be very important that someone take charge of the effort if it’s not going to be you. Keep in mind you can make it a team effort and several people can be in charge of different efforts at different times. If you choose to go with the “Team” route be sure to set up a schedule for who’s doing what and when…. and stick to it.
Step 3: Create a Persona. There are several divergent schools of thought on whether or not Companies should have their logo as the profile picture, whether there should be a person’s name associated with the your social media sites, etc. I suspect it really depends on the size of your company and what you hope to accomplish.
Give us a call and we'd be happy to set up a call to have that conversation!
As a follow up to my previous posting “What’s all this about Social Media and where do I start?” Several people have written and asked for some more details. I realize that I presented an awful lot of connections and links and it left some folks completely new to the subject dazed and confused.
I’m realizing that many of the folks connected to me only have a few connections, incomplete profiles and probably aren’t getting much out of LinkedIn. In this posting I’m going to explain what social media outlets we chose as an industrial distributor. I’ll break this down into the social media categories, and then walk you through some of the basic steps of getting started. I also try to give you a time estimate of how long it will take you to get the “basics” in place.
Out of all the social media sites available we chose FOUR outlets. Hopefully after you are done with all three parts of this posting you’ll feel less like the blind men discovering the elephant.
LinkedIn (Total Time: 15-45 minutes, depending on your profile)
Start by clicking the link below. Hit the back button when you’re done viewing. It’s probably a good idea to open another window to edit your LinkedIn account while you go through the slides. I’m going to go into more detail below about slides 29 & 30 so don’t worry if you don’t get it at first.
View more presentations from Concept Hub, Inc.Getting started with LinkedIn is very simple, and, since you’re probably reading this from my LinkedIn profile connection you probably have at least the start of your profile complete. Regardless, take a look at this slideshow and make sure that you haven’t missed anything.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been on LinkedIn since my neighbor told me about when she was a beta tester (Thanks Cindy!) It’s been interesting watching it evolve and content features been added. However, that’s also a problem. New features get added that are great and you don’t always know about them until you see the changes in your other contacts. Which is a another good reason to look at your connections 😉
Ok, watch the slide show in the link above, Complete the basic steps and then we’ll move on. If you haven’t watched it yet.
——————-> LinkedIN Basics
Setting up Your Company Profile. Here's Why it's Important
Why is my Company Profile so important? GROUPS!
Having your company profile in place is important for Groups. But before we dive into groups, look again to the right and notice the”Connections” area of the upper profile. You already know that you can click on the Connections to see who you might know in your friends connections. This is afterall a social network.
If you where to scroll all the way to the very very bottom of my profile you would find the following statement. The items in bold are the important part.
“I prefer to only be contacted by people I know, have met personally, or have had business, professional contact. or dialogue with in some forum. I welcome new connections from members of groups that I am actively involved in but I prefer not to connect until we have communicated. I am not an open networker and I do not wish to submit my connections to “business trolling”. I hope you understand and appreciate my position on this issue.
As it was explained to me when I first learned about LinkedIn: “It’s like a networking group based upon the “Six Degrees of Separation”
Wikipedia says: “The LinkedIn professional networking site operates on the concept of how many steps you are away from a person you wish to communicate with. The site encourages you to pass messages to people in your network via the people in your 1st-degree connections list, who in turn pass it to their 1st-degree connections.”
LinkedIn has blossomed into a very useful business tool with Groups and Answers sections, but the basic premise of the site is whom do you know that I know, how can I help you network and conversely how can you help me network.
That said, I am wary of people whom I link to who have their connections locked down. IMHO, it flies in the face of the very basic concept of LI as a networking tool. If you invite me to connect, and your connections are closed, I will send you an email in this regard.
You may have your reasons for locking your connections and I certainly respect that. I feel that I am connecting with people whom I respect and who I may contact one day with opportunities for their professional advancement or, conversely, whom I might contact with a question. For that reason I will only maintain connections with those people who make their connections available to their 1st level” contacts."
Groups (Total Time to find & join: 5 minutes)
David Erickson has a great blog post entitled “LinkedIn Best Practices for Business“. It’s worthwhile to check out if you have a few minutes to read more. But, if you don’t here’s what he says about Groups:
If you’re a member of any of the groups that I’m a member of you can either click on my profile or you can search for other groups under the group drop down or the search area to the right of the header on your LinkedIn page.
Starting your own Group
Once you’ve mastered some of these basics you soon start to realize that maybe you yourself should start a group. If you’re a manufacturer, you could start one only for your distributors, if you’re a machine tool builder, one just for your dealers, a distributor, one for your customers. Agents can start groups for their distributors… there are really endless ways you can use the group functions to create the “conversations” so often talked about in social media.
If you start a group. Your Invitation Filtering should look like what you see above. Otherwise, your members aren’t going to be able to connect with you. There’s some great ideas on creating and managing your own LinkedIn Group at Mashable “8 Tips for Managing a LinkedIn Group” The list is below and the details are at the link. It’s worth delving into if you want some more information.
One final note on Groups. If you start a group be prepared to support it and get responses. If you watched the Facebook F8 video above you’ll hear about a problem called the “rule of 5” If someone comes into your group and they don’t see 5 people they know they’ll probably not participate. So if you’ve got a email list of the members you want to invite, send them all an invite to LinkedIn, followed by an invitation to join the group.
Social media is about connecting and building relationships – talking to people. Taking part in discussions gets you noticed as well as keeps the conversation going and the sharing of information, viewpoints and knowledge
So, for goodness sake, if you start a group and ask questions and topics start rolling for goodness sake answer and respond!
I hope that you found this informative. Please feel free to add any comments. I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of Linkedin so if you have some observations or insights please feel free to leave a comment (and yes, I’m working on unlocking it so your comments post immediately but I’m still learning about all the WordPress functions so bear with me)
Thanks for reading 🙂
Where do your customers LAND somewhere when they search the Internet?
The Common Actions Desired of Your Company Landing Page:
Ok, Now let’s take a look at your options to drive traffic to your website:
Do you have any idea how MANY social media sites there are?!??! Take a Look at this link on a List of Social Media Sites.
Which ones are best for your company?
Before you get overwhelmed let’s dig a bit into the Big names:
It started in 2004 and was originally limited to Harvard students. In 2006 anyone over the age of 13 could join. In 2007 Facebook created an area called Pages that enabled companies to create profiles for themselves. And in 2009 they introduced a LIKE button for users to click on and let people and companies know what they liked.
LinkedIn is fast becoming THE business tool of social networking. Rather than summarize why just click this link to find the 33 Ways to Use LinkedIn for Business
At a minimum create a company profile page for your company.
You can take a look at the company profile we created for Highlander Tool Company here. It’s pretty simple to create. One thing you will notice is that we have taken our brand message very seriously. The message we set up is to communicate what we do and who we are. …and we’ve used essentially the same message for every social media profile. (So once you create ONE you can cut and paste, albiet with some editing, for all of your Social Media sites.
Creating a YouTube channel was really driven out of necessity.
Below is an excerpt of an email I sent to everyone in our company when we launched our YouTube channel:
“I wanted to make you aware that this weekend I worked on finally getting a central place where you can show customer’s product videos from their computer while visiting their facility."
This presents some pretty big cross-selling opportunities!
So, How Do You Get Customers to Land Where You Want Them To?
Each one of the above social media website always you to let people who follow you about new products and to direct them back to the exact landing page you want.