Navigating complex manufacturing sales cycles can be overwhelming. So, social media marketing may be the last thing on a manufacturer’s radar. But it doesn’t have to be – keep reading for 8 social media steps manufacturers can take.
Manufacturing sales cycles are longer because they involve more than one decision maker and require more education for purchase decisions. But great news: Social media for manufacturers can ease this cycle by raising brand awareness, helping key decision makers become ready to buy even faster. This article will discuss:
- Why social media is challenging for manufacturers
- Why manufacturers shouldn’t ignore social media marketing
- 8 social media steps to help raise brand awareness and drive leads for your company
B2B Social Media Marketing: Challenges & Opportunities for Manufacturers
Today, there are almost 5 billion people on social media. While users join social media platforms to share content with friends and connections, it’s also a great place for companies to push their products and services. However, this looks a little different for B2B companies compared to B2C.
In the B2C realm, social media can be used to sell directly to a customer for quick revenue.
On the other hand, B2B social media marketing is all about building brand awareness and attracting potential leads.
And it works.
In the B2B realm, 84% of company executives use social media to help inform their purchase decisions. Many manufacturers have caught on to this, with 85% of manufacturers already using social media marketing – according to a recent Content Marketing Institute (CMI) report.
It’s clear that social media is not unheard of for manufacturers – and there’s hard proof that social media influences B2B purchase decisions. So what’s the biggest barrier?
The CMI report highlights that 59% of B2B manufacturers have a small or one-person marketing team. Of all the marketing activities you could be doing, social media is likely last on your to-do list. It can be an intimidating marketing method, especially without the proper professional marketing expertise and time to devote to it.
However, there’s already space for manufacturers on social media! Let’s take a close look at 8 steps manufacturers can take to get their social media up and running.
8 Social Media Steps for Manufacturers
- Identify Your Audience
- Choose a Platform
- Build Your Network
- Determine Type of Content
- Determine Posting Cadence
- Identify Cheerleader Employees
- Craft Employee Advocacy Plan
- Monitor and Report Results
1. Identify Your Audience
Identifying your audience is critical to developing an effective social media marketing strategy. Here are some questions to consider when identifying your audience:
- Who are they, and what role do they hold in their company? Are they Engineers, MRO or Procurement Managers?
- What are their personas? Are they leaders? Do they like to make decisions?
- Do they influence purchase decisions? Do they have a say in what products/services should be purchased?
- What social platforms are they using? Are they on one platform or more than one?
With a bit of extra research, you can better understand your audience and determine which platform is ideal for your company. This will help you target the right audience and spark engagement.
2. Choose a Platform
There are many platforms to choose from, but not every platform will be effective for your company. Remember, every platform serves different purposes.
So, what social media platform should manufacturers be on? The 2022 CMI reported eye-opening facts about the platforms manufacturing marketers use (and saw the best results on).
- LinkedIn: 93%
- Facebook: 86%
- YouTube: 80%
- Twitter: 66%
- Instagram: 61%
Manufacturing marketers (and manufacturing marketing agencies) saw the best results on LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube – indicating that’s where their audience is.
After choosing a platform, you want to ensure that your company’s profile page is completed. This includes all fields such as company name, location, employee count and about. Filling out all these fields ensures the user that your company is real and ready for business.
3. Build Your Network
After selecting a platform and building your profile, it’s time to build your network – and ultimately client relationships.
Unlike personal pages, company pages can’t follow other profiles. So, tell your family, friends, employees and existing clients to follow your company’s social media platforms. Then, when your followers interact with your company’s content, their network will be introduced to your company. This could spark some additional interest and engagement.
As a company profile, you can (and should) interact with your follower’s content. This includes liking, commenting and sharing their posts. Genuinely interacting with other people’s content will show a human side to your company, helping you maintain relationships and stay top of mind.
4. Determine Type of Content
Like social platforms, different content types serve different purposes. You can share things like:
- Case studies
For instance, if you want to show how a machine at your manufacturing facility works, a video is a great idea. A blog can provide valuable and more detailed information on a question your customers usually ask, and an infographic can highlight key points from the blog in an easily digestible format.
According to CMI, within the last year, 86% of manufacturers shared videos, 83% shared short articles/posts, and 70% shared virtual events/webinars/online courses. Manufacturers discovered that video produced the best results on social media – which is no surprise, as it’s one of the most engaging and easily digestible types of content.
5. Determine Posting Cadence
You know where and what you want to post – but how often and when you post matters, too. In fact, due to tricky algorithms, post timing and cadence impacts whether or not your audience will actually see your content at all – even if they follow you.
In any industry, it’s best to post two to three times a week, Tuesday through Thursday. The optimal times to post for manufacturing companies are 12 – 3 PM.
It’s not an exact science, though. Test your post timing and cadence to try to find when your audience is most active.
6. Identify Cheerleader Employees
A cheerleader employee is an employee who is enthusiastic about amplifying your brand on social media. This includes liking, commenting and sharing your company’s posts and supporting other employees with their social media.
- Who in your company would you consider a leader?
- Who is enthusiastic about the company brand and mission?
- Who is determined to become educated about social media marketing efforts?
Whoever came to mind when reading those questions is who you want to assign as your cheerleader.
You can take this a step further by creating a formal employee advocacy plan, which leads us to our next social media step for manufacturers.
7. Craft Employee Advocacy Plan
The goal of an employee social media advocacy plan is to raise awareness about your manufacturing company’s social media presence and help boost brand recognition, potential qualified leads and recruitment. For employees, it helps them grow their networks and grow in their careers.
An employee advocacy plan can be as simple as a PowerPoint presentation that looks like this:
- Slide 1: Define social media advocacy.
- Slide 2: Explain why it matters.
- Slide 3: Educate employees on how to build their professional profiles.
- Slide 4: Educate employees on the ways to engage on social media.
- Slide 5: Offer incentives for participating.
8. Monitor and Report Results
At least once a week, you should monitor your social media platforms. This includes responding to comments and messages and ensuring everything is running smoothly – links are working, images are pulling right and comments aren’t going unaddressed.
Social media audits are more extensive reviews that can be done every 3-6 months. The results can be reported to your team to identify strengths and opportunities within the social media marketing strategy moving forward.
It’s important to track and monitor your social media in these ways to quantify your success. Social media management tools can help, or you can use the analytics features on each platform.
- How much website traffic did social bring in?
- What were the engagements and impressions for that reporting period?
- What are people saying about your brand?
These 8 steps make social media for your manufacturing company and employees easy – helping you build brand awareness and push potential leads through the funnel.