Manufacturing brands have been hesitant to join the ranks of other B2B organizations by using social media to engage with audiences. Many marketing managers in this space might think social simply isn’t relevant to their industry, others could assume their brand’s message might not connect to a social audience, and the rest might feel lost regarding what to post.
On the other hand, many manufacturing B2B brands realize that social isn’t just for tech and retail brands anymore, it’s actually crucial for their brands to appear on social media. In fact, 85% of manufacturers reported using social media in 2016, with more stating they planned to increase their efforts in the coming years.
As a manufacturing brand, if you aren’t on social media, you might struggle to remain competitive and relevant. The following checklist will help manufacturing marketers set themselves apart to attract leads and nurture prospects. Not only will you learn where to post, but you’ll learn what to post and when to achieve the most impact as you finally embrace social as a crucial component of your digital marketing campaign.
Let’s first discuss what platforms you should be appearing on.
The Best Social Platforms for Marketing Manufacturers
Facebook: While many think of Facebook as primarily a B2C platform, the social network is also being used by countless manufacturers, like Caterpillar, Seimens, and Maze Nails. Facebook is ideal for instant communication, which today’s consumers prefer, and for keeping up with audiences’ likes, dislikes, and most valued opinions.
Twitter: The world’s most popular micro-blogging social platform is used by Cisco, Toyota, and Boeing, to name a few. The network recently expanded its character limit from 140 characters to 280, which Cisco took advantage of and celebrated in grand fashion. Twitter can also help with immediate communication to inform your audience what your brand is up to, however,the usefulness of Twitter is based on its ability to connect with decision makers and influencers one-on-one.
Here’s Boeing thanking former Vice-President Pence, for instance, for visiting their Starliner factory.
YouTube: Everyone’s favorite video sharing site has been successful at promoting B2B brands across all industries. With over a billion users, the world’s second largest search engine (after Google, of course), has seen “how to” video searches increase by 70%. YouTube is a great way to showcase behind-the-scenes footage, share industry knowledge as a thought leader source, and feature the best ways to use your newest and most popular products.
LinkedIn: With nearly 80% of B2B organizations generating leads from LinkedIn, manufacturing marketers should take care not to ignore the world’s most popular business-related social network. If you’re stuck on what to post on LinkedIn, why not share all of your content? When you consider that 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content, now might be the time to jump on the LI bandwagon by sharing your blog posts, articles, ebooks, and even emails for more lead, prospect, and client engagement.
How to Post on Social for Maximum Reach & Engagement
Listen First: Before you post anything on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, listen to what your audience is talking about—and do your research. Search for competing brands and take plenty of notes on their posting message and style. This not only helps you devise a better brand strategy, as you can do what isn’t being done currently, but you’ll also know how to market differently than all the others. After all, you don’t want to sound just like the other guys when social posting.
Once you’ve spied on the competition, search for your own brand and look for hashtags involving your company name. You can also use tools like socialmention.com to discover what others are saying about your products. Of course, showing up at an industry event and hearing the words straight from clients’ and prospects’ mouths can also give you valuable content ideas.
Be Useful: People will pay attention to your social posts only if you offer something of value. The value you offer doesn’t have to be monetary in nature. It doesn’t even need to be a discount coupon. It can simply be a comedic or thought-provoking post that gets people laughing or thinking, and hopefully sharing with their colleagues. Toyota even goes so far as to use quotes from comedians, such as this quote on Twitter by late, great comedian Mitch Hedberg. What a way to get people’s attention outside of merely displaying beautiful cars.
Don’t Sell: The mistake many manufacturers make is trying to sell on social media. That will get your posts ignored or blocked altogether. People’s newsfeeds are jam packed and they won’t feel like putting up with sales pitches they don’t expect. Instead, they’ll want to follow of valuable posts that make their lives easier, better or more enjoyable (even for just a few moments). It gives your followers something to look forward to from your brand, and will leave them wanting more.
Be Different: Don’t do the same things every other manufacturer is doing on social. Caterpillar, for example, showcased a video on Facebook that gave viewers behind-the-scenes access to their manufacturing process. This is a unique perspective few other brands can offer in quite the same way. Additionally, try to tell engaging stories of your customers, staff, management, and shareholders. Use high-quality photos and video, and continuously strive for an out-of-the-box approach.
Create & Curate Content: It’s important to post newsworthy industry content in addition to your own. Experts suggest that you post your own content 60% of the time while “curating” content (or using other brands’ content) the other 40%. If you do this consistently, you will end up as a go-to source for your audience.
Incorporate User-Generated Content: Instead of spending lots of time searching for content to post, let your audience take some of the burden off your shoulders. User-generated content is content that is produced and shared by your audience. For example, a company focused on organization might ask followers to post a picture of their workspace while a brand that performs commercial landscaping might ask for examples of pristine curb appeal. UGC shows that your audience is paying attention and it gives you insight into who your consumers happen to be. Furthermore, Content that comes from your audience is usually fresh, engaging, and helpful for getting your brand noticed. Just take a look at this social post by JustMayo that asked followers to contribute their best uses for empty JustMayo jars in celebration of Earth Day.
You can even hold a contest for the best user-generated content, such as the one food manufacturer Buderim Group held when they asked followers to submit their photos for the Hottest Ginger contest.This is a fun way to get your audience involved, and also gives you plenty of content from them to repost—a win-win for everyone.
Join Like-Minded Groups: Community groups on Facebook and Linked can help you connect and communicate with other manufacturing markers. Here you can get new ideas, brainstorm best practices, and simply expand your connection web, which could lead to bigger and better marketing and sales opportunities down the line.
Combine with Other Digital Strategies: By offering your followers a free downloadable ebook, newsletter or blog post right from your social platforms. You can expand your reach even further while maximizing each element of your marketing campaigns. Social doesn’t have to be used alone, in other words. Instead, your social networks should become an enmeshed part of your overall digital campaign if you hope to get the most out of it.
Establish an Advertising Budget: Manufacturing brands can reach a mass of people with organic social posts, but paid advertising will extend your reach even further. With social platforms like Facebook restricting brands’ posts on news feeds, paid ads remain the most effective way of reaching out. Use paid advertising wisely, but use it if you want to be noticed on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
Track Your Results: Keep an eye on what’s working and what’s not so that you can duplicate your winning efforts over time. If you don’t keep an eye on your insights, you’ll be posting in the dark, basically, and you won’t know if your content is effective, be it created, curated, or paid. With insights readily available on most platforms, you should be studying them often so that your social media campaigns continually achieve maximum impact.
When Should You Post on Social?
This is going to be largely subjective because the frequency of your posts will largely depend on the preferences of your audience. However, many B2B brands have studied their outreach, and the following guidelines should help you find your posting sweet spot that appeases your followers and engagers.
Facebook: Traffic on Facebook is highest starting at 9 am to 4 pm Eastern Standard Time. Therefore, the best times to post tend to be between 1 pm and 4 pm. The worst times to post are between 8 pm, and 8 am.
Twitter: Traffic on Twitter peaks just after 11 am Eastern. Therefore, the best times to post tend to be Monday through Thursday between 1 pm and 3 pm. The worst time to post is between 8 pm, and 9 am.
LinkedIn: As suspected, traffic seems to build just before work and right after normal business hours (8 am to 5 pm Eastern). Therefore, the best time to post is between 7 am and 9 am and then again from 5 pm to 6 pm. The worst time to post on LinkedIn is from 10 pm to 6 am.
As a manufacturing brand, you can’t afford to ignore social any longer. With more B2B manufacturing brands reaching out on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, you need to jump on board if you hope to stay in line with the competition. As long as you post unique, helpful, and engaging posts, and you post during opportune business times, you should be able to achieve your campaign goals. Just remember to watch your insights, pay attention to trends, and amend your campaigns accordingly so that your posts always align with what your audience most prefers. That’s how to get far on social media as a manufacturing B2B brand.