Results from IHS GlobalSpec's annual survey of technical professionals and their use of social media are now available. While many larger studies have been conducted on social media and B2B marketing, this research is specifically focused on the manufacturing and engineering communities. This research report will help you understand how your target audience uses social media. It will recommend ways you can best use social media as part of your marketing strategy to connect with customers and prospects and meet your marketing objectives.
Social media continues to have a role in industrial marketing, and many companies now maintain a social media presence. However, you should approach social media within the context of your overall marketing efforts. Integrate social media into your marketing mix — but only at an appropriate level of investment and resources. For example: while the majority of technical professionals now use social media, most of them spend less than one hour per week on social media for work-related purposes, whereas they spend many more hours using other online resources for work.
Social Media Recommendations
1. Integrate Social Media into Your Overall Marketing Strategy
Think of social media as both a marketing channel and a marketing program. As a program, your social media efforts should be integrated with your overall marketing strategy.
Perhaps the best way to integrate social media into your strategy is in support of content marketing. Social channels are an effective way to promote and distribute content such as white papers, videos, webinars, articles, case studies and more. This is in keeping with how your audience of technical professionals engages with social media: as a way to seek out information and with a preference for watching and reading on social media as opposed to creating and posting their own social media content.
You should also integrate social media with your overall marketing efforts by including social media links (such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) on your website and in newsletters, and promoting your social media presence within your established marketing programs. For example, IHS GlobalSpec offers suppliers the ability to include their social media links within their company profile pages, helping to build awareness and relevancy for their social media efforts. Suppliers can also add video content to their IHS GlobalSpec product announcements and within their company profile.
2. Map Social Media to Marketing and Business Objectives
Social media is no different than other marketing initiatives and, as such, you should approach social media with a clear purpose and defined goals that map to your other marketing and business objectives. First understand your purpose and goals for social media—why you are using social media and what do you want to achieve. Is it increased brand awareness? Recognized thought leadership? Community expansion?
Once social media is mapped to other initiatives, it will be easier to make intelligent decisions about what social platforms to use, what level of resources you should devote to social media and what metrics you should track to determine your success.
3. Understand Analytics and Measurement
If you have been using social media but not measuring results, it’s time to take the next step. And if you’re just in the planning stage of using social media, include analytics and measurement as part of the planning process.
While social media may not have a direct impact on sales, it can definitely increase brand awareness, visibility and thought leadership, which will help prospects become more familiar with your company and help you connect with potential customers early in their buy cycle when they are conducting research and seeking information.
As for measurement, social media marketing tends to produce a wealth of data that can provide valuable intelligence. For instance: comments on LinkedIn discussions or number of times your company profile is viewed. Likes, comments, or shares on your Facebook posts. Number and length of video views. All this data can be captured and analyzed to measure the growth and success of your social media efforts.
4. Revisit Your Social Media Vision, Strategy and Goals
As your target audience of technical professionals becomes more social media savvy and as your organization matures in its use of social media, you will need to revisit your vision, strategy and goals. This research report helps you make social media decisions within the context of how your target audience engages with social media today. But social media is constantly changing and evolving, and your customers and prospects are changing with it as they become more comfortable with social media. Use customer behavior and your own social media analytics to optimize your use of social media.
5. Expand Social Media Efforts Beyond Marketing
Industrial marketers have an opportunity to encourage the technical professionals within their own companies to use their individual social media accounts to help get the company message out and build brand awareness. It’s like having extra hands on your team, which is extremely helpful because social media requires constant feeding and nurturing. Before engaging internal technical professionals, develop a social media policy that outlines your company’s principles and policies for communicating in the social sphere. Make sure you have clear social media usage guidelines for employees to follow.
View the research report, "Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector," to get survey findings, practical tips and recommendations to help you evaluate your social media efforts.