A study by the Content Marketing Institute found that 85% of manufacturers are using social media as a means of content marketing. The most popular platforms, in order of importance, were LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
While most manufacturers have at least some level of social media use, many are not optimizing it to reach their full social potential. And many marketing experts say social media can have a significant positive impact on customer relations, the brand and the bottom line if the manufacturer targets the right audiences with the right strategies.
Here are 4 ways social media can boost your manufacturing operations.
1. Educate your customers. Manufacturers can use social media such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to educate and more efficiently inform their customers on their products. Chris Kelley, marketing consultant at V2 Marketing Communications, said manufacturers are producing everything from how-to videos to product feature videos and behind-the-scenes peeks into their production. “YouTube lets manufacturing companies tell the story behind their brand and provide educational industry content in a video format,” said Kelley.
2. Build brand awareness. As digitization changes and varies the path to market, manufacturers are playing a more direct role in their own branding. They’re going beyond providing their distributors with marketing collateral and reaching out directly to the consumers themselves to cultivate stronger bonds between production lines and consumers. Kelley said manufacturers also should be active in online discussions and engage in “two-way conversations” as a means of increasing their brand visibility. Sara Greesonbach, content developer at Whittington Consulting, said manufacturers should strive to find the “non-boring” angles on how their organization serves a larger public, then tap into it to create engaging content.
3. Enhance B2B relationships. Manufacturers can leverage social media to build and strengthen their B2B relationships with distributors, supply chain vendors and trading partners. Ed Rusch, vice president of corporate marketing at Elemica, said that insight gathered from social media can offer visibility into various issues of supply chain, competition and industry. Social media can enable supply chain participants to monitor events and transactions to keep all parties up-to-date on delays or failures. “Social media can provide companies with more timely and insightful information about risks and events, enabling them to make corrective action sooner and thus minimizing the impact of a supply chain disruption,” said Rusch.
4. Gain customer feedback. Social media offers manufacturers a way to gain a direct relationship with their customers and obtain more feedback during product development. Kelley says manufacturers should follow their customers on Twitter and get fans on Facebook. They should also use social media listening tools to learn more about what customers and non-customers are saying about their brand. While social media also can make negative feedback public, it also gives the manufacturer a public high-profile place to address customer concerns.
Overall, social media is a great way for manufacturers to engage their customer base and build stronger, more loyal relationships.