Should Manufacturers use Social Media for Lead Generation?

September 23, 2017 / By Bruce McDuffee

Social media is not a strategy, and it is not a tactic. Social media is merely a channel, and it may or may not be an appropriate channel for your audience. As an example, many manufacturing companies feel compelled to put up a Facebook page without ever considering if their audience is active on Facebook and wants to engage in the content you offer there. As an example, suppose my company manufactures fancy widgets. My target audience is engineers who work at semiconductor manufacturing companies. It may be true that engineers who work at semiconductor companies are present on Facebook, but they likely are not on Facebook to advance their careers or to solve issues they face on the job. They are probably there to see what friends and relatives are doing in their lives and to share their own lives with pictures, stories, etc. If this is the case, does it make sense for the fancy widget company to put in any time and energy on Facebook? I will counsel restraint if your situation is similar. The caveat is, as with any marketing channel, that you should feel free to test it and see if your hypothesis is correct. Your preconception may be right, or it may be wrong.

facebook for manufacturing?

As a side note, Facebook has changed its algorithm significantly in the last year and continues to update the algorithm on a regular basis. With these changes, it has become clear that if you want your commercial message to show up in the feed or on the page, you have to pay. There is virtually no such thing as free organic reach on Facebook for any type of commercial message.

Make the same consideration for any social media channel: Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Disqus, Snapchat, SlideShare, et al. Ask and answer the question “Is my target audience present on this social media channel to consume the content I provide?” If the answer is yes, the channel may be viable to support your audience-engagement goals. If the answer is no, then you should not use the channel. Further, if you do answer yes, then determine if the channel will support your goals and your audience facing mission statement (AFMS).

Suppose you can answer yes for multiple social media channels, should you be on every channel that is a fit? It is tempting, but I suggest limiting activity in social media to fewer channels as compared to more channels. It is proven that regular, frequent, and relevant posting is more effective than sporadic posting. Naturally, it will depend on your marketing team resource pool, but few channels with more robust distribution of content are preferred over more channels with thin streams of content. As with any channel, be sure to measure engagement and, if possible, measure influence on pipeline and revenue to determine if you are getting a return on your marketing investment.

Should you choose to use certain social media channels as a tactic, be certain the posts are in line with the audience-facing mission statement. Every channel and activity must support the AFMS. Social media is especially susceptible to drifting away from the AFMS. It is easy to post on social channels and especially easy to fall into the pattern of pitching products. The same rule applies to social channels as to all channels as you adopt the new way strategy: STOP PITCHING PRODUCTS! Social media is suitable for engaging at the top of the funnel, assuming your audience is present as described above. If there is one thing you should have learned by now, pitching products does not work for top-of-the-funnel engagement, regardless of the channel.

Takeaway Actions:

  1. Audit your current social media activity. Determine which channels are active. Assess the level of activity on each social media channel and determine exactly who is posting and what they are posting. Is there a coherent strategy or mission behind the social media activity?

  2. If your firm is active on social media channels, is there a reason for posting that supports the business objectives? Has the reason been written down and agreed to by the stakeholders? If there is no reason, goal, or mission supporting the social media activity, consider putting resources elsewhere or create social media guidelines for company posting.

 

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