April 2011
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Use Social Media to build your brand in Building Automation
Social Media is the new conduit to drive traffic to your company website

Manny Mandrusiak

Manny Mandrusiak
Managing Creative Consultant,
4 Bravo Marketing

Contributing Editor

 

Social Media is a true phenomenon and is used for more things that just socializing.  It has bridged the socialization gap, and now has some fantastic marketing possibilities.  The trick with social media is to understand what parts of it you need to maximize your marketing efforts, and how to effectively integrate it into your current marketing plan.

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To truly appreciate how big social media marketing is I urge you to pull up your three favorite websites on the internet.  Nine times out of ten each will have icons or links to social media sites.  The question to be answered is why?  Some will argue that no one cares that Charlie Sheen is “Winning” or that some rapper with gold teeth put out a new album.  Others will simply find the task of social networking to be too daunting for them to actually consider it when creating a corporate marketing plan.

From an Industrial Automation standpoint, companies need to look at social media marketing as a new conduit to drive traffic to their websites.  It is simply a new method of communicating and virally marketing products with the express goal of getting potential customers to your front door (website).  Ultimately a company that produces SCADA or HVAC systems wants only one thing – to increase leads and sell products.  This article will bust some of the myths associated with integrating social media into existing company marketing plans by demystifying some social media tools that will provide opportunities for B2B, B2C and network building.

Taking the first step into Social Media Marketing

Every journey towards success always begins with a single step.   Working with social media is exactly the same thing.  Making the decision to utilize social media is the first step, but new users of social media need to understand that it is more than just creating a profile and hoping someone sees it.  It provides both current and potential customers with the opportunity to see the human side of your business.  Customers can find a personal connection with your business. 

Tip – I sold cars at one time, and during my sales training the instructor gave me a piece of advice that directly applies to why corporation’s need to utilize social media. He said, “Eight out of ten people are not coming to the car lot to shop for a car.  They are actually shopping for the right sales person to sell them a car.”  Customers in the Building Automation vertical are no different than customers shopping for a new car.  The buying process is still the same, people buy from people that they like and can relate to. By opening up the more human side of your business using social media tools, customers will no longer view your company as a huge faceless conglomerate filled with robots producing products.  Social media tools provide the opportunity to allow your company to be a friend on their friend’s list, or someone they opt-in to follow.  Even before a consumer does any research on a product they will ask friends and colleagues that they trust about the brands and products that they buy.  Social media provides marketers the tools to influence these recommendations.

The “Big Three” in Social Media

There are tons of Social Media websites on the internet today, and it seems like there is another new one every week. There are simply too many to tackle in one article so this article will examine what I consider the “Big Three” Social Networking websites. Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook. (Future articles will cover sites like YouTube and Flickr).

LInked In  Linkedin – (www.linkedin.com) Relationships Matter

Linkedin was founded in 2003 and is the leading business-orientated social networking website on the internet.  I have heard it referred to as the “Business Facebook”, but is much more than that.  It is a place that makes professional connections with individuals and companies in your vertical that could lead to future projects or collaborations. Messages, product updates, and press releases can be easily shared with your network with simply the click of a mouse.

Human Resource professionals are using Linkedin to recruit new talent and post open positions.  It is a fantastic tool to quickly assess a potential employee’s skills and history before conducting an actual interview.

Linkedin is also considered an extremely useful B2B marketing tool; as well as a tremendous networking tool through the use of its Groups feature.  A company can create a Group (i.e. the Automatedbuildings.com Group on Linkedin) where individuals on Linkedin with an interest in Building Automation can network and post questions to be answered by peers.

The Automatedbuilding.com  Linkedin Group can be found here: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=16621084&trk=tab_pro

Twitter LogoTwitter- (www.twitter.com) The best way to discover what’s new in your world.

Twitter was founded in 2006, and has grown to a network of 190 million users.  Twitter employs a concept called “microblogging” or tweets.  Unlike a traditional blog post, a tweet is a 140-character burst of information where Twitter users share thoughts, opinions, and links.  A Twitter user can follow others on Twitter, and others can choose to follow you.  Users can engage in sending direct messages, or sending messages to the world.  A business can use Twitter to help build a targeted list of followers, and customer loyalty. Just like that old Vidal Sassoon shampoo commercial where a woman tells two friends, and then they tell two friends and so on, Twitter has quickly become one of the fastest ways of  B2C marketing on the internet thanks to the Retweet feature.

The Retweet feature enables a user to pass a long a Tweet from another user to all of their followers that they find of interest or value.  Hence the Vidal Sassoon reference of two friends telling two friends about a product.

Twitter example: www.twitter.com/emandrusiak

Tip – Due to the restriction of only 140 characters large website URLs will not fit in a tweet.  Use a website like www.tinyurl.com to make your longer URLs fit in your tweets.

FaceBook LogoFacebook – (www.facebook.com) Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.

It is hard to believe that the number one social networking tool on the internet started out as a means for college kids to connect.  Started in 2004, Facebook boasts over 500 million users worldwide.  According to Facebook, people spend an average of 700 billion minutes per month on the service sharing links, information, and videos.

For business use Facebook has what it calls Fan Pages. These can be used as a vehicle for both B2B and B2C marketing, but for the most part they still target customers who follow company pages.  These become rather tricky to get started at first as it can be difficult to recruit fans. People often get very discouraged when they start a Fan Page.  Just because you build it, does not mean they will come.  It just takes a little time to build a network.  Unless of course you already have a good network, and know others that do, your following could happen quickly.

One of my favorites is the US Cavalry Fan page.  http://www.facebook.com/uscavalry. This Company sells military clothing uniforms and equipment.  I have always been impressed with how the US Cavalry effectively uses their presence on Facebook to virally promote new products and product features with videos and product announcements. 

Facebook also provides marketers with the ability to create ads and drive customers to their business.   Some of the magic in these ads goes towards the sheer volume of users, and the amount of time that users are on Facebook every month. 

CatNet Systems Social Media Tips

Commitment – Ensure that you dedicate time to keeping your profile updated and post often.  There is nothing more disappointing than visiting a Blog, Twitter or Facebook site only to see that the last update or post was three months ago.  Not regularly posting tells followers that you are not committed to your profile; your company may not be committed to them as a customer.

Make content relevant – As with any other marketing activity you can’t engage perspective customers if you don’t create content relevant to them.  The content that you post needs to pertain to your market, and use terms that your customers can relate to.  Take the opportunity to answer questions, post articles, provide tips and advice, and keep your network informed about upcoming events and releases from your company.

Participate – Join groups!  It is a great way to build your network with people who have similar interests.  Groups are also a fantastic way to collect information about your products.  This feedback (good or bad) could be essential to improving your products or lead you to create a new product to solve a problem that your follower’s face.

Do not use Social Media to SPAM – Etiquette is a big thing on Social Media websites.  Customers will go to great lengths to avoid feeling like they are being pitched to.  To effectively use Social Media is to respect your customers.  Sending out mass messages frequently makes Social Media followers feel like they are being SPAMMED!  A more creative way to get the word out is to update your status or profile.  This is especially true on Facebook.  Followers will receive the update of your status and it will act as a hook to lure people to your page.  Similarly on Twitter post where you are being followed, or Retweet an interesting Tweet from one of your followers.

In summary, when choosing to add Social Media to your marketing plan remember to think of the Social Media profiles that you create as “pipelines” to your company website. The medium is still not as important as the message that your company sends out.  By keeping posts interesting, and posting regularly, you will keep your network engaged.  Engaged customers will naturally feel encouraged to not only become more familiar with your company, but will also be twice as likely to recommend your brand to friends and colleagues. Thus empowering your existing loyal customers to do the marketing and selling of your products for you.


About The Author:
4 Bravo Marketing is not a traditional consulting company.  It is an idea management and execution engine. “We take ideas and not only make them better, we make them reality”. 4 Bravo Marketing specializes in all areas of sales & marketing, lead generation, social media, event planning, motivational speaking, print and graphic design.   We have a passion for bringing industrial products to market, and generating new leads for industrial companies.  If you need a spark to ignite your current marketing plan, then contact 4 Bravo Marketing and let us find your plan to success.

Company website: www.4bravomarketing.com
Follow 4 Bravo Marketing on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/emandrusiak


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