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Embracing Social Media

About a year ago, our IT and marketing manager, Brian Harrington, proposed that our company should get involved with social media. He definitely had to sell me and my brother Trevor, our vice president, on the benefits of doing so, but his proposals made sense. His willingness to take the reins on the project convinced us. As IT and marketing manager, Brian is in a position that fully utilizes his information technology and marketing knowledge. 

A small part of his responsibilities in that position involves managing our Web presence, which includes our company Web site, blog, Facebook page and Twitter account, along with an e-mail newsletter. It seems like a lot of time online, but all in all, only about five percent of his time is spent working on social media. We have a ways to go yet to get the full benefit from these online tools, but we’re exploring them and having some success. 

Conveyer and Caster - Equipment for Industry IT & Marketing Manager Brian Harrington monitors the company's initiatives on social networking sites LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

 We started blogging about nine months ago with the intent to help drive traffic to our Web site. For example, when we have a news item, Brian posts it on our Web site. Then he posts something about it on the blog. When it gets posted to the blog, it is automatically tweeted to our Twitter followers. So we get three unique hits in the search engines for one piece of content. It’s cheap and simple marketing. 

We also are active on Twitter (@ccefi) and have found that to be pretty successful as well. I can’t point to one sale and directly attribute it to Twitter, but we have made good contacts. We are also on Facebook and are optimistic about its potential. From our perspective, the game is all about building traffic and providing content that the user finds valuable. 

Tips for Implementation
The reason we decided to pursue these avenues is simple: to stay on top of any opportunities to get the proper message out to our market audience. Twitter and Facebook are becoming recognized and useful ways of doing so in the industrial market, and I think, if used properly, these vehicles can enhance your company’s image. Of course, you can damage your company’s image if they’re not used properly-that’s why having someone like Brian to head this project is a big help. He is part of the “Internet generation” and is very dialed into the power of the Internet. He knows how to use the tools in our best interest. 

Brian leads the way on social media, but we are all responsible for giving him relevant content. We started out making two blog posts a day just to get some content up there, but now we’re down to posting about once per week. The goal is to create a relevant case study at least once per month, and we use that as the foundation for blog entries and our monthly e-newsletter. Eventually we will update our sites more frequently, but right now our market audience isn’t quite dialed in yet. 

Some of you might think it’s too risky, and yes, there is some risk involved. But it’s about balance. There’s risk along with every potential reward, and we believe it’s worth a small time investment to plant that seed with our customers. The goal isn’t necessarily to attract a buyer; the goal is to spark an interest and get our brand in their head. 

Let me close with some advice for those considering the jump into the social media waters. Like with traditional marketing, you’ll get the return from social media equal to what you put into it. If you don’t plan to use it or update it, then you’re better off staying out of that arena for now. You need to have a committed management team and a go-to person to manage the updates and keep current information on there. Be fully committed to it before you start. Have a plan regarding who is going to manage it and what you expect the goals to be. Set clear guidelines for how often you’re willing to update and how much time you are willing to have employees devote to it. 

Finally, be out there and be honest. Do not be fake. Social media is not marketing in the traditional sense-it’s a conversation, not a pitch. Be candid and make your site speak to your visitors. Do not use it solely to drive the marketing vision of the company. 

Social media is a vehicle for the future, just like the Internet was years ago. I believe it will get more traction, and we want to be on the leading edge rather than behind the curve

Material Handling Equipment Distributors Associtation
Meet the Author
Jeff Stohr is president of Conveyer & Caster – Equipment for Industry located in Cleveland, Ohio, and on the Web at www.cc-efi.com.

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