And What Small Companies Can Learn From Them.
Type in the search term “b2b social media” and you’ll get a lot of articles featuring tech companies like HubSpot and IBM. Manufacturing companies are usually pretty hard to find.
And small manufacturing companies doing social media? Forget about it.
But just because manufacturing companies aren’t on these lists doesn’t mean they aren’t on social media.
There are a lot of manufacturers using social media to interact with customers, grow their fan base, and create conversations about their industry. Although they might not have the same audience size as a consumer product, their audience can be just as engaged.
In this post, we are going to take a look at three manufacturing companies who are successfully using social media as part of their marketing, and why it works so well for them.
One of the first names to pop up on all lists of companies that do social media well is Caterpillar. Famous for manufacturing that bright yellow construction equipment, Caterpillar has made a name for themselves on YouTube as well. Their channel, Cat Products, has over 268K subscribers and features a variety of informational videos on their equipment and their company. The channel also features what they call “Cat Trials”, fun videos of people doing extraordinary things with Caterpillar equipment.
Why it works: If a picture is worth a thousand words, but video can be priceless! Video is a great way to explain complicated product features, or demonstrate capabilities and complex technologies to customers. Even more, the audience for these videos can be far wider that just your target purchaser – people continue to be fascinated in how things are made and used. Plus, social media is a great space for customers to share their own videos of how they use your products.
Will it work for a smaller company? While not everyone has access to a full production company, almost everyone has a cell phone with recording capabilities. With a little preplanning, it is possible to easily create short, entertaining or informative videos at very low costs.
Xometry is a one of the largest custom plastic injection molding companies in the US, with additional locations in Europe and Asia. Their customer base is wide and varied, both by industry and by geography. Xometry uses a combination of their website blog, Facebook and Twitter to reach out to this very different audience in a variety of ways, not only promoting their content and capabilities but events as well.
Why it works: The great thing about Xometry’s posting is its consistency. Their lengthy blog posts on multiple topics appear weekly. Their social posts are multiple times a day on informational and relevant topics.
Will it work for a smaller company? Not everyone has the staff to post multiple times a day and write lengthy blogs every week. Figure out what frequency you can manage and build out your calendar according to that. You will get better results posting once a month on a regular schedule than posting erratically and disappearing for long stretches.
Lincoln Electric is a 125 year old manufacturer of welding equipment and materials. Their customers include almost every type of industrial market. Although the depth of their content on their website is impressive, it is their Facebook page that truly stands out. With over 1Million followers, Lincoln Electric has created a dedicated fan base of end user (welder) and employee focused content, including tshirts, contests, and two hashtags for people to join in the conversation: #weldred and #weldrednation.
Why it works: Even though their corporate buyers may be on other sites, Lincoln Electric knows their core equipment end-user is on Facebook. Posting content that speaks directly to them has created a dedicated fan base that the company can communicate and engage with regularly. While these end-users may not be purchasing the equipment directly, they have a strong influence on what type of equipment is recommended and bought, and can influence their coworkers to recommend the products as well.
Will it work for a smaller company: The key to Lincoln Electric’s success on Facebook? They understood that their audience is more than just the person who buys their product. They also understood where to talk to them directly. While LinkedIn may be the first thought for b2b social media, don’t discount channels like Facebook or even Instagram. If that is where your end users are, that may be where you want to be as well. For smaller companies, identifying all of the potential customers (not just the buyers, but the end users as well) may be the key to the larger audiences all companies seek.
Important Lessons About Social Media for Manufacturing Companies
As Caterpillar, Xometry and Lincoln Electric have shown, social media can be a very effective tool for manufacturing companies. It can helping them connect not only with their customers but with a wider audience as well. For a small manufacturing considering adding a social media program to its marketing toolkit, here are some useful tips to get started.
5 Tips for Manufacturers to Start with Social Media
- Understand your audience. Who buys your product? Who uses your product? Are they the same person? Most likely they aren’t. As you start to plan your social strategy, keep all of these groups in mind.
- Focus on one or two channels to start. Identify the most likely channels for your audience and start with one or two of them.
- Create a consistent posting schedule. Can’t post more than two times a month? That’s okay. Just make sure that you stick to that schedule.
- Don’t be afraid to reuse content. Many manufacturing companies have a library of blog posts or videos that were done in the past. With a little updating, these pieces can make quick and easy content for engaging social posts.
- Keep an eye on things! Once you start on social media, it does need to be monitored. Luckily, there are several easy-to-use tools that help companies monitor their social media activity and make sure they respond to requests or comments in a timely manner.
Social media is used successfully by all sorts of manufacturing companies as a way to engage customers and find new audiences. Best of all, you can start to explore it without making a huge marketing investment. Isn’t it time you explored using social media as a marketing tool for your manufacturing company?
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Category: Social Media Marketing 101