What can you learn from the social marketing experts in plastics?

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A few weeks ago I asked Plastics Blog readers who had tried their hands in social marketing to share their best experiences.

Since then, I've been following those companies, and I've been quite impressed with their efforts.

I had promised to give away copies of Eric Schwartzman's book, "Social Marketing to the Business Customer," to the best three ideas. Today I'll share the winning ideas, along with a bit more information about the companies.

First up is John Spevacek, author of the "It's the Rheo Thing" blog, which I started following after his post. John writes about a wide variety of topics -- sometimes fun, sometimes technical, always with an authoritative voice and just enough of his personal opinion and experience. I highly recommend his work.

John shared this about his social marketing efforts:

Anytime I create a new post on my blog, I immediately go to Twitter and send a tweet. I know it directs more traffic to the site, and certain readers look first at the Twitter feed before going to the site. I know there are utilities that will allow for crossposting the Twitter feed to Facebook, but I haven't set that up yet. Ditto for LinkedIn.

Also, every once in a while I write a post that I consider pretty good and interesting. When that happens, I make sure (via a friend) that it is submitted to reddit. That really drives the traffic over.

Next up is Jennifer from ABC Plastics Inc., a plastic spool supplier in Lodi, Ohio. She's involved in the company's extremely active Facebook and Twitter pages -- follow them if you want frequent updates -- and a LinkedIn page with 120 connections.

Here's what Jennifer had to share:

We are using social media, but we haven't had our a-ha moment yet and come up with something imaginative, so I will use something I saw someone else do that I thought was pretty creative.

Last week there was a company trying to get to 3,000 fans on Facebook, so they promised a free t-shirt to the 3,000th fan. The number went up really fast until 2,998...it took a couple of minutes for someone to click "like" knowing they were about to let someone else win. Now they have 3,057 fans and one of them has a new t-shirt.

I did not know of this company before this and I did not actually find them on Facebook. They tweeted about the give-away and someone I follow on Twitter re-tweeted it. It did lead me to their Facebook page and I was too late for the t-shirt, but I am now a fan of a company I didn't even know existed. The hype over the t-shirt was enough to draw people to their page and see what they're all about.

Since her post, I've noted quite a few plastics companies using the "help us reach our goal" to win new followers, often with quick results.

Finally, there's Pam Aungst Teubner from E&T Plastics, a distributor and manufacturer that was established in 1946.

But don't let that fool you -- E&T may be an older company by plastics industry standards, but it's a leader in the newfangled world of social marketing.

E&T Plastics has a colorful, frequently updated blog, a very interactive Twitter feed, and a fun Facebook page.

Here's what Pam shared about her social marketing efforts:

Hubspot and MarketingProf are considered to be the two of the best examples of effective B2B social media. Their strategy is quite simple. They write whitepapers and host webinars and online virtual conferences that help their potential customers do their jobs. The information distributed is genuinely useful and valuable to the participants, even if the participant doesn't sign up for any of the hosting firm's services at the end.

This content-distribution strategy may not result in immediate acquisition of new customers, but it will develop a reputation for the hosting firm as an authority in its industry. Therefore, when a company does come across a need for a related service, the firm that established itself as an authority on the matter will come to mind first, and will be quite likely to get the sale in the end. This strategy also works well for lead generation, as the participants need to give their contact information in order to sign up. Again, even if that doesn't result in an immediate sale, the opportunity to make initial contact and a personal introduction from a salesperson could turn out to be profitable later on.

This strategy can be adopted to any industry with a little creativity. For example, Quicken Loans uses social media to distribute a steady stream of valuable information on how people can better manage their money. This increases satisfaction and retention among existing customers and attracts potential new customers.

The most effective part of this strategy is frequency. A steady stream of genuinely useful information, distributed via the company's website, blog, and all social media channels, is essential for establishing credibility in the eyes of the potential customer. If a prospect is visiting your website, blog, or social profile for the very first time, they will be much more likely to engage with you if they can scroll through a history of posts that are chock full of information useful to them. Only then will they click "like" or "follow" or "sign up for our webinar here", and those clicks are the meat and potatoes of your B2B social media success.

One individual brilliantly creative and imaginative B2B social media campaign may immediately increase a company's number of followers; however, those followers will not stay engaged unless they are being supplied with a steady flow of information that is useful to them. Therefore, I believe it to be more effective for the B2B marketer to focus their energy on their pipeline of useful content rather than searching for that one big-bang campaign idea.

Congratulations to John, Jennifer and Pam, and thanks for sharing your ideas with all the Plastics Blog readers. I encourage everyone to click on their links and learn more about their efforts.

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