I recently traded emails with Craig Carrel, president of Team 1 Plastics Inc., an Albion, Mich., injection molder, about why he's using social media, including a blog that he updates personally. His blog is called the Plastics Pipeline, and he offers some great food for thought: "I became interested in social media when we were working with a state of Michigan grant to upgrade our website and develop some market diversification tools. This grant was administrated by the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, and they showed us how social media can be used to market Team 1 Plastics to current and new customers and drive them to our website for more information. "We started using Twitter, but the more I have learned about social media the more I became convinced that a blog was more appropriate. A blog allows you more freedom than 140 characters to provide useful content to customers. "We started the blog in April and I have been pleased with the results. I monitor our web traffic through Goggle Analytics and have seen an increase in traffic directly related to our blog. "Of course I want to improve it and still need to add a subscription feed and some other upgrades. We plan on hiring a college intern this fall to help me with the blog and develop other social media. We have plans for developing videos for our website and YouTube along with a Facebook page. "I am excited about the potential of social media and am surprised that most manufacturers, including plastic companies, are not even putting any effort towards learning about this new media." Here's the part where plastics processors should pay close attention: "What really got me going was as I observed my three teenage children and how they communicate with texting and Facebook and they do not even use email. This age group is going to be the purchasing agents of the future and you will need to be able to communicate their way instead of the old way of print or even emails -- yikes!" My daughters communicate the same way, and I see Craig's point. If social media isn't in your arsenal now, then consider this: should it be in the future, when this next generation makes up a significant number of your customers, your suppliers, and your own employees? I don't know if most company presidents will host their own blogs by the end of the next decade. But I won't be surprised if more use blogs, or Facebook, or some social medium that hasn't even been invented yet, to communicate with key constituencies.
Should your company use social media?
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