I recently traded e-mails 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 “Plastics Pipeline,” and he offers some great food for thought.
Carrel first became interested in social media when his company was working with the state of Michigan to upgrade its website and develop some tools to diversify its customer base.
The company had a grant that was administrated by the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, whose staff showed Team 1 Plastics how social media could be used to market the company to current and new customers and to drive them to our website for more information.
The company started by using Twitter. But the more Carrel learned about social media, the more he became convinced that a blog was more appropriate. A blog, for example, allows him more freedom than the 140-character limit imposed on each post by Twitter.
“We started the blog in April and I have been pleased with the results. I monitor our Web traffic through Google Analytics and have seen an increase in traffic directly related to our blog,” Carrrel said.
“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.”
Carrel said he was surprised that most manufacturers, including plastic companies, are not putting any effort towards learning about this new media.
John Spevacek, who works at Aspen Research and hosts “It's the Rheo Thing” blog, agreed. He recently complained that “we in the plastics industry are really lagging behind” on social media.
Here's the part where plastics processors should pay close attention.
Carrel wrote: “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 e-mail. 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 e-mails — yikes!”
My daughters communicate the same way, and I see Carrel's point. If social media isn't in your arsenal now, then consider this: At some point in the very near future, the generation of Facebook junkies is going to make 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 other social medium that hasn't even been invented yet, to communicate with key constituencies.
Loepp is managing editor of Plastics News and author of “The Plastic Blog.”