TAMPA, FLA. (March 7, 12:30 p.m. ET) — What is your company's social media strategy? Have you devised a way to market your company via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn?
Do you feel confused by the endless list of possibilities? In a workshop during the Plastics News' Executive Forum in Tampa, social media guru Paul Gillin demystified some of the vast world wide web of social media tools and how to most effectively use them in business-to-business marketing and communications.
The plastics industry overall is slightly lacking in using these tools and could gain more from strategic social media strategies where planning is essential. Companies especially can benefit from paying attention to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
What is your company's visibility?
Think of SEO as the way potential customers find you and how your company appears when people conduct searches via search engines such as Google or Bing. There are ways to improve your company's visibility and drive people to your site via search engines. Language is key, as search engines only see text.
“You have to take every opportunity to use text to tell search engines what your company is about,” said Gillin, principal of Paul Gillin Communications in Framingham, Mass. “Tell them what you do. The company name is less important than telling them what you do.” For example, make sure images are labeled. Gillin also discourages companies from using PDFs (portable document format files) on their websites. Instead, use HTML files whenever possible.
“With SEO you can get quite a boost in the plastics industry because so few companies are doing it,” he said.
Gillin recommended the book, Search Engine Marketing Inc. by Mike Moran and Bill Hunt. Gillin pointed out Quickparts.com Inc., an Atlanta-based firm manufacturing services firm that specializes in rapid prototyping and injection molding. When you search for “Quick Parts” or “Quickparts” on Google or Bing, the company is the first in the list after those who have purchased advertising space.
Other online channels
The entire media landscape has changed and there are new influencers to marketing, including social media tools like blogging, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
In business-to-business, blogging is “so good on so many axes,” Gillin said. You can take the initiative on thought leadership and demonstrate authority within the business-to-business community, where the appetite is ravenous for information. The audience is engaged, knowledgeable and serious. In addition, use of your language on your blog can improve SEO.
In the world of blogging, frequency counts. In this medium, you should advise, have a clear focus, occasionally surprise and delight people, educate and ask for feedback. You can also get people to link to you by linking to them.
“You have to give in order to get,” he said.
At sites like www.quora.com, you can ask questions and get answers. Its tagline is, “Quora connects you to everything you want to know about.” Quora says it “aims to be the easiest place to write new content and share content from the web. We organize people and their interests so you can find, collect and share the information most valuable to you.”
In terms of Facebook, what you're attempting to get for your company is the “Like,” Gillin said. To get visitors engaged, give them an offer, get them coming back, keep them interested.
“Your goal is to find ways to get the audience worked up about something,” he said. On Facebook, almost everything you say should end with a question so that you're engaging your audience.
LinkedIn is a more successful social network than Facebook for businesses, Gillin said. In terms of LinkedIn, it's about professional networking and is all about business. Participants should be as detailed as possible in their profiles. In LinkedIn discussion groups, how can you say something in a way that engages people in a discussion? Gillin asked.
In the world of Twitter, you should follow people you admire, Gillin said. Retweeting people is a sign of respect. Leave 10 spaces at the end of your tweet to make it easy to retweet.
And there is a world of social media to discover out there. There are tools that can be used via YouTube, Slideshare, Wayn (Where are you now?), and Photobucket (for video and photo sharing). At Scribd, you can share any type of document.
What about your social media policy?
In the new world of inverse influence, one person can have a disproportionate impact. Anyone is a publisher if he or she chooses to be. That means that there is an inversion where influence can spread from the bottom now, Gillin said.
Take, for example, those otherwise unknown musical artists who gain a foothold through YouTube. Or a relatively unknown can establish a following on Twitter or Facebook.
Therein is a problem for companies whose employees may take to Facebook or Twitter to talk about problems at work or make other comments about the company itself.
“You need a social media policy in place,” Gillin said. For a social media policy for your company, he recommended looking at www.socialmediagovernance.com.