Do you remember back when you weren't glued to your smartphone, checking for email, Tweets, Facebook updates and LinkedIn invitations?
Do you realize those “good old days” were less than 10 years ago?
Unless you're one of the rare people still using a flip phone — everyone has a mobile phone by now, right? — then you know how technology has changed your life. And, even though the plastics industry has a reputation for being a little behind the times, you probably realize that it's changed the way you do business, too.
Last week Plastics News held a new event, a Marketing Summit, in Itasca, Ill., to share information about the fast-changing world of business-to-business (B2B) marketing.
This audience was probably the most technologically hip people in plastics. I know, because this is the first event we've ever held where we asked attendees to post photos of themselves on Snapchat — and they all knew what we were talking about.
Still, they had a lot to learn. And they had fun sharing ideas and networking with their peers.
A session on social media generated a lot of discussion. Tracy Samantha Schmidt, president of Socially Authentic, a firm that gives social media training and coaching to business people, talked about all the positive things that social media can do for businesses, including generating positive coverage from the press and bloggers, more speaking invitations, ideas for new products, deeper relationships with clients, a pipeline of potential talented job candidates, and engaged employees who act as ambassadors for your brand.
But there are potential pitfalls, too. For example, consider that your company's clients and prospects are most likely Googling the names of your sales reps. What do you think they're finding?
If you're lucky, they're finding good LinkedIn profiles that are written to address clients' needs, and to demonstrate their expertise. They should also be active in LinkedIn groups, and — most importantly — answering questions that others in the group are asking.
How about Twitter? For individual business people, Twitter is hard, Schmidt said. It's great for sharing news, but not so good for marketing messages. There's just too much information, and people tune out when the message is too commercial or boring.
Twitter should be fun, Schmidt said, because people want to do business with people that they like. But you have to set boundaries and not overshare.
Don't let all the concerns and cautions scare you into doing nothing. Remember that prospective job applicants are using social media to evaluate your company and your culture, and your current employees are — or should be — using social media to share job listings and invite their friends to apply for open positions.
So make it fun, so that employees want to follow you and share your posts. As Schmidt said, you want to encourage employees to be your brand ambassadors.
Loepp is editor of Plastics News and author of “The Plastics Blog.” Follow him on Twitter @donloepp.