Many IT and manufacturing companies seem to have left social media marketing behind, perhaps with the exception of LinkedIn.

If you’re not taking advantage of social media for sales opportunities, you may be significantly impacting your business sales, especially among the younger population.

Social media is not a sales opportunity you can afford to lose.

According to Hootsuite, almost 60% of social media-users in the US think it’s much easier to get customer service through social media when they need their questions answered or issues resolved.

The good news is, you don’t have to be super social-savvy to make an effective use of social platforms. A lot of it is testing, trial and error, keeping in touch with recent algorithm changes, and – most importantly – learning to enjoy it!

We put together 6 tips on how IT and manufacturing companies can utilize social media as an effective lead generation and sales strategy.

1.) Retain Loyal Customers and Create New Ones

In today’s digital age, everyone expects your brand to be on social media. According to MarketingSherpa, “58% of all those surveyed (1,176 consumers) said they follow brands through social media.”

Some consumers bypass a company’s website and go straight to their social posts to ask a question, look at reviews, or make a purchase.

The younger generation in particular – the future of your company’s sales – aren’t as likely to make a cold call or listen to a sales pitch as they are to first check out your business page.

And let’s not forget about previous customers. If they want to follow-up on an order, check tracking information, ask about quality, or just say thanks, social media offers an easy opportunity for them to engage with you.

2.) Benefit From All Platforms

If you’ve never been seriously engaged with social media in the past, you may be wondering, “What platform should I use? LinkedIn?”

LinkedIn is a great place to start, but we believe there are benefits to using as many social platforms as possible.

This may sound overwhelming at first – “I’ll never have time for that!” – but hear us out.

If you’re already using a certain platform to put together some content, usually text accompanied with some type of media, it takes little more effort to take the same content, make some small tweaks and add a few hashtags, and post on all social channels. Free posting platforms like Hootsuite or Buffer make this process especially seamless.

Compared to all the platforms, Facebook has the largest number of users, so the benefits of reaching a large audience are innumerable. In general, depending on your audience and budget, Facebook provides the most bang for your buck if you’re pursuing paid advertisements.

Instagram is quickly climbing the ranks as one of the most influential platforms in the manufacturing industry, perhaps because the layout is easy to understand when posting content.

YouTube is becoming more and more dynamic as video continues to take over news feeds. But expect to spend more time and money on production, although the benefits for your business are significant – stand out, be noticed, get interactions, and be remembered.

Twitter is another avenue to reach a larger audience and share valuable content that readers want to share.

Google+/Google My Business are particularly important to Google. Maintaining a brand presence there may impact Google search results.

3.) Act Like A Human

Social media allows consumers and end-users to see the people behind a brand. They have a chance to see the hands and heart of those who make a product or perform a service.

When you’re thinking about what you should post, ask yourself what your audience would like to see. Relevant changes in the industry? New manufacturing methods? Quotes from notable figures in your line of work? Whatever that may be, give the post a human voice. People are more likely to interact with a brand if they can feel a human connection.

But that’s not all. Behind each brand is a group of people, so act like it! Someone in the office had a birthday? Post about it. Working on a brand-new manufacturing process? Take out your smartphone and video it in action. Someone executed an epic April Fools Day prank? Get it on social and invite your audience to share the laugh.

Social media marketing for B2B doesn’t have to be overly complicated or techy. Show your audience what you truly do, who you truly are, and why you love what you do. They really do care, and it will create a stronger connection between your company and your prospects.

4.) Strategize

Although there’s a variety of types of posts you can use, be intentional with your posting schedule.

There’s so much debate about the best day/best time to post, but the ultimate goal is to be consistent. Your audience will notice if you post every day for a week and then go dark for a month. It can even come across as being untrustworthy.

For example, if you have time to post only once a week, post every Wednesday. If you personally don’t have the time, appoint someone on the floor who does, someone who can commit to a schedule.

How often you post will depend on simple metrics you can pull straight from social media. Post as often as you can, as long as the metrics support that theory. If you overpost, you will notice your reach and engagement go down. Test what happens as you ramp up your posting schedule and find the sweet spot between posting a lot and receiving consistent engagement.

Besides the schedule, strategize on what type of content performs the best. This could be plain text, images, videos, articles, etc. We usually see video as top performing content, but keep an eye on what topics you are posting about as well. If you see a lot of engagement around a particular subject, focus more of your social media efforts to create relevant content around that subject.

Strategizing includes A/B testing. If you post every Wednesday for a month but reach doesn’t seem to improve, try posting on Friday mornings for a while. Because social behavior isn’t always predictable, posting sometimes comes down to trial and error.

5.) Continue The Conversation

Social media provides the perfect platform for a real, back-and-forth, human-to-human conversation. One of the purposes is to get interaction. You want potential customers to react, respond, and engage. That’s the first step to transforming a visitor into a lead – and hopefully a customer.

So when someone likes, comments, or shares, reply to them. Respond to every interaction. Prove that your business page is live and active, and that you’re listening. Answer questions, respond to negative feedback with courtesy, or, if nothing else, “like” what they said.

Social platforms help build community and that includes sharing content from other brands. Industry updates, new federal or state regulations, hot topics in the market, etc. are all fair game. This helps spark a conversation and also shows your brand is up-to-date in the industry.

6.) Transform Leads Into Customers

Social media will be a well oiled section of your sales funnel if you use it the right way. Campaigns around awareness, consideration, purchase, and advocacy can all be created at the click of a button, but the success isn’t as instantaneous as that.

Social media marketing builds over time. If you started strategizing today, you may not see dynamic results for a year or more. It takes a great deal of trial and error to determine the right strategy for your business.

Although this may sound disheartening, it’s an investment in your company. Social is almost expected nowadays and it is a mistake to avoid it entirely.

Bottom line: social isn’t going anywhere.

You don’t want to miss out on valuable sales opportunities for your IT or manufacturing company.

So start strategizing today, make a plan, and start testing.

What Now?

What if all of this sounds great, but you simply don’t have time to coordinate your own social media marketing? You’re too busy managing business decisions and you don’t feel anyone in-house is equipped.

You’re not alone. We work with many B2B IT and manufacturing companies who felt the same way. We can help you leverage social channels as an effective business tool to help you win more sales.

From content creation, to video production, to scheduling and posting, we help manage social accounts from all platforms on behalf of our clients.

Social media marketing is part of an all-encompassing search engine optimization strategy that increases the quality and quantity of sales leads.

If you’d like to learn more, we’d be happy to start a conversation with you. Contact Joe Crestuk to discuss feasibility, potential business return, and if webSURGE Digital Marketing is the right fit your company.