Anyone who knows me knows I’m ALL about efficiency. Anything I can do to save time or streamline a process in my life merits consideration. Sometimes I think that TIME is the most precious commodity in our modern lives, particularly when it comes to the life of an industrial marketer. Often, the individuals I work with who are responsible for marketing are also constantly on the road meeting with customers, managing large groups of people, and even fill the role of “general manager.”
I recently read a blog post by Jay Baer, social media / content strategist and author of “The Now Revolution” on his blog, Convince and Convert. He brings up the point that while social media isn’t expensive in the traditional way we think of marketing spend: it’s just “different” expensive. To do it well requires a significant time commitment. For an industrial marketer to see results from their social media efforts, they have to use their time wisely.
Using your industrial social media marketing time wisely means going beyond the obvious. You won’t have an advantage if you’re only doing what everyone else does. Look for creative ways to maximize your social media time investment. Embrace new processes, activities, and tools that help you accomplish your social media objectives faster – and smarter.
Here are some of my personal favorites:
Listen to what the experts are saying. Use your driving or work out time to put on the earbuds and listen to podcasts or audio books from people who are leading the way in social media media marketing. There are new tools and techniques appearing literally, almost every day. To stay on top, stay informed!
Use an automation dashboard for posts. This may seem like social media 101, but for those of you who are fairly new to social media marketing, I cannot stress enough the need for an automation tool. This allows you to pre-schedule posts to Twitter, Facebook pages, LinkedIn, and other social media pages up to months in advance. Particularly if you have messages you want to repeat to your followers, this is a must. There are new ones popping up all the time, and most of them have a free and upgraded “pro” version. I personally haven’t found the PERFECT one, but unlike some people I’ve talked to, I don’t want to have to use more than one automation tool, so I settle for a little imperfection in HootSuite. Other good ones are TweetDeck and MarketMeSuite.
Find great sources of information and create an RSS reader page. Do you have an iGoogle page? It’s a great way to organize a lot of RSS feeds from blogs. Whenever I find a new blog with content that’s relevant to my brand and industry, I add the RSS feed to my iGoogle page. At any given time, I have at least 50 feeds from my favorite bloggers and news sources. I scan through the titles every few days looking for content I think would be of interest to my Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn followers. Then I go to HootSuite and create a link and comment, and pre-schedule all 3 posts at one time. Once I scheduled two weeks’ worth of posts at once because I was going to be on vacation. It was like I never even left! That’s what I call efficiency at its finest.
Buffer your social media posts. Have you heard of Buffer? Handy little tool that allows you to set aside some time each morning to find a handful of truly relevant links (blog posts, video, pictures, etc.) and after you “buffer” the links they are holding in a queue. Buffer then automatically shares them across your chosen social media pages at pre-determined, optimized times. There’s a Buffer plug-in for Chrome and Firefox – when you’re on a page you want to share, just click the buffer button and and it’s done!
Create a stalker list. (I love this one from Jay.) Think of 5, 10, 15, – whatever number seems realistic to you – people you most want to engage with on social media. If you’re in a manufacturing or industrial service company, those people are probably prospective customers you’ve been unable to get a meeting with. Then, follow these people wherever you can: join some of the same groups they’re in on LinkedIn (and follow them personally on LinkedIn); if they’re on Twitter, create a Twitter list so you can monitor everything they post; if they’re on Google+, create a circle. If they have blogs, sign up to receive new posts by email or RSS. Most industrial companies’ Facebook pages are managed by someone in marketing or a techie. Your prospect may never even go to their company’s Facebook page, but if you want to post something on it periodically, go ahead. It’s probably unlikely in the industrial realm, but it’s still a good idea to check to see if they have any other social media pages, like Pinterest, or Instagram.
Now, spend 10-15 minutes each day interacting with some of the people on your list. Even though this is called a stalker list, don’t act like a stalker! Only say something on one of their pages or comment to a blog post if you truly have something interesting to say. Pay attention to your list and find ways to engage with them and eventually, they will recognize your name and maybe even consider you “an acquaintance.” You might just get that meeting with them in short order! Make a new list every 3-6 months.
Take and curate photographs. According to Jay, this is the year of the photo in social marketing. Instagram, Pinterest, Path, Google+ and now Facebook – they all use LARGE thumbnails in their news feeds. If you’re not taking and posting pictures to your social media pages and cross posting where appropriate, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your network. Invest in a couple of good cameras (including video) and put them in the hands of the people in your company who have an eye for picture taking, or are in situations regularly where they have opportunities to catch something of interest in your company. It’s especially nice to be have pictures of your product in use or installed at a customer’s facility, if they are open to that.
Use “if this, then that” recipes. IFTTT.com is one of the coolest, least talked about social media tools I’ve seen in a while. It creates automated tasks based on an almost infinite number of possibilities that are triggered by a certain action. If “this” happens – then “that” happens. It’s all about social media pages, blogs, calendars, and cell phones. Example: If someone mentions you on Twitter, then IFTTT automatically sends a pre-written “thank you” tweet. There are a mountain of existing recipes to help you find processes that will save you time. (These are the kinds of new tools you learn about when you invest a little time each week into staying up to date with what’s going on in social media marketing.)
Social media can be complicated, but not if you have a strategy and use some tools that make sense for your business and work schedule. The worst thing you can do is ignore it because you think you just don’t have the time. Once you are comfortable using it, have the right tools, and make it a part of your daily business routine (like checking email), you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner!