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4 Key Recommendations For Social Media Execution In The Industrial Sector

Published earlier this year, GlobalSpec conducted its third annual Social Media Usage Survey of engineering, technical, manufacturing, and industrial professionals. While social media adoption is on the rise, more traditional social networks might be blocked or limited at the workplace, even if a percentage of usage is work related.

The research also showed that industrial professionals are still largely passive users of social media, preferring to read and watch content, versus creating and sharing content.

From a user perspective, B2B search engine marketers should take note of the following responses and percentages.

LinkedIn Usage Among Industrial Professions

  • Participation on LinkedIn grew from 37 percent in 2010 to 55 percent in 2011. 86 percent of industrial professionals on LinkedIn belong to at least one group, with 38 percent belonging to four or more groups.
    LinkedIn Group Participation

Work Related Activities On Facebook

  • 19 percent of the content/friends on Facebook are work related with 60 percent “liking” a business within their industry and nearly 40 percent participating in work-related discussions and reading/researching content for their jobs.
    Facebook Work Related Usage
  • 54 percent of respondents have smartphones and 60 percent use their phones for work-related tasks such as checking e-mail.
  • 29 percent of industrial professionals have already created accounts on Google+.
  • While Twitter usage was up from 2010, that percentage was only 22 percent of total respondents.
  • 67 percent of respondents used Google Reader and aggregated RSS feeds from blogs, news, and other sources.

Use of an RSS Reader

  • 67 percent of respondents were blocked from Facebook at work, 61 percent unable to visit Twitter, and 57 percent without access to YouTube.

Social Media Sites Blocked from Usage at Work

This column combines recommendations found with in the survey document, with third party observations, and client experiences, to deliver key action items for B2B search engine marketers working in engineering, technical, manufacturing, and industrial sectors to consider.

1.  Industrial Marketers Want To See Thought Leadership

Why Industrial Marketers Use Social Media

Because industrial marketers are more passive in their interaction with social media, the opportunity to establish a presence may be much easier than in other industry sectors.

There are several opportunities for B2B search engine marketers in this space to lead the effort.

  • Video, graphics, and visualizations of complex industrial processes might perform well in blended search engine results as well as provide share-friendly assets in social media platforms.
  • Blog posts published on even a weekly or bi-weekly basis (take a look at the social media frequency chart below) still have a good opportunity to be seen in the industrial marketer’s RSS reader.
  • Blogs and publication contributions should also leverage the Google Authorship program in an attempt to gain enhanced brand visibility for key thought leaders in the organization.

While the first mover strategy presents risk, the benefits of easier visibility and establishing an initial footprint in the industry sector through the production of high quality content could outweigh that risk.

2.  Don’t Assume Traditional Office Hour Activity

Understanding that many B2B industrial marketers may have limited social media accessibility during the regular “9 to 5”, consider how social and search marketing strategies need to be customized as a result.

  • Pay attention to Web traffic reports to confirm time of day visitors tend to land on the site.
  • Test social media updates and their effectiveness during off hours and weekends.
  • If PPC is part of your search marketing strategy, consider extended visibility of ad placements later in the evening and optimizing ads for mobile search.

3.  Build Easy To Consume Content

Types of Social Media Participation

As realized in the chart above, B2B industrial marketers indicated that watching a video ranked the highest in terms of social media participation, while creating a video ranked the lowest. The point is that more passive participation in social sites is important to realize when marketing to the B2B industrial space.

To that extent, easily digestible content and well placed communication strategies need to be considered.

  • Via Derek Singleton’s article on social media for manufacturers, “consider making video demonstrations of products and processes, a tour of your factory, or showcasing customer testimonials”.
  • Succinct LinkedIn group participation, including link references, descriptive context, and distribution in profile updates (and possibly company-specific updates)
  • Regularly published news content, highlighting industry trends and events

4.  Create Benchmarks That Tie To Real Business Value

Tying this all together, remember that customer acquisition and lead generation are the primary goals for B2B industrial marketers and have been the top two marketing goals for the past three years (source).

While the Globalspec’s social media usage survey does not provide a direct connection to lead generation success, the following metrics can be established for demonstrating effectiveness and productivity.

Final Thoughts

While setting a social media plan in motion should become a priority for B2B search engine marketers in these industry sectors, social media platform identification, resource allocation, and a push for aggressive but flexible benchmarks are important.

KPI measurement through traditional Web reporting tools and analytics resources provided within applicable the social platforms are important for assessing success (and failure) and making adjustments as appropriate.

The full research report, which contains recommendations and key action items for industrial marketers from GlobalSpec as well, can be downloaded from the Marketing Maven blog with limited form field requirements.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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