By Bridgette Palm, Co-Founder, Strategy House

Leveraging Social MediaDespite the prevalence of social media in most industries, manufacturers have only recently begun incorporating digital branding into their marketing strategies. Most manufacturers today have two main goals for their branding: Increase sales and talent growth.

Whether the goal is to grow sales or address talent shortages, social media is a powerful method of delivering your brand. 

Social Media = Your Dynamic Digital Brand

Brand is essentially the personality of your business. Whatever is said about your company - by customers, employees, or the community - makes up your brand. 

Your website serves as a static representation of your brand. It’s the first place people go to learn about more about your business. Even though we recommend continuously updating your website, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to keep up with daily website updates. Additionally, your website doesn’t provide a unique opportunity to humanize your brand the way social media does.

Social media, however, presents an opportunity for you to humanize your brand and bring the personality of your business to life. No other technology provides a method to connect and engage with customers, prospects, employees, and candidates.

When leveraged strategically, an effective social media strategy will strengthen brand recognition, establish brand positioning, nurture relationships with customers and candidates, as well as provide insight into the way your brand is perceived. Your online presence is a component of your brand you can’t afford to ignore. 

If your manufacturing business is ready for a digital transformation, shift your social strategy to focus on brand, sales growth, and talent initiatives.

Build Trust in your Sales Team’s Expertise

There is a common misconception that social media doesn’t work for manufacturing, but it’s hard to argue with data. When 84 percent of C-level/vice president executives use social media to support purchase decisions (IDC), it’s clear that manufacturers cannot afford to ignore social media as a branding tool. Most equipment manufacturers engage with the C-suite at some point in the sales cycle, so it’s vital to understand how and where these buyers do their research. 

Of all the social platforms, LinkedIn is by and large the preferred network for professionals. Leveraged correctly, LinkedIn can open up a world of business development possibilities for your sales team. With the help of a solid strategy, your company’s LinkedIn content should tell customers what problem you solve for them and why they should choose to work with you. 

To reinforce your brand, create a consistent brand message across both company and employee LinkedIn pages to strengthen your brand’s messaging and create team unity. Encourage employees, especially those on the sales and marketing teams, to share company updates, open job positions or positive feedback. Ask them to share strategic content that speaks directly to your audience. 

Every time someone sees a post from your team aligning your brand with the problem you solve for your ideal customers, you align your brand with your core value proposition. Leveraging LinkedIn strategically will boost brand awareness, generate valuable leads, and ultimately build and grow relationships. 

Use Social Media as an Employer Branding Tool

With an industry-wide talent shortage, manufacturers are looking for new and innovative ways to build their talent pipeline. In a competitive landscape, it’s vital to have a strong employer brand that stand out to jobseekers and that resonates with your current talent employees. 

Social media cannot be overlooked as a tool to help build a strong employer brand, especially when 73 percent of millennials found their last position through a social media site (Aberdeen Group). 

Modern candidates do extensive research before applying for a job. Instead of walking into your facility to fill out an application, candidates research your company. Their first impression of your business is often your website; it’s the digital equivalent of your building or office interior. Whereas social media showcases the human version of your brand; it’s the person at the front desk. 

Build a more authentic presence by sharing the social aspects of your workplace. Simple things, like adding photos of daily work life or company events, humanizes your brand. Use social to provide candidates with a snapshot of your culture and help them understand what it would be like to work with your team.

If LinkedIn is the preferred platform for sharing professional content, Facebook and Instagram are the preferred networks for career and culture-focused content. To launch your employer branding social strategy, start by engaging your current employees and community on Facebook and Instagram.  

Join the Digital Transformation

It’s time to move on from legacy sales tactics and marketing strategies, and to start leveraging technology for your advantage. Let your digital presence speak for you. 

Keep in mind that, like any strategy, consistency is key in order to see results. Share content two to three times a week to keep your company top of mind, for both prospective customers and candidates. The key takeaway here is to consider social as a vehicle for helping people to get to know your brand. Focus less on the total number of followers, and start thinking of social media as a dynamic way to engage with customers, prospects, employees, and candidates. What do your social platforms say about your brand? 

Bridgette Palm is the co-founder of Strategy House, a Milwaukee-based organization that serves to help manufacturers stay relevant in the digital age with content that resonates with the right people, at the right time, in a way that sounds authentic, genuine, and true to their brand.

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