Let me start off by saying that that both KNAACK and Sloan, the leadership was initially opposed to adding social media to the marketing mix as they felt it was not suitable for B2B marketing … it was that thing their teenagers did on their phones, it was confusing with too many options, and it was a bit scary. However, building a business case by after presenting industry data and successful B2B case studies, both companies agreed to “give it a try” and the results spoke for themselves. Now both companies wholeheartedly embrace social media as a key element of their marketing tool kit. The key to successful social media deployment is to not think of it as traditional marketing whereby you promote your company, brand and products by tooting your own horn louder than the next guy. That absolutely will not work in social media. Social media is all about establishing rapport and emotional engagement with your customers, suppliers, partners and employees. You need to be real, be consistent and be engaged. People only advance the message about something they care about. So Why use social media? But the ultimate objective for social media is to have real customers act as your company’s true brand ambassadors or brand advocates. You earn a relationship with a brand ambassador by being honest, ethical and highly relevant to the customer. Brand ambassadors typically have credibility amongst their peer group and have large social networks. Over time, your brand ambassador will recommend your product or service to others in compelling and genuine ways.
There are so many social media options available on the internet that understanding where to go can be confusing. However, I have found that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn continue to dominate; however, newer sites such as Instagram and Vine are more popular with today’s youth. Your company needs to look at its target customer segments and “go where they go.”
In my experience, creating a successful social media campaign revolves around 3 simple steps: 1- Create opportunities for engagement 2- Consistently drive engagement And 3- The results will come So let’s start with creating opportunities for engagement. Your company will want to showcase its social media presence by featuring your tags across all marketing touchpoints, including web sites, within social media sites, on printed collateral, business cards, email signatures, trade show booth graphics, etc. Even your customer service “message on hold” should reference your social media outlets.
Next your company will need to drive engagement …. Constantly and consistently, but without overdoing it or becoming annoying to people. My rule of thumb is that you should do no more than one post or tweet a day, uness you are in active promotion mode such as at a trade show. However, if your company drops in and out of social media only a few times per month, you will most likely not see the results that you are looking for. So you need to make a commitment to driving your social media presence on a daily basis. So let’s talk about content. Content is key! Your content can include the obvious press releases, new product announcements, promotional offerings, industry updates, and the like. This content is necessary to keep your public informed; however, it is also “salesy” and “promotional” and you risk alienating your audience if this is all you talk about. You should also fold highly revelant content into your messaging strategy that addresses your customer’s needs, speaks their language and makes engagement fun. What is shown in this slide are a couple examples of that that. One key need of professional contractors is staying organized and keeping track of their tools and equipment. Wasting time looking for tools costs money. So we provided “helpful tips” on how to stay organized, such as a pull-out drawer for truck bedliners that showed organized and easily accessible tools and equipment, as shown at left. Another key element of professional contractors is that they are oftentimes highly patriotic, many of them having served in the military. To address that need, we would “dress up” our products and celebrate US holidays and provide remberances that were relevant to this target, as shown at right. And let’s not forget about having fun! The image in the center shows a golf cart outfitted with WeatherGuard truck boxes at the back. This golf cart travels around on different golf courses and through parking lots, handing out T-shirts and premiums to people that are engaged with the brand. The followers waited with anticipation to find out when the golf cart would be in their area. A little silly, but highly effective.
Here are some more examples of driving engagement. We ran a Weather Guard teaser campaign promoting the launch of the new Van Solutions. We provided a countdown to the big reveal and had people guess what was under the curtain. People that guessed correctly won prizes. In the middle, a real jobsite contractor was found sporting a KNAACK sticker on his hardhat. This post generated at least 40 likes and retweets because it was a “real contractor” on a real jobsite, not a slick photoshoot of a pretend contractor. It was real and relevant. Again, building upon emotional engagement, Knaack sponsored many local area baseball teams and donated Knaack storage boxes to the ballparks. Who wouldn’t like supporting America’s youth with America’s favorite pastime … baseball. On the lower left, you see a promotional post, featuring our Zip It Up Campaign that gave away Carhartt jackets, a favorite amongst our professional contractors who work outside in the cold weather. And last but not least, you see a fun example of how we converted a Knaack storage box into a grill for a company party. What is cool about this picture is not just the product conversion, but the fact the real Knaack factory workers are shown next to the box. Made in the USA manufacturing at its finest.
And so driving relevant and engaging content will product results over time. And it does take time. You will start to drive friends and followers. Your content will be shared, retweeted and bookmarked. You might even win some industry awards for your wok in this space. However, its not really about the numbers.
Your ultimate indicator of success is … the cultivation of brand ambassadors. In this image, you see a Sloan Technical Support Rep, Dominick, doing his daily job of solving plumbers problems in the field. The plumbers LOVED this post because they may have spoken to Dominick on a daily or weekly basis for years on end and never known what he looked like or what his work environment was like. As ou can see, the Dominick post yield at least 18 positive comments about Sloan’s awesome Technical Support, responsiveness to customer issues, and positive comments about Dominick himself. This type of content is much more impactful that Sloan simply saying “We have strong Customer Service.”
You may recall that our last Superbowl experienced a 34-minute power outage at the SuperDome. Sloan had recently retrofitted all the restrooms at the SuperDome with sensor operated flushvalves and faucets. So when the power went out and everyone went to the restroom, Sloan’s products continued to operate. In this post, you see the ACTUAL plumbing contrator explain the work that he did in the SuperDome and how proud he was at keeping the restrooms functional during the crisis. In fact, he goes on to say that he is putting them in other locations around New Orleans for that same reason. Again, a great example of a brand ambassador at work.