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Social Media Usage by Engineers and Industrial Professionals

Last week I downloaded and read the new research report, “Social Media Use in the Industrial Sector” published by IHS GlobalSpec. Some of the findings are consistent with their reports from previous years and others are good wake up calls for industrial marketers.

It is still true that most engineers and industrial professionals are passive users of social media – they prefer to “read, watch and research as opposed to publish, post and comment.”

Two statements from the report caught my attention. They are:

  1. In terms of researching work-related purchases, engineers prefer other online resources, such as search engines, online catalogs, supplier websites, and vertical search engines (VSEs) such as GlobalSpec.com.
  2. 54% of industrial professionals say there is “too much noise and not enough substance” around using social media for work-related purposes.

Those two findings should be a big wake up call for industrial marketers. First, industrial companies shouldn’t expect social media to pick up the slack if they stop doing things like optimizing their websites (SEO) and adding content assets such as CAD viewers and Parametric Part Number Finders to help their buyers take interim steps that will lead to the final buy decision.

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Small Manufacturers Use Social Media Effectively

Social media still remains a mystery to many manufacturers and industrial companies even though there is an abundance of evidence of its success in general B2B marketing. Many engineers, specifiers, users and buyers of industrial products regularly use social media in their personal lives but work-related usage is limited among this audience.

I’ve read a few articles and blog posts about how some manufacturers are using Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to listen, engage and market to their customers. However, these have been from other industrial marketing consultants like me.

I needed to find some real-world examples of manufacturers using social media effectively. And I don’t mean multinational behemoths that have deep pockets and can afford to experiment with marketing strategies. What about family owned and operated machine shops, fabricators and smaller manufacturers?

Videos play a key role in manufacturing marketing

Probably the most common use of social media is videos on YouTube. I found quite a few small manufacturers that offer precision CNC machining and fabrication services to large OEMs in a variety of industries.

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Manufacturer’s Marketing Video Becomes a YouTube Sensation

Industrial and manufacturing marketing doesn’t have to be dull and boring. Here’s proof.

Corning, a manufacturer of specialty glass and ceramics created a marketing video called “A Day Made of Glass” to demonstrate future applications of its specialty glass. Even though the original intent was to create a sales tool for its manufacturing customers, it went viral in a big way after the company posted it to YouTube.

I’m not talking about several thousand views; the 5+ minutes long video has been viewed 12,379,640 times since it was first uploaded to YouTube about two months ago.

View Corning’s “A Day Made of Glass” Video

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Using Video in B2B Marketing

The use of video in B2b marketing is on the rise and is expected to grow exponentially. In the August 11 issue of BtoB Magazine, Tom Simmons, President-Creative Director of PRTNERS+simons wrote,

"Web video will continue its rise in prominance. It is admittedly the preeminent marketing channel for all marketing communications—consumer, b-to-b and professional—and its role will become even more critical. The text-based content emphasis that has been the default Web strategy will continue to lose its prominence."

In a recent BtoB Webcast audience poll, 29.2% of the respondents said they used video in their marketing mix. This is second only to Blogs which are used used by 32.5%, followed by RSS Feeds (17.5%), Social Networks (14.2%), Threaded Discussions (4.2%) and Wikis (2.5%).

Jay Gulick, Director of BNET also makes a very strong case for the use video in B2B marketing in his post Video: The B2B marketing sweet spot. In his video he explains why B2B marketers should provide customers with resources such as white papers, case studies and Webcasts instead of traditional display ads.

Are you currently or thinking of using video in your marketing?