Industrial Companies Underuse the One Social Media Tactic with Proven ROI

Social media usage by industrial companies has received some coverage lately. I’ve read two different survey studies about how companies within the industrial sector use or plan to use social media. Depending on which study you read, the results can be confusing. Here’s one example of the confusion that I’m referring to.

The study done by GlobalSpec reported, “Only 22 percent of industrial companies use Twitter, which reflects its low value among engineers as a social media resource.”

Whereas the study (2011 Social Media in Industry Survey) conducted by Semplice Industry Marketing states, “Of those who used Twitter in 2011, 78% found it somewhat to very useful.”

The one statistic that stood out for me and is consistent in both these studies is that company blogs rated low for usage across the board. Blogging is a proven social media channel and yet, industrial companies seem to severely under utilize this proven social media tactic.

According to the GlobalSpec study, only 25% of the respondents said they used a company blog to participate in social media and rated it a mere 2.6 on a scale of 1 to 7 for “Value” as a resource for researching work-related purchases.

The Semplice study reports “44% of companies surveyed had blogs. A third of those companies posted frequently to their blogs.” The same study also found that 80% of the companies that had a blog, found it a very to somewhat useful tool.

I believe the reason for the low adoption rate of blogs is that it takes a lot more effort to create fresh content for blogs. It is a lot easier to set up free Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts and use them to promote products and announce new ones. Both studies cite this as the number one reason for using social media.

I agree that the first step in social media for industrial companies should be to build a critical mass of fans and followers. However, after the initial phase, you have to focus on providing meaningful content if you want to convert your success in phase 1 into qualified leads and sales. You are likely to turn off many in your social community if all you do is feed them a steady diet of sales messages.

In my experience with manufacturers and engineering companies, I have seen much better results when a blog is the centerpiece of a social media marketing strategy. Then use popular social channels like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to announce new posts to drive traffic back to your industrial blog.

A 140-character tweet should be just the conversation starter. A blog post is much better suited to educate, engage and convert readers into leads. Focusing only on building a large number of followers and/or “Likes” won’t get you the results that you want.

Need proof of success for industrial blogging? Take a look at my earlier post, “3 Business Blogs with Proven ROI from Industrial Companies.”

Do you use a blog as part of social media for industrial marketing? What has been your experience with launching, maintaining and producing leads from it?

Need help creating your own inbound content marketing hub? You may want to check out my company’s industrial blog set up and content creation service.

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8 thoughts on “Industrial Companies Underuse the One Social Media Tactic with Proven ROI”

  1. The main obstacle preventing adoption of blogging by most industrial companies is that they won’t dedicate a resource that is qualified to intelligently write about their customers’ problems, industry trends, and other relevant content. Most leaders hear blogging stories of failure or watch competitors’ blogs tank and don’t understand that a successful recurring blogger can’t be the employee that doesn’t have enough to do.

    • @Doug,

      Thanks for the insight and your comments. I agree with your take. The other issue I’ve run into is the expectation of quick results. When that doesn’t happen, blog posts tend to become thinly disguised sales promotions.

  2. The findings aren’t surprising in the least. As Doug mentioned industrial companies are still attempting to figure out where and how social media fits into their overall marketing strategy. This is especially true for public companies.

    A 2011 Zoomerang Social Media Usage study finds as a whole SMBs aren’t active on social media channels behalf of their business (75%), don’t have a social media policy for employees (70%) and don’t have brand social media sites (75%).

    I think that how much engagement and conversations are generated leading to inquiries is highly dependent on how articles are written, whether or not the blog allows comments and the target audience is. As a whole engineers are fairly passive and don’t create content.

    And, yes I totally agree with you that much of the content being developed are thinly veiled promotion and this turns people off. All one has to do is see what has happened to LinkedIn since they went to open groups.

    • Jeff,

      Thanks for adding your thoughtful comments. Passive participation in social media by engineers and industrial professionals has been a persistent trend. GlobalSpec reported that “use of social media among this audience is still largely passive—they prefer to read and watch content, versus creating content” in their surveys from 2010, 2011 and now in 2012.


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