In the movie “The Social Network,” the actor portraying Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is more than a little hesitant about selling advertising on his fast-growing platform. Advertising, he felt, just isn’t cool, and he didn’t want it to become a wet blanket that could stunt the potential growth of his soon-to-be social media behemoth.
Obviously, much has changed since the site’s initial launch in 2004, and advertising has helped the platform grow beyond a $1 trillion market cap, which has taken a bit of a hit recently—a story for another forum (and a second movie, apparently). Despite its juggernaut status, there was a period when using the platform for business promotion had an unseemly feel to it. There was a prevailing belief that people didn’t want to mix business with pleasure (forgive the tired idiom) and that it simply wasn’t the appropriate channel for reaching clients.
That is simply no longer the case. Social media is now a significant ingredient in a larger, integrated marketing campaign. Dealers have found their ability to creatively weave social media posts into multi-faceted, multi-touch campaigns that cross over numerous channels can add legs to any marketing initiative. Dealers are limited only by the imaginations of their marketing teams, and given the multitude of communication vehicles, the wider the net that is cast, the more likelihood of a campaign’s success.
Educational blogs are an excellent vehicle for luring in clients who may be interested in a certain technology and need not be a centerpiece for a concerted campaign. Maddie McGinn, marketing coordinator for Access Systems of Waukee, Iowa, notes that their sales reps will share these blogs on their personal LinkedIn profiles, which can elicit comments and drive more traffic to the corporate website.
“It’s about educating prospects, but we also like to market ourselves and our culture, what we stand for and the values we represent,” she said. “We also like to post customer testimonials and really showcase their experiences with us in their own words to provide a more honest, unbiased perspective.”
Gordon Flesch Company of Madison, Wisconsin, uses HubSpot’s content management system to manage its social media posts and employs a dedicated social media coordinator who posts several times per day on the dealer’s Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts. According to Connie Dettman, the firm’s marketing director, success is a product of the marketing department coordinating and collaborating with the salespeople in the field.
“When new people come into the organization, we review social media expectations with them and provide the tools—photos, blogs and guides—to get started,” Dettman noted. “Each week when we post a new blog, we send content to the sales team so they can post and share.”
Since 2016, when Dettman took the marketing helm, Twitter posts have enjoyed a 733% increase, with Facebook (502%) and LinkedIn (218%) seeing significant boosts, which has greatly impacted the company’s inbound sales lead generation.
Though the big three platforms are the primary business engagement outlets, Virginia Business Systems in Roanoke has dipped its toe into the Instagram waters, notes Keith Bax, director of marketing. That platform’s demographics lean heavily toward 18- to 25-year-old users, which makes it an ideal recruitment vehicle in attracting recent college graduates.
“Even though social media doesn’t really boost our SEO, and it doesn’t drive a lot of traffic to our websites, it does help potential new clients and potential new hires get a clearer picture of our company culture and our core values,” Bax said. “HubSpot also helps our marketing team to be more efficient by allowing us to schedule our social postings in advance of their publication.”
Ian Crockett, president of ICE Advertising, the firm that represents Seattle-based Copiers Northwest, notes there is a fine line between frequency and consistency—his motto for mass media ad buys—and oversaturation from a social media standpoint. It calls for a more prudent approach, he believes.
“Variety is also important,” he said of post subjects. “You can do a couple of posts a week and change up the subject matter—your community involvement, what your customers are doing, as well as your products and services. I’ve always been big on case studies and customer testimonials. Posting them to your website can help with SEO.”
The social media approach taken by Pearson-Kelly Technology of Springfield, Missouri is three-pronged: educating clients and prospects about the dealer’s services and the industry; bolstering employee recruitment efforts; and leveraging free publicity from its public relations activities. Makenzie Ward, marketing coordinator, notes that while the dealer primarily uses organic social media, it does use paid LinkedIn ads for educational purposes when it’s needed to target a specific business vertical, job title or geographic area.