Printers Monetizing Social Media

A headline flashes—”500 Million Ways to Make Money from Facebook.” Others shout “LinkedIn—Top Source for Customer Leads” or “Blog Your Way to Sales.” Today, there is a whole industry built around convincing companies that, by using a prescribed method or tool, they too can start raking in sales through social media.

Can these claims be true, or are they just modern-day purveyors of snake oil? For some businesses, especially B2C companies such as restaurants, social media platforms do provide direct sales opportunities. For many, however, measuring the actual ROI of their social media investment remains elusive.

That said, social media engagement is already nearly ubiquitous for businesses of all sizes. On the big business side, a recent Burson-Marsteller study found that 84 percent of Fortune 100 companies are actively engaged in at least one social media platform. The “2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report,” measuring the responses of 3,300 marketing professionals at primarily small-to-medium size businesses, notes that 93 percent are using social media for marketing purposes.

Follow the Money

A new StrongMail study asked 925 marketers where they are spending their marketing dollars in 2011; 57 percent said they are increasing their social media spend. While the ROI on this investment is not entirely clear, that hasn’t deterred businesses of all sizes from deep and increasing engagements.

Printers, too, are engaging in social media for their businesses. A Printing Industries of America study done 18 months ago indicated that 35 percent of printers were actively engaged in social networking for business. And, although the number from a current study is not yet available, it is certain that percentage is far higher today.

For some, social media engagement means that the company has a Facebook page, and perhaps a Twitter account or a company blog. For others, social media engagement means that they have a LinkedIn account and have built a network of business acquaintances. Some are even checking in wherever they go with a geo-social tool like FourSquare! A growing number of PSP/MSP companies have designated at least one staff person as a social media leader. Typically, this is a marketing manager but, especially at smaller companies, it can be the owner/president.

Julie Shaffer is Vice President, Digital Technologies at Printing Industries of America. She heads up the Digital Printing Council (DPC), as well as the Center for Digital Printing Excellence at Printing Industries headquarters in Sewickley, PA. In her position, Julie plays a lead role in developing programs and tools to help members grow their businesses with digital technologies.

Known for her graphic production expertise, Julie has a 20-plus year background in pre-media and print. She is often called upon for training, presentations and to provide on-site consulting throughout the industry on diverse range of topics, including PDF, color management, digital printing, social media and Web-to-print implementation. Julie is co-author of several books, including "The PDF Print Production Guide" (1st, 2nd and 3rd edition), the "Web-to-Print Primer" and the forthcoming "Field Guide to Social Media."

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