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Printers Monetizing Social Media

June 2011 By Julie Shaffer and Mary Garnett

But his passion today lies in growing the firm's already stellar brand—and he sees social media, especially LinkedIn, as the primary platform to do so. "LinkedIn is the place to build a personal and company brand, and it's where all the buyers are," asserts the printing exec. "It's a total gold mine for the selling owner."

Cappel is an expert at using LinkedIn to find prospective new customers. He says that when you're prospecting for potential new clients, reviewing an official company Website shows only so much information about it, whereas LinkedIn can provide far more insight, especially details like a personal contact.

He recommends first following a prospect company on LinkedIn (more than two million companies maintain a LinkedIn company account). It shows you how the company describes itself, but also a stream of what's happening within that organization. This includes things such as Twitter mentions and news feeds but, more importantly, who works there and what role they play in the organization.

Finding an Opening

Some advice from Cappel: Watch the "New Hires" section on Linked–In company pages for firms you're prospecting. If you see a new marketing manager or C-level executive you wish to contact, it provides a perfect opportunity to initiate that contact and congratulate the person on the new position.

When it comes to LinkedIn introductions, Cappel doesn't use the third-party introduction feature that LinkedIn recommends. LinkedIn offers the contact name and information, but a salesperson can still use personal contact or other marketing tools to actually get in touch. "If you're good on the phone," he says, "just give the person a call. Or send a small gift such as a calendar," a dimensional piece that's likely to be opened.

Cappel also uses "Groups" to extend his network and find common areas of interest with potential customers (he has tapped out his membership in the 50 maximum groups that LinkedIn allows). He looks at his existing contact profiles frequently, especially the "Viewers of this profile also viewed..." option, which he likens to a divining rod for finding potential new contacts.

While Cappel has found his greatest success through Linked–In, he does engage in Twitter and Facebook, and also maintains an active blog. In fact, many companies engage in more than one social platform, although, like Cappel, most use one in particular for their deepest engagement.

Quad/Graphics maintains very active social engagement on many platforms (see its social media Website, www.qg.com/socialmedia/), but seems to have built a real community through its weekly #PrintChat meetings on Twitter.

Matthew Kammerait, a member of Quad/Graphics' marketing team, was tasked with growing the company's social media efforts. Concerning Twitter specifically, he noticed that, while the organization was getting a respectable number of mentions, Kammerait wanted to "turn the dialog up a notch." He watched how people engaged in two-way dialogs using Twitter chats.

A Twitter chat involves setting a specific time and date for a conversation via Twitter, where participants discuss specific topics live. They communicate with one another and track the conversation by using a specific hashtag (a unique phrase with a # sign in front of it used to reference a common topic in the Twittersphere).

Several months ago, Kammerait started #PrintChat, a Wednesday afternoon discussion around a wide range of printing and related topics on Twitter. PrintChat, he says, "gives us the option to begin a conversation and make connections. It's about building a community."

The number of participants increases every week, typically 70 or more, and many folks in the printing industry take part in the discussion. All are welcome and Quad invites people, both inside and outside the organization, to join in. Salespeople also invite customers to take part in conversations that are relevant to their businesses.

Interestingly, Quad/Graphics uses Facebook more for employee engagement than for outward-facing marketing efforts. As a company with many employees in diverse locations, the social networking tool is used for just that—keeping the staff engaged with one another and the company. Quad is also helping clients with their social media marketing efforts as part of a multi-channel marketing program, where data gained from social engagement might be infused in the print parts of a campaign.

Any social media effort should be part of a larger marketing plan; therefore, any social media ROI discussion is only part of the evaluation. While Sorrento Mesa Printing and Quad/Graphics are very different print-centric companies, especially in terms of size, both are using social media engagement as part of a larger marketing effort. In both cases, they engaged to enhance customer communication and increase brand exposure (which leads to more mentions and improves search rankings)—all of which leads to sales.

Determining the Payoff

Here are a few steps to consider as you engage in your own social media program to help measure the ROI of that effort.

Know your own engagement stats. A recent Hubspot study found that 41 percent of B2B companies have acquired a customer on Facebook, and 51 percent of Facebook "fans" are more likely to buy from brand companies that they "like." So, the first step is to ask, how many fans/likes do you have on your Facebook page? Are you talking to your existing clientele, potential new customers, industry peers, or friends and family? On your company Facebook page, how do the "like" numbers compare to your customer list?

Don't know? It's pretty easy to compare the two lists and see how much crossover you have. If you do this repeatedly in several month intervals, you can begin to determine if you have added customers as a result of your Facebook page or deepened your relationship with current clients.

Don't forget to factor in how many of the contacts are "business" contacts vs. friends and relatives. Remember that friends and relatives frequently recommend your services, so keeping them up-to-date on your business activities can strengthen that connection for business referrals.

Keep track of the amount of time your social media outreach people spend on engagement. How do you gauge "appropriate" time to spend on social media engagement? The "2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report" indicates that 58 percent of the more than 3,000 marketers surveyed devote more than six hours per week to social media, with 15 percent spending more than 20 hours per week using social media for business.

Website analytics will also show how many people are visiting via your social links, and vice versa—most of the social platforms offer copy and paste code to implement link tracking. Does your sales team have a formal method for following up on sales leads that come through social platforms? Outside of the company profiles, much of social interaction is personal, so it can be hard to grab metrics of how or whether a possible lead is being followed up on.

Recently, a printer told us that to not engage in social media is short-sighted, and that social media has become a cost of doing business. We tend to agree, but it's critical to be aware of "how much" time is spent in this pursuit—and tracking results is really critical to assessing the full truth of that statement! PI

About the Authors
Julie Shaffer is vice president, digital technologies, and Mary Garnett is executive vice president, both at Printing Industries of America.


 

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