Leveraging Social Media to Better Your Business

Julie Shaffer, vice president, Digital Technologies, Printing Industries of America.

It surprises me when I talk to people—especially folks in the print service provider community—and they tell me that they are waiting for this whole social media thing to blow over. They see it as a distraction (which, admittedly, it can be) that will likely fade once the new bloom is off it.

Here’s the thing: Social media is not going away. The platforms will probably change and how people engage via social media will evolve, but social media are already as entrenched as any other tool in our communication arsenal. If printers want to stay ahead of their customers’ needs and provide them with 360 degrees of customer service, they better begin to take advantage of this new communication platform.

But why invest in a technology that is difficult to tie directly to an ROI? Because when it comes to social media, there’s more to the story than directly making money. Social media engagement offers the perfect opportunity to control your brand and provide your customers with superior service and support. It provides you a platform to gather a loyal community of followers.

Maintaining a brand and image can be difficult to manage in this age of instant communication; damaging stories can spread around the world in a matter of minutes. By setting up Google alerts, printers can monitor the Internet for any mention of their businesses.

Imagine someone is unsatisfied with a print job for whatever reason and venting about it online. Whether it’s a blog post or a tweet, the printer can contact that person in the social realm and potentially mitigate the problem before it grows out of hand. Odds are too, that the customer will be impressed that the printer took the time to intervene and that extra effort might be the difference between losing a customer and keeping a loyal one. If you’re not online monitoring things like this, it’s time you get on it!

Social media is about more than brand management; it’s a great way to share information casually—about a particular job or something personal.

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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