Using Social Media to Promote Your Print Business
Social media can be a powerful addition to a print company's marketing strategy, but using it effectively requires research, education, planning, and plenty of time. If you haven’t used this channel for business promotion, the prospect of diving into the social media pool can seem overwhelming. In this article, we’ll share some advice about how print companies can take advantage of social media without getting lost or buried.
Just as with any marketing idea, you only want to spend your time in areas where the people you are trying to reach will see your messages. Establish free accounts in the major social platforms you suspect are frequented by your audience and go looking for evidence they are part of the network. Most printers will start with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
Search for your customers, but also pay attention to groups or hashtags to gauge the activity among other people and organizations similar to your targets. On LinkedIn, for example, search for terms related to the markets you serve and then select “groups”. The group membership lists and activity will be a clue about the kind of companies that use the social network regularly. Search for a hashtag to see how many people are following a keyword within a network. These actions will tell you if your messaging will reach your target audience.
Pick one or two social platforms that seem to be the best fit. Don’t try to be instantly active on too many social networks at once. You won’t have the time.
Look for posts or conversation threads relevant to your audience. Notice which ones are getting shares and reactions. Those are the topics most interesting to the members in a network. If the topics are relevant to your business, consider covering them in your own posts.
You can also use a tool like Google’s Keyword Planner to identify hot topics related to your business. This tool reports how many people are searching for a particular word or phrase. Entering a search phrase displays the average number of searches for the term you entered. Keyword Planner also tells you if many advertisers are competing for the same keyword. You need not run a Google Ads campaign to use the Keyword Planner, but a free Google Adwords account is required.
The first planning step is identifying your objectives. What do you expect to achieve by using social media? Lead generation, brand awareness, and thought leadership are some common goals. Don’t lose sight of your objectives as you execute your social media strategy.
Next, decide on the content you intend to publish. Re-posting other’s content is fine to an extent, but original content yields the best results. Unless you have an inventory of material on hand, this means someone must create the content. Identify your resources, which may be in-house or outsourced. If your existing staff will create the content, we recommend allocating time in the workday for handling the task. When this responsibility is a “when you have time” project for someone who already has full-time responsibilities, it rarely works.
Finally, plan the action you will take based on how your social networks respond to your posts. Will you use the interest in a post to segment your leads and follow-up? Use high click rates to spur further posts on the same topic? Respond to followers who comment or share your content with others? Someone must carry out your social media strategy.
Marketing through social networks differs from other approaches. It’s not just another broadcast channel. Your organization must connect with your followers. Besides posting on a consistent schedule, your activities may include commenting or sharing other people’s posts, following other users, and starting or participating in group discussions. All these tasks take time-probably more than you thought.
Set aside the same time each day to monitor and engage in social media. Take 30-60 minutes at the start of each day to log into the platforms. Notice how followers are reacting to your posts and look for opportunities to grow your follower list or add value by commenting or taking part in group discussions.
Social networks are for connecting and sharing information. If all your content is marketing oriented, your audience will not respond. Users are quick to unfollow brands that are overly promotional. Focus on creating informational content your audience finds interesting and useful.
Though consistency is important, and social media is somewhat of a numbers game, always post with intent and compare your content with your objectives. When faced with a choice between frequently publishing lackluster content and posting well-written, thoughtful, and interesting articles less often, choose the latter.
You’ll want to set time aside for analyzing important metrics like profile views, shares, and clicks. These statistics will tell you if you’re in the right platforms and if you are influencing your intended audiences.
Social media is an important business tool. It’s a place where nearly all your potential customers go before they do business with your company. It is foolish to ignore this powerful way to promote your brand. But using social media is a commitment. Resources and time must be allocated to the effort or it will fail. Jumping into social media with a halfhearted effort can damage the brand image more than it helps.
In 2001, Roger Gimbel founded Gimbel & Associates, an international consulting firm providing business and market development services, skills training, and expert public speaking in the graphic communications and digital solutions industry. The mission of Gimbel & Associates is to help clients identify new business opportunities and implement leading-edge solutions using expertise in organizational development, technology selection, implementation, and work processes.
Roger oversees a team of Consultants with expertise in sales training, workflow analysis, MicroModeling, multichannel marketing, marketing plans, transactional printing, trans-promotional applications and creative strategies for mergers and acquisitions, business development workshops and seminars.