The Role of Social Media for Printers

By on July 15th, 2013

I recently read a blog published by Willis Turner entitled “So… Is Social Media BS or Not?” You can read his blog here on Funding Success (I found the article via the Target Marketing email distribution… proof that people do click through on emails!). In his article, he reports on a conference he was at where the keynote speaker claimed that social media, is in fact, BS. This is obviously a controversial topic, especially with how strongly social media has taken off in recent years and how actively companies – both B2C and B2B – are investing in and building their social platforms. But Turner provided more analysis of the comment which got me thinking…

The power of social media is not in the tool itself. The power of social media is in how it connects with the other components of a brand’s marketing and communications campaigns. As my colleague and MarCom guru, Cindy Cumings, would say – Social Media is just one more tool in the toolkit for successful marketers. Direct mail, email, events, SEO, personal selling… if you use each tool the way it is designed, they all come together to form a powerful and cohesive statement about your company, which ultimately generates results.

Turner reminds us to look at the marketing activities which generate revenue – something that social media does not do. So this means direct mail (still bringing in a large chunk of cash flow for some organizations), email, personal selling through a sales force, etc. These components are what brings in customers, influences sales, and at the end of the day, provides a company’s revenue.

So what does this mean for printers? Printers should take a good look at what channels of communication translates into sales, and continue focusing on those. Social media can serve as a way to bolster their efforts and brand image with customers. Continue to be active on channels to promote your printing work, your brand, and your people. If someone has heard of you before, has a favorable impression of your brand, and has even seen a sample of your work online – they are far more likely to become a customer. And remember, a successful marketing program is not built on the success of one campaign, but rather it is built on the seamless coordination of multiple campaigns, channels, and activities all designed to represent your brand.

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14 Responses to “The Role of Social Media for Printers”

  1. Marion Says:

    This is a great summary of what social media is and how it fits into your marketing strategy.

    Many companies I work with say they “Need to be on Social Media!” but have not put any thought into what they will say there or how it fits into their overall message and marketing effort.

    Before you post your first tweet, take the time to plan out what you want to say and how that message will support your business goals.

  2. Steven Toney Says:

    Some of the best advice I received regarding social media is to just sit back, watch and listen for awhile. See what’s going on in your particular industry, check who already has a successful online presence. Then cater your message and voice towards your desired followers. Also, give-give-give-give.. then ask. Meaning, post relevant content towards your industry, then once you’ve established yourself as a trusted source of info, then ask for their business.

  3. Nicole Schappert Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Marion. You get it – exactly! Approach social media with the planning and execution of any other marketing channel.

  4. Nicole Schappert Says:

    You bring up the huge importance of “listening”, Steven. Aside from what you mentioned about listening to what’s happening in your industry, social media also allows a company to listen to what others have to say about their brand.

  5. Duncan MacDonald Says:

    Social Media is the savior of my business.
    At a point when I was about to send everything to auction and retire, my grand daughter (all of 15) made me an offer… If she got my business going again, would I buy her a car.

    A 15 year old? Sure why not. She hasn’t a clue, can’t even spell properly at least not in her text messages. What have I got to lose? Hmmm… Anyone got a Porsche going cheap? My temporary savior is she’s not old enough to have a drivers license yet!

    It’s true that one door shuts and another opens. As my once prosperous business died in just 3 month, her fingers on an Iphone brought it back to life just as fast.

    I think what happens is by having person to person contact and seeing pictures or videos customers become more friendly and trusting… Right up to the point you rip them off and then your business will die as quickly as it became profitable.

    Whoever said it was BS need only to try it and they’ll quickly find out it was the fool on the stage who was full of it. First thing to do is understand Facebook. No mean task but doable by anyone. Heck… I’m 69. If I can pick it up anyone surely can. I mainly print custom wall paper on a 44″ wide photo printer, magazines and calendars on a digital press.

    My rivals whom I once admired are now asking me for marketing advice. One has offered to pay my Grand daughter’s price but the others …slowly sinking in their own refusal to recognize the value of social marketing still think it’s all BS.

    There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

  6. Katherine Says:

    Great article! The only thing I believe is missing here is that social media isn’t just about promoting your own stuff. It’s about interacting based on shared interests and experience. So promoting your own work is fine, but printers should feel free to share each other’s work as well.

  7. Sean Says:

    The problem with social media is that it’s difficult to measure ROI. However, with the new Social addition to Google Analytics and the release of software such as Adobe Social and Bottlenose Pro, tying revenue back to leads from social media campaigns is getting more transparent. There’s also a lot of talk in the IM community concerning the use of Pinterest to drive sales. People report it being much more effective than Facebook. I believe if your social campaign is managed by someone up to date in the field, it can be very powerful. Social media listening tools are a great example. They allow you to monitor network for keywords, which can then be used for lead generation. Somewhere someone is talking about your product.

    Somewhat off topic, but still very relevant to this conversation, is a post I read recently which outlined a few good reasons you may want to engage on social media with competing printing businesses. You can read it at http://digitalprinting.blogs.xerox.com/2013/06/do-you-engage-with-other-print-providers-online-here-are-6-reasons-why-you-should/

    Thanks for sharing this, Nicole!

  8. Maggie Young Says:

    While it’s important to have an strategy when just starting to venture into social media, it’s also important to realize that the strategy may evolve as you find out what works and what doesn’t. Through it all however, we’ve found that the less “marketing speak” we use, the better results we see. People like the outrageous, the silly, the exciting, and the humorous. Be adventurous!

  9. Jim David Says:

    Spot on Nicole. Social Media provides more channels of communication than before and not taking advantage of that is a mistake. Plus it is 2-way communication. Too often printers post a little bit on Facebook, send out a couple of tweets, and then sit back and wait for business. It certainly doesn’t happen that way. One more benefit is the increasing importance of SEO influence provided by Social Media. If you want your company to be discovered on Google search, and other platforms, it will become more and more important to keep your presence active in Social Media.

  10. Nicole Schappert Says:

    I love the idea of engaging with other printers over Twitter. It actually reminds me of something I’ve seen in the nonprofit world – some large nonprofits (like Save the Children) have rallied various corporate and philanthropic Twitter handles around social issues. It was amazing how many connections were made and ideas posed in a short 30 minute time frame based around one hashtag.

  11. A.R. Stevenson Says:

    Just a minor correction — social media does generate direct sales. Banks, credit card companies, telcos, general retailers are all getting significant and trackable uplifts in sales — and significant reductions in the acquisition costs. The reason some firms do not get these benefits will be found in their approach, software used and corporate focus. One US bank has reduced customer acquisition costs in excess of 60% — they clearly would disagree with the premise that social media does not deliver direct sales and financial benefit.

    A.R. Stevenson
    Ashburnham (1-705-939-2300)

  12. Cassandra Pleasent Says:

    Social Media generates a lot of direct sales. Just ask my customers. The first day I took over a jeweler’s Facebook page a woman came in and gave him a commission saying, “I loved that post on Facebook, it inspired me to have you do a custom piece for me.” A blinds installer customer got a big contract with a condominium complex and when she asked, “How did you find me?” they answered, “You impressed us on Facebook.” Facebook is awesome for both B2B and B2C and absolutely nothing beats it for brand penetration.

  13. Nicole Schappert Says:

    Since this blog has gotten so many comments, you may be interested in viewing or sharing this webinar Canon Solutions America sponsored in partnership with InfoTrends. Kate Dunn (Director at InfoTrends) provides a baseline for print and marketing service providers who are trying to integrate social media into their own marketing initiatives.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9SjJW_ndBU

  14. Jaume Masdevall Says:

    I have to agree with Katherine. Since in the printing business the final client is not normally the final consumer, networking, sharing and interacting with others in the sector is the key to a social media strategy. Of course having a portfolio is important, in order to show what you do and prove you do it well, but it’s not only advertising yourself through social media that makes it worth, it’s far more complex.