Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard at least some buzz (!) about social media marketing. Everywhere you look online, you hear people talking about using social media to boost their business. In fact, in recent months, you don’t even need to be online- social media is making itself known in Hollywood- think Ashton Kutcher – TV – Oprah did a show about Twitter – OPRAH!
The print industry has headlined social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter time and again. Yet, you still haven’t stepped out and joined the ruckus because you’re a brick and mortar printer who makes physical paper objects and the Internet just isn’t a logical way to promote your business, right? WRONG!
If you’re in the business of printing marketing materials for other businesses, you absolutely need to be utilizing the power of social media to promote your company and build your business. The Internet doesn’t replace print media, no matter what anyone says. It doesn’t operate independently of print; it doesn’t function in a different business world than print. In fact, Internet businesses have a huge need for printed materials- brochures, flyers, invoice materials, packaging materials and dozens of other hard copy paper materials with text and images printed on them.
Where do Internet entrepreneurs look for business partners? On the Internet, of course- and they are using social media to find them.
One of the first sites where these entrepreneurs and other prospect may look for you would be LinkedIn. This is the most important social media site you should have yourself and your entire company join. It may appear to be a site that is useful for a job search or a way to rub shoulders with fellow colleagues, but it really has evolved into so much more. You can update your profile page with your RSS feed, be “introduced” to new connections, join groups and ask questions. The atmosphere is definitely more professional in nature than others, and it’s the perfect addition to your social media efforts. Better yet, LinkedIn is a great research tool for prospects and could be thought of as the new way of cold-calling. You can use LinkedIn as a sales lead generator by connecting with prospects, reminding them of what you do, and giving them more information about your business.
Another way of connecting with sales prospects is by joining and participating in LinkedIn groups. Doing this gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your company’s and your own attributes. Engage in a group; show yourself as a thought leader.
Facebook is the big daddy of the social media sites. This platform allows you to create a profile or even a Fan Page. The difference between the two may actually seem quite negligible to the average user, but they make a difference to you as a business owner. The Facebook Fan Page allows you to have a professional business page where you can announce information, promote special deals, or provide other information about your business. You can target your posts so they are broadcasted to all of your fans or just to those in specific demographics, such as location or language. Pages don’t utilize the inbox like personal profiles do, so you cannot send or receive individual messages. Only the administrator or owner of a business can create a Page, but you can assign other administrators to help you maintain and manage the page. You invite people to become fans of your page and build your following when those fans invite their own fans and friends.
Twitter is another big player in the social medial game. Twitter plays a little differently than Facebook by limiting each post to a maximum of 140 characters. While it may seem like the restriction could impede communication, the truth is many people love the challenge of saying what they need to say in a short, concise message and find it a time saver! Twitter is a great way to share links, posts to blogs and short messages with your customer base.
YouTube is another popular social media outlet. On YouTube, you post video for people to watch and share- they even share it on other social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter! By utilizing video, you can show your products, demonstrate unique ideas, let your customers see the person behind the name, and allow a customer to see your facility, equipment, staff or anything else that makes you stand out from your competition.
One of the key features to remember with all social media platforms- is that you need to make sure you are actually being social and not just promoting your products. If all you do is hard sell, you will lose your followers or at best, simply be ignored.