Posts Tagged ‘ Social Media ’

Do you need a reference list of #Twitter #Hastags for #Mfg?

As more and more people join Twitter and other social media outlets they are finding a rather steep learning curve for all of the nomenclature used.  This is particularly true with regard to #Hashtags.

Short messages on services such as Twitter or identi.ca may be tagged by including one or more hash tags: words or phrases prefixed with a hash symbol (#), with multiple words concatenated… These hash tags also show up in a number of trending topicswebsites, including Twitter’s own front page. One phenomenon specific to the Twitter ecosystem are micro-memes, which are emergent topics for which a hash tag is created, used widely for a few days, then disappears. – Wikipedia

Again, with the massive influx of people from the manufacturing sector entering Twitter, it’s become very hard to search for or decide what the various common hashtags mean. But never fear, there’s an app for that! Well, sort of, it’s actually a website called TagDef.  Short of going there, you can check out the following is a list of commonly used hastags in the twitterverse and, in particular, the manufacturing & metalcutting industry.

Common #hashtags:

#Aero – Topics related to the aerospace & defense industry

#Aerospace – Typically the term is used to refer to the industry that researches, designs, manufactures, operates, and maintains vehicles moving through air and space. Aerospace is a very diverse field, with a multitude of commercial, industrial and military applications. This hashtag covers a great many topics. Please see the above hashtag “#aero” which appears to be more manufacturing industry specific.

#AMT – refers to Alternative Minimum Tax which has the most volume.  Although it has been used for The Association For Manufacturing Technology the larger population already on Twitter uses the first definition. Organizations should select Hastags and post their definitions sooner rather than later.

#AMTDA – American Machine Tool Distributors’ Association is a Trade Association dedicated to lead distributors of manufacturing technology. Found at http://www.amtda.org and http://amtdanetwork.org

#AutoMfg – Topics related to the automotive industry as it pertains to design & manufacture of automotive components.
Defined by the following NAICS codes:

  • 336111 Automobile Manufacturing
  • 336112 Light Truck and Utility Vehicle Mfg
  • 336120 Heavy Duty Truck Manufacturing
  • 336211 Motor Vehicle Body Manufacturing
  • 336212 Truck Trailer Manufacturing
  • 336213 Motor Home Manufacturing
  • 336214 Travel Trailer and Camper Manufacturing
  • 336311 Carburetor, Piston, Piston Ring, and Valve
  • 336312 Gasoline Engine and Engine Parts Mfg
  • 336321 Vehicular Lighting Equipment Mfg
  • 336322 Other Motor Vehicle Electrical and Electronic Equipment Manufacturing
  • 336330 Motor Vehicle Steering and Suspension Components (except Spring) Manufacturing
  • 336340 Motor Vehicle Brake System Mfg336350 Motor Vehicle Transmission &Power Train
  • 336360 Motor Vehicle Seating and Interior Trim
  • 336370 Motor Vehicle Metal Stamping
  • 336391 Motor Vehicle Air-Conditioning Mfg
  • 336399 All Other Motor Vehicle Parts Mfg

#cadcam – Topics related to CAD/CAM: Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing. Often associated with Computer-Aided technologies #CAx, Product Lifecycle Management #PLM

#CMTS – Although it does not appear as a hashtag per se, as it often appears in the form #CMTs as an alternative version of #CMT for what appears to be Country Music Television. It does not refer to Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show although, as that show gets closer, the folks  @SocMfgEng should select an appropriate hashtag

#CNC – Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machine tools. CNC-like systems are now used for any process that can be described as a series of movements and operations. These include laser cutting, welding, friction stir welding, ultrasonic welding, flame and plasma cutting, bending, spinning, pinning, gluing, fabric cutting, sewing, tape and fiber placement, routing, picking and placing (PnP), and sawing.

#CTD – Cutting Tool Distributor.

#defense – There is no definition for this category as it encompasses topics from defense in football, defense (#military) policy and economics.  For topics related to defense manufacturing please see the above hashtag #aero

#DOD – Tweets regarding the U.S. Department of Defense carry this tag. This tag is used by various gamers as well

#ERP – Topics about Enterprise Resource Planning, a system that is used to manage and coordinate all the resources, information, and functions of a business

#FB – This tag is used by people who have installed the Selective Twitter Update application on Facebook. Tweets ending in #fb are automatically imported to Facebook, all others are ignored. Just a note, if #fb appears anywhere other than at the end of the tweet, it will not sync with Facebook.

#FF – #ff is the same as (short for) #followfriday: Every friday you can use #followfriday (#FF) to suggest people to follow.

#green – Tweets related to sustainable and environmentally friendly ways of living.

#IMTS – International Manufacturing Technology Show found at http://www.imts.com

#inshoring = “#reshoring” and “#inshoring” may be thought of as the ‘opposite’ of Offshoring. It is the business process outsourcing work domestically within a given country

#ISO – Refers to the International Organization for Standardization http://www.iso.org/iso/home.html

#ISO-P – An #ISO category that includes carbide cutting tools best suited for machining a variety of #steels.

#ISO-M – An #ISO category that includes carbide cutting tools best suited for machining ductile irons, harder steels, stainless steels, and high-temperature alloys.

#ISO-K – An #ISO category that includes carbide cutting tools best suited for machining cast irons.

#ISO-N – An #ISO category that includes carbide cutting tools best suited for machining a variety of Aluminum wrought and Aluminum cast alloys, copper, copper alloys, non metal materials

#ISO-S – An #ISO category that includes carbide cutting tools best suited for machining a variety heat-resistant alloys like Nickel/Cobalt-base alloys & Titanium alloys

#ISO-H – An #ISO category that includes carbide cutting tools best suited for machining a variety Hard materials such as Hardened steels (>35-45 HRC), chilled castings, hard cast irons

#JIMTOF – Topics related to the Japan International Machine Tool Fair. More details at http://www.jimtof.org

#JobShop – Topics that relate to Job shops which are typically small manufacturing businesses that handle job production, that is, custom/bespoke or semi-custom/bespoke manufacturing processes such as small to medium-size customer orders or batch jobs.

#Lathe – Topics related to lathe: a machine tool which spins the workpiece to perform various operations such as cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, or deformation with tools that are applied to the workpiece to create an object which has symmetry about an axis of rotation.Lathes are used in woodturning, metalworking, metal spinning, and glassworking.

#Lean – Noun: the name given to the philosophy of delivering maximum value to stakeholders with the least possible waste. Predominantly associated with the Toyota Production System and Toyota Product Development System, derived from the works of Taiichi Ohno and Shigeo Shingo amongst others.

#Logistics – Logistics topics are about the management of the flow of the goods, information and other resources in a repair cycle between the point of origin and the point of consumption in order to meet the requirements of customers

#Materials – Topics related to Materials: anything made of matter, constituted of one or more substances. Metal, Wood, cement, etc. Sometimes the term “material” is used more narrowly to refer to substances or components with certain physical properties that are used as inputs to production or manufacturing.

#materialhandling – Topics in Material Handling are about the movement, storage, control and protection of materials, goods and products throughout the process of manufacturing, distribution, consumption and disposal

#medicaldevice – A medical device is a product which is used for medical purposes in patients, in diagnosis, therapy or surgery.

#Milling – Topics related to milling machines, CNC milling, cutting tools, milling problems, milling products, End Mills, Face Mill, Shell Mills. etc

#Metalcutting – Topics related to the metalcutting manufacturing industry using lathes and mills in the production of components in SIC 33-39, NAICS 31-33

#Metrology – Topics related to the science of measurement.

#MFG – “MFG” is used to reference topics that relate to global manufacturing and the use of machines, tools and labor to produce goods for use or sale. The term may refer to a range of human activity, from handicraft to high tech, but is most commonly applied to industrial production, in which raw materials are transformed into finished goods on a large scale. Be aware that an alternative definition is posted from the folks at #NAM (see below)

#Moldmaking – Topics related to moldmaking: Anyone who produces molds for the injection molding (plastics), die casting (e.g. aluminium, magnesium) and ceramics industries.

#MTD – Machine Tool Dealer

#NAM – The NAM – Advocacy for U.S. Manufacturing.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Association_of_Manufacturers The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers create jobs and growth, visit nam.org.  Be aware that the more common usage of the hashtag “#NAM” is by Viet Nam veterans and National Adoption Month.

#Plastics – Topics related to plastic materials is any of a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solids used in the manufacture of industrial products

#reshoring – “#reshoring” and “#inshoring” may be thought of as the ‘opposite’ of Offshoring. It is the business process outsourcing work domestically within a given country

#SocialMedia – Social Media is an emerging form of news and information distribution that may soon replace traditional media like newspapers, magazines, tv and radio

#SM – Social Media

#SMD – Social Media Design

#SMI – Social Media Implementation

#SMM – Social Media Monitoring

#SMO – Social Media Optimization

#SMT – Social Media Training

#STEM – Refers to topics related to he acronym S.T.E.M. which stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.In many forums (including political/governmental and academic) the strength of the STEM workforce is viewed as an indicator of a nation’s ability to sustain itself.

#subtweet – It’s the shortening of “subliminal tweet” which is directly referring to a particular person without mentioning their name or directly mentioning them and it basically indicates that the tweet in which the hashtag is used is a subliminal tweet.

#sustainability – is in use by several different interest groups. Use at your own risk as it relates to manufacturing.

#USMTC – United States Manufacturing Technology Consumption found at https://www.usmtc.com/Detailed Manufacturing Technology Market DataTimely, Comprehensive, ConfidentialAvailable to Builders and Distributors180 Manufacturing Technology Product CategoriesNational and State Time Series Orders DataGeographic Sales Territory Orders DataMachine Orders by End User Industry

#workforce – Topics related to the workforce: The labour pool in employment. It is generally used to describe those working for a single company or industry, but can also apply to a geographic region like a city, country, state, etc

#Workholding – Broad category of Topics related to workholding and fixturing in lathes & mills in the production of components in SIC 33-39; NIACS 31-33.

#WW – is either Worth Watching, Writing Wednesday, Wine Wednesday or Wedding Wednesday depending upon the context used.  A rather good example of why researching hastags is important in your business, organization or event.

#xmas (#cmas) – short for Christmas

For more definitions on hashtags be sure to visit TagDef

If you know of more hashtags that should be on the list be sure to leave a comment below and I’ll add them.

If you want to learn more about Social Media marketing in the industrial sector please contact us at:

Rapid Production Marketing

www.rpmconsultants.us

bernie@rpmconsultants.us

tel: 412.996.5700


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Who leads the charge in Social Media? Marketing, PR, Sales, Customer Service?

Who leads the charge in Social Media? Marketing, PR, Sales, Customer Service?

Customer Service, Sales & Marketing; Who leads?

Social Media is a ‘new’ way to sell.  Selling is, after all, about relationships. People do business with people that they “like” and merely having a website, literature, advertising,etc. isn’t going to generate revenue.
What Social Media is doing is creating a new paradigm.  I know that that sounds cliché. But I believe that it’s creating a new “type” of business.  Traditional marketing adapted, very successfully in the 1980’s thru 1990’s, to creating websites after they had experience in graphics, advert buys, copywriting and literature development. It was a natural evolution.

However, Social Media has created an environment where front line sales and front line customer service people are directly affected.  Frankly, the people who tend to “get it” are the folks in the sales and CRM areas: It makes sense to them. It’s about one-on-one relationships. It’s what they already do.

I’ve spoken to a great deal of sales people who have expressed concerns about their “marketing” departments not “getting it”  Not that that “disconnect” is a new phenomenon, but now they are seeing how it can directly affect their income…. and they want more control so they can make more money, have better relationships and  sell more.

I read an article over twenty years ago that said “Small companies spend years trying to become big companies and big companies are constantly trying to figure out ways to become as responsive, nimble, and aggressive as small companies.”  The reality is that the people who are the best salespeople don’t always make the best managers and the best managers are not generally the best salespeople (Yes, there are always exceptions.)

As companies get bigger they create marketing, customer service and sales departments. Marketing management consults sales management and, in good faith, creates tools for the field.  Sometimes they get it right. Sometimes they don’t.  Sometimes sales management doesn’t always “get what the sales people need. In the new Social Media paradigm, marketing will work more closely with sales and customer service.  Marketing will create the tools and sales and customer service will USE them with and insight role for marketing.  Note, I said “insight” and not “oversight”. That loss of control could take some getting used to, but THAT is what is going to drive ROI.

So, I suspect we are going to see a “blending” of sales PR, CRM and marketing functions.  I also think we are going to see new leaders sprout up within this new paradigm. Their backgrounds could be in marketing, customer service and/or sales.  Social Media converges these traditionally separated business units and skill sets.

I have spoken to a number of traditional marketing people who have approached me to ask a variety of questions about social media.  More often than not I find that there is a certain level of discomfort: “I don’t know these products” “I don’t know these services in that level of detail”  In fact, I sat in on a marketing webinar recently and listened to the moderator say “We’re getting a lot of comments about how people are uncomfortable talking about budgets and ROI. If you’re not comfortable talking about budgets you should take a sales class, we can’t help you with that”  The marketing folks that “get” selling and understand that something has to be sold in this new paradigm will be successful.

Certainly delivering “analytics” is valuable but when it comes down to the brass tacks someone has to sell something and there has to be a demonstrated ROI for social media. You can’t just come in, build it, create graphics and say “Here’s how you measure it”.  You have to “DO IT” and/or

…. you have to train.  Unlike traditional marketing that would create a website and great landing pages, now marketing has to either become much more intimate with the products or services, they have to know how to “sell,” or they need to know how to “train” people how to use the new sales tools… and it is my belief that THAT is what Social Media tools are: Sales Tools.  Marketing need not learn the product or service nuances, they need to teach the right people how to use them…

man’s got to know his limitations Lieutenant Briggs

As a result of Social Media I think we will see marketing, sales, and customer service arrive in the space together, each bringing a “piece” of what they are good at to create something new. I think the tool has finally arrived that can make everyone more responsive, nimble, and aggressive. Now the trick is to get the tools in the right hands and the right leadership in place.

 

Successful implementation of Social Media tools gets everyone working together in the engagement

 

As always, your comments and feedback are greatly appreciated.  If you would like to discuss this in more detail feel free to contact us at our website: Rapid Production Marketing

Image 1 from: Battalion Wars n-Europe

Image 2 from: Battalion Wars Gamespy

Battalion Wars is an integrated battle strategy game… You might be surprised what your kids are learning from “gaming”

___________________________

UPDATE: March 7, 2011

Here’s a link to several articles on the same subject:

Social Media’s Little Image Problem (or how to work for fame and glory)

A Day in the Life of Your Friendly Community Manager

The Hectic Schedule of a Social Media Manager

 

 

 

Using Social Media Tools: LinkedIn as a Selling Tool

We’ve covered quite a bit of topics about how to set up Social Media accounts, demographics and details of how they work.

The question that seems to be arising now is “How do I use the tools?”

How to use LinkedIn for selling

Anyone who has been in sales for any amount of time has heard at some point the importance of developing “Rapport” with customers.  Selling, after all, is a process. There are various selling “systems” out there but all of them start with the first step: Rapport

Rapport is one of the most important features or characteristics of subconscious communication. It is commonality of perspective: being “in sync” with, or being “on the same wavelength” as the person with whom you are talking.

There are a number of techniques that are supposed to be beneficial in building rapport such as: matching your body language (i.e., posturegesture, etc.); maintaining eye contact; and matching breathing rhythm. Some of these techniques are explored in neuro-linguistic programming.

The first time a salesperson has a meeting with a new “prospect” they are looking for things that they might have in common with the person.  This could be a hobby, an interest, or even a discussion about something in the office.  The main idea of building rapport is to demonstrate that you are “human” and not just interested in taking someone’s money. It’s about developing a level of trust.

Often times this step in the selling process is one of the most difficult and can be very time-consuming.  LinkedIn offers a solution.  By inviting a new “prospect” to connect with you on LinkedIn you can accomplish several steps in rapport building all at the same time. IF your profile is complete.

With a complete LinkedIn Profile your new contact can find out more about you, your hobbies, your interests, the books you’ve read, the recommendations you have received, and potentially know some people whom you are already connected to whom they trust.

Sandler Sales Systems Submarine: Rapport is the 1st Step

 

It’s actually pretty simple.

However, that’s why it’s of critical importance to complete your LinkedIn profile.  If you can’t communicate your experience, your background, or don’t have any recommendations, then you’re not going to be able to use this social media tool effectively.

Here’s what you should complete:

  1. Summary – Complete your summary.  It’s really what it sounds like.  Tell everyone your background and skill sets so they know your strengths.
  2. Profile Picture – A picture is worth thousand words.  It’s also helpful if you are meeting someone for the first time.  Now they know what you look like and you’re not saying “I have a blue jacket and wear glasses” Here’s a LINK to an older article about profile pictures LinkedIn that I think you’ll find useful.
  3. Experience – Merely putting down the company name and a your job title isn’t going to cut it.  If  you want to build rapport, you’ll need to add details about your experience.  If you have been in sales for any amount of time you will dread meeting someone for the first time and their expectations and yours about the nature of the conversation are 180 degrees apart.  What you do, what your experience is, is NOT what they are looking for to begin with.
  4. References – At some point in a sales career you will be asked for references.  References and recommendations are sometimes seen as a stall tactic. More often than not, it’s because the salesperson hasn’t developed enough rapport or trust with a prospect.  LinkedIn provides you with a ready-made way to provide references before the meeting.  That’s just one reason why you should be asking your most trusted connections, those whom you have had professional experiences with, for a recommendation.

Essentially, by using LinkedIn as a sales tool you “shorten the cycle.”  That first meeting, whether it be on the phone or in-person, tends to move forward with much more ease as both parties are already familiar with each other, have some rapport built, and can get down to the business at hand quicker. This makes everyone much more efficient in the use of their time.

There are several other items on your LinkedIn profile you want to look at as well, but these were covered in an earlier posting entitled “Social Media 101 For Mfg, part 1: LinkedIn” You may want to take a quick peek at the article if you haven’t already.

As always, your comments and feedback are greatly appreciated.  If you would like to discuss this in more detail feel free to contact us at our website: Rapid Production Marketing

 

Industrial Equipment Sales via Social Media

A shorter version of this article appeared in the American Machine Tool Distributor’s AssociationToolTalk” newsletter in October 2010 starting on Page 4

This article on social media is going to be a bit different than previous articles that have appeared in Tool Talk.  We’re going to address some of the core questions that the AMTDA membership has been asking:

  • “Is this just a fad? Should I just wait until the dust settles to get in?”
  • “What are the best Social Media places to be? Where are my customers?”
  • “I don’t have enough time to respond to emails, how am I going to manage these marketing efforts”
  • “How do I know what my ROI is? How do I measure it?”

Flashback 1993:

Q: “What’s your email address?”

A: “We don’t have one. We do everything by fax, That’s too new. We’re going to wait and see if people use it”

Is it a Fad?

Pew Study US Internet Users 2010

Social media is generating the same conversations today.  The big difference is that the “tools” to use and manage social media are expanding exponentially and will continue to expand.  The pace of change in the last 18 months in Social Media would be like moving from NC Tape Machines to full integration of MT Connect in the same time period.

“While social media use has grown dramatically across all age groups, older users have been especially enthusiastic over the past year about embracing new networking tools. Social networking use among internet users ages 50 and older nearly doubled—from 22% in April 2009 to 42% in May 2010.

  • Between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking use among internet users ages 50-64 grew by 88%–from 25% to 47%.
  • During the same period, use among those ages 65 and older grew 100%–from 13% to 26%.
  • By comparison, social networking use among users ages 18-29 grew by 13%—from 76% to 86%.”

-“Older Adults & Social Media”, Mary Madden, PEW Internet, August 27, 2010

….It’s not a fad.

Should I just wait to “get in?”

Customer: “Ok, So our first new 6 pallet Horizontal CNC hits my floor in 5 days, That’s going to be perfect. We want to move our two families of 10,000 parts/month onto them and ship 20,000 at the end of the month in 15 days before our competitor gets the work”

You already know that that is not realistic.  But that is the same kind of thinking that is taking place in Social Media.

“Hey, we can just set up a Twitter account in a few minutes”

Well, yes you can, but, just like the first time buyer of a machine tool, there’s still an awful lot to learn. The sooner you start learning, the farther in front of your competitors you’ll be.  This is a pro-active approach.  Too many b-to-b companies, particularly exhibitors at IMTS, took a reactive approach. They jumped in and created their “social media brand names” without first having personal accounts so they understood how it works.

So the best way to learn is to set up some social media personal accounts.

Start with your LinkedIn Profile.

  1. Does your profile web link say “My Company”  or contain your actual company name?
  2. Create a Company Page – it’s that little document icon next some people’s company name.

…get in now. Be Sure to read the article Social Media 101 for Mfg, part 1: LinkedIn for more details.

What are the best Social Media places to be as a Machine Tool Distributor?

  1. YouTube – It’s the simplest way to enable your sales force to have all of their product videos in one place.  You don’t need to re-create the wheel or even upload any videos.  You can go in and “favorite” your builder’s videos after you create your own channel.
  2. Twitter “Twitter’s like snack food: it tastes good, it’s fun to eat but there’s no nutritional value” In some sense, the above statement is true.  But with two  BIG caveats: It’s all in what you make of it, and, most importantly, it s FOUNDATION level application.  Without going into a lot of detail about API’s and tech jargon, what you need to know is that Twitter connects to almost everything. It’s like the junction box in an electrical system.
  3. 43% of U.S. companies will be blogging by 2012

    Blog“I don’t know what to write about, I don’t have content” Press releases, news articles, technical information…. Cut and paste.  There is lots of content available. Obviously, clear all of this with the content owners.  Actually a Blog is one of the very best things you can create. Think about this for a moment. When you type a search into Google, you don’t type just “CNC” you type what you are looking for: “cnc swiss screw machine multi axis.” You have learned over the years that by typing more information you are more likely to find exactly what you are looking for in a topic.  This is called a “long tail search.” That’s very important to know because it’s how your customers find out about your company and your products. It becomes even more important because the new algorithms used by search engines are location based.  You’ve probably noticed that when you use a “long tail search” and you’re in Chicago you don’t get listings for many places in Europe.  That’s not because there aren’t places in Europe it’s because they are NOT near Chicago.

  4. Facebook“That’s for kids.” Step back from any preconceived notions and think about this from a business standpoint.  There is a war going on.  Two data collection monoliths, Facebook & Google, are each trying to outdo each other.  In April 2010 Facebook announced at their annual “F8” conference the “Open Graph”: That’s why you are seeing the “LIKE” button appear everywhere. Here’s why that’s important:  If you recall the first time you got a day planner you learned that you should not only put your business appointments down but also soccer games, weddings and personal events. Time management 101. Your life is 24 hours a day. Facebook at it’s core is personal. But your personal life affects your business and vice-versa. Facebook collects personal data and associates it with your interests. If your title is “CNC machinist,” it permits advertisers to target that. Although Google has a massive database, they have not “aggregated” demographics as deep down as Facebook. They are both competing for ad space. If you were at IMTS in Chicago and logged into Facebook, you may have seen some ads running.  But you would have only seen them if you were with in 5 miles of McCormick Place, between 7pm -10pm, were male, between 35-55, and had some keyword in your profile indicating you were in our industry. The “pay-per-click” cost .60 cents each and had a cap on the amount spent by the advertiser. Yes, you can do that level of targeted advertising. Creating a Facebook Page is a way to become “engaged’ and be in front of your customer when they get home from work.  The busiest time on Facebook is Wednesday and Friday evening, but we’ll talk about that more later…

Where are my Customers?

They are “IN” all for the above digital spaces and probably another 1,000 more.

Have you ever purchased something online?  Have you looked down at the product reviews and decided against the purchase of something because of the reviews?  Then, did you think  “Wow, I wonder why that manufacturer isn’t reading that and fixing it? They’re getting really bad press”  The problem is that the manufacturer may not even know about the comments to address them. But B-to-B  consumers ARE researching and engaging each other.

There are a number of free products out there to use to search for who’s talking about what.  I would recommend going to Social Mention and type in your company name and brands and see what appears.  You will find that you can drill down and drill down more and then drill down even more into exactly who is talking about what where.

“How do I manage all of these marketing efforts?”

“There’s an APP for that!”  Well, actually, there are a multitude of application dashboards so that you can see ALL of your social media sites.

Realize that the heavy users of Social Media are NOT online every minute.  They have done several things, which are very important to be aware of, as you ponder social media marketing:

1. They have “wired” their social media sites together.  In all reality you can only be in one place at a time.  Different users will be using different channels at the same moment.  You notice that when you channel surf on TV that you see the same commercials sometimes?  It’s just like that. In order to maximize your exposure you “connect” the sites to each other so you don’t have to post the same thing over and over again.

Remember when I explained that Twitter was a “junction box”? This is how it “connects” Twitter

permits the sharing between sites better than most any other social media site.

Here are a couple of examples of dashboard app’s:

2. They have Pre-programmed “Tweets” and announcements. If you already do a newsletter email or product announcements electronically, you have content to use.

Two very good examples of how this can be done is to take a look at Criterion Machine Works or TechniksUSA Blog sites.  Once a blog is posted it is automatically tweeted, posted on their Facebook page and appears in a number of social media outlets.

………………Automatically

The Blogs can be programmed to post at a given time and, once the switch is flipped on the timer, everything else happens seamlessly.

That however, is not where it ends.  Unlike just sending it out there and hoping people read it, now your customer can interact back with you.

Think of social media like your cell phone. You should check it a couple times a day with your dashboard application and see if you have messages, comments, or questions and then “engage” the customer in some “conversation.”

Measuring ROI

Just as there are a number of dashboard app’s there are an innumerable number of “analytics” to gage and measure success in real time.

In fact, some of the dashboard applications I mentioned earlier have the measurement tools built right into them. Measuring is actually pretty easy.

Without going into a tremendous amount of detail on measurement tools, be aware that the list of measurement tools practically exceeds the number of social media outlets that exist.  Just for Twitter there are sites like Analytic.lyTwifficiency and Twitteranalyzer. Facebook has built-in analysis tools for their Page.  Your ROI is really going to be determined by what you put into the effort.  Just like a salesperson, the more you engage, the more return.  If you sit in the office and just send out emails and don’t follow up to engage into the conversation not much is going to happen.  “Engaging” is the key to ROI and the analysis tool sets are all going to measure this kind of activity and report on it.

Where to Start

“I’ve gotta interpolate down and then ramp into this corner with a ½” tool at an 8 thou chip load and I need a 32 finish. Which is better Linear guides vs. box ways? How’s your look ahead on that?”

Learn by Doing (National Training Laboratories)

The first time you heard that it would have been like a foreign language.  Social Media also has it’s own language:

“I put the hashtag in the summary blog post & the metatag to increase my SEO”

So where do you start?  You can’t arrive in our industry green and expect to know everything. Same thing applies for social media.

Start with a personal account on:

  • Twitter –  Set up Twitter account and follow some people. You can follow @RPMconsultants where we tweet about social media or my personal Twitter account, @bernardtmartin where I tweet about Education, STEM, F1, Economics and Foreign Affairs. You can then check out who we follow, learn some basics, ask some questions.
  • Facebook – Set up a personal account, be sure to set your account settings to “friends only” across all categories and then search for “International Manufacturing Technology Show” or “AMTDA” on Facebook.  Look at whom they have made favorites on their Company page.  Hit the “LIKE” button.

The first step is really about “learning” about how to use these tools for your business.

What NOT to do & Where to begin

  • DON”T go out and set up accounts in YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook for your company right this minute! That’s would be like a customer saying “I want to buy the CNC with the Green Paint, I like that color.”
  • Set up your personal accounts and then go to “Knowem” Search for some available names.  I’ve talked to many machinery distributor owners and employees over the years and heard “Yea, our website name is WAY too long, but it’s what we’re stuck with.”

Unlike registering your web address, your URL, with a service that reports to one central agency for verification, called ICANN, there is no single service registration of your “Social Media Brand name”

Places like Knowem allow you to search for brand names.

You want to use the same Brand name in ALL of your social media spaces.

There are several considerations in the selection of THAT name:

  • Shorter is better. Remember Twitter on permits 140 characters in “tweets” You don’t want to eat up half of it with your company name and be limited on your message.
  • Use the same name in all social media spaces. That bears worth repeating. Remember that long tail search discussion?

Comments and questions are always welcome.  If you would like more information on what we do at Rapid Production Marketing be sure and check out our website or you can drop us an email bernie@rpmconsultants.us



Social Media 101 For Mfg, part 3: Twitter

Welcome to part 3 of Social Media for Manufacturing.  In reviewing the analytics it seems that many folks have spent some time reading through the material on Social Media.  I hope that you’re finding it useful as there really is quite a bit to digest. I really welcome your comments and questions and look forward to hearing your opinions.

If you recall from a previous blog post “What’s all this about Social Media and where do I start?” , Twitter is a free social networking (micro-blogging) service that allows users to send and read messages known as “Tweets”
“Tweets” are text based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the authors subscribers “Followers”

What do you get out of it?

“Twitter’s like snack food: it’s fun, it tastes good, but there’s no nutritional value” as it was explained to me not too long ago.  In some cases this is true.  It really all depends on how you use it and what you expect to get out of it.  If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a business owner or manager and are probably on my LinkedIn network… so I have a pretty good idea of what you’re thinking. 🙂 So before we go into ANY details on what Twitter is and how you can use it let’s start off with some of the backstory.

Understanding the Generation Gap

I recently returned from the ISA Product Show & Conference and heard a wonderful speaker, Robert Wendover who heads up The Center for Generational Studies.  He spoke about:

As business to business continues to evolve, suppliers are discovering that the entry of young professionals into customer firms is presenting a number of unforeseen challenges. Veteran salespeople struggle to meet the demands of young purchasing agents who communicate in a digital world. They are confounded by the expectations of emerging professionals who expect to obtain instant quotes with the click of a mouse.

As I listened intently to the presentation I recalled an article from Fast Company in 2006, “Geny Y v. Boomer: Generational Differences in Communication”:

….The biggest one, however, has been the advent of technology and its offspring, email, IM and txt. Gen Y has grown up in and around this world of virtual communication. Unlike their parents, they have not had to spend nearly as much time socializing face-to-face. Their social interactions have been conducted while sitting alone in front of a computer, IM-ing with several people at once. Therefore they did not gain much experience reading the nonverbal cues inherent in face-to-face or even voice-to-voice communication, aka, the telephone. This dependence on remote forms of communication has left many younger workers bereft of interpersonal skills that Boomers value such as deference and respect.

The Boomers, on the other hand, have had technology thrust upon them, and although most have learned what they had to in order to get by and stay current, they have largely left the “technological heavy lifting” to others. Boomers have stuck to many of the old ways of doing business that their parents taught them, calling on clients in person, networking at business meetings, showing respect and deference to those who are more senior or with whom they would like to do business.

During the course of the wonderful presentation discussing Gen Y’s “work to live” vs. Boomer’s “live to work” I posited a thought about what I believe was a critical element missing from the presentation.  I suggested that Gen Y’s actually work 24/7 because of their adoption of technology.  The morning after the presentation I reached into my files and found the following from a LexisNexis Technology Gap Survey, completed in July & August of 2008. Here’s some of the important parts, but if you’re like me and work in engineering you’ll want to click on the link for the real meat of the data.  It’s pretty insightful stuff.

Additionally, Gen Y workers multi-task at even higher levels than the other generations as evidenced by the amount of hours in each work day that they report accessing various devices and programs. And this is especially the case for programs and web sites that may not be strictly work-related.

  • Gen Y workers report spending an average of 17.4 hours in a workday using a PC, a PDA and a mobile phone, whereas, Boomers report spending just 9.7 hours a work day using the same devices.
  • Gen Y workers report spending an average of 20.5 hours a work day using e-mail programs, Internet browsers, instant messaging programs and Microsoft Office programs, while Boomers only report spending 11.9 work hours using the same programs.

When I arrived in the manufacturing industry almost 20 years ago as a management & sales consultant, I quickly realized that our sector lagged behind most others in adoption of marketing and technology.  I had a conversation with a young engineer this past weekend who said to me: “We work with some of the most technologically advanced equipment and deal with complex engineering issues but we’re pretty far behind the consumer goods industries.  We’re not “early adopters” by any stretch of the imagination”

So Why Twitter?

Technically, me being in my mid 40’s a and the last year of Boomer’s (or first year of X’r as the first use of Gen X indicated back Forbes in 1989) I must admit that understanding how to manage and deal with younger generations is a learning experience. So I, like you, needed to think hard about Twitter. In the end we set up a Twitter accounts for Highlander Tool but only after about a year of watching and learning about twitter  with my personal twitter account before jumping in to the conversation.  Here’s the bottom line on WHY we did it:

  1. Search Engine Optimiztion  – as I discussed in the previous blog post
  2. Generational differences – As I explained above
  3. Get in now while the technology still evolving – This Social Media Space is evolving.  It’s going to be “something” so it’s better to get in and understand the evolution and be part of it than wait for everyone else.

If you decide it’s right for you please feel free to jump in and give us a follow. @Highlander Tool and I have a personal Twitter account as well @bernardtmartin.

How FAST can you make product or service corrections?

If you need some more reasons, then listen to what Jeff Hayzlett has to say about it.  Jeff is the Chief Marketing Officer at Eastman Kodak. You can follow him at @JeffreyHayzlett

Twitter Basics

Ok, now that you’ve decided that you may want to give Twitter a try, take a look at this slide show to learn the basics.  Once again, open a new window and just click through as you go through it step by step:

I connected with a great guy named Norman Wright on Twitter months back and I found some of his blog posts at “Wright-To-Know” to be so absolutely SPOT ON that we ended up connecting on LinkedIn, exchanging some emails and ideas, and discovered that we where actually both based in Pittsburgh.

I had to opportunity to to visit his company, DimensionX, a few Fridays ago.  I got there in the late afternoon and we ended up chatting until later evening.  I can’t say enough good things about Norm and his blog.  As luck would have it, he just tweeted a new blog this afternoon after I had been working on this posting for quite a few days and was trying to list out some do’s and don’ts.  I saw his Tweet, picked up the phone and  said “Norm, I’m going to embed your blog in mine with your permission! It’s fantastic!”

ONCE you go into the Twitter space these are the MISTAKES YOU DO NOT WANT TO MAKE!  Thanks much Norm for finishing up my post for me!

10 Twitter Mistakes Made By Marketers In The Manufacturing Industry

Many manufacturing companies that are finally jumping into social media have no strategy.  A good number seemingly are checking off a list of social media tools they have subscribed to show their participation. What is more telling is their lack of credibility and comprehension of how to use social media to generate new business for themselves.

Twitter is one of the social media tools that can be used as a tool for your manufacturing company’s social media marketing strategy to generate online traffic and a pipeline for new business leads. It is the leading traffic generator to my Wright-To-Know blog.

Here are ten mistakes marketers in the manufacturing industry should  avoid if they want to generate new business through Twitter:

  1. Signing up then not participate. A tell-tale sign that Twitter is nothing more than a check-off on your social media check-list. When you rarely post to Twitter it will show.
  2. Self Promotional Tweets. Marketers that sound more like cars salesmen, constantly using promotional Tweets to tout their company’s new hires, new business acquisitions, awards, etc.
  3. Hiding behind the Company’s veil. Using your company’s  name as the Twitter account without revealing who is doing the Tweeting. Even Ford Motor Company gets this right, having allowing @ScottMonty to be their social media spokesperson under his own Twitter name rather than through the company’s name. It’s awkward to try and engage with a company. Social media is about people. A lot of the same principals of face-to-face networking applies to social media networks such as Twitter.
  4. Auto Responses. These drive not only me but will drive your prospects crazy. They are impersonal, and usually contain no value other than to clog up your Direct Message box forcing you to scan through dozens and dozens to reach those who have sent you a personal one.
  5. Little if any value to your Tweets. 80 to 90% of my tweets are resources for my audience to help them with their new business challenges. They are a combination of posts from my blog and other resources that I usually find and pass on in my morning ritual of reading my RSS feeds in Google Reader. I use a tool called bit.ly to post an article, along with a shortened URL to Twitter.
  6. Fail to generate Twitter traffic ‘to anything”. I have recommended to manufacturers that they should have a blog that becomes the “gateway” to company and generate traffic to the blog through tools such as Twitter. The blog serves as the central component to your social media strategy.
  7. Failing to use 3rd party Twitter tools. These tools can help you identify your best target audience and build your Twitter account’s data base of followers within the ratios mandated by Twitter. Your company’s blog content can stay fresh with new postings but older posts have a very long shelf life from not only SEO but also through repurposing posts to Twitter using some third party Twitter Tools. At our firm we have a process in which we syndicate our clients content over and over again… very much like a traditional media schedule. It’s naive  to think if you have written a post and everyone has read it.
  8. Using the reply function when you should use a direct message. Not every reply needs to be share with your entire Twitter audience. Almost all replies should probably be sent by Direct Message to the person.
  9. Failing to engage in the conversation. It amazes me that most marketers in the manufacturing industry have reservations about engaging with their prospective client audience.  Social media and tools such as Twitter, provide the most efficient means of creating personal network with your agencies best prospects. I have thousands of followers on Twitter alone and it is easy to stay engaged and be part of the conversations without it requiring an undue amount of time. I probably spend no more than 15 minutes a day responding through Twitter.
  10. Allowing the early adopters of Twitter to mandate how your company should use it. Face it, Twitter has superseded anything envisioned by its creators or early adopters “way back in 2006.”  It’s amazing that it was the celebrities, not ad agencies, that first figured out the value and potential of Twitter.

Actually most of these rules apply to all of your social media interactions.

Final Thoughts

A while back I received the following email:

Very interested in hearing about how you are using these channels for work, how you got into it, and where you see it going. Do you see the shops or suppliers leading the way? What role do you see original content providers like … providing. How are you using it with your distributors…

What other leading thinkers have you identified in this space?

So many questions, so little time!

Perhaps this posting is the best place to answer some of those questions.  Social Media is so so much about conversation and sharing and giving credit where credit is due.  As I’ve already mentioned, I met Norm Wright via Twitter, I found out about Jeff Hayzlett’s video from Jennifer (Kelly) Altimore @jlkelly60 (Who, in my opinion, is the person most out-in-front of Social Media in our whole industry! In fact, she’s one of the very first people I followed on my personal Twitter account) and numerous other people have assisted me on Twitter in everything from social media, Italian cars to engineering conundrums.  I think that the best way to learn is to give a listen and pay attention. I would encourage you to give it a try.

“The young people who come to me in the hope of hearing me utter a few memorable maxims are quite disappointed.  Aphorisms are not my forte, I say nothing but banalities…. I listen to them and they go away delighted.”  ~Andre Gide

Social Media for Mfg: Part 2: YouTube

In this installment of Social Media 101 we’re going to explore YouTube in some detail.  In this posting you’ll find out the following:

  • Why – Why should you post it
  • How – How you can create your own YouTube Channel

think out of the box

After you’ve got the basics down from this posting  I’ll talk about  “How – You can maximize your YouTube channel” if you’re a

  1. Manufacturer
  2. Agent
  3. Distributor

in future postings.

But first, the basics….

In the beginning we’re going to review some  information, then you can watch some video’s.  Again, it’s best to open a new screen to use the video and pause it as you begin to create your channel later on.  FIrst take a peek at what’s here.

In case you have not read What’s all this about Social Media & where do I start, in an earlier blog post, the following is an excerpt.

Creating a YouTube channel was really driven out of necessity. Below is an excerpt of an email I sent to everyone in our company when we launched our YouTube channel:
“I wanted to make you aware that this weekend I worked on finally getting a central place where you can show customer’s product videos from their computer while visiting their facility.

I’ve found out that trying to find video’s of products to further explain them to customers while at their desk can be a problem just finding them on the web. I’ve gathered many of them on our own YouTube channel for Highlander Tool.

Please take a look at it when you get some time”

Some products just need to be seen….

A Note about NLP
Why is television such a great medium compared to radio? It has to do with something called Neuro-Linguistic Programming. According to Neuro-Linguistic Programming Model people learn in different ways. This is often called the VAK Model (visual / auditory / kinesthetic). According to this model the general population learns according to the following percentages:
Visual – 75%
Auditory – 6%
Kinesthetic – 19%

Since 81% of people learn via visual and auditory ques, as the theory goes, video is the best method of communicating a message.

Since this is a basic tutorial about YouTube it just makes sense to use YouTube Video’s to explain it:

I realize that this isn’t the greatest video you have ever seen.  BUT, this is the only video I have found that takes you through the set up step by step setup.

You might also want to check this video out:

Subscribers & Subscribing & Friends

Ok, now let’s remember that YouTube IS a social media outlet.  Probably THE most powerful outlet that you have at hand to get your message out in a clear and succinct fashion.

Remember when we talked about Search Engine Optimization in a previous posting?  Creating a YouTube channel and not subscribing to other video channels or not making another  a “favorite” is not following those simple words of wisdom on the sugar packets: Advertising: Shout it from the mountaintops.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site or aweb page (such as a blog) from search engines via “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results as opposed to other forms of search engine marketing (SEM) which may deal with paid inclusion. The theory is that the earlier (or higher) a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image searchlocal searchvideo search and industry-specific vertical search engines. This gives a web site web presence.

Ok, Now the plain English: The more sites your site is connected to, the more chances you have of being higher in the rankings. Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot more to it. But the basics remain the same. The more sites your site is connected to, the more chances you have of being higher in the rankings.

Now, Here’s the next important thing: What happens when you go to an industry event or reception?  The first thing you do is look around for people you know.  This is a very very common human trait.  You want to be comfortable.  You want to find who else you know that is there.  Pretty simple eh?

Social Media is THE SAME WAY! Just like we talked about on the LinkedIn posting:

  • SHOW YOUR CONNECTIONS!
  • SHOW YOUR FRIENDS!

This is all under MODULES. In order for people to participate they want to know who you know, and who they might be introduced to.  THAT is the very essence of networking and social media is ALL ABOUT NETWORKING.

Here’s how you subscribe:

Here’s some more detailed info on customizing your youtube channel

You may have noticed, if you’ve watched all the videos here, that some of the information is repeated.  I learned many years ago as a consultant that people only remember a message after they hear it 3-5 times.  (Wow, I really do miss the Cahner’s Advertising Research Reports! “Back in those days everything was simpler and more confused”)

Maximize your Effort

In the future postings we’ll talk about how to maximize your effort as a

  1. Manufacturer
  2. Agent
  3. Distributor

You may have realized that in the last blog post I explained that Twitter was the next subject to be discussed.   Obviously, this one has been about YouTube.  The rationale: after your  working on your LinkedIn profile you’re going to have a better understanding of Social Media. YouTube is THE next thing you should concentrate on as a business..  Twitter is still evolving and there are some changes taking place as I write this which may make aspects of the topic moot.

I’ll leave you with the final thought:

“I have treated this game in great detail because I think it is important for the student to see what he’s up against, and how he ought to go about solving the problem of practical play. You may not be able to play the defense and counterattack this well, but the game sets a worthwhile goal for you to achieve: how to fight back in a position where your opponent has greater mobility and better prospects.”  -Fred Reinfeld , The Complete Chess Course

Or, perhaps, this is better…

The wheel is turning and you can’t slow down,
You can’t let go and you can’t hold on,
You can’t go back and you can’t stand still,
If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will.

Won’t you try just a little bit harder,
Couldn’t you try just a little bit more?
Won’t you try just a little bit harder,
Couldn’t you try just a little bit more?

Social Media 101 For Mfg, part 1: LinkedIn

As a follow up to my previous posting “What’s all this about Social Media and where do I start?” Several people have written and asked for some more details.  I realize that I presented an awful lot of connections and links and it left some folks completely new to the subject dazed and confused.

I’m realizing that many of the folks connected to me only have a few connections, incomplete profiles and probably aren’t getting much out of LinkedIn. In this posting I’m going to explain what social media outlets we chose  as an industrial distributor. I’ll break this down into the social media categories, and then walk you through some of the basic steps of getting started.  I also try to give you a time estimate of how long it will take you to get the “basics” in place.

Out of all the social media sites available we chose three outlets. Hopefully after you are done with all three parts of this posting you’ll feel less like the blind men discovering the elephant.

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

“Why not  Facebook?”

The first question you are probably asking is “Why not  Facebook?”  Well, until 48 hours ago when FB held their annual F8 Conference in San Francisco, FB was great for hooking up with friends and keeping your personal life separate from your business life.  Many people want to keep it that way.

We decided that Facebook is a great medium for a company that markets to the public but the industrial sector is

  1. Not using it for business.
  2. Has it blocked in their firewalls.
  3. It’s just not the place for us.

Your decision may be different.  However, there are a few things that Mark Zuckerberg announced that are worth being aware of, but we’re going to watch this evolve before we embrace it.  However, if you get the chance, do click on the link and watch the video announcement.  That will help you when I talk about the “social graph”. If you don’t have the time to check it out here’s the synopsis:

Your Facebook page today, tomorrow the world.

Mark Zuckerberg announced aggressive plans at the f8 conference on Thursday to integrate Facebook into every aspect of the Web. Plans include opening up Facebook’s Social Graph and allow embedding social experiences.

Until recently, sites can store information about Facebook users for 24 hours. Zuckerberg said that opening up the Social Graph removes the time restriction, allowing sites to customize their features for FB users.

The Facebook “like” feature will also be released as a plug in. Users who come across a website can click on the “like” button and share the information with their Facebook friends instantly.

Zuckerberg said at the conference that he expects to serve 1 billion “like” buttons within the first 24 hours after the plug-ins launch.

Immediate Action Items

Before we delve into the nitty gritty details there are  a couple of actions steps you may want to take:

Step 1: Open your network. Remove your firewall for your employees so that they can gain access to LinkedIn, Twitter & YouTube.  Some larger companies have some functions open and others closed.  As an example, if you can access LinkedIn, but not get into the groups, then there is not going to be ANY conversations. (remember, Conversations is one of the 4C’s discussed in the last blog posting).

Step 2: Appoint a Leader.  It’s going to be very important that someone take charge of the effort if it’s not going to be you.  If you do choose to set up a Twitter site tho’ to stay in touch, be sure to be aware of the do’s and don’ts discussed in part 2.  Keep in mind you can make it a team effort and several people can be in charge of different efforts at different times. If you choose to go with the “Team” route be sure to set up a schedule for who’s doing what and when…. and stick to it.

Step 3: Create a Persona. There are several divergent schools of thought on whether or not Companies should have their logo as the profile picture, whether there should be a person’s name associated with the your social media sites, etc.  I suspect it really depends on the size of your company and what you hope to accomplish. At Highlander Tool, we elected to use the Company Name and Logo as our SM presence.

LinkedIn (Total Time: 15-45 minutes, depending on your profile)

Start by clicking the link below.  Hit the back button when you’re done viewing.  It’s probably a good idea to open another window to edit your LinkedIn account while you go through the slides. I’m going to go into more detail below about slides 29 & 30 so don’t worry if you don’t get it at first.

Getting started with LinkedIn is very simple, and, since you’re probably reading this from my LinkedIn profile connection you probably have at least the start of your profile complete.  Regardless, take a look at this slideshow and make sure that you haven’t missed anything.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been on LinkedIn since my neighbor told me about when she was a beta tester (Thanks Cindy!) It’s been interesting watching it evolve and content features been added.  However, that’s also a problem.  New features get added that are great and you don’t always know about them until you see the changes in your other contacts.  Which is a good reason to look at your connections btw 😉

Ok, watch the slide show in the link above, Complete the basic steps and then we’ll move on. If you haven’t watched it yet.

——————-> LinkedIN Basics

LinkedIn Profile Company Mouseover

LinkedIn Profile Company Mouseover

Slide 29 & 30 are the ones that you should take a close look at. If you haven’t set up your Company Profile DO IT!

Once it’s complete you’ll have a great mouse-over feature so people can find out more about your company. I’m constantly surprised how many business owners in my connections have never take the quick 5 minutes to create this free advertising spot.

Why is my Company Profile so important? GROUPS!

Having your company profile in place is important for Groups.  But before we dive into groups, look again to the right and notice the”Connections” area of the upper profile.  You already know that you can click on the Connections to see who you might know in your friends connections.  This is afterall a social network.

If you where to scroll all the way to the very very bottom of my profile you would find the following statement.  The items in bold are the important part.

“I prefer to only be contacted by people I know, have met personally, or have had business, professional contact. or dialogue with in some forum. I welcome new connections from members of groups that I am actively involved in but I prefer not to connect until we have communicated. I am not an open networker and I do not wish to submit my connections to “business trolling”. I hope you understand and appreciate my position on this issue.

As it was explained to me when I first learned about LinkedIn: “It’s like a networking group based upon the “Six Degrees of Separation”

Wikipedia says: “LinkedIn
The LinkedIn professional networking site operates on the concept of how many steps you are away from a person you wish to communicate with. The site encourages you to pass messages to people in your network via the people in your 1st-degree connections list, who in turn pass it to their 1st-degree connections.”

LinkedIn has blossomed into a very useful business tool with Groups and Answers sections, but the basic premise of the site is whom do you know that I know, how can I help you network and conversely how can you help me network.

That said, I am wary of people whom I link to who have their connections locked down. IMHO, it flies in the face of the very basic concept of LI as a networking tool. If you invite me to connect, and your connections are closed, I will send you an email in this regard.

You may have your reasons for locking your connections and I certainly respect that. I feel that I am connecting with people whom I respect and who I may contact one day with opportunities for their professional advancement or, conversely, whom I might contact with a question. For that reason I will only maintain connections with those people who make their connections available to their 1st level” contacts.

I was sent an invitation to connect with someone who’s newsletter I have been receiving for many years.  I found the information very informative and helpful in many cases.  However, when I talked to him about his locked down connections he told me “I don’t want my competitors to see who I know”  I explained that

  • A. I wasn’t a competitor,
  • B. Perhaps he should be connected to his competitors if he is that unsure of his customer relationships and
  • C. It’s difficult for me to trust people who don’t seem to trust anyone else, as I find that the people most paranoid about trust are almost always the most untrustworthy people I meet.

Industrial Channel Groups

Groups (Total Time to find &  join: 5 minutes)

David Erickson has a great blog post entitled “LinkedIn Best Practices for Business“.  It’s worthwhile to check out if you have a few minutes to read more.  But, if you don’t here’s what he says about Groups:

“Join industry groups. Search for and join industry-related LinkedIn groups , even if there is no activity within them. The icons for those groups will show up on your profile which tells people at a glance that you are involved in your industry and presumably knowledgeable about it. It also creates a connection between you an anyone else who is a member of that group. If the group is active, join in the conversation where appropriate. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your  expertise.”

I’ve recently had a discussion with several fellow members of the ISA – Industrial Supply Association about the groups function.  Several fellow members are connected to me but are not in any of the groups.  There’s a conference next weekend and there’s some wonderful dialogue taking place within the group.  Connections are being made.  I’ve been in the situation before. I’ll run into two people who I know at an event.  One of them will pick up a conversation that we’ve been having online.  Finally, a question is raised by the other person, who we are both friends with “When did you guys talk about all this?”  We explain that it’s all online via a  GROUP.  “Hey, maybe you should join it, You’re a member aren’t you?”

If you’re a member of any of the groups that I’m a member of you can either click on my profile or you can search for other groups under the group drop down or the search area to the right of the header on your LinkedIn page.

I DON'T know his email address! I haven't seen him in years!

Invitation Filtering

As you’re searching through some of your groups, you happen upon an old college friend.  You lost track of him years ago and are pleasantly surprised to find him on Linked in.

You click “Add Christopher to your network” and you see the screen at the right.  Oh the frustration!  How am I going to know his email address if I haven’t seen him in years!

It makes it pretty difficult to reconnect. Now, what happens if you meet someone and they’re looking for a product or service, and you know just the person in one of your groups who does EXACTLY what they’re looking for.  You click the “Add Christopher to your network” to contact him and Voilà!  Turns out you where trying to do a good deed, but looks like that business is going somewhere else…. and it’s all because of the settings are closed down.

These are my settings. Where are yours set?

Starting your own Group

Once you’ve mastered some of these basics you soon start to realize that maybe you yourself should start a group.  If you’re a manufacturer, you could start one only for your distributors, if you’re a machine tool builder, one just for your dealers, a distributor, one for your customers. Agents can start groups for their distributors… there are really endless ways you can use the group functions to create the “conversations” so often talked about in social media.

If you start a group. Your Invitation Filtering should look like what you see above.  Otherwise, your members aren’t going to be able to connect with you. There’s some great ideas on creating and managing your own LinkedIn Group at Mashable “8 Tips for Managing a LinkedIn Group”  The list is below and the details are at the link. It’s worth delving into if you want some more information.

  1. Use a Personal Touch
  2. Lay Some Ground Rules
  3. Praise the Good, Deal with the Bad
  4. Help Your Members Promote Themselves
  5. Add Some News Feeds
  6. Facilitate Connections Outside of LinkedIn
  7. Take a Poll
  8. Promote Your Group

One final note on Groups.  If you start a group be prepared to support it and get responses.  If you watched the Facebook F8 video above you’ll hear about a problem called the “rule of 5”  If someone comes into your group and they don’t see 5 people they know they’ll probably not participate.  So if you’ve got a email list of the members you want to invite, send them all an invite to LinkedIn, followed by an invitation to join the group.

Social media is about connecting and building relationships – talking to people. Taking part in discussions gets you noticed as well as keeps the conversation going and the sharing of information, viewpoints and knowledge

So, for goodness sake, if you start a group and ask questions and topics start rolling for goodness sake answer and respond!

I hope that you found this informative.  Please feel free to add any comments.  I know I’ve barely scratched the surface of Linkedin so if you have some observations or insights please feel free to leave a comment (and yes, I’m working on unlocking it so your comments post immediately but I’m still learning about all the WordPress functions so bear with me)

Thanks for reading 🙂

….. be sure to keep an eye out for Part 2: Twitter