Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Social Media enables users to create and share content. Sounds easy—but what tools do you use? How do you measure ROI? How do you keep content relevant and engage customers? The list of challenges goes on and on. During this session at the MCAA Industry Forum on April 24, 2017, a panel of industry experts addressed these questions and shared their experiences on issues that resonate across the industry today.

The panel addressed the issue of creating a Digital Marketing Strategy (DMS). Mike Gallagher, whose company is a distribution firm, indicated that his company has been selling on the internet for several years but only 2% of their revenue comes from that source. He said that he has had to step back and create a DMS and determine where social fits into that strategy—where the website fits and where selling products fits. Michelle Bunte indicated that 5 years ago she needed to get a DMS into place. Their web traffic was not great and they weren’t adding value to channel partners by generating leads nor were their generic search terms relevant to the company. So they redesigned their site to improve SEO and incorporated social media into that effort. Their redesign improved traffic by 3 times, their RFQs jumped 900% and because of the terms, they started to improve on searches. Now they look at social media (FaceBook, LinkedIn, YouTube) and see the traffic that it drives to their site. They realized that bump in traffic in about 3 months after the launch. One significant change was that their catalogs had been PDFs, which are not HTML searchable—they changed that.
The MCAA audience wondered where you get creative content to drive SEO. The panelists said you have to keep feeding the machine. Marketing can work with engineering to develop a series of whitepapers. Others are looking for application success stories. You can break that down into chunks and feed that in through a Blog. You can also offer a monetary reward for an application success story—push for it from customers.
To demonstrate how social media can be useful in creating business, Mr. Gallagher told a story about a weapons manufacturer in his territory in a facility that was heavily guarded. His salesman could not get in to make a sales call. For months, he would drive up to the fence and talk to a box trying to get an appointment. In a simple LinkedIn search, they identified 6 people in the plant and in a few minutes, they had an appointment with one of them through a connection in LinkedIn. They got a 2- hour plant tour and an inroad to get business from the manufacturer.
Finding time to post and update Social Media accounts was another concern expressed to the panel. Mrs. Bunte confirmed that it is a challenge but you have to commit to it. They decentralize the effort by identifying posters—salespeople, customer service representatives, product managers. They train them to do it so that posts are not all from marketing. And then it has to be part of the daily, standard work—becomes a habit. Of course, it takes a lot less time to re-share content. They have a Social Media policy in place but they don’t micromanage the process—they trust others in the company to represent the brand appropriately. Gallagher noted that if he sees something from a vendor he can post it on LinkedIn and FaceBook—exposing that information and vendor to his audience of followers.
Some MCAA members feel that Social Media doesn’t apply to our industry—to the business-tobusiness nature of our market. Tanya Donnelly indicated that people are usually terrified about leveraging Social Media. The process is that people are learners, then users and then influencers. Right now Social Media is starting to influence GenXers and Baby Boomers. Millennials want to be in companies that improve the world—they will become leaders and buyers so if we don’t take advantage of their social selling, we miss a huge opportunity for the amplification effect of social media. FaceBook has 1 Billion users and it is possible to target down through those 1 Billion to your specific audience—and advertising is inexpensive. If an ad pertaining to YOUR world appears when you are on FaceBook, it would absolutely catch your eye.
Michelle Bunte told a story of a $15 ad to promote a product in the Texas Gulf area. They got 750 impressions and 1 RFQ which became a $20K order and that worked into a $200K order. The ad pushed traffic to the website and they had not done business with the company which saw the FaceBook ad. A person does not have to be using FaceBook for business purposes—you just have to be using it and you can target that person for ads—FaceBook has all the data about its users.
Another issue raised was how much social is too much. It can get annoying when someone tweets out 3 times in a row. Gaps in time are import.nt but content is key. These platforms make money from ads so organic content sometimes won’t show up. Spend the additional ad dollars to target your audience. Narrowing down the target will also decrease the cost. But its important to have good content—not fluffy stuff. You can also push the same content across a number of platforms organically because you will have different followers. But you have to be where they want you and don’t deliver the same content to all platforms at the same time—stagger the delivery. Research shows that it takes seven times to resonate the message. So you can hit them multiple times on multiple platforms. And you can use a variety of tools to format your message to the right media such as Sprinklr, HootSuite and Buffer.
The panelists agreed that this is a fast-moving technology and it well could be like the dotcom boom— the pendulum is likely to come back to the middle at some point. They recommended that industry members start small, “stalk before you talk” and don’t try to be everywhere—grow only when you can do more.

The discussion was moderated by Byron Atkinson, President, Boost by Design (Developer of MCAA website)
About the Panelists:
Michelle Bunte is the Vice President of Marketing at SOR Controls Group, a manufacturer of measurement and control devices under the brands of SOR Inc., Smart Sensors Incorporated (SSi), SETEX Products and SENSOR Sampling Systems and Data Monitoring Systems. Michelle led a refresh of the SOR Inc. brand in 2012 with the redesign of an SEO friendly corporate website and the introduction of social platforms which include LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, YouTube and Twitter to increase web traffic and web leads. Michelle holds a BS from Kansas State University and a Master of Business from Mid-America Nazarene University.
Tanya Donnelly is the Global Social Media Director for Schneider Electric. Schneider Electric is the global specialist in energy management and automation. She is responsible for aligning Schneider Electric’s social business strategy and presence with the Schneider Electric corporate strategy. Schneider Electric has invested heavily in shifting toward being a social business by integrating social into their business processes and enabling employees and partners to be brand advocates. Tanya leads this effort on a global scale in 100+ countries and 30+ languages. She is passionate about working across organizational silos to build a better organization to serve the customer.
Mike Gallagher serves as the President and CEO of Centro Inc. which he and former partner David Forell acquired in 2001. Centro is a specialty distributor and sales representative company focused on customers where flow control of fluids, solids and gases is critical to the success of the manufacturing process. Centro sells a range of products from commodities to highly engineered, technically sophisticated products that are applied in a range of industries. Mike has a BS in Business Administration and an MBA in marketing from Plymouth State University. He has held senior sales and distributor marketing positions at various levels of responsibility in large industrial companies including Norton Abrasives, Thomas & Betts, Square D Company and Kennametal. In 2016 Mike was honored by the Memphis Business Journal as the Executive of the Year. In the past 15 years, the company has been recognized as the Small Business of the Year, selected for the Pacesetter Award for exceptional growth 2012-2015, and was rated as one of the Top 100 Privately Held Businesses in Memphis. In 2017, they were named by the Memphis Commercial Appeal as one of Memphis’ Best Places to Work.