perspective company, he goes
to LinkedIn to find out who
would be making purchasing
decisions for the company and
then as much about that person as possible. He then uses
LinkedIn to see if they share any connections. He says it helps turn a
cold call into a warm call.”
While those are the big networks, other social sites are emerging
every day that promise to be the next wave of social. Two of the
more popular ones in recent years include Instagram, a network
that allows users to upload photos and use hashtags to create
communities, and Pinterest, a site that functions as an online pin
board where users are able to “pin” their favorite things. While
both of these are a bit of a stretch for the industrial space (Grainger
is using Instagram to reach Millennials more, and Barcoding enjoys
using their Pinterest account to create a go-to page that houses
videos and images that their sales team can access on the road),
they represent the ever-growing trend of visual media. It’s a trend
that distributors should be aware of, as customers are constantly
wanting to engage more and more in a visual way, and appreciate
glimpses of life behind the curtain via images on social media.
The best advice: pick the social site that you are most comfort-
There are distributor objections to jumping into
able with or that you feel has the most value for your customer
base. “Don’t spread yourself too thin,” cautions Sonnhalter.
“Don’t expand to new sites before you can confidently say that
you’re doing a good job on the ones that you are already using.”
Says Costa, “Social is going to continue to grow as a commu-
nication tool, as an expertise sharing perspective. It is also going
to be important for customer service.” Meeting customers where
they are is really the purpose of social — and isn’t that the pur-
pose of distribution, too?
the social sphere, however.
Objection #1: B2B is different than B2C.
One argument is that business-to-business is a different sort of
conversation than business-to-consumer marketing, but Grainger’s
Senior Manager of Social Business, Sherri Maxson, points out that
there is no difference at all. “At the end of the day,” Maxson says,
“the difference between B2B and B2C social doesn’t exist: it is all
human-to-human communication.” As the distribution industry
has seen over and over again with e-commerce, customers want to
have access to the knowledge and the products they need in the
channels that they prefer, and social media is one of those channels today.
Objection #2: I don’t want my employees wasting time
on social media at work.
Barcoding’s Costa notes that many companies see social as a waste
Objection #3: I’ve never gotten leads from Twitter.
of time. Her counter? “You are always going to have employees
wasting time.” She encourages companies to leverage their em-
ployees’ tendencies toward clicking through their social chan-
nels and harness the power for the brand. “A presence on social
media communicates that a distributor is keeping itself current,”
says Sonnhalter. This is important both on the front end, where
customers can see your efforts to stay relevant, and within the
company as well. Employers that reject the entire premise of social
media are missing out on the chance to engage a younger genera-
tion of employees — and a younger generation of customers.
The trick to social media isn’t to allow it to replace all of your
other marketing efforts put together, it’s to offer one more way
for a customer to connect with you, and for your business to be a
thought leader in the industry. “If you are rejecting social media
purely because none of the ‘leads’ ever convert, you have the
wrong goals for your social media accounts,” says Costa. “
Barcoding, Inc. is on Twitter and Facebook and the other social channels
to communicate. Our efforts in communicating and strengthening
that brand is a way to start a relationship and possibly create that
sale down the road.”
For more tips on social, visit www.inddist.com/social.
From A Distributor
Jim Thayer, head of business development at JGB Enterprises,
Inc., shared his thoughts on going social.
Why do you feel social is important in industrial distribution?
We feel social media allows us to share our expertise and
knowledge with key influencers in our markets and learn
what our customers are looking for from their suppliers in
terms of products & service. It also enables us to reach an
almost boundless audience, at an extremely modest cost and
engages prospects through customer word of mouth.
Who manages your social media channels?
I’m managing the networks right now, along with our marketing and development team. As our following grows, I think to
grow our network we’ll need a dedicated “social guru.”
What have you struggled with?
We service many industries, so it’s difficult to hit all of our followers with one post. We need to put more time into creating
content that encompasses more than one industry.
Where do you see social going?
I don’t think social media will replace traditional marketing
channels by any means, as these channels are still necessary
but aren’t enough by themselves. I do think that social connects with customers on a more personal level, which not only
builds better relationships, but brand loyalty.
Connect with us!