Digital marketing is here to stay and it’s important to build business relationships online. Engineering professionals across all disciplines will benefit from understanding the importance of social media and how it plays a role in business processes. Building a social media strategy has become an important component of running a successful business.
In 2017, Engineering.com surveyed 1,187 engineers about their information consumption habits to gain a better understanding of the ways in which engineering and construction disciplines market their businesses to successfully engage with their target audience. The information was compiled in a report “How Engineers Find Information.” Respondents said they preferred to receive easty-to-consumer content through a trusted digital trade publication or by email. LinkedIn was found to be the most popular social media content channel.
In another report by Hootsuite, a social media management platform created by Ryan Holmes in 2008, three social media experts offered “tools, tactics and routines” that not only deliver results, but also help engineering professionals differentiate their businesses from the competition.
Koka Sexton, the global industry principal for Social Selling at Hootsuite, stressed the importance of visibility, which he said creates opportunity. “In my experience, the more visible you are in channels, the more opportunities will find you,” he said. In terms of measuring the Return on Investment (ROI), Sexton said to keep things simple. To ensure your business is meeting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), he said to post content regularly on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
Amber Naslund, the senior director of Industry Leadership at Hootsuite, recommended setting your current business priorities and then understanding how your social presence fits into the company’s broader marketing strategies. Naslund said managers and directors often don’t recognize the value of social media and suggested having up-front discussions with leadership to discuss strategy and outline the benefits as well as the possible challenges. She also suggested focusing on a few things and doing them well rather than spreading yourself too thin and doing a mediocre job.
Mari Smith, social media consultant, speaker and trainer, said to stay focused and work toward becoming a specialist in your field. By differentiating your content and becoming an expert in your industry, it will help you better filter through information and offer insight to your target audience including clients, prospective employees and investors.
Here are 5 ways to increase your social media following:
Set S.M.A.R.T. goals
When you’re ready to move forward with your social media project, consider setting what is referred to as “S.M.A.R.T.” goals. The acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. According to the Engineering.com report “How Engineers Find Information,” younger engineers find engineering information in their social feeds. By increasing the number of engaged Facebook followers, it has been shown to help businesses better connect with this audience.
S.M.A.R.T. goals give you the opportunity to come up with a plan of action and offer insight on how your social media strategy is performing.
Determine your target audience
The goal here is to figure out who you want to reach on your various social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. One way of doing this is by learning where engineers spend most of their time. You can also survey clients and employees to find out which platforms they prefer.
According to the Engineering.com report, engineers use digital publications more than any other information source. Those who responded said that over a 30-day period they consumed content in the following way:
24% Conference or trade show
34% Printed newspaper or magazine
41% Social media
42% News aggregator
53% Vendor web sites
60% Digital publication
Create a schedule
Once you’ve determined your target audience, you can set up an editorial calendar for all of your social media channels. You might want to post a link on Facebook, a short, catchy headline on Twitter and a summary of the article on LinkedIn. Editorial calendars can be very helpful to organize content and ensure it is sent out on a regular basis.
Be personal and build relationships
Make sure you have a “voice” that others can connect to on social media. This will allow clients, owners, prospective employers and investors to learn about your company on a more personal level. It also helps build trust. Take the initiative to interact online with clients and influencers in your industry. Mentioning others in your social media posts, replying when people mention you or your content, and commenting on posts, are all ways to build business relationships online.
Share great content and stay active
Posting a mixture of original and curated content on your social media channels will encourage others to engage with you. Your social media followers want unique, high-quality content and by providing it, you’re giving them a reason to follow you. Make sure to publish content to your site regularly to keep things fresh and interesting. The result: your followers will continue to do just that—follow you to learn about your brand and deepen the connection with your company.
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Stacey Phillips is a writer and editor at iConnectEngineers™. At iConnectEngineers™, we use engaging content, creative design, and smart campaigns to bridge the worlds of business, marketing and social innovation with a primary focus on the engineering and technology industries.