- Listen: People trust their peers more than anything. Now, it is best to accept the bad with the good and use negative comments to turn a discussion around. You want to provide value to conversation that facilitates sales but does not sell directly. The key is to engage customers and be a valuable sounding board for them.
- Be Transparent: People join groups to share ideas and opinions – and honest ones at that. Customers want to hear from both executives and regular employees who have a unique point-of-view, not just the “brand” itself. This develops trust, and people trust people. Steer conversation about your brand all while allowing for individual personalities to key in.
- Dedicate to Relate: The influence that your company can have using social media tools should be given as much dedication and as many resources as any company priority. Your company’s reputation is on the line, so why wouldn’t you prioritize your strategy for social media?
- Be Flexible: Social media is a moving target, so ensure that you have the best communicators on your team to keep both your employees and your customers up to speed on the latest tactics.
- Get Started: Don’t let your company’s reputation be ruled by customer commentary alone! Connect your brand with your reputation and develop stronger ties with current customers to develop brand loyalty.
Before digging deep into trending patterns between chemical manufacturers and social media, I have to admit I thought I would come out close to empty handed. I stumbled over this comment on an anonymous blog from 2011 covering this very topic that got me thinking: “One has to acknowledge the stance pharmaceutical companies have taken in regards to Facebook pages (long story short, they killed them all due to Facebook instigating policies allowing users to comment on those pages which caused problems for FDA regulations of drugs, etc.). For average Chemical Engineers working in a plant or a design firm, the one employee generally won’t announce via social media when new projects are announced (they are usually done through press releases by the company). From that perspective, I don’t foresee engineers (unless they are in business development) announcing via social media that Company X has received $X contract to design and construct Y Plant in Z location. This is actually quite interesting because the company I am working with now is actually planning on using social media for a number of advertising for their new products. I actually see smaller companies utilizing social media for advertising rather than big chemical companies or design firms.” Hats off to this blogger – he/she certainly represents a large groupthink that manufacturers in the chemical and healthcare industry fall victim to when it comes to presenting themselves in the social scene. On the contrary, fellow blogger, according to Forrester’s “The Social Technographics of Business Buyers” report, 91% of B2B decision-makers are taking part in social media; 69% do so for business purposes. Additionally, 55% have at least one social networking profile and 43% are active in creating social media content. Boom! Let’s look at the scope of things here. Hopefully this segment will broaden the horizon a bit and (gently) force chemical manufacturers to become a little more comfortable with social surroundings. To develop and execute a successful plan, manufacturers need to understand there are different communities for different goals – customer service, new product announcements, listening/gathering, market feedback, building site traffic, SEO, education, and so on. There are three keys to a targeted approach: know why you are doing it, ensure you have the right metrics in place, and have the resources to handle it. You certainly get what you give with social networking, so be sure to pay attention to that last one! BASF has a devoted social media team who shares the most compelling BASF stories and provides regional and topic-focused channels offering the possibility to contact BASF experts. They are definitely on top of their social game. Once you have a targeted approach in mind, there are five steps for manufacturers to follow who seek to implement a social media strategy: