Effective social media for manufacturers caught in the Made in Britain Twitter net: 18 March 2021

EVERY Thursday at 1pm Made in Britain hosts #madeinbritainhour on Twitter. During that hour Made in Britain asks questions of its 19,500 followers and the results are fascinating. Previously this information was enjoyed by the audience at the time and then left to drift away in the Twittersphere, rarely read again. So, we have decided to capture some of the best comments and re-present them for a new audience and easy reference. Some of the responses have been edited.

This week we look at effective social media for manufacturers.

Question one: Where do businesses get their best return on investment: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram? How do you work out the optimal balance of these?

Response: We stopped using Facebook and found LinkedIn provided favourable results in engagement when we used our personal accounts to represent our organisation Twitter is our most prominent of the four listed, alongside Instagram. We measure this with data received from Google analytics. LinkedIn is a great platform for identifying leads & the correct people to approach based on their role within said organisation. It's also useful for research purposes Twitter & Instagram we used differently and each platform serves a unique purpose in our marketing activities

Made in Britain: Is it easy to measure return on investment across these platforms? 

Response: It can be with the right tools, Our objectives on each platform vary depending on the content we share and what action we want our audience to take i.e. website visits measured in link clicks, Prospecting new leads from LinkedIn, measured by Sales/new customers etc.

Made in Britain: Does kind of business you are dictate how easy it is to link sales to channel?

Response: I feel that may be the case and will certainly be dependent on where your business is positioned in the supply chain i.e. supplier - distributor – retailer

Response: We have very much found the same as you. I often find articles written from our MD's profile generate more engagement. The nature of our business means that he is known by and built long standing relations with our clients at the same Director level.

Response: Thats an interesting point about personal accounts on LinkedIn - do all businesses do that?

Response: The reason we took this approach is due to a lack of engagement with the business account. Yet, when sharing the same content on a personal account, engagement drastically improved. I believe humanising and representing your brand in a positive light adds credibility

Response: We use LinkedIn for targeting and creating client avatars

Response: We have taken a similar approach also! LinkedIn is great for providing information required to create personas for target markets

Response: We run both as we found that the company page(s) had less interaction than if we posted from our own personal accounts. Therefore 3 or 4 of us post out and share via our personal accounts and try to interact with replies etc

Made in Britain: There is quite an art to LinkedIn company pages. Does that work well and gain people connecting and talking to you?

Response: It’s definitely worth having a presence across the platforms, given the variety of users on each. However, in terms of return on investment we’ve found LinkedIn is certainly superior for making valuable business connections and sourcing potential leads!

Response: Do you use personal accounts on LinkedIn or a company page (or a combination?) Excellent film clip of the springs by the way on LinkedIn earlier.

Response: A combination. We post spring-teresting (!) content on our company page, but Alex and David - our Director and Sales Director - are active on their profiles too sharing info and behind-the-scenes shots! We find spring making fascinating and hope others do too!

Response: Our best returns are split between LinkedIn and Twitter, we're working less and less with Facebook as it's not really fit for our business

Response: Before Facebooks 2020 algorithm change it was the best platform for us and still generates worldwide interest, however, LinkedIn has definitely overtaken on ROI

Response: We use the channels depending on the audience, reach and influencers. Some channels are stronger than others in expanding reach but they will not generate leads. It always comes back to your plan - what do you want to achieve and where is audience

Response: LinkedIn has been the best for actual sales related enquiries for our products. Twitter for engagements but we have also had a couple of sales attributed to posts & Instagram as & when I remember. Other than the investment in time it costs nothing

Response: Actually it expands your reach. The four main channels, facebook, instagram, linkedin and twitter are all powerful for doing that. Look at us talking here!

Made in Britain: Does Facebook work for B2B?

Response: It extends reach. A lot of b2b have pages on facebook and it helps to build the relationship. It is all part of the engagement and relationship building. Think of it as networking.

Made in Britain: Do you proactively or reactively use LinkedIn?

Response: Yes I try to post daily on our page but use my personal account to targeting those of interest within an organisation, prospecting etc.

Response: Try and post as often as possible. Whether its a new project, product, info from one of our suppliers its all relevant content. The occasional competition also helps grow your audience and engagements.

Response: For any b2b, it should be proactively! It is the strongest social media channel for positioning and leads.

Response: How would you define proactively using LinkedIn?

Response: Proactively is using the channel to research, focus on the business you want to speak to and start engaging. By combining engagement from those contacts across other channels, you can quickly build a profile of your target companies.

Response: I've seen businesses get something out of all of them as they all have a slightly different audience profile, but as others have said LinkedIn is going well for most. The only way to find the balance is to deliberately test and measure.

Response: Is it easy for all businesses to measure or do they often just look at impressions/reactions etc?

Response: It's not easy to measure effectively, as the most visible metrics like views/impressions do not necessarily translate into leads/sales. The trick is to try to look at the overall impacts on leads/enquiries and sales after each specific campaign but it needs a lot of assumptions

Response: It is great that you brought up monitoring, tracking and reporting. Social media management tools help to measure various metrics across the channels. The channels also have their own measurement that you can follow.

Response: Having the data is grand... what it means is a different kettle of fish. How many businesses look at the data available on each platform?

Response: This is such an important comment

Response: Sometimes that involves adding tracking code into your company website to track conversions. Do you know if many businesses actually do that?

Response: If they have a digital marketing person who is up to speed yes, but how many have such a role in their company? 

Response: And it is hard to stay abreast of all channels when they are also looking after the overall marketing of the brands and products.

Response: Yes, campaigns will direct to specific landing pages or include QR codes with the same intent.

Response: Sounds like you're doing well! We're still on the fence about Instagram, but never say never! It doesn't seem like it matches our customers, but times change! 

Response: We had an account that was setup so it’s just about replicating and tailoring the content for each platform. I'm not sold on Instagram but guess its something you have to do!

Response: I do wonder how many companies participate in Instagram because they see similar companies on it. Just because they're there doesn't mean it works?

Response: No but you can benchmark against other businesses similar to yourselves & see what works & what doesn't We've firmly established ourselves as metal spinners on Twitter, yet others within our industry have struggled, Instagram is a gold mine for metal spinning accounts present

Made in Britain: Is that because the pictorial content is higher in that area? whereas some other areas struggle to even get a single interesting picture?

Response: We believe so, Metal Spinning from the feedback we have received is visually satisfying Instagram, Twitter and YouTube enable us to educate and visually express our craft. TikTok has also helped

Response: This is our sentiment! However it seems it might be changing? I guess if you have the time and resources you can have a bit of there. 

Response: I do wonder what the experts think about a bit on everything or focus on just one or two?

Response: Better to focus on engage regularly then just be there to have a presence. The target market will influence the choice of channels.

Response: Facebook was a waste of time for us and resources were better spent elsewhere within the social media team

Response: It is interesting as instagram is obviously a channel dependent on visual - imagery and videos. So by sharing product videos, interviews, client testimonials etc on instagram you are still engaging & extending reach. I would recommend to focus the channels & not be everywhere

Made in Britain: We work across all those platforms to maximise engagement, but if we were to pick, Linkedin would be the best due to it being seen as a business networking platform! 

Response: We think LinkedIn works best for connecting with customers and for lead generation. We naturally spend more time where we generate more engagement

Response: It goes back to who your customers are. Where they hang out and what is their intent. For B2B: Twitter for the start of the conversation then LinkedIn to cement trust and better connection. For retail it is more complex, with more platforms to work. 

Response: We use LinkedIn and Twitter predominantly. Facebook does not seem right for our market. Just restarted our Instagram page so watch this space

Made in Britain: What are people's impressions of the use of instagram for manufacturers? we're talking B2B

Response: Instagram can be a very powerful tool if engaged with properly. Depends what you are looking to get out of it

Response: How many of your customers are using the Instagram app? What is their intent? Because they like/comment on your image it does not mean they will want to buy the product or service. Map the customer journey noting intent

Response: I think they all pretty poor if you make/sell quality products which let's face it that is what Britain does best. You need to see try on, have fitted, test, etc before you buy something expensive. Social media generally only good for mass markets and low end consumables & tech.

Response: That is an interesting perspective and we know of numerous stories where social media has been used effectively across other sectors. It depends whether it is looked at as Broadcast or Networking? 

Response: In fashion, people don't buy £1k dresses or £600 suits online as readily as they do when they see the quality in real life, and are able to try things on. My online sales are up during Covid as most, but overall down 60%. It suits only fast fashion so again the big corporates

Response: Only networking organically works. The advertising - I tried several times and it is worse than useless, and every other I speak with have found the same.

Response: B2C sales have a much higher need for SM platforms. For B2C the use is more subtle. The conversation and development of relationships, trust and engagement come more slowly. The rewards are greater as the conversations develop

Response: I know many small businesses. Many, as I trade at events. We all notice that social media is limited organically now, and advertising just brings in bot likes, likes from area you haven't asked for, and sometimes nutcases and abuse. Waste of time. Only organic is useful

Response: We use a blend of Linked in and twitter although we do have a presence on FB as that can be a great way to promote our local jobs and improve our position in Bedford

Made in Britain: Do you vary the content on each or generally stick with the same?

Response: It is varied a little but has the same thread running through it 

Response: What do you want? LinkedIn: where 1-2-1 relationships are built. Instagram: a broad audience reach works well with FB ads. Pinterest: Best source to discover what people aspire to have. Twitter is the world's most negative SM platform. Youtube: engagement

Made in Britain: What are you thoughts about whether Twitter is losing ground to other platforms because of the negativity?

Response: Recent research in the USA concluded that Twitter is a place for networking conversation and individual opinion and that it's not a place where B2B companies find success.

Response: Phil, Is that because they are not leveraging the conversations and networks? Or is it because they take the next step to LinkedIn?

Response: The conclusion was your latter point Nigel.

Response: I guess it can depend on who you are targeting - are you B2B/B2C Linkedin for us is more of a professional forum, and we probably get the most engagement there. Twitter is useful, however for campaigns supporting our B2C clients we get more engagement with Facebook and Insta

Response: As @NigelTPacker and @MarketAccents always say, know where the customer is and that takes a little research first.

Response: Unfortunately, it is! Research and look for communities where your target market is present. sometimes they do have groups on facebook which are worth joining to be there for the conversation

Response: As had already been said it really does depend on where your audience are. Each has it's own merits/strengths. We find LinkedIn is better for enquiries as people like dealing with people. Twitter is good for the same reason. Facebook posts can get lost easily.

Response: Social Media doesn't really generate volume sales (other than paid for advertising) It's Brand awareness. No point tagging 'Brands/companies' because the person on the other end is reaching-out as you are. You have to tag people which is much harder.

Response: I want to add another channel in the mix - how many of you are on clubhouse? And how nay of you are engaging regularly on it? for those not in the know - clubhouse is a social media channel based on audio-chat and only available for now for iPhone users.

Response: We use Twitter, Facebook and Insta, haven't started with LinkedIn as yet - as a gifting business not sure LinkedIn is the right place for us. I'd say the return is similar from all ... not that good unfortunately at the moment.

Question two: How important is it for companies to engage their staff in supporting them on social media?

Response: Very important -it shows they are bought into the culture and committed to supporting the marketing across channels

Response: They should be helping to share and amplify the posts. By involving staff in the campaigns, you are ensuring everyone is a marketer, helping to spread the news.

Response: I think this is one of the most important things - the message means so much more when it is coming from an individual rather than a business profile (no matter how human the business tries to sound).

Response: It is important to a point but ideally you want one tone of voice so everything 'official' should be overseen by a Marketing Team, Agency or agreed representative of the company. 

Made in Britain: I like the term @MarketAccents used earlier, they should "amplify" by sharing. We've seen some Made in Britain members who are quite brilliant at this. Pretty much everyone in the company is on LinkedIn and they like and share and rapidly it spreads.

Response: This is an all too often opportunity missed by companies. When you look at staff profiles they range from short to comprehensive. This reflects on the image of the business. Level them up!

Response: As much as it is important to externally have staff onboard, it is also essential to have internal buy in from your team! They will help with messages and content

Response: People trust people, so that's what they want to see - the faces behind the brand. Showing their personalities makes the brand more approachable and personable! It's also good to get staff involved across departments, as it strengthens the team’s connection.

Response: It’s really important to both have a company tone but as others have said, have employees amplify and build their network to increase communication.

Response: Getting posts shared and liked certainly increases the spread of the post informing a wider audience. Degrees of separation 

Response: I think it's very important on various levels, for the business it opens you up to more connections as their followers may not be yours, and from a customer POV it's critical because it shows your employees are passionate about the products! 

Made in Britain: Do you have to have some form of policy in place for the employees though if they are representing your company?

Response: That could be one option, or offer training on how to effectively used these platforms! We offered our sales team some informal training on how to share and maximise views through Linkedin, and I think that gave everyone a lot more confidence to interact!

Made in Britain: Do you get together regularly to keep up and discuss how it’s going and share learning?

Response: A dangerous activity if they have not received orientation and training. Staff may know how to use the platforms, but if they are involved it is essential to get everyone working towards the same company goals. 

Made in Britain: This raises a very interesting point - how do you manage staff using SM? Especially LinkedIn when they have the company name in their profile

Response: Training and trust

Made in Britain: Do many companies do general SM training for all staff?

Response: There are lots of online courses and courses run by local Chamber of Commerce that provide a basic level of understanding and how to interact. Also have a company social media policy / best practice, that staff have to sign up to

Made in Britain: Do many companies have a social media policy/BP do you know? What about companies involved in this chat?

Response: I strongly recommend, tone of voice for style and brand guidelines and social media policies for how to engage, deal with customers and what to say or not say. These are fundamental. #digital #socialmedia. there is plenty of BP out there or speak to us and we can help you

Response: trust, training and a plan of what to share and how to get the most out of their profiles.

Response: what about employed staff - you pay them to sell/BD activities, they do that in work time and grow a personal network on LinkedIn. They then leave to a new employer and that goes with them and what have you left? 

Response: If I am not mistaken, contacts made as part of BD are the company's. There will be instances where there are exceptions depending on the relationship of the contact with the BD, the employee’s role and scope of employment. This is a very interesting situation. Ideally you are directing Linkedin contacts to follow your company page, which is owned by the company. Then staff share posts from your company page. That way, contacts follow the company not the individual

Response: This is a very good point. It’s important not to assume all staff are clued up on social media etiquette. Establishing your company voice and key messages are also crucial. All must be aligned in what info is given about the company and how it's relayed.

Response: It's a mistake to think that even if they had the right to, for a company to try & control employee online activity. I'll help my company on MY LI profile MY way. Not acceptable? Then @MarketAccents is right ... only bother about what is on the company page.

Made in Britain: This is a very hot topic and there are legal implications too. One for a webinar I think

Response: It is important to grow your company page with followers to avoid situations of BD managers leaving with the data. Large connection databases can be an opportunity for competitors when hiring

Response: This is a really interesting area and becoming more so as LinkedIn has grown. certainly something that needs discussing more.

Response: We feel it's very important as people buy from people. If your staff share posts it shows they care about company and products. Agreed that a consistent TOV has to be maintained so as not to 'muddy the waters'

Response: If staff are to share company SM activity, you must allow it to be done during work time. You must realise some customers will scroll timelines & you have no right to or control over those or the content. 'How' staff are asked to do this is a key decision

Response: Agreed totally although they may choose to share it outside time and circles because of the pride and loyalty to the business.

Response: All about the tone and building honest relationships with customers, has to apply for all staff members 

Response: Agree with @NigelTPacker to let the marketing team deal with “corporate tweeting “

Response: Social media is everywhere now. It’s important all staff are engaged in it. Just last week we had someone made a Tik Tok of our solar bench and it’s got over 40,000 hits already. You just never know.

Response: It is often the least expected ones that do the best. Maybe because they're the ones that are more natural and more human?

Question three: Who does social media for your company? Owner, manager, marketing team, social media expert? 

Response: It's an extensive team of me, myself and I here! I just kind of started doing it and several years later I'm still doing it. It’s kind of working but could certainly do with some professional help

Response: Is that your only role in the business or is this just part of it?

Response: Just part of it. When I started we had accounts that hadn't been used so I showed and interest and the rest is history. I have to say finding forums like this has been a great help. Listening and learning as to what works (or doesn't) for other manufacturers.

Response: Hot tip: It is the conversation and these #MadeinBritainHour and #USAMfgHour that bring all the Group together for that conversation. I have seen these build very quickly over the last 6 months.

Response: Someone who understands that it was called 'social' Media for a very good reason & that business moved in uninvited. A person able to re-write 'corporate/business' Marketing Statements to make them 'Social Conversations'.

Response: Though our CEO does a lot of social media on Twitter and articles on Linked In, the Marketing Team are responsible for all social media channels and content generation

Response: We have a dedicated digital marketing person and the MD and Account managers chip in!

Response: Sounds like a great set up as that way you have a human voice directly related to the brand. We always advise the owners or key stakeholders to engage even when we have campaigns running separately. Social media is social and also immediate, so nothing beats that engagement.

Response: Exactly, well put! At the end of the day, social media is that, social! So it's great to have personal accounts helping. As always we could be doing more of that. It has taken its time.

Response: Do they chip in with their own accounts or do they contribute to the corporate ones?

Response: They chip in with their own accounts! We believe it's better, its personal to them but also to the business. They have their own connections that might be different from Company ones. Its a good personal approach 

Response: It is primarily myself as the Marketing Manager but also our Managing Director & Sales Director both get involved too.

Response: Our Marketing and Design Executive (yours truly) is based at Arkote, the parent company of Hardy UK and home of  @Stitchedboxes based in Sheffield!

Response: It's the marketing department who manages our accounts, me (content & social media executive) & our Director of Marketing! Usually me planning, writing & scheduling whilst juggling other tasks!

Made in Britain: Do the others ever get involved in this chat each week?

Response: No, it's always me on a Thursday chatting with you guys, I was the one who found #madeinbritainhour and thought it would be great to interact so our Director of Marketing lets me to take charge of the discussions!

Made in Britain: Always good to have your contribution.

Response: Thanks, it's always great to be part of the discussions! It really helps reading about other like minded individuals & picking up some new tricks of the trade!

Made in Britain: Do you pass on insights and opportunities to the others? 

Response: Absolutely, so if we were to get an enquiry from a social media post, we will usually reply back with our email address & the relevant person will pick this up from there and roll with it!

Response: and that is integrated into your value chain and customer journey. Great best practice.

Response: It’s normally the marketing team our end.

Response: I create the content and run the social media as social media manager, working solely for JB Springs. I receive input from the sales team and the directors to ensure accurate info and representation.

Response: We had a PR company who looked after it but it is expensive. We now have an in-house intern who does it.

Made in Britain: Has the effectiveness changed since moving in-house. Has it perhaps got better as the content is closer to home?

Response: It’s easier to react quickly when things need shared. Not as structured but more effective I believe

Response: You have the opportunity to make it more structured? Social media is a constantly changing world and everything is evolving as should be all companies approach to it

Question four: Are there common mistakes/time wasters that small/medium size businesses make with their social media presence? 

Response: Not being social - talking at people won't help you sell, as people just turn off and scroll. It's called social media for a reason & you have to share, comment, like & follow others and build up that support for your own business too

Response: Very valid point. Churning out scheduled 'sales' posts won't do much on their own. It's one thing to create the content but businesses need to be able to follow up engagement or it just won't happen. Many SMEs haven't focus enough on SM but I think this is definitely changing now

Response: The pandemic has meant you need an online presence of some description & to show you're still operating & available. It's striking a balance of key messages, sales & then socialising & sharing. As they say people buy from people.

Response: A problem I've found is that they take it too seriously, it's all promoting and no community engagement. Have a bit of fun, make a spelling mistake, use some emojis, take a week off if needed. Professionalism isn't it's all cracked up to be

Response: It is a bit like networking, engage enthusiastically but wisely! Stay on brand if you are representing your business and build the relationships.

Response: Thinking it is a replacement for other marketing as it compliments other channels. Crafting content takes a while too and needs to be tailored for each platform

Response: Not engaging with their community, spamming with posts that come across too 'corporate' and not human, failing to tell a story / provide purpose within their posts ...

Response: I don't think there will be a waste of time Having her name on social media is a benefit in itself How and if there is an interaction?

Response: Possibly trying to sell too much rather than create value and interest with information around the products before the sales posts #madeinbritainhour  Also misunderstanding the use of tagging and hashtags

Response: Agree on tags and hashtags. Also keep it social.

Response: Trying to sell can be a real turn off - as has been said it is "social" media - although one could argue that LinkedIn isn't really social so maybe that is a little different?

Response: Having a channel just to be there; No brand voice or regularity. As with everything, even networking, turning up & participating is half the engagement. It is okay to only do it one or twice a week as long as you are consistent. Once you increase your participation you will start to see an increase in followers. Work that in to a customer journey with CTA tied into messages and you should see the increase in site visits as well as more positive sentiment on the posts

Response: Not every business is right for every social media option. Choose carefully what you post and where for maximum impact

Response: For me, one thing that I find is that content shared should come from your own assets, so when thinking content for social, also think, could this go on my site & the blog? and then share your links (still working hard on this!)

Response: Not to be very salesy, people look at finding value which is more important to keep followers engaged and keep wanting to follow.

Response: Like everyone has stated, trying to sell too much! Social media is about solving problems, answering question and having fun more than outright selling, that's why including links to webpages is great as it's selling but not directly!

Join Made in Britain on Twitter at 1pm every Thursday for #madeinbritainhour. We engage with everybody, members and non-members alike (some of whom become members as a result). Hopefully, see you there.

By Made in Britain 2 weeks ago | Made in Britain news

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