Social Media are confusing and deceptive to manufacturers. I know it. Other communications and marketing cats know it. And in those quiet moments when you allow yourself the luxury, so do you. You’re no more good at keeping up with the evolving and emerging communications and Social Media channels today than I am at programming a Fanuc on a 5-axis Mori or setting up a tombstone.

But it’s OK. It doesn’t have to be hard. It ain’t easy, but with a little bit of that savvy you bring to the shopfloor you can capitalize and improve the likelihood that you’ll get more attention – and business – from manufacturers looking for the services your business can give ’em. You can – and should – do something.

As you begin your new marketing journey – and, like Lean, it is a long-term commitment – here are 9 rules to follow that will keep you focused, and save you some heartache once you’re on your way.

  1. Social Media are about sharing of and access to information – about your company, what you can do, what you’ve done, and what you know.
  2. Procial Media – Social Media used by and for professionals – have tipped the control of the conversation and research cycles further toward the customer –your customers and prospects are now connecting with each other frequently & easily, often without your help or knowledge. Embrace this reality, listen, and get involved in the conversation.
  3. Social Media are not a fad and there is great value in adopting the correct strategies for your business. Facebook and Twitter may fade away, but the tools and the behaviors they’ve enabled are here for the long-run.
  4. Procial Media aren’t a position in your company. They are a skill. Nearly every outward facing group and person in your organization should learn and use these tools to monitor and communicate with your customers, prospects and markets. These channels are becoming how your customers will look to connect with your company. Spread the wealth, to make the wealth.
  5. Use Procial Media to establish yourself as a customer and industry advocate. If all you talk about is your company, your products or your services, you’re leaving money on the table. Try to be a little bit interesting.
  6. Not all Social Media platforms are of value to your core businesses. Speak to people when they’re in the professional mindset you want, through the channels that your audience uses when they’re in that condition. Ask yourself – “What are people DOING when they interact in or engage this platform?” and choose where to participate only where everyone benefits. Engineers and purchasing agents at Boeing don’t like to be poked and they don’t play Farmville, and I don’t want to hear about your shop while I’m downloading music.
  7. Procial Media are enabling ‘tribes’ to form around technology, industry and professional interests. Join the tribes that attract your audience and participate.
  8. Procial Media are creating new ‘paths’ into your organization, and your Web site is more critical to your business today because of the number of options your prospects have to find you online, and because a great deal more research is required by prospects looking at a business like yours. It’s your home base, and should be stocked with content that explains what you do and how you help your customers succeed.
  9. Procial Media will become your customers’ new receptionist, on steroids – connecting customers & prospects with operations points in your organization. Are the people interested in you getting a dial tone when they look for help through these channels? A voice mail? Or are they getting a real, knowledgeable person in your business?

So, are you skeptical? Good. Have questions? I sure hope so. Or maybe you have other suggestions for small or mid-sized manufacturers as they set off on the road to a new chapter for their businesses? Let’s hear about ’em.

Now isn’t the time to be quiet about it. Get started.