Thomas Industrial Network, which caters to the industrial manufacturing sector, provides its customers with technology and information services to enhance their online presence. Now, the company has introduced its Social Media Program. The program, which rolled out last month, is designed to help manufacturers build brand awareness, position themselves as industry thought leaders and generate leads via social channels. Phil Paranicas, director of digital media at Thomas Industrial Network, spoke with Digital Directions about the introduction.
Media Business: How does the Social Media Program differ from other social media programs targeting b-to-b marketers?
Phil Paranicas: The primary thing we're doing here is leveraging 112-plus years of industrial experience. There are a lot of firms out there that can do social media; there are very few firms out there that can understand industrial social media. We understand not only how our manufacturers think, but, more important, we understand their prospects and customers, such as engineers and purchasing agents, and how they use social media. We understand the networks that they're going to in order to find information and the kinds of conversations that they are participating in. Instead of wasting our customers' time trying to figure out their business, once they tells us, “I'm a PCB [printed circuit board] manufacturer,” we can get right to work on their social media strategies. This is particularly helpful to those customers that want to get in touch with a younger generation of prospective customers through social media and aren't sure how to do that.
MB: How does the program work?
Paranicas: First we start out with a “goal” conversation. Once we have our customers' business goals, we work on strategies and we say, “OK, this is what we're planning on doing with the different networks and channels.” The primary channels that we're talking about are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube (if the customer or prospect owns a lot of video). We set up pages for them on all these channels.
We're also including press releases as part of this offer, but that's a little but more on the PR side and a little bit less on the social media side. Google+ Brand Pages just started, and we're in the process right now of doing some testing and seeing how that's going to fit into the mix. The biggest piece, aside from the channels themselves, is blogging.
The blog is where the magic happens, because that's where manufacturers are talking in paragraphs, as opposed to just sentences or characters. And that's where they can get their bigger message across. We produce a monthly blog for their websites. That blog gives us the material that we need to publish commentary on their social media pages and participate in other groups that their prospective customers belong to.