Social Networks For Businesses Selling to Scientists and Engineers

I ran across this article, 9 Social Networks Your Business Should Be Using, and did a double take. Those of us who focus on the technology and manufacturing markets would be greatly misled by this list: 1. Facebook, 2. Twitter, 3. Foursquare, 4. LinkedIn, 5. YouTube, 6. Quora, 7. Flikr, 8. Tumblr, and 9. Meetup. This represents a very broad brush and is heavily biased toward the consumer markets. For those of us who sell primarily to scientists and engineers, we need our own special list. Here’s my two cents:

1. Your own company blog: Competition is stiff, especially from low cost producers around the world. Now, more than ever, it’s important for you to establish your expertise and differentiate your offerings in the market. A well done blog is the best place to start (after you have your e-newsletter program up and running, of course). There are a number of blogging tools out there, including the above mentioned Tumblr. But if you want your own domain and a professional look and feel along with ease of use, we recommend something like WordPress. For dirt cheap dollars you can set up your own domain, e.g. blog. telesian.com, and be up and running the first day.

2. YouTube: Your customers and prospects have as little available time as you. For marketing to succeed it needs to be short, sweet, and to the point to get their attention. There’s time later to present all the gorey detail that engineers need to see. But first you’ve got to get them hooked. For some time now, we’ve seen short (3-5 minute) YouTube video tutorials pull in top readership numbers…in e-newsletters, on blogs, etc. You need to figure out how to incorporate video production into your marketing process. It doesn’t have to look like it was Hollywood produced, but it does have to be decent quality. Start with a mix of talking head and pics of technology/products in action. But start now.

3. SlideShare: If you’d asked me 6 months ago, I would have put LinkedIn in the number 3 position. But things change fast on the Internet. LinkedIn is still a must-have tool for businesses in our markets (see below), but SlideShare is useful as a way to get your documents and presentations online in a friendly format. It also has become a destination in and of itself because of all the great material that’s posted there. I’ve heard a number of people tell me the search SlideShare for info BEFORE they turn to a search engine. That got my attention.

4. LinkedIn: This is THE social media site for business. While most of our customers and prospects will go to a company web site for information, they are finding it useful to get involved in LinkedIn forums to get their questions answered on specialized topics. Once you create your personal and business pages, you’ll want to look around for groups to join. I did a search for “laser” related groups and got a list of 56 options including photonics, SPIE, laser materials processing, medical lasers, and more.

5. Twitter: Think of Twitter as headline news. This is a new way to interact with like-minded people, be they network contacts, customers, prospects, industry influencers, etc. Tweet about new content on your web site, new videos, news from the industry. There are two challenges to Twitter: first, you need to find and encourage relevant people on the network to follow you; second, you need to post a couples of times a day to be most effective. Don’t overdo the quantity of posts or you’ll annoy your followers. But you need sufficient volume to rise above the noise.

Start with these five social networks. Get them integrated into your marketing program and post regularly. Once you have these down pat, we’ll talk about what’s next.

2 Comments

  1. You’re spot on to point out that the social media sites important to tech companies differ from those of B2C , and even differ depending on the specific tech industry. Also, an interesting observation about SlideShare.

    One addition would be to consider industry-specific online communities. They can be both a great way to make content available as well as to find out what’s on the minds of decision-makers and influencers.

  2. sharilee says:

    Absolutely, Michael. The challenge is finding industry-specific communities that have gotten beyond the early stages and are regularly generating relevant activity…postings, comments, conversations. One of the few that’s shown it has lasting impact is Ken Crater’s http://www.control.com site. Control engineers asking and answering questions about what technology works and how to fix what doesn’t.

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