We get it – machine shop owners are busy. Very busy. No matter the size of the shop, owners are pulled in countless directions each day; troubleshooting, quoting, talking to customers… Marketing might seem like the obvious task to push aside as an “extra,” especially if you are busy fulfilling orders. But the truth is, if you wait until you NEED marketing to drive business to your shop, you are most likely too late.
Harnessing the power of social media platforms can be a true gamechanger for driving more business to your shop and increasing RFQs. With over 300,000 part buyers on LinkedIn alone, the potential is undeniable. But where do you begin if using social media to market your shop is a new (or underutilized) concept?
Before diving into planning and content development, it’s best to do some basic housekeeping. Conduct a review of your business platforms (Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, etc.): Are all of the sections filled out? Does the content accurately reflect the current state of your shop? Do the links work? Is your personal page connected to your business page so you can leverage your contacts? Take time to spruce up your pages if needed with header photos and make sure your personal page has a good photo of you. You want both your business and personal pages to be up-to-date, complete, and professional.
Once your pages are addressed, you can move into planning your post content. Ideally, you will develop posts in a separate document and simply copy and paste them when it comes time to deploy. Something I hear frequently is that social media posting SEEMS like it should be easier than it actually is, which is the main reason for the frustration in not getting it done. Many clients report that they often get stuck at the keyboard thinking, “I am just not sure what to post.” This leads to not posting much, if at all. Before you know it, it’s been weeks or months and your social pages appear abandoned.
To leverage social media effectively, there is a level of strategy, planning, and consistency required. The goal is to develop an organized and well-thought-out process for posting content so you spend less time mulling over the dreaded question of “What do I post?”
In order to get on track with social media marketing, planning is key. Upfront planning and organization will make your efforts more focused and effective and end up saving you time in the long run. Follow these planning tips to get started:
- Commit to a posting schedule and stick with it. Whether it’s once a week or M – F, have a plan that you feel confident you can accomplish.
- Set aside time to plan. In the end, it will save you time.
- Gather and organize ideas, content, and images you already have and put them all in one place.
- Consider your target audience and what you want them to know about your business.
- Start a running list of ideas that you can build off of and add to at any time.
Once you have gathered what you have, step back and review: Is it an accurate representation of your business and capabilities? If not, what is missing? If you’re wondering whether or not you need more photos, the answer is always yes. Images and videos grab your audience’s attention, so get in the habit of taking photos of those awesome parts before you ship them out, or better yet, delegate that task to someone else. Photos and video clips of machines, the shop floor, and employees are also great social content. Consistently capturing what is happening in your shop will assure that you always have fresh visuals to work with.
If you don’t have a strong collection of images to start off with, you can use text content to create graphics while you build your image vault. There are some free or low-cost user-friendly graphics programs out there that you don’t need experience to use; a quick tutorial can get you up and running. Take advantage of that great customer review or thank you email by showcasing those kind words in a social post.
As you develop text content, remember to keep your strategy on point. The goal is to drive more business to your shop, which means making your customers want to submit an RFQ through your website. So show off what you can do! Share your capabilities, your response time, the parts you make, the industries you serve, that new machine you invested in… Vary the content to keep your audience engaged, and don’t lose sight of the purpose of your efforts. Use clear CTAs to engage your followers and direct them to your website to learn more, submit quote requests, and contact your shop. They may not need your services when they see your post, but consistently sharing information about your business will keep you top of mind so that when they do need a quote, they think of you.
As your social feeds develop and you start sharing consistently, you can maximize your efforts by utilizing best practices:
- Share your business posts on your personal page to increase followers.
- Invite your personal connections to follow your business page.
- Reach out and connect with everyone who has requested information.
- Respond to comments on your posts promptly and professionally.
Keep in mind that as you, your employees and your network engage more with your content – whether it’s through likes, shares or comments – social feed algorithms are programmed to increase the number of people who see your posts and are exposed to your content.
You can monitor your progress by looking at key metrics, such as an increase in followers and contact form submissions, and of course, RFQs. Patience is key as growth does not happen immediately. The consistency of your efforts and the quality of your content will directly affect your success.
If you want to learn more about leveraging social media for your job shop, stream our on-demand webinar, “Grow Your Business with These Social Media Best Practices.”