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Social Media: Is It Worth Your Time?
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The buzz with social media continues, and many NWPCA members are involved in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and the like. So how do you know if all your social media efforts are really paying off? You already have a small staff already wearing multiple hats. Is adding tweets and posts to their workload all worth the time and investment? Post a blog and/or share a business nugget or two, and continue the dialogue.

 

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Social Media & The Pallet Business

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, October 5, 2016

How Two Industry Leaders Engage Online Followers

Business Blog By Andrew Brown

If you’re in business, you’ve had the discussion about social media and its importance to your bottom line. The wooden pallet and packaging industry is relationship driven, so you would think social media and the pallet industry would be a natural fit. Yet, try finding pallet manufacturers and brokers with active social media pages. Researching this story, I found only two out of fifty companies that consistently used their social media channels for marketing. Out of those fifty companies, most didn’t have a social media account with LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook or SnapChat. The very few that did have accounts, had not published new material in months or in some cases years.

‘That’s because our industry is relationship-based,’ you say. ‘We do business over the phone, in-person and through email.’

Your tried-and-true sales tactics are relevant and proven, but that’s no reason to neglect social media as an area of potential business growth. Social networking sites aren’t going away and in fact it’s just the opposite. In fact, sixty-five percent of U.S. adults use social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, according to a study from the Pew Research Center. Ten years ago, that figure was seven percent.

The question is not “If”, but when and how will you take advantage of social media tools? If you really want to build relationships with customers, you have to go where they go. And increasingly, they are online. The two companies profiled for this story are models for the industry. Take some lessons from them, dig for a nugget or two, and you’ll be off to a good start.

Nazareth Pallet

Founded more than 30 years ago, Nazareth Pallet wanted to build recognition for its already strong brand. After experimenting with print advertising, billboards and radio ads, the company switched gears. “In todays’ world, it’s obvious that it is all about social media,” says Ken Laga, senior accounts executive.

The company appointed an in-house employee to focus on social media part-time. Nazareth Pallet learned quickly that gaining business through a social media strategy was far more than a part-time job. “We immediately learned we were only touching the surface, so we hired a professional company rather than take the time to learn as we go,” says Laga. “When we went to the pros, it was because we wanted to stop experimenting.”

The outside firm reviewed the company’s efforts, helped define goals, and then launched their tailor-made social media program within a matter of months. Now Laga says he spends about 4 to 6 hours a month maintaining the program, primarily overseeing the project. The vendor spends 25 to 30 hours conducting research and creating articles and content.

In addition to publishing blog posts on its website, Nazareth Pallet puts most of its energy into Facebook and YouTube. “Twitter started out strong but we no longer even use it, as it has gone down in all aspects of public interest, at least for our purposes,” says Laga. “In order to get people to our site, Facebook has had the greatest return on investment.” On YouTube, Nazareth Pallet shares videos about pallets, mulch-making, and company-sponsored events.

Nazareth Pallet works closely with the firm to come up with content ideas. The company takes those ideas and turns them into blog posts and videos. The firm will also suggest posts, especially when they’re indirectly related to the industry. For instance, stories about upcycling pallets, sustainability and conservation are part of the scope.

Laga says that general audiences are most likely to respond to posts when they are in the form of contests. One of the most popular posts took the form of a quiz. The company published a photo of its new snow rake and asked followers to guess, “What is this?” Similarly, a video on the company’s YouTube site demonstrates how mulch is made. Employees and their families and friends respond to stories and photos from company-wide events. Posts about equipment and manufacturing are especially popular. “Everyone seems to comment about how interesting it is to see how pallets are made or how mulch is produced,” says Laga.

Most of the company’s approach to social media is educational. Unlike traditional advertising, which emphasizes products, this approach seeks to engage followers for long-term branding. “Part of the premise is that we’re not promoting ourselves directly. We’re promoting pallet recycling,” says Laga.

Rose Pallet

Since national pallet provider Rose Pallet opened its doors five years ago, it has experienced tremendous growth in sales and infrastructure. Social media marketing has been part of its business development plan since day one. “We just think in this day and age, social media is important,” says Amy Angellotti, vice president of Rose Pallet. “We weren’t too strategic in the beginning. We just knew social media was the way of the future and we wanted to be a part of that space.”

In some ways, starting from scratch made it easier to incorporate social media, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. “It’s a lot of work and we spend a good amount of money. It’s not free,” she says. Nonetheless, the company’s focus on building a powerful, recognizable brand depends on engaging followers with useful or entertaining posts.

Posts are first published on the company’s blog, then promoted through its social media channels, primarily Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Topics vary from business and industry information to posts that celebrate holidays, employees, philanthropy and interactive content, says Angellotti. To stay organized, the company developed an editorial calendar that determines what posts will be published and when.

To generate ideas, the company looks to industry news for potential stories. It also promotes industry events. “With each post, we always try to tie-in relevant content on pallets or pallet-related services,” says Angellotti. “We get the most feedback or interaction when we have a contest or quiz…the next highest engaging posts are the ones that feature our philanthropy, especially if it is a cause that is near and dear to many folks.” These themes are very similar to Nazareth Pallet’s successes using social media.

For companies starting out with social media, Angellotti recommends setting realistic expectations. “If you’re developing a blog, begin with monthly posts. If you’re looking to create a Facebook or Twitter page, you’ll need to post more frequently, but you can aim for once weekly rather than every day.”

Also, don’t neglect other forms of marketing. At Rose Pallet, social media complements other marketing channels, including email marketing, print advertising, direct-mail and event marketing. The company’s vehicles are also wrapped in Rose Pallet logos, so the company’s brand is literally on-the-move. All these touchpoints combine to reinforce the brand and a well-known recognized company.

Tags:  business  network  packaging  pallet  social media  wood 

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Social Media for Pallets. Really?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 30, 2015

By Jon Goldman, CEO, Brand Launcher

Most people are familiar with social media’s frivolous, time-wasting side. But do you know social media’s serious side?

In the business-to-business (B2B) sector, social media can help you generate new leads and nurture existing relationships. But for the pallet industry, it can also play a critical networking role, such as helping you find new sources for purchasing raw materials, or sharing ideas for solving problems.

Can you benefit from social media? You can. But to be effective, you’ll need to strategize your efforts. Start by determining what your company’s primary and secondary needs are, and then allocate your time to get the biggest bang for your buck.

Here are some key rules to follow:

1. Know which sites are important to your company.

LinkedIn is the preferred network among most B2B marketers. In the pallet industry, LinkedIn is probably the most powerful networking tool. In addition, it can serve as a resource to research and target individual sales. You can also join groups that focus on pallets to find resources, share information or get advice. In addition to NWPCA’s LinkedIn group, there are other related groups or companies worthy to check out, such as the Reusable Packaging Association; Wooden, Plastic and Steel Pallets of America; Packaging Professionals; Bulk Container Professionals; Institute of Packaging Professionals; Green Packaging Forum; GMA Pallet Users; Pallet Recyclers of America; and Pallet Security, Returnable Assets Management & Pallet Control.

Facebook is not as useful as a B2B tool, but it can be valuable for strengthening communications with your clients and potential clients. You can also search for vendors to service your company. In general, Facebook is a better forum for distributing information (to those who “like” your company) than for acquiring information.

YouTube is best used as a supplemental tool for your company. You can capitalize on the power of video by uploading yours to YouTube and then posting them on LinkedIn and Facebook. Videos offering tips on pallet safety or pallet use can be interesting to your prospects, especially if you keep them short and informative. So in addition to posting a photo of a new product, provide a video of one of your staff demonstrating the benefits. Consider a video featuring the use of your materials/equipment in various ways. Of course, creating the video is the easy part. You need the time and creativity to then distribute the video to a wide audience.

There are many other popular social media sites, such as Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. But Linked In, Facebook, and YouTube are probably the most effective sites for the pallet industry today.

2. Know the tools that are most useful to your company.

Many companies focus on having a good Facebook “cover,” a beautiful website, and other graphically appealing visuals online. But frequency is just as important. Your social media accounts can reflect poorly on your company if you over-post one week and then don’t post for weeks at a time. It’s important to maintain a “social media calendar.” Set up a plan so that you’ll be posting regularly. Make it easy for yourself with a tool like www.hootsuite.com, which enables you to automate your posts and manage multiple accounts at once.

Another important tool to use is Google Analytics. As you increase your social media efforts, monitor the analytics of your company’s website, so you know which social media sites are actually driving traffic. You may need to alter your social media strategy (the content you post and the sites you are prioritizing) to increase the quantity and quality of the audience you are attracting.

3. Know your audience, and speak to them.

Your social media posts make real impressions. What you say and how you say it makes a difference. Unlike face-to-face conversations, with social media, you are speaking “to the masses.” While this has key benefits, it also has drawbacks. In a one-on-one sales meeting, you can tailor your pitch to the other person. In social media settings, you can’t control your audience. You need to take care not to say anything that could alienate potential clients. Moreover, in face-to-face meetings, what you say might not be remembered for long. But social media postings create a permanent record. If you’re not sure whether something will fly, think twice before clicking “post.”

4. Content is king.

90% of B2B marketers use one or more forms of content marketing to reach and engage their prospects and customers. Make sure that the materials or information you are sharing is of value and interest to those you are trying to target. Strategize what you will be posting, and spend the time creating the appropriate materials for your social media audience. Social media sites can be like virtual trade shows – so many people can walk by your “booth,” but how do you get them to actually engage?

5. Don’t get sucked into the dark hole.

Social media can be like a dark hole – once you fall in, it’s hard to climb out. Like any other marketing effort, social media needs a strategy so you can determine if you are getting a return on your investment. Social media is NOT free, despite whatever you’ve heard to the contrary. Although you may not be paying fees to LinkedIn, Facebook, or YouTube, to properly use these tools, you’ll need to invest time. And, as we all know, time = money.

Finally, remember that social media is about the three E’s: engage, entertain and educate. Use the tips in this article to connect with your target audience, and start making your social media efforts pay off.

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Tags:  branding  marketing  networking  social media 

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Measuring ROI with Social Media

Posted By Annette Ferri, Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Branding and marketing your company is necessary. But how you use your social media presence can be as little or as much as you want. Like anything else in business, being successful at social media requires hard work, patience, and diligence. Defining your goals upfront is key to measuring the success of social media efforts, and helps you tailor content and posts accordingly. Plus, social media is a great way to drive traffic to your website.

A few things to be considered: Are you trying to generate brand awareness? Sales leads? Increased press attention? Attracting new employees to your company? Each of these areas come with different ways to measure results, then you can focus your posting strategy and tools used to evaluate effectiveness accordingly.

Several tools available can help measure the success of your social media channels. Google Analytics is free, and powerful in determining how and why visitors come to your site, and can track referrals. The Google Analytics reports examine trends over a period of time. Users can identify which web pages are getting the most clicks, and how long are visitors staying on your site. Weekly reporting is not necessary, instead look at trends over a number of weeks or at the end of each month. Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook also have their own analytics, in addition to Hootsuite’s link tracking.

These are just some tools used to help you measure social media ROI, and to get an idea of the quantitative impact that social media is having on businesses as a whole. While it may be difficult to track a sale, the benefit of growing your brand and building a loyal following is not always measurable through mere numbers, but is highly important all the same. And with these tools, you’ll be able to refine your social media plans to optimize timing your posts and tracking visitor preferences.

Tags:  branding  business  marketing  roi  social media  website 

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