In a recent blog on increased market competition for automation system integration companies, I discussed the growing trend of panel building companies moving into the system integrator space through business expansion. The impact of this is trend is pushing system integrators to find ways to differentiate their businesses, find their niche and areas of specialty to ensure continued business growth. I believe another area which system integrators can explore to help supplement growth is social media.
Social media is not just for consumers and B2C businesses. Three key points from the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report tells us so:
- Over 56% of B2B marketers acquired new business partnerships through social media (compared to 45% of B2C marketers)
- Nearly 60% of B2B marketers saw improved search rankings from their social efforts (compared to 50% of B2C marketers)
- B2B marketers are more able to gather marketplace insights from their social efforts (nearly 69% vs. 60% of B2C marketers)
Social media offers small system integrators an opportunity that they are often missing. I know it is difficult in a small company to know where you need to be with marketing, let alone social media. In my travels I see a lot of system integrators without a dedicated marketing team or with one, maybe two, marketing people concentrated on traditional forms of marketing, with a very limited, or non-existent, social media presence. However, I believe a conscious investment in specific people with specific skills to manage social media can offer an edge to system integrators willing to invest.
Social media is part of an ongoing investment, not just a one-off that magically continues. Content needs to be created, put out there and then engaged. As marketing and social media is not seen as core to the business, how do you justify the cost of a person to do this? It’s certainly a challenge.
But also an opportunity – not a lot of system integration companies are doing this so it could be a great opportunity to take the lead in creating a community, engaging potential end users, being thought leaders in your niche area and soliciting feedback from your community so you can improve.
In many industries, especially in local markets and geographies, word of mouth is more important than anything. Social media offers a wider opportunity to share your expertise, to be a leader in your field by sharing your past experience and what makes your business unique. Social media is a way to get word of mouth to a bigger audience, to understand what is happening in the market and promote yourself in an area that you are not located in.
Are you a system integrator using social media? What results are you seeing?