Social Media in Manufacturing

#DontBAHa8er. People use the Internet to find what they are looking for, and it is your responsibility to be seen and to remain relevant.

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As I sat down for lunch with my MoldMaking Technology peers during NPE  in Orlando, Florida, in March, a discussion broke out regarding social media. This seems to be a lightning-rod topic that creates embracers and haters, so I decided to use this page to break down some of the objections people have to using social media in manufacturing and to promote the various reasons we should move from hating to embracing. 

“Only my kids do social media.”
Aren’t we fighting a skills gap in our manufacturing workforce? How are we getting the word out there to let people know how cool manufacturing is and how relevant it is to our economy and community? Social media can be an important tool for recruiting our next round of employees or a way to educate the community on what we really do in their backyards.

“I never got an order from Facebook.”
This may be true today, but as more people are exposed to technology such as apps, design software and 3D printing, the need to mass-produce products will grow. When that happens, how will customers find you? This country was founded on entrepreneurial spirit, and today that spirit is being revitalized with the various software and technology at everyone’s fingertips. Entrepreneurs are being crowd-funded, and they want to make products in the United States.

“I don’t want to be on social media because users may put something bad out there about us.”
People are going to put it out there whether or not you are on social media. You need to have a presence in the social landscape so your image and story can be told by you instead of a disgruntled customer or employee. However, do not just be a company bugle horn and spew irrelevant information about you or your company. Instead, highlight the industry, its technology and the people who are working around you.

“What is it going to cost me?”
It can be as expensive as you want it to be or as inexpensive as you can make it. Social media usage can be pre-planned, scheduled and released, or it can be spontaneous. The cost of posting and tweeting can be little to nothing if you do it yourself. However, the owner should not also be the salesperson for the company. An owner should keep his or her vision focused on the future while allowing a marketing person to market and a salesperson to sell. These could be part-time or full-time positions. You might consider subsidizing this expense by using an intern, a service or a recent college graduate.  

Today, people use the Internet to find what they are looking for, and it is your responsibility to be seen and to remain relevant. When searching a name, topic or technology, search engines explore social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Pintrest, LinkedIn, Google+ and YouTube. They are all places that need to hold your information. Although it can be overwhelming, that is no reason to ignore it. Acknowledge it and do it! Okay, maybe not you, but someone within your company or network. Good luck! #DontBAHa8er.

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