Intelligent Manufacturing Part 6: Leveraging Social Media

Intelligent Manufacturing – Leveraging Social Media to Build Your Brand and Even to Rescue It

Today there isn’t a major brand out there that isn’t leveraging the power of social media and trying to build their brand in that way. Tinu Cherian Abraham, described his own experience with major manufacturers and their methods of influencing their market. He shared a story of how Mercedes of India helped him to realize his dream of driving a Mercedes. This gave brand recognition and positive PR to the Mercedes Group, but that isn’t all that social media can do for us today.

Major brands and even smaller ones are sharing more on social media and offering more details and deals about what’s going on in their business. Social media gives them the chance to build a bigger brand and to increase the number of people who follow the brand or even learn about it when they may have known very little prior to finding it on social media.
Ford Motor Company believes that Facebook and Twitter and others have expanded their brand in a way that television would not have allowed them to do today.
Ford, an older brand that was often associated with older people, knew that it had to find a way to reach out to younger people to build their brand and even for hiring. Ford went to work at their social media marketing and became–in a relatively short time, one of the leaders in social media.

Ford gave away 100 Ford Fiestas, allowing the users to drive them for a full year. More, it gave them free gasoline, insurance and a video camera to enable them to make an honest video review about the Fiesta automobile.

The campaign worked so incredibly well that they are modeling this year’s 2014 campaign after it and used it to introduce the Fiesta of 2014 too.

Just how popular is Ford on social media?-How about 206K fans on their Twitter page and over a million on their Facebook.
Not only can the “big players” benefit from social media interaction. Another great example of how social media can provide for growth is the story of how Madison Electrical Products took on the big guys and came out on top of the heap.

Madison is a very small, privately owned and operated electrical manufacturer who was not considered a real player in the game. They are a perfect example of the power of social media. Madison was considered “a third-tier player that competed on price.” The new buyers of the company took a hard look at opportunities for growth and settled on using social media to bring that home.

According to Rob Fisher, who is the Director of Marketing for Madison, the company wasn’t big enough to spend more than their competition but they believed that using social media was going to give them a real edge. They were more than right in their thinking.

Rob states “We started off slow, initially created basic Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. The first few months, we did a lot of monitoring and listening to discover what electrical contractors and distributors were discussing. Once we began participating, we kept the focus on addressing industry issues and trends.”
Based on a lot of what they heard on social media, the company launched a crowd sourcing methodology for new ideas, provided the means for their customers to give them new ideas and insights and they listened to what their social media followers had to say. These days, Madison is no longer seen as a third tier provider. With multiple new product releases that have been well-received, they are a major player in the game because they took the time and the initiative to use social media, not just for marketing, but for discovering what their customers really wanted–and then doing it. You can read a detailed article on them here: Madison Electrical Products & Social Media

The smart companies today are leveraging social media in ways that can help them to build their brand but also in ways that can help them to rescue it or prevent injury or damage should the need arise.

While many manufacturers are not yet using social media as well as it might be used, some are leveraging it to the fullest extent. Many manufacturers are using social media as a resource in their disaster planning. Price Waterhouse’s survey shows that about half of all manufacturers do not yet have a “Formal usage” of their social media pages as a crisis management resource but that about half do provide for that as part of their natural disaster recovery.

One of those using social media as a means of recovery is Atlas Oil. According to Bob Kenyon, the Executive VP of Atlas, “Social media channels are now the connective tools that allow us to communicate when other means are compromised during natural disasters.” “Atlas Oil EFS used social media strategically to announce and update outreach efforts during Super-storm Sandy. It was really the only way to get the word out to employees and clients due to the extensive power outages, and weather severity on the ground was changing drastically by the hour.”

When manufacturers are trying to find out what’s happening in the wake of any disaster, natural or man-made, social media can be the connective tissue that keeps them moving forward with some measure of knowledge. Everbridge, a California software company that makes emergency incident software also touts the use of social media. Jaime Ellertson, CEO commented “For a manufacturer trying to find out what’s going on in the midst of a disaster, social media can augment or replace traditional news sources.
In many instances social media can make a real difference in a business, preventing loss and injury as well as providing for the users of the products or services to know what’s happening.
Phil Harris who is the CEO of Geofeedia works with a company that permits users to monitor and to search out social media information in real time. He believes that the days of relying solely on traditional news or television news are over. Social media users are everywhere, providing real time updates and information in the event of storms or disasters. This data, including photos, videos, descriptive text and other information provided from mobile devices can be invaluable to manufacturers and even to EMS personnel and emergency management.

In a time when power outages or phone outages may be rampant, social media can close the information gap and help people to see what’s happening in real time. What plans has your business made to make use of social media in the event of a disaster? Maybe it’s time to rethink your strategy.

James Kemper is the president of W. H. Meanor & Associates, an executive placement & training company specializing in engineering & manufacturing careers. He can be reached at: or 704-372-7640 #102 or visit at

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