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Social Media: Why Make the Journey?

(July 2011) posted on Mon Jun 27, 2011

How social media can benefit your print shop.

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By Julie Shaffer and Mary Garnett

After six months, unique blog page views increased, and they gained numerous Twitter followers and members in their LinkedIn Groups. A 155-percent increase in unique Web visitors was reported, and so staff believed the goal was achieved.

Brand-loyalty building
The key to building brand loyalty is the ability to provide value to customers as a thought leader. There are a lot of possible answers to what provides value to customers – but at the foundation, it is your ability to give them what they need. If a company representative uses various social media tools to share thoughts that are positive and are seen to offer solutions to the customer’s problems, pain points, or concerns, then the rep is offering value to the client. If the comments or recommendations are of a high quality and share advice, examples, and observations on trends, his or her role as a thought leader or an expert increases. All of these efforts will also help to grow the relationship with the ultimate goal of reaching the customer with more sales opportunities.

And, like it or not, your customers are talking about your company, your service, and your problem resolution on various social media tools already.

To monitor – and manage – your own company's reputation, first you need to find out where most of your customers have a presence and then you need to keep an eye on those sources. Reputation management of your company can also be followed through alerts you receive any time your company name is mentioned on the internet. You will also want to query various search engines with the names of prominent people in your company to be aware of comments or discussions related to them that may be on the Internet. Reviews by customers are also on the Internet and you should know what is being said so you can quickly address any public relations issues brought before these audiences.

Business software provider IBM Cognos developed a goal to increase response rates and reduce the cost per lead by becoming a recognized thought leader, generating demand, and supporting the sales team. It explored many methods of achieving this goal including: revamping its website with more offers, releasing white papers, utilizing online demos, hosting events, and participating in online communities.

Prospects filled out contact information for the special offers, which led a growing contact list and a new lead-nurturing program was developed based on the new customer list. IBM Cognos was able to extend numerous touches to their list with additional relevant content and created new offers based on prospect profiles.

They also conducted statistical analysis of their marketing interactions, and with more than 200,000 such interactions, the prioritization of additional tactics and investments began. Some interesting findings from these activities were that online demos had the highest rate of opportunity creation, face-to-face events had the largest impact on close rate and size of the deal, and ten days was the cycle of the opportunities.

After implementing this plan, the company realized both new leads and reduced costs per lead. More than 11 percent of visitors to the website complete the registration form, a vast improvement over the 3-percent average industry-capture rate. Of course the numerous touches played a large role, but it all began with the revamped and newly optimized content on the website.

Julie Shaffer is vice president, digital technologies, and Mary Garnett is executive vice president at Printing Industries of America. This information is excerpted from Printing Industries of America's latest book, Social Media Field Guide: A Resource for Graphic Communicators, written by Shaffer and Garnett (available online at


Case studies are attributed to MarketingSherpa (