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Seven Tips to Help In-plants Get Social

Social media is all about engaging your audience. In-plants can benefit nicely from this.

March 2011 By Julie Shaffer
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EVIDENCE OF how social media is taking the business world by storm is everywhere. Facebook "Like" buttons, Twitter links and invitations to follow RSS feeds seem to grace every Web site.

Business news is full of social media success stories, like the brilliant Old Spice campaign, in which a buff "Old Spice Guy" admonishes that while most men can't look like him, they can smell like him. That campaign mixed old media (TV) with social media; people were invited to ask the Old Spice Guy questions via Facebook and Twitter, and over 200 of those questions were answered via videos posted on YouTube and Facebook. The videos went viral, sales of the stodgy brand Old Spice soared and social media was cemented as a key component in a B2C marketing campaign.

While stories like this show the power of social media engagement for big business marketing, can it do anything for an in-plant? It can do plenty. Social media is all about engagement, establishing a place for dialog with an audience, and that can be as useful for an in-plant as it can for a major consumer brand. It's also a great way to learn and to teach, and it is a conduit to a world of information well outside the walls of one's own organization.

Here are seven tips to help an in-plant operation take advantage of the social media tools out there today.

1 Establish a plan of action before you start.

As with any new venture, the first stage is always planning. Get to know any social media venues your organization already has in place and make note of who takes part in the discussion there. Think about the types of communication you would like to have with your audience and how much time you have to devote to the cause.

It's good to create an actual business plan around social media in which you record what you hope to accomplish with the effort (e.g. get to know customers better, establish yourself as an expert on a particular subject, change how your in-plant is perceived in the organization, sell more print, etc.) You might consider doing a SWOT analysis in which you determine your strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats around your social media plan.

2 Know your organization's social media rules.

About the Author
Julie Shaffer is vice president, digital technologies, at Printing Industries of America. She heads up the Digital Printing Council and the Center for Digital Printing Excellence. Shaffer plays a lead role in developing programs to help members grow their businesses with digital technologies. Shaffer has a 20-plus year background in pre-media and print and is often called upon for training, presentations and to provide on-site consulting on topics like PDF, color management, digital printing, social media and print e-commerce. Shaffer contributes articles to industry publications and pens white papers, case studies and research reports. She is co-author of "The PDF Print Production Guide," "The Web-to-Print Primer" and the "Social Media Field Guide."


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