Q A DISTRIBUTOR ASKS: How are other distributors using social media to promote their businesses? What platforms are you using, what type of content are you having success with, and how are you building your base of followers? Who manages your social media presence, and how does it fit with your overall marketing strategy?

A InTandem Promotions has found that the key to any successful post is twofold: you have to know your audience, and you have to use your unique voice. The easiest way to ensure that a follower will not Like, retweet, regram [use a hashtag when reposting something that you saw on someone else’s Instagram] or share your post is to publish pictures of different products that you believe are cool—consider yourself ignored faster than a thumb swipe. You are just stabbing in the dark that they are going to like that one product—literally shooting an arrow and hoping that it will stick or resonate. Managing social media in this manner is like sending a client a catalog versus curating the ideas ahead of time.

At InTandem, we have found that showcasing products in a unique setting or in the manner that the product is actually used has been the most successful approach. We do silly. We do unique. We share successes and wins. We show where and how we do what we do. We include our partners as much as we can. To increase followers, we have found that using different hashtags and increasing our ad spend has been successful. We take stock in who is following us and look for opportunities to increase engagement based on those users. We follow what they are following. We like what they like, and we seek opportunities to cover common ground through promotional products.

I am the main voice of InTandem’s social media, but the entire team routinely contributes. Our online and social presence has been one of our primary marketing components, and this year we have upped our game and increased our spend. We recently sent an InTandem employee to the Digital Summit in Atlanta to learn what’s new, what avenues we need to head into, and how we continue to grow our presence. Content is ever-evolving and so is our voice. We are fighting over viewer space with some truly amazing promotional companies, and if we are to stay relevant we must continue to evolve.

Our future with social media currently includes looking at ways to increase our ad spend as well as finding our platform and voice in the blog and video space. But we need to make sure that we are doing it in a way that is unique to InTandem without losing who we are and still capturing our target audience—not an easy task.

Chief Executive Officer
InTandem Promotions
PPAI 626348

My advice is to check out some of your competitors and retail brands on every social platform, including Instagram. Take note of what you enjoy seeing: Is it informative? Pleasing to the eye? Entertaining? Remember, you are interrupting someone’s day with your content—make it worth their while. And, if you wouldn’t want to see what you are posting, then why the heck would someone else?

The goal with social media isn’t to sell. It’s to build relationships and establish credibility and familiarity so people know what you do. Because you stay top-of-mind with consistent posts, they will remember you when they need you. And because you work with brands they know, and social media allows other people to make comments about you, they will learn they can trust you.

Social media is less about what you post and more about what you learn from others who are posting. When you post, use hashtags that are relevant to your clients or prospects. If you want to see what suppliers are doing, check out #promoproducts and #promotionalproducts. When you post, however, don’t use those tags—use tags that speak to your audience. To figure out what those are, learn about your clients’ industries and their competitors so you can position yourself as an expert.

Also, use social media to connect with clients and prospects so you can see what events they’re attending, what their likes and dislikes are and how you can make their lives easier. Did you see a prospect at a trade show with lame swag? Grab their logo, create a presentation loaded with virtuals of products that are better suited to their goals and post it to their page with a clever message that will entice them to connect with you.

And finally, engage. Social media is about being social—don’t just post and be done. Comment on posts from others with sincerity. Be helpful when people need help. Create content with the intention of building relationships and creating a community.

Begin and end your strategy with strengthening relationships in mind, and regardless of whether or not you make a sale, you’ll win every time.

Account Coordinator
Peerless Umbrella Co.
PPAI 112666

We use Facebook groups to find networking connections. A lot of these groups have members that are looking for services that we provide and gladly offer to them.

Howling Print & Promo
PPAI 593535

I personally believe that social media as a method to reach new customers is a waste of money. It’s best to go B2B. Knock on the door of 20 high quality prospects every day. See them in person. If you can’t get face to face, send a postcard, a letter, or a planned promotional item.

I think that social media is like tossing spaghetti on the wall with hopes that something might stick. It works, but it’s hit-or-miss with a low achievement rate. Control your market with a planned outreach campaign and stay with it.

Del Norte Promotions
PPAI 194205

As a strategic branding and marketing agency, we have a multi-pronged approach that leads people back to our website. We utilize Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube to communicate with our audiences what we do, how we do it, and why we are valuable to them.

Our approach is to be content driven, and a major focus is sending out information via a weekly webcast, YourLIVINGBrand.live, through email and social media. This show allows us to interview people on what makes them valuable to their audience, and in turn, they share it on their websites and social media pages with links that drive people back to our website. The show is done both in podcast and webcast format and is available on our website, SoundCloud and iTunes.

Twitter is used as both a listening post and engagement vehicle for quick information. We listen to questions that people have on branding and send them content that will demonstrate our expertise and help them solve their problems.

YouTube is a repository for YourLIVINGBrand.live shows and gives us the ability to house video links that are distributed through our workshops, LinkedIn and Facebook channels.

LinkedIn is our professional face and where we spend most of our time. We utilize this channel to demonstrate our expertise, answer questions and build our tribe. Because not everyone is on LinkedIn, we also have a presence on Facebook.

We utilize Social Jukebox to plan our social media distribution. It allows me to set up 10 different channels per medium and send each set of content out at different intervals to different groups, which gives me the opportunity to target people more accurately.

In short, social for us is a large part of our overall marketing strategy. It is designed to provide valuable content as to why marketing works and how to do it more effectively.

Your Brand Marketing
PPAI 384130

Do You Have An Answer?

A Distributor Asks:

What is the best way to determine if an order is legitimate? I recently had a request from a caller in California, but they requested that the product be delivered to Eagle Express, a courier company in Texas. The prospective client confirmed the order and imprint information, and also emailed a credit card authorization form right away. But I’m very skeptical about this order. What should I do to verify its authenticity?

What’s Your Answer?

Email answers along with your name, title and company name by August 31 to Question@ppai.org for possible inclusion in an upcoming issue of PPB magazine.

Terry Ramsay is associate editor of PPB.