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"When I got here, I realized we hadn't taken any steps toward building a social media presence," says Ryan Ramsby, a merchandiser for the electrical distributor and the head of its social media initiative.
Part of the problem was many people within the company were unsure what role social media could play, Ramsby says. "I'm a little bit younger so I think I have a little bit better view of what people are looking for on social media sites," he says. "I see it as a way to connect with our customers and vendors on a more personal level, a way to get our name out there and still have a little fun."
For example, when Ramsby noticed content was getting a little stale one week, he decided to have a "Friday Giveaway" for a company jacket. Within the first couple hours of posting the giveaway to Facebook, a dozen people had signed up. "While that may not seem like a lot, the thing about social media is if someone sees someone they know participating, they're more likely to do the same," Ramsby says.
The company first started its social media strategy with Twitter in October 2009, but soon realized its followers were primarily vendors. That wasn't a problem, according to Ramsby. It just meant he had to reevaluate his approach. He kept Twitter as a way to connect with those vendors and setup the Facebook account in February 2010 to reach customers.
And the time spent to interact with those customers? "During a busy week, we spend maybe four hours. It's not a lot," Ramsby says. And most of that time is put in by Ramsby, though he does receive some assistance from one other employee.
"Social media is the future," Ramsby says. "It's a great way to instantly reach customers for free. The fastest growing demographic group on Facebook is the 65-plus, and the average age is around 33. Those are our customers. If you're serious about your business, you have to be a part of this."
Read more about how distributors are using social media in the latest issue of MDM: The Social Media Challenge: ROI.