Networking For A New Marketplace

Dive into social mediaWhy gases and welding distributors can’t afford to skip out on social networking.

The social networking explosion is no longer a new phenomenon. Facebook and Twitter are seven and five years old respectively, and neither is showing signs of anything but growth. Facebook is home to more than 500 million active users, 50 percent of whom log in on any given day. They’re not just observing either; the average Facebook user creates 90 pieces of content each month.  Twitter’s user stats are almost as impressive with 145 million registered users. How about LinkedIn? The business networking site boasts an impressive 80 million registered professionals.

It’s not just your kids using these sites either. Every single member of the Fortune 500 has an executive presence on LinkedIn. In fact, according to the American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor, 40 percent of small business owners use some form of social networking in their marketing efforts. That number is impressive enough in a vacuum. However, when you consider the fact that 12 months ago that number was 10 percent, it speaks volumes about the direction in which the world is moving.

Yet many in the gases and welding industry are slow to adapt to the phenomenon. Some don’t completely understand the technology, while others still question its value.  Others have embraced the trend fully. Companies from large manufacturers like Lincoln Electric (1,664 Twitter followers) to smaller distributors like Scott Gross Company (132 Twitter followers) have jumped in with both feet.

What’s important to note about these sites is that your Twitter followers or those who choose to “like” your company on Facebook are doing so because they choose to do so. Becoming a follower or “liking” a page requires a conscious decision on the part of the user. That means that when you send out a message—whether it’s to 200 or 2,000 people—each and every person who sees the message is someone who is interested in your company—talk about targeted advertising!

Several GAWDA members are already on the train. “We have been a little bit slow in the arena of social networking,” says Doug Lampton, vice president of Lampton Welding Supply Company. “But that’s something we’re working to rectify. We’re in the process of building an identity on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.” According to Lampton, the impetus for the change came directly from the company’s customers. “Several of our customers mentioned that they would like to receive quicker and faster updates from us,” he says. “We believe that social networking gives us an avenue with which to do this.”

Also on board is Tuscaloosa, Alabama-based Atlas Welding Supply Co. “We’ve been using Facebook and LinkedIn for the better part of three years,” says President Bill Visintainer. “It’s a fantastic avenue for us to maintain constant contact with our customers.

Getting involved with social networking is not only important for what it can do for a company today; perhaps just as critical is the promise it holds for tomorrow. It wasn’t that long ago that Welding & Gases Today was putting together articles about the viability of e-commerce or whether having a company website is necessary. Today, social networking holds similar potential. That’s why it’s important to get involved now. Otherwise you risk lagging behind and having to play catch-up when the next big thing in social networking comes along.

Is your company currently involved with social networking? If so, please leave a comment below and let us know where to follow you. Are you not involved with social networking? We would love to know why. Leave a comment and let us know why you don’t find it valuable. We’ll publish the best responses in a future article.

How To Do It?

Diving into the world of social networking for the first time can be daunting. Fortunately, Welding & Gases Today is here to help. Check out the articles below to find out how to get involved!

Tackling The Twitter Trend – How to get the most out of all 140 characters.
GAWDA’s Social Networking Strategy – Keep up with your association on the social web.
How To: Stay Safe On The Social Web – Get involved without getting burned.
Corporate Blogging Best Practices – Successfully Navigate the blogosphere.
You’re LinkedIn, Now What? – Six ways to make this professional network work for you.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association