How the trade media landscape is evolving, with a growing role for social media

B2B may have not been the first to the social media game, but there are few doubters nowadays of the role for platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter when it comes to an integrated communications strategy. 

The social media hype was quickly embraced by B2C players and media outlets at least a decade ago, with varying degrees of success. But a more cautious approach was required in what has traditionally been the more conservative platform of business to business and industrial technology communications.

Now that a regular scroll through their LinkedIn feed has become essential to key business executives on a daily basis too, the social media genie is truly out of the bottle in B2B. The immediacy of a social media post offers first mover advantage to those with the watchful eye. For the supplier, there is no quicker way of getting the news out there of your latest product innovations, technology developments, circular economy joint venture or sustainable plastic solution. Therefore, the use of social media, in combination with more traditional channels is being embraced.

Industrial trade editors embrace social media

That the B2B industrial technology media landscape is evolving, with a growing role for social media in both promotion and content acquisition was clear at the Pre K Press Event which was held in Antwerp (Belgium) in June 2019. The event featured over 25 international reporters and editors specialized within the chemicals and plastics space. Most noted some role for social media in their daily content efforts. 

For Grace Nolan of British Plastics and Rubber social media definitely helps to enhance her pieces. “When I am working on a feature and need a quote or a telephone interview, I can direct message my contacts on Twitter or get hold of a contact through LinkedIn if I do not have a direct link to them,” she notes. 

Robert Grace of Plastics Engineering sees advantages for LinkedIn in terms of building contacts and relationships, as well as gaining an insight into the key themes of the day within the plastics sector. “I moderate LinkedIn groups and sometimes pulse the level of interest that people will have in certain topics, in terms of the threads of conversation that I monitor there,” he notes.

A growing online “print” presence

While traditional print media is still strongly embraced within the industrial technology sector, several publications have shifted to now solely being available online. This has furthered their need to embrace social media. 

“Our magazine is digital only. We don’t give print ones although they are designed in a magazine format,” says David Eldridge of Injection World. “So we are very embedded in the electronic delivery of magazines. On the more specific social media side, we do use Twitter for our own purposes with news flashes and to promote our magazines that way too.” 

Plastics Today is another magazine to go completely digital and forgo print altogether. Stephen Moore, at the title notes that taking this step means that you have to take advantage of other tools to maximize exposure on social media platforms. “From the data feedback that we have received, you can see where we stand in terms of retweets and followers. So, I think that a lot of our readers use those social media platforms to get that information and will get directly to our site that way,” he adds.

WeChat: China as a social media frontrunner 

You could argue that China is the global market to have most embraced the social media revolution and that nowhere is a more targeted B2B strategy warranted. But with western social media outlets unavailable to Chinese consumers, it is WeChat that has become the essential platform to domestic communications rather than LinkedIn. 

Victor Cheng of China Plastics and Rubber Journal manages the publication’s Facebook page for international readers and their WeChat page for Chinese readers, with social media playing a very important role for his daily work.

“WeChat is definitely a mega trend in China,” he notes. “Pretty much every Chinese citizen is active on it. Our readers are tired of reading too many words when traveling or on the way to work, so it is a very important platform for the industry to communicate the news reels.” 

China Plastics and Rubber Journal websites feature daily WeChat post, including the latest news within this space and sometimes some actions and videos to deliver value for readers. He admits that the social media revolution comes amid a shifting media landscape where less text is required and visual impact is key. “For us, we are trying to use less words, more infographics and pictures to present a story to our readers,” he adds. 

Continued feed personalization

Moving a decade further down the line, most of the editors agreed that the continued personalization of content feeds will have to be embraced by the specialist media too. 

“I expect that with everything becoming more personal going forward, it will become more commonplace to set up your own filters in what will be delivered to your phone or tablet,” says Robert Grace at Plastics Engineering. “Some of that is already happening, but in another decade I imagine that it will be the norm,” he adds.

From face to face to virtual events

Despite the ever evolving marketing landscape, meeting partners, potential customers and industry thought leaders remains crucial. 

Traditional style events are currently not possible, which is why online events have become vital this year. Robert Grace, a reporter, writer and editor on plastics, design and sustainability, mentioned in our podcast that a challenge of virtual events is replicating the buyer’s journey. “The challenge is that you can’t be standing in a booth and see someone and call them over. The bar is higher for exhibitors in virtual events to get attendees attention.” However, he notes that “there are different techniques that can be used and leveraged for online events.”

Never has the role for digital marketing been more central to a comprehensive media strategy. EMG is your partner for B2B marketing when it comes to your online and social media marketing strategy.

Watch our interview with Robert Grace for some tips on how to stay connected in a world of virtual events.


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Posted by
Nancy van Heesewijk 
on October 21, 2020

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