A few months ago, one of our manufacturing clients sat us down and asked us if we’d start a Pinterest account for them.
Our first thought was, “What in the world would a manufacturer do with a Pinterest account?,” but after some thinking–and a few more months of research–we’ve started slowly leveraging Pinterest for that client, and now feel that it can actually be a seriously valuable asset.
But before we get to why and how manufacturers and social media (in this case, Pinterest) can be such a good combination, let’s take a minute to frame manufacturing’s situation for our readers who may be unaware.
In general, manufacturing is currently facing two big problems:
- Image. Lots of people still think that manufacturing is all about dirty, grungy factories and heavy lifting. Yes, those kinds of factories do still exist, but for all of our clients–and for the overwhelming majority of manufacturers around the country today–that couldn’t be further from the truth. Factories of today (like Tesla’s, for example) are well-lit, automated, and very safe. Manufacturers today are constantly fighting with that old image and trying to show people that they’re not like the factories of the past.
- Lack of skilled workers. The other huge problem facing the manufacturing industry is an enormous skills gap. As manufacturing has slowly become more advanced–and as the skilled workers currently in the industry continue to retire–it’s gotten harder and harder to find workers with the skills and training needed to fill open positions. Just as they’re fighting to convince people that factories today are different than they were in the past, so too are manufacturers constantly trying to find ways to get young people to invest in the future of manufacturing by pursuing a skilled trade, or career training in manufacturing.
And for many of our manufacturing clients, we’re trying to overcome those problems through education, whether that means teaching people about the skills gap, teaching people how to utilize STEM skills in the workplace or in school, or telling our readers that, hey, manufacturing these days is probably a lot different than you think.
Which brings us back to Pinterest.
Even more than Facebook, Pinterest is probably the most emotionally-charged social media platform out there. People love looking at images, people love connecting with brands they love, and people love networks that are easy to browse. Pinterest combines all three of those things that readers love, making it an extremely useful platform for brands and objects that are easy to connect with–car companies, fitness clothes, DIY/arts and crafts, and even wedding planning.
The discerning reader is probably wondering at this point what in the world manufacturing has in common with any of the companies and objects that we just mentioned. And to be honest, the answer is not much–which is actually part of the reason why the manufacturers who are on Pinterest have had so much success.
There are a few reasons why (good) manufacturers can succeed on Pinterest. Here are a few of those reasons:
- Very few competitors. Let’s face it–one of the huge advantages of being a manufacturer on Pinterest right now is that there are so few other manufacturers doing the same thing. It’s much easier to get noticed when you have fewer competitors, which is exactly the case with manufacturers on Pinterest right now. We expect this to change as time goes on, but for now, you’re at a huge advantage if you’re a manufacturer and you decide to get involved with Pinterest. You’ll be very far ahead of the curve.
- The power of cool machines. Big, badass machines (and other tech-oriented photos and information that manufacturers can post) succeed on Pinterest for the same reasons that pictures of wedding dresses and arts and crafts succeed: they’re cool to look at. We’re oversimplifying here a bit, but Pinterest is a great platform to look at cool things, and what could possibly be cooler than huge, powerful machines? People like looking at cool things, and manufacturing is home to a lot of cool things. Such photos should definitely be part of your strategy if you’re hoping to jump on the train of manufacturers and social media.
- Education through images. Tying in with number 2, but also with the original ‘problems’ with manufacturing that we mentioned in our introduction, Pinterest is a great platform for fighting the image war that manufacturing is currently dealing with. GE is doing a great job–they’re showing normal people that manufacturing these days is cool, and that “you, too, could work with these awesome machines”–but regular companies can do it, too. The more manufacturers there are on social media showing people what manufacturing actually looks like, the easier it will be to get others to invest time and energy into the industry’s future.
There are very few manufacturers currently on Pinterest, and as a manufacturer, if you’re not using Pinterest, you ought to think about giving it a shot. In our opinion, Pinterest presents huge opportunities for companies who do it right–giving benefits like a slow change in the perceived image of manufacturing, brand awareness, and even further education–and if you’re not trying it, you’re missing out.
While we can’t guarantee that imitating what other manufacturers (couch, GE, cough) are doing on Pinterest will bring you success, you have almost nothing to lose by trying. So gather your resources, find your cool machines, curate some content, and get to work.
Manufacturers and social media may not be a traditional combination, but when done right, they’re a pair that’s hard to beat.
Image credit: CC by jurvetson