Interviewer’s Note: To most people, using social sites like Twitter for online marketing or brand-building are associated with tech companies and startups. But who says that long-established companies can’t also find it to be useful? Bud Industries, Inc is was established 83 years ago, yet today it is at the forefront of social media technology. Our interview with vice president of sales Josiah Haas explores what the company is doing and how it’s reaching out to its customers.
Hello Josiah, welcome to the Pluggio Blog! In a nutshell, how do you describe your business?
We are a manufacturer of enclosures from small potting boxes up to large server racks including Nema protect.
How did you get started?
I started working for a Fortune 500 company in Chicago (CDW) which used all facets of marketing to reach their customers. When I started working for Bud Industries, we made it a priority to use additional aspects of social media. We started by using YouTube, and have expanded to blogging, LinkedIn, Klout, and Twitter. We have tried to break through the stereotype of small business manufactures in the US being “low-tech.”
What role does Twitter play in your business?
In recent surveys by Hearst Publishing (Electronic Products) we have participated in polling Electronic Engineers, we have done very well with those engineers 45 and over based on my company’s 83 year history and the fact many of these engineers have used our boxes for hobbyist applications and in previous jobs throughout their lives. We use Twitter as a way to not only expand awareness of our company to different vertical markets but also create ourselves as a resource for younger engineers so they can become comfortable with Bud Industries as a company and our product line. This is why we not only tweet about our specific products and videos but also important topics to small businesses, engineers, and manufacturers.
What impact or change have you seen due to Twitter/social marketing?
I actually had a “local celebrity moment” a few months ago. We have videos on many of our top selling products as a way to show the features of each product and try and make purchasers comfortable who are not experts at reading drawings. One purchaser had called into Bud’s sales line and I answered. He recognized my voice and mentioned, “aren’t you the guy from the video?” I said, yes and he told me he found it very helpful and was why he was calling. We have also picked up a some accounts by reaching out with Twitter & YouTube.
Are there any of your accomplishments with social marketing that you are particularly proud of?
I am proud that we now have 1,700 followers and the fact that our YouTube videos have nearly 30,000 views. Klout.com currently lists Bud’s twitter page as one of the top 4 “influencers for Manufacturing” on Twitter.
How do Twitter/social media help you achieve your goals?
It is a free way to market to engineers and potential customers and expand our reach. We have also reached out to followers using contests and asking questions as a way to understand what people in our industry are looking for. Great for market research! One of our recent projects that is an enclosure that houses the RaspberryPi microcomputer has been partially developed by talking with engineers on element14 and DesignSpark’s engineering message boards. What’s neat is both of those boards have people form the US and the UK.
How did you build your following? What kinds of people/businesses are they?
When I started tweeting, I only talked about our products, but realized I only wanted to follow those who talking industry conditions and topics that relate to all businesses. Based on this, I started expanded my tweeting topics to try and be interesting to multiple types of companies. To expand my following I tried communicating via conversations and re-tweeting with the goal to have those with followers mention our twitter handle. I use a program called Hootsuite to see which links are clicked through, and I often repost those that are highly clicked on. In reviewing my followers, they fall in a wide range of companies and people. Many of my followers spend most their time talking about Manufacturing, SEO, Alternative Energy, B2B Marketing, Small Business, and supply chain. If you look at the “lists” (https://twitter.com/#!/Budbox/lists) I have created for Bud on Twitter, they fall under these categories. Well that… and a list of Cleveland athletes.
How will you choose who you will follow? What do you look for in a follower?
I follow companies I know in my industry through trade shows and my distribution channel. I also frequently check to see who is tweeting about Manufacturing (#Manufacturing or #MFG) or small business (#SmallBiz or #SMB) topics using hash tags. It is important to see what others are discussing so we can stay relevant.
If you could go back to when you first began using social media, what is one thing you would have done differently?
I would have used hash tags better. When I began, I didn’t understand how to properly use, and I hash tagged all sorts of odd things that others were not. I think the hash tag is a great way to connect with others.
What does Twitter do for you that nothing else can do?
It reaches people who do not necessarily read the magazines or websites that we use for PR. We would never be able to connect with a large percentage of the people we don via Twitter. Truly a great resource and is a mistake for those small businesses who do not use it. According to Alexa.com, Twitter is the 8th most visited website. How else can I get that large grouping of people to read topics we find important and learn about our products?
What lessons have you learned about Twitter and online marketing?
I have learned to expand our thought process beyond the traditional avenues and publications that our company has used for a generation. I have also learned that suggestions can come from all types of people in and out of our electronics industry. There was a 15 year old high school who sent in a note about an error on our website. We fixed it based on his suggestion.
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