A Distributor Asks:

I’ve heard a lot about how social media can help a small business by helping to build our brand and further relationships with our customers. However, our company is small and I have no one who can take this on, even part time. If I’ve only got a couple of hours a week to devote to promoting my company through social media, where should I spend my time? What activities are most important?

As a member of the Millennial generation, I think there are two extremes when it comes to social media in the promotional products industry. It’s either radio silence or content overload. Whether it’s because distributors don’t have enough time in their day or because they take automation to a whole new level, social media has lost some of its humanity. Trust me when I say there is a happy medium that will work for your business and will make your online presence more human.

My first piece of advice is to find out where your customers and prospects are. If they aren’t on Twitter—there’s no reason to create a profile. If they aren’t on Facebook, why create a page that no one will like? You don’t have to be on every social network. Find what works for you.

Since the promotional marketing industry is mostly B2B, my suggestion is that you spend your time on LinkedIn. Why? Most of your buyers are in management, marketing or professional positions and will have a LinkedIn profile. You should have one too. This one profile gives you the ability to write posts, upload photos, share updates, connect with customers and prospects, and join conversations in groups.

My second tip is to make sure that you create content to share. What do I mean by that? Social media isn’t just about broadcasting items, specials and sales at an audience. It’s about building a relationship. And to build a relationship, you need to have a story to tell. One piece of content can be shared three or four different ways, giving you plenty of things to share with minimal effort.

Here’s a simple way to create content. Spend 30 minutes writing two to three paragraphs about a topic as if you were speaking with a close friend or your best client. You can share a story about a project you did for a recent customer, or some of the best marketing advice that you’ve given. You can focus on a relevant topic such as apparel trends or product safety. You are a marketing expert—you need to share your knowledge. From the content you created, you can pull out an excerpt for a status update, create an image with text using an online tool like Canva or Pablo by Buffer, and publish a post on LinkedIn. Suddenly a couple of paragraphs have turned into three to four pieces of content that can be shared throughout the week.

Once you’re comfortable on LinkedIn, think about expanding to other social networks, but only do so when you are ready. You want to make sure that what you are doing online reflects your brand; so make sure that you are comfortable before expanding your networks.

Danielle Rogers

Communications & Training Coordinator

The Vernon Company

UPIC: Vernon

My advice is to treat social media as any other media channel. People often overestimate the weight of social metrics (likes, comments etc.).The truth is you don't really need likes, comments or shares; you need to help as many people as possible see what you have to offer. So if you only have, say, three hours a week to devote to social media—invest an hour into researching the relevant communities (LinkedIn), an hour into creating a piece of content (a nice branded visual with good copy) and an hour to set up promotion targeting (Facebook). Long story short— your main goal is to reach the most people at a certain frequency of contact with your content.

Nick Mykal


aiia LLC

UPIC: aiia

Do You Have The Answer?

A Distributor Asks:

As a small distributor, I feel a bit overwhelmed about product responsibility and where to start with a product responsibility program. It seems like there’s so much to know and I’m not sure where to start or how to scale up, and I can’t afford to hire someone specifically for this purpose. How have other small distributors approached or started product responsibility programs?

What's your answer? Email answers along with your name, title and company name to Question@ppai.org by January 22 for possible inclusion in an upcoming issue of PPB magazine.