(Thanks to Trevor Hall, Founder, Clear Creek Digital, for this great article in the July/August 2016 STONE SAND & GRAVEL REVIEW. We thought it was just going to be another marketer that was selling industrial social media to accounts that didn't use it industrially themselves let alone actually have experience working in a quarry, but Trevor is the real deal and has some good tips for quarries to improve their community relations.)
Social Media Can Help Improve an Operation
OUR ONLINE NEWS FEEDS and social media accounts are more and more filled with websites and articles with catchy titles like "Top 5 Amazing Survivor Stories," "10 Apps for your iPhone," "8 Rocks That Look Like Celebrities." We all, myself included, get caught wanting to know more about these headlines. Many times we click and visit the information.
Called "listicles," these articles blend a list with short articles, and there are lessons to be learned from them. People read them because they appear - and typically are - quick to read, have an enthusiastic tone and spur creative disruption in our own minds. Most importantly, though, they grab our attention.
Everyone online is hammered with copious amounts of information every second of the day. Figuring out how to grab people's attention, even just for a few seconds, is a very challenging task. What is most daunting, especially for quarries, is understanding how to communicate a very complex process like aggregates production with many different internal functions and processes in a quick, eyecatching and engaging message.
Finding ways to incorporate the kind of content that catches the eye of our industry and our communities, including residents near stone, sand and gravel operations, is a vital part of any community relations plan.
Know the Social Networks
Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube provide new tools for aggregates operations to tell their story.
Twitter: Posts are 140 characters or less, so it's important to link back to blogs or information on a different website.
Facebook: Users can share photos, videos and updates about a quarry or company with a "page" that is dedicated to that company or operation.
LinkedIn: A professional social network where users post their work experience and look for jobs. Companies also create pages on LinkedIn to share content.
YouTube: Users can share and comment on videos, which is one of the most popular and engaging forms of media today. These digital tools can/enhance a company's ability to engage neighbors, lawmakers and regulators. Also, these networks can be used to inform a public of something they may not know much about, including quarrying.
Online media's reach is huge and increasing. A majority of the global population is on some type of social network. With the growth of mobile technologies reaching even to rural Africa, many more people are likely to join. Further, the data shows that online social dialogues and information sharing are not just for a younger crowd anymore. Social media users 65 years of age and older have more than tripled in the past five years.
Recognize and Use Social Media Trends
It is vital that aggregates operations recognize the trends of the online audience and appreciate its huge and growing size. Notice, I did not suggest that companies become "masters" of digital marketing. But recognition of best digital communication trends can lead you on a wonderful path to exploring how to tell the story of your operation or your products.
Online and mobile video will also play an important role for every business and operation. It is predicted that by 2020, 80 percent of people will rely on video content to form opinions and/or support for businesses and organizations. Aggregates producers are not exempt from this trend, and can enhance traditional community outreach with videos and photos.
Print publications or text on a screen can be enhanced with multimedia content that is easy to share with people who both support or are critical of a quarry.
Short and Shareable is the Way to Go
Try to grab attention of an online audience by using powerful and quick information. This is especially true for social media networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram because they rely on images and photos in addition to text.
Photos and video play crucial roles in grabbing the attention of viewers. The more engaging your content is, the more likely you are to see an increase in viewers. YouTube, the popular video-sharing site, is the second largest social networking site behind Facebook. More people are turning to YouTube to share and gather information than ever before.
For example, every day people are watching YouTube to learn how granite is quarried and crushed, and there are videos with thousands of views on how limestone is produced.
Stone, sand and gravel companies can connect the value of their operations to the personal benefit of the reader and their community. Right now, there aren't many aggregates producers in the United States fully utilizing social and digital media to share company information. So there is a great opportunity for companies and quarries to produce quality and positive content about the industry.
Using Social Media to Build a Brand
In print and online communications, the words we use matter a lot. The recent presidential campaign has shown how audiences react to words used in tweets and images shared on Facebook.
Some people on social networks may negatively respond to a company's content, regardless of how informative and engaging posts may be. One of the best ways to safeguard one's messaging from these tribulations is to make your content fun. Allow your organization to pull the curtains back a bit and show the human and humanitarian aspects of your company. It is harder for positive and educational content to be perceived as anything but, and using facts and information is also a great way to address negative comments you may receive.
Staying positive, engaging and educational is a great way to highlight employees, the communities you work with and the dynamic ways that rocks are quarried and crushed and shipped to customers. After all, the adventures of quarrying are wonderful stories. It's up to you to share them. •
Trevor Hall is the founder of Clear Creek Digital, LLC, a digital communications and marketing firm focused on providing those resources to mining and engineering organizations. Visit his website at www.clearcreekdigital.com.
(Thanks Trevor, Having a high performance site is the number one industrial marketing challenge, get it right and your industrial social media will pay off big.)