Printers are slowly hopping aboard the social media train, but the potential is promising
IN THE PREVIOUS ARTICLE, I gave you an overview of what social networking is all about. In this follow-up piece, I’ll give you some real-life examples of how people in the industry are applying social networking. The book is still being written on all this so hopefully you’ll be able to take something away from your peers who are pioneers in this space. The support I received from the research I did on this article was overwhelming and I want to thank everyone who helped out.
First off I went to Michael Makin, president and CEO, Printing Industries of America. Michael is very involved in social networking and said that, “Carefully utilized, social media provides wonderful opportunities for companies to promote their offerings. The key is to ensure that your messaging is informative and not simply an outlet to advertise your wares. Printing Industries of America is very involved with this space and uses social media to interact with its members on a regular basis. We have hundreds of fans on our Facebook page and more than 2,500 members in our LinkedIn group where, among other things, we utilize discussion forums. Currently we are developing a book to help our members understand how they can use social media.”
I then traveled north to Ontario and checked in with Jeff Ekstein from Willow Printing Group in Concord. Jeff told me that social media is part of their marketing strategy but it hasn’t been fully implemented. They’ve been using LinkedIn to connect with current and past customers. All in all, Jeff thought they were just starting the affair with social networking and felt they had a “long way to go”.
Next stop was Friesens Corporation in Altona, Manitoba. CEO Curwin Friesen was certainly aware of social networking but said he didn’t utilize it any significant way yet. I did a search on Friesens Corporation and found five employees on Facebook. I also ran a search in LinkedIn and found Friesens’ company profile page, 35 current employees and one former employee.
No one else in the prairies or Alberta got back to me so I went directly to British Columbia to see how printers there were using social networks.
My first stop was at West Coast Reproductions, a small shop in Vancouver’s Olympic Village neighbourhood. Blair Fraser, former chairman of CPIA and ex-president of the BCPIA, told me that “West Coast Reproductions takes some advantage of the social networking sites Facebook and You Tube.” It’s searchable on both sites and there are postings there as well. As of October 16, 2009, the YouTube video had only been viewed 31 times. Perhaps not a windfall by YouTube standards but it does show an interest the company probably did not enjoy before.
West Coast Reproductions has 35 friends on Facebook, some clients, employees, and personal friends seem to have been drawn there. Blair told me that, “In sales, I use Facebook and search a prospect to see if I can bring something new or innovative to any conversation we may have. This has had limited success but I have been able to get a little background on current clients which I use sparingly, like knowing birthdays, etc. So far, I have refrained from becoming friends with them directly on Facebook as this may not be in West Coast’s interest long term and I fear that the client may not find this appropriate in a business context.” You can catch Blair at www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgeqkOATSfk
Next up was the team at Pacific Bindery Services in Vancouver. In addition to being one of the top binderies in North America, this group does a lot of innovative marketing. Kris Bovay, General Manager told me that Pacific Bindery Services uses social media in several ways.
It has set up a blog www.TheBinderyBlog.com, a Twitter account @PacificBindery, and individuals at PBS have LinkedIn profiles (these are personal profiles although it’s looking at setting up a LinkedIn Group). It’s at Facebook and is tracking what other companies are doing there.
PBS believes that it has to participate in new ways to communicate and share information (or get left behind). This participation in social media helps the company better understand various applications and being educated on what various media applications can do only helps it understand its marketplace better.
Kris feels that “Social media can help build ‘the brand’ but to-date that brand is more individual than it is corporate (though that seems to be slowly changing), and the reality is that businesses do not own personal/individual brands. We believe at this point in time blogs (with interactive capabilities such as comment boxes) are the best social media tools for businesses. Early adopters may gain some significant advantage if they can produce quality material that gains a solid following (good traffic).”
From Vancouver, I went back to Montreal to talk to Pazazz Printing, a company that I think is the mother of all social networking printing firms in Canada.
Pazazz is passionate about print and has a reputation for promoting the print industry in some unconventional ways. They PRINT. They print INK on PAPER and they promote Pazazz via SOCIAL MEDIA. Pazazz is socially connected on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Lori Cohen, Pazazz’s marketing director told me that they use social media because of “Global exposure, unlimited outreach, viral effect, and it’s an inexpensive way to promote your company, you give people the choice to learn more about your company. It’s time consuming but FUN.”
Pazazz is another firm that invests in marketing. For those of you that haven’t seen Warren Werbitt’s Printing’s Alive video on YouTube, please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpAuDrs5ocg and have a look. (This is the bleeped version but I still like it). The Printing’s Alive video was posted on YouTube on January 7, 2008. As of October 2009 there were more than 190,000 views and more than 200 comments on YouTube. They’ve received more that 1,000 emails and it’s shown at conferences all over the world. Just amazing stats for a mid-size printer in Montreal!
On a completely different note but related to the industry in Canada, Heather Black from Mary Black Recruiting in Toronto is currently working with a group of Ryerson Graphic Communications Management Students and recent grads to build a Social Community/Website targeted to Canadian high school students called www.ILovePrint.ca. It’s still in the planning stages but the goal of the site will be to engage students and promote the printing and graphic communications industry as a career opportunity. Secondary goals include showcasing various industry careers, providing information such as education programs and also to raise funds in order to offer scholarships.
So that’s it this time. I hope you’re able to take away some useful tips from this article and thanks again to all the people who shared their stuff with us.
As always, I’d love to hear back from you.