STAYING RELEVANT: Building Your Digital Presence During Social Distancing
Updated: Feb 20
AUTHOR: Marybeth Miceli, C.Eng | Co-Founder & Principal | We-NDT Marketing Network
The NDT industry relies heavily on in person contact. Whether through conferences, job site interaction, or meetings with reps, NDT has always been a belly to belly business built on relationships. So how do we adapt to our new temporary normal during the COVID-19 pandemic? One way is to build your digital presence. Engaging customers and potential customers online is the obvious choice, but whether you have been in the digital game for a while or are just dipping your toes in, there are some key channels to pay attention to as well as tips on messaging that are helpful to keep in mind. WHERE IS EVERYONE? Social Media First, NDT is a very professional, no fluff place to be. While many people are picking up Tik Tok and other trendy platforms during this time, NDTers remain committed to LinkedIn for management and decision makers followed by Facebook for midcareer technicians and professionals. These platforms have become even more important during a time of social distancing, showing a 50-70% increase in usage during the last month. If you or your company not already set up on these platforms, it is generally easy to do but staying engaged on a regular basis will lead to more success. Posting regularly is important but what you post is just as important. While using social media to advertise your products or services is ok, you will want to mix in general industry stories, customer and/or application case studies, on the job experiences, and even some educational pieces. Otherwise, your feed will become just part of the noise. Utilizing a posting program such as Hootsuite and others can minimize the time you spend updating your feeds by allowing you to do all of them at once. Emailers Everyone gets too much email. But a very targeted emailer with information of interest to your audience can be of great value. Providing education that will help their business will let your customers and potential customers see you as a valuable partner in helping them grow. This will keep them reading and open to hearing about what else you have to offer (products, services, etc.) Of course the key to emailers is have a targeted contact list so you can provide targeted information. There are many people out there selling lists. These are often laughable and offered to us by people who don’t even understand what NDT is or how to choose the key decision maker and influencer contacts at companies which are relevant. Putting together a carefully curated list is vital in making emailer campaigns a success. One last note on emailers is that there are studies about when and how often to release an emailer to encourage the most readership. Use these as a guide to get the most bang from your buck. But wait, I thought email was free? Commercially available programs such as Constant Contact or Mailchimp have templates to help you create a professional looking emailer in your brand design and provide other invaluable tools such as anti-spam batch distribution and tons of metrics so you can analyze what works and what does not. These programs are offered in varying price ranges (including free!) depending on factors including the number of contacts and capabilities you need. Webinars Webinars are a great way to educate your audience, dive deeper into how your technology works (and subtly how it is better than the competition), and engage your customers and potential customers in a live but nonthreatening format. Whether you are part of a series from a professional society such as the new Innovation in NDT from ASNT Learn or you set up your own, webinars are increasing in popularity during a time when people cannot travel to conferences. This is particularly so if your webinar can offer a continuing education unit, professional development hours, or recertification points. You will be able to attract a crowd and may even be able to charge money for attendance. Platforms such as gotowebinar and zoom are set up to easily accommodate a webinar, especially for groups under 100 people. However, keep in mind that the number of webinars has greatly increased over the last month and people only have so many hours in the day to increase their knowledge. YouTube Short product demonstrations and tutorials are another way to engage your audience online and keep their attention in a shorter segment.Though these are usually posted on youtube and are not live, they will live on after social distancing is over and build your overall digital presence (for example, you can share it through your social media account). Just be sure to keep it professional! Podcasts Podcasts are another great way to engage your audience during this time. People have been listening to podcasts more and more, even in the NDT industry. Listening while on your way to a job site or in the background while you are writing up your reports, or in a hotel room when there is nothing new on Netflix, is a great way to get educated about NDT and even inspired. NDT is a hugely important profession and sometimes dealing with the travel, the project, or management can be tiresome. Hearing fellow NDTers stories, tips, and interviews can help reinvigorate you while helping you learn.