At a macro-level, Inbound Information Technologies have assisted many organizations in their quest to be found on the internet. Research has shown that upwards of 67% of B2C organizations and 41% of B2B organizations have acquired a customer through Facebook. Similar successes can be found for other social media tools. But are these technologies useful for all B2B or B2C organizations? Clearly understanding your organization, its customers, and its mission helps determine the advantages and disadvantages for using inbound information technology tools.
General Dynamics Land Systems – Strength On Your Side
General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS - http://www.gdls.com/ ) is considered to be a true global leader in the design, development, production, support and enhancement of tracked and wheeled military vehicles for the United States and its allies. General Dynamics is also the company with which I am currently employed. My goal with this written work was to satisfy my curiosity in determining just how involved a company in the defense industry, such as GDLS, is (or should be) in the social media realm and what the advantages and disadvantages of social media marketing are in this industry.
How involved should a company in the defense industry be?
I began my research into this subject by determining just how tied into social media GDLS was. In visiting the company’s main webpage, there are no direct links to any social media avenues. If GDLS does not have a link to their social media outlets on their main website home page, the implication is that social media marketing is not something the organization has chosen to focuses on. In order for a social media marketing platform to be successful, it is of the utmost importance that it not only be easily accessible, but that it provide direct gateways to the information your end consumer may need.
The next step in my research into how social media and a defense industry company tie together was to try to find what social media outlets GDLS uses by searching the major social media outlets directly (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.). What I found was that GDLS did indeed have a Facebook account. Yet, this page was simply a banner page that had little information and no real activity. Its purpose appeared to be nothing more than having a Facebook page for the sake of having a Facebook presence. This page was also the only social media outlet I was able to find that GDLS had utilized to any degree.
Because my research into social media and the defense industry, GDLS in particular, was yielding little results in terms of utilization, my next step was to contact someone directly responsible for the marketing aspects of GDLS business. I spoke with the director of Marketing and Business Development on the subject of GDLS marketing and the ties it has to social media outlets. He informed me that, “Regarding social media, it becomes a question of ROI (Return On Investment). Our company structure and business simply does not realize great benefits when putting resources towards social media.” He went on to explain that while social media can be a great tool for businesses whose end consumer market is comprised primarily of sectors in the general population, companies like GDLS whose customer base is almost entirely government entities simply do not gain much benefit from social media marketing, especially when the cost of implementing a social media marketing strategy is considered.
Considering this view of social media and its effectiveness in the defense industry, I then posed the question of why should an organization have a Facebook page at all. “Simply put, as an industry leader it is important for GDLS to strive to be competitive. In doing so it is paramount that we as a company adapt to the ever changing marketplace. In today’s corporate business world, social media plays an important role, and it would be irresponsible of us to not recognize that, if only to a limited degree.”
Conclusion: Ascertain Realistic and Meaningful Online and Social Media Goals
From my research, GDLS views its social media marketing strategy as an avenue of necessity in today’s ever-changing marketplace. There is minimal effort that is put into using social media as a marketing strategy, and the reason for this is merely that the returns that can potentially be realized from various social media outlets are negligible in the grand scheme of things. GDLS strives to be competitive in the defense industry, and I believe they are realistic in what they hope to accomplish with their social media marketing strategy. By simply having a banner page on Facebook that drives traffic to the company website, they are allowing users the opportunity to find out what GDLS is all about from the GDLS perspective. The goal of this strategy is to drive traffic to the website if traffic exists, and also allows GDLS to remain relevant from a social media marketing perspective.
Perhaps in the future, GDLS could be doing more to create meaningful online social media content. Since it is important to direct your social media campaign at your target audience, potential online content could include posting information to educate and inform key audiences, such as Capitol Hill employees, reporters, investors, and members of the local communities. This type of information sharing may generate positive opinions and potentially generate new business, which is a part of any company’s goals. Also, it is important in any business to reach people, and social media provides a great means to accomplish this. Above all else, it should be the goal of any organization to be part of the conversations that are happening regarding their business, and social media provides a means to be in that conversation.
(All accolades and credit goes to Daniel Coumans who is the author of this blog post!)