Social Media is huge right now. HUGE. If you keep up with this blog, then you’ve likely already caught a few posts about social media. But here is one more; one that is specifically focused on printers and how they are using social media to achieve their business goals and communicate with customers.

I recently read a 2011 InfoTrends study on social media usage in the printing industry and was surprised to learn some of the findings. As of 2011, about 1/3 of print business had adopted social media and used it in their day-to-day business operations. I was at first surprised by how low the percentage was, but considering data was likely gathered for this study at the end of 2010, I would imagine the usage rate is significantly higher by now. What it also interesting is that print providing companies that were smaller in nature had the highest rate of social media adoption, while larger companies were less likely to engage in social networks. The most common networking platforms used are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and company blogs.

According to InfoTrends, the top business goals driving social media usage for printers are to engage with customers, promote their brand and generate leads. While technology is still advancing in terms of measuring the ROI on social media marketing, most respondent indicate that social networking is positive for their business and brand image. With that being said, social media is still a marketing initiative that should be approached in a strategic manner with well defined objectives and an operating plan.

One point that I want to get across here is that print providers who have not yet adopted social media usage, should seriously consider doing so. Not only is it a great way to engage with customers in a convenient and free manner, but it can be a great way to demonstrate expertise in communication. Print providers and marketing services providers attract B2B customers because of their ability to communicate with end users and effectively communicate a message that will move someone to purchase. Being able to do that in the online world signals to potential customers that a print/marketing services provider can do the same with a printed piece. Demonstrating expertise in both online and printed communications could provide the opportunities to manage both for customers. Not too bad of business proposition, eh?

This post appears courtesy of Nicole Schappert of Océ/Canon. It originally appeared in the Digital Nirvana blog.