I’m always curious to hear about how distributors and others within our industry are utilizing social media. For some, it’s a new territory that they’ve yet to fully explore because there’s no internal team member with the time and knowledge to do so. Others have started to dive in by appointing someone internally to take on the project, or hiring an outside agency.
Scrolling through LinkedIn the past few weeks, I kept noticing stand-out posts from PVF and plumbing product distributor, Eastern Industrial Supplies. There’s a mix of motivational and company culture quotes, vendor promotion, quick video chats with leadership and the posts that really caught my eye — the posts showing photos of employees with quotes about why they love working at Eastern.
Seeing the mix of these different types of posts, I felt like I received the message the company is trying to promote: Company culture is its top concern.
Savanna True, innovation manager for Eastern Industrial Supplies says the social strategy has changed over the past couple of years, and the team now includes a social media manager and a graphic designer.
“We were consistently promoting our culture, The Eastern Way, and our 28 company fundamentals,” she says. “But we realized we needed to diversify our content and start posting some different things.”
Last year, Eastern began posting videos with President and CEO Kip Miller, along with other industry experts and company leadership. From there, the company began reaching out to employees from all 19 of its locations asking for quotes.
“These posts have been really popular,” True notes. “Ultimately, people want to buy from people. So when we post details about the employees, our social following gets to know who they’re doing business with.”
The PHCP-PVF supply chain remains a relationship-based business. “The contractor customer wants to buy from a real person who they know has experience, so I think that’s a reason why these posts have been so successful,” True says.
You want to know the culture in your company? Ask the people who work there. – David Kay, director of Eastern Cares.
Another way these personal highlights have benefitted the company is keeping employees engaged and connected.
“We’re still a family owned and operated company, but we’ve grown and expanded over the past few years, so keeping that family feel as we get larger is important,” True says. “Employees only get to know the 5-10 people they work with daily, so these posts allow for some sort of connection among all branches, which I think helps our culture.”
Eastern also has a private Facebook group where employees will occasionally send updates on their lives or share photos of pets.
David Kay, director of Eastern Cares, often jumps on social media to chat about the importance company culture via video. In on recent video, he advises leaders to “ask questions and listen generally.”
“What truly defines a company culture is how your employees perceive the culture,” Kay says. “If you think it is one way, but your employees view your culture in an entirely different manner, then the culture isn’t actually what you think it is.”
An additional type of post I noticed were also employee driven; they share a specific instance of solving a problem for a customer — a great way to highlight both internal customer service and valuable vendor partners.
“Our social strategy is to promote our company purpose; show that we care about people, we’re always trying to improve, and that we’re growing profitably,” True says. “It’s not only to gain more customers, but to gain people who want to work with us and become part of the team.”
Creating and maintaining a social presence is no small feat. True advises fellow distributors to remember that social media is essentially word-of-mouth advertising.
“It can be hard for some in the industry to invest in social and understand the return,” she says. “I tell people to recall how they use Facebook. Many of us look for recommendations and read reviews. So it’s important to be digital forward and utilize social to build your brand.”