I have been monitoring Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn for a while now, and during my time viewing the social media landscape for the vending industry, I have noticed that vendors are not as active on social media as much as I think they should. There is a lost opportunity here for vendors all over the the United States. In particular, customer and vendor relations can skyrocket when using social media. From small to large vending companies, everyone has something to gain from having a presence on social media.

Before I go into the discussion on what strategies to use for vendor relations on social media work, I want to cover what social media is not:

1. Social Media is not for direct sales.

2. It is not for spamming your audience.

3. It is not for disengaging potential clients with posts about religion and politics.

4. It is not a place for your pictures and videos of cute cats doing adorable things.

There are more things to cover on what social media is not, but these are four main things to consider before getting into social media. It is true that many people out there do these types of things, and memes, like grumpy cat, become viral very quickly, but these are things that are separate from the vending business. Grumpy cat does not own a vending machine operation, nor does it stock vending machines. In order to stay relevant and engaging on social media, here are four strategies to consider to establish positive vendor relations.

1. Engage an audience with quality, relevant content

A vendor, much like anyone, is a person with many interests, and it is a natural inclination to want to share those interests with others. However, when it comes to having a vending company on social media, the content one shares must be relatable to a specific audience. This way vendor relations are seen in a professional, helpful context. For example, sharing technology and smart phone news with the vending industry is not a good idea because the two are not directly related. It is possible, though, for one to create a relation, for example: “This smartphone’s main feature is great for communicating effectively with my route drivers.” Social media offers vendors a voice to share great content relevant to the vending industry and execute proper vendor relations.

2. Expand awareness

Facebook has over a billion accounts logging in a number of times per day. Twitter has 500 million accounts. Google+ has 343 million, and each of these three are growing by the minute. Check out this infographic to see the most current numbers of social media services and their number of accounts. A vendor has a tremendous opportunity to share his or her vending business with the rest of the world and build awareness. People are not visiting vending websites? Have it linked on social media for people to easily access them. There is a huge untapped pool of interested parties who want to be part of your vendor relations.

3. Establish vendor relations with others in the industry

Using social media is a great way to connect with other vendors, suppliers, directories, etc. There are many vendors and vending consultants out there sharing great information that vendors could use in their businesses. Best of all, using social media can also start vendor relations with other people who are related to the vending industry in some way and receive the latest information and news directly from them. Knowledge is power, and the key to success is knowing how to use that power. Building vendor relations will help keep vendors up to date and aware.

4. Speak directly to customersVMS Vendor Relations

One of the things I love about my job is that I am able to talk directly to people through social media, whether they are customers, potential customers, friends, industry professionals, fellow enthusiasts of vending technology, etc; I can talk to any of them and start vending relations in which they find value. For vendors, they should share their social media information with their accounts, so if someone is on Twitter or Facebook during the day and there is a concern, they can easily send a message directly to the vendor without having to mess with the phone number on the machine. The vendor can quickly address the concern and reassure the customers in the account that things will be taken care of and when. This information is essential to keep healthy vending relations and accounts happy with a vendor’s service.

There are many other great uses of social media for vending, but these are four great ones to start out with. Are you a vendor who is on social media? Are you trying to establish productive vendor relations? What are your strategies for success on social media? Please share with us in the comments below or on one of our social media websites on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and please check out our website at www.parlevelsystems.com.