Who are the social media influencers in packaging and why should you care?

By George Szanto in Packaging Research on December 15, 2016

An industry first, this exclusive list points you to packaging-related social media stars in North America and the United Kingdom across six platforms. These leaders sway opinions and encourage action. Are you keeping up with these movers and shakers?

 

Are you an active social media consumer or producer of content related to your daily job in the packaging industry? If you are, then most likely you have a few favorite accounts which you follow regularly to stay informed, gain insights and find inspiration.

In early 2016, we asked ourselves, is there a good list of important social media influencers in the packaging industry? Since we couldn’t find one, we decided to create such a list based on first hand and secondary research.

From March until July of this year, we explored the following six social media channels: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Blogs. The research categorized active publishers of content on these channels into one of four focus groups: Design, Manufacturing & Technology, Sustainability and Other. The last group included professional press. Trade associations or professional groups were put into one of the three focus groups if we felt that they matched those the best, otherwise they were assigned to the Other group.

The research only looked at content producers who were posting in English. Further, we limited our reporting to influencers who are based in the USA, Canada or the United Kingdom. The results were further characterized by whether the account was primarily serviced by an individual person, or if it was a corporate account. We narrowed down our research to 118 different influencers. We did not rank the influencers overall, but we did consider how many channels they were active on and their popularity on each of those channels. The frequency of posting new content, and how recently content was posted also played a role in our picks. To substantiate our desk research, we conducted a survey asking packaging professionals to verify our picks and to also provide some input about their favorite social media influencers. The full results of our research can be found in our 81-page report (download for free below).

Now let’s look at the main influencers per area of interest: Design; Manufacturing & Technology; Sustainability and Other.

 

Design

Designers are the most successful group of packaging professionals exploiting social media right now. For example, designers’ activity levels were about 10 times higher on Facebook than the other three main focus groups. They also used Pinterest the most.

In Table 1, the top designer influencers are listed in alphabetical order—not ranked. The “Area” term NAstands for North America. There are some significant difference within these 10 influencers. The Dieline uses all six channels, while four other influencers only use two channels.

 

Table 1: Most Influential Designers Using Social Media Effectively

*Listed in alphabetical order.

+ Companies in orange were mentioned by five or more people.

 

Manufacturing & Technology

In Manufacturing & Technology, we only found six very active companies using multiple social media channels. We decided to put the PMMI trade association into this category, as its main activity is to represent packaging machine manufacturers and auxiliary equipment makers related to packaging.

The use of the six different social channels differs somewhat compared to designers as shown in Table 2. Most manufacturers focus on two social channels where they try to be in the top 10 ratings. For example, Ernst Packaging was rated the 5th best performer on YouTube out of 34 companies. International Plastics was rated 6th and the PMMI was rated 10th on YouTube. Each of the companies has posted more than 50 videos thus far.

 

Table 2: Most Influential Manufacturers Using Social Media Effectively

*Listed in alphabetical order.

+ Companies in orange were mentioned by five or more people.

 

Sustainability

Influencers in this focus group clearly emphasize eco-friendly packaging solutions in their posts. The content is mostly related to consumer goods and pharmaceutical packaging. Most of the traffic for influencers in sustainability runs through the blog articles they write, with engagements of 19,800 visitors for Plus Packaging in April 2016.

 

Table 3: Most Influential Sustainability Publishers Using Social Media Effectively

*Listed in alphabetical order.

 

Others

Here we considered a multitude of corporate publishers of professional content for the various stakeholders in the packaging ecosystem worldwide. Most of these publisher’s content is posted on Twitter or on their own websites—sometimes on their blogs as shown in Table 4.

The publishers who use Facebook seem to be putting more resources into that channel, as we noted that Flexible Packaging, Packaging World and Packaging Digest’s followers all grew at rates of 10% or more in April 2016. Twitter is also well utilized with three of these publishers rated in the top 10 influencers on Twitter, with the Packaging Diva enjoying spot No.3 on the Twitter list, with 24,000 followers and 46,000 tweets.

The use of video is well exploited by Packaging News from the United Kingdom, as it is ranked No.2 on YouTube, with 428 videos posted, with an average of 518 views per video.

 

Table 4: Most Influential Trade Press and Others Using Social Media Effectively

*Listed in alphabetical order.

+ Companies in orange were mentioned by five or more people.

 

What the packaging pros say

As we mentioned earlier, we also conducted a short survey asking people to tell us which of these 25 companies or people they read or engage regularly. We had 268 people respond, mostly about Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn channels. While many of the 25 companies in Tables 1 through 4 were mentioned, the four companies or people shaded orange in the tables were mentioned by five or more people.

There is certainly room to grow the use of social media by people in the packaging industries, as shown in Table 5. Our survey had 268 responses, and 117 (44%) of the people told us that they are not following any packaging-related companies, organizations or individuals on any of the six social media channels we investigated. Of the 143 people who told us that they do use social media to follow packaging, Table 5 shows how frequently they use the six channels in our research. LinkedIn is used most frequently, and for consumers who use social media sometimes, they report watching videos on YouTube the most.

 

Table 5: Primary data about social channel use by consumers of content: packaging professionals.

 

Photo credit for main image above: Designed by Ibrandify / Freepik

 

George Szanto is a tenured lecturer specialized in business-to-business (B2B) emarketing at Fontys University in the Netherlands. Prior to this, he held various international executive management positions in tech industries for more than 10 years.

 

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