If you don’t know how to tweet, post, “go live,” or string together appealing stories, you may want to grab a notebook. You’re losing out on business – customers and money – if you’re not taking advantage of social media.
I know, I know … I just heard a virtual sigh from a lot of contractors who simply don’t like social media.
“Can’t I just forget about it?” you ask.
And the answer is, yes, you absolutely can — if you like paying more for leads from other online sources and getting outpaced by your competition, that is.
In 2008, 10 percent of the U.S. population was on social media. In 2019, close to 80 percent follow one or more of the most popular platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The truth is, there is far too large an audience out there in social media land for you to ignore. And, in true capitalistic fashion, whenever there is an audience this large, these companies have developed ways you can market to their subscribers. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming; no one is expecting you to post the most unique selfies or have 10,000 followers by the end of this article, but here are a few tips on how to start using social media to grow your business.
You can use social media to increase leads. I mean, that’s the goal, right? You want to grow, add new names and neighborhoods to your database, and increase your top-line sales, so you can swim in big piles of money like Scrooge McDuck. Well, you’re not alone in that fantasy.
Turns out, that’s the No. 1 reason that 65 percent of businesses say they create social media accounts in the first place — simply to get more leads. You can put your company in front of thousands of eyes instantly by boosting posts, and as you build your audience through likes and follows, promotions get cheaper and cheaper. But beyond that, social media has a distinct advantage over other forms of lead generation. Because people so willingly give tons of their personal information on these sites, you can do some very advanced targeting to find the best prospects around.
Did you know you can push messages on Facebook only to married homeowners within a 30-mile radius of your shop or to those who are over 40 years old and have a tendency to search articles about home improvements to save money? Yes, it’s kind of creepy that companies are collecting all this data on everything we do online, but that’s the way the world works now. Every Google search, every survey, every transaction is being put into a database somewhere, making a consumer profile to target you for propensities and “like purchases.” There are people using this information to target you every single day; you might as well be using it to grow your business too. Boost a Facebook post, walk through your targeted demographics, and pull out the best prospects.
Effective social media sends traffic to your website. Businesses that are active on social media typically see 37 percent higher traffic on their home pages, according to statista.com, and when done correctly, traffic can go through the roof. Make sure what you post on social media is relevant and gets attention, but don’t send them somewhere else! Many contractors share articles from This Old House, HGTV, and others. When your prospect clicks that link, they’ve forgotten all about who gave them the lovely idea for home improvement, and they’re whisked away to Bob Vila land. Some contractors even make the mistake of sharing Lowe’s or Home Depot articles, which link to their retail sites, outfitting the do-it-yourselfers with plans and supplies. If you are going to share, make sure the end location is on your website.
Develop good content that lives on your website in the form of blog posts and money-saving tips. Link the interested reader there and include a call to action on how you can help, not the teenager in the orange apron. The more people who end up on your website, the more your Google ranking improves, and the more chances you have for leads.
Social media also helps develop a relationship with your customer because, well … it’s social. People can’t interact with a billboard or a radio spot, and direct mail can only get so personalized, but social media is a forum where users can comment and have a dialog with you. Do not be guilty of your messages being all hard sales all the time, or people will shut you down in a hurry. Use social media to put a face to your company, with employee spotlights, customer testimonials, stories of community events you’re involved in, and pictures of what the company culture is like. Happy people (and businesses) are attractive.
This will not only make you look more appealing to homeowners, but also more appealing to potential employees in a market where hiring is getting to be more and more of a problem. There is something strange that makes us feel connected to an organization or business just by clicking “like” and following, but it does happen. When a customer chooses to become your “friend,” they are saying they want to hear from you, and those are magic words in the marketing world. Don’t abuse the privilege.
And lastly, it’s not all ads, but it is all advertising. Think branding, branding, branding. Sorry to say, but contractors collectively are not known to be the most tech-savvy, leading-edge bunch when it comes to marketing. If you want more proof, just look around at most of the contractor websites that haven’t been touched since they were built in 2003, or the fact that social media has been around in some form for a decade, but I still have to convince some of you that it is, in fact, worth your time.
Get your company’s name out into the social media universe where it can be seen and shared. If you can maintain even a semi-active account, you’re probably stealing attention away from your competitors simply by being in front of more homeowners on a daily basis. Half the battle in our world is name recognition, so the more you’re seen, the more likely people are to think of your name instead of calling the first company that pops up on a Google search.
Again, you don’t have to go from, “What’s a book of faces?” to social media expert just to see significant results. But if you write off social media simply because of confusion, frustration, or lack of motivation, you’re costing yourself in the bottom line.
Here are some quick ways to break into, or just amp up, your social marketing game.
- Consult the experts. Maybe you don’t want to jump into this with both feet just yet. But you know there’s a need, so how can you get started quickly? I bet there’s a young person in your office who would be glad to add “social media manager” to his or her job title, and would enjoy doing it. Trust me, they already know how to use the platforms. If you want a more professional touch, there are lots of companies that will manage your presence for you, and the right one will be well worth the investment.
- Build your audience. The more people you can get to “like” and “follow” your social media avenues, the more your messages will be seen — for free. Make your page interactive and fun. Try partnering with local businesses to sponsor giveaways for people who engage with your page. Also, post photos of your employees and tag them. This will display your messages to all their friends and family as well.
- Pick the right content. As stated above, not all content is good content. Thousands of dollars can be wasted paying someone to fill up space posting that it’s “National Hot Dog Day” and the like. Thing is, no one cares, and they’ll quit following your page quickly if it doesn’t engage them. Home tips, money-saving ideas, and recipes are always winners. Many manufacturers also have some good informative posts available, but be careful not to get too technical.
- Don’t overwhelm. Be careful with your audience after you have them. Remember, 99 percent of the people on social media are not shopping for a contractor, but the right content can remind them to give you a call when they are. Either way, most people don’t want to see their contractor in their news feed every day. Every other day to once a week is typically plenty to keep the audience engaged and listening.