The internet has changed massively over the last ten years, and online marketing has changed with it. Building services business owners who were once happy with a simple website and a listing in a local directory are finally exploring social media platforms like LinkedIn, Houzz, Instagram, and of course Facebook, which now boasts over 90 million small business pages.
Many companies have rightly recognized that social media represents a level playing field for the smaller players, and vast fortunes have been made by entrepreneurs successfully leveraging the power of these sites. Yet despite social media being wildly popular for well over a decade, owners of construction, engineering, or other building services companies still aren’t exploiting the main platforms to their fullest potential.
And there’s a simple reason for that: Despite the similarities in operation, running a successful social media campaign isn’t anything like managing a personal Facebook profile. So what does it take to win followers on social media and turn them into lifelong super-fans? Here are a few things to consider:
If you’re a building services business owner finally getting serious about marketing on social media, this entire guide could be distilled down into a single piece of advice:
Always Start With a Plan
Yes, you’ve probably already got a personal Facebook account, and you probably already know your way around the platform, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get results by haphazardly posting random content and “liking” other user’s photos or celebrating your football team’s colors every Friday before game day.
It’s totally possible to run a successful social media campaign without spending a single dollar, but to do that, you need a clear, well thought out strategy and a specific goal in mind. Here are a few tips to help you formulate a social media plan of action:
Set Measurable Goals
A regular person might look at a popular Instagram Influencer’s photos and conclude:
That’s easy, anyone could pose suggestively for sponsorship money. It only works because that person is popular and attractive
In reality, the top influencers on Instagram know exactly which camera angles, outfits and poses to choose for maximum engagement, and they never rely on guesswork or random snapping. That’s because over time, those influencers have measured the engagement they get from each position, camera angle and clothing choice, and have finely tuned their look and style for maximum popularity.
Always define what you’re trying to achieve, and give each goal a metric that can be measured and improved upon, using the SMART framework:
Spy on the Competition
Are there any other building businesses in your area (or niche) that are being successful on social media? If there are, then the first step in creating a solid social media marketing plan is to analyze the competition to find out what they’re up to. No, you shouldn’t be copying your rivals. But on the other hand, if the formula is working well, there’s really no need to reinvent the wheel.
Once you’ve trawled through other industrial business accounts to find out what they’re up to, it’s time to check out the bigger players for more inspirational strategies. While national firms have seemingly bottomless budgets to work with, that doesn’t mean you can’t still learn a thing or two about social media marketing from them. Follow some of your favorite companies and products and take detailed notes.
Finally, before you start posting with reckless abandon, create a calendar where you list the channels you’ll be using, and the schedule you’ll be working to. Having a clearly defined schedule helps you to keep a steady trickle of content flowing, prevents burnout and ensures that you’re not favoring (or neglecting) certain platforms over others.
OK, so now we’ve emphasized the importance of having a well defined plan with measurable goals, let’s take a look at some specific strategies for winning the social media marketing game:
Defining Your Target Audience
An important part of the perfect social media marketing plan is to understand who your audience is, and tailor content that resonates with them personally.
It should go without saying, but a small business selling artisan cupcakes has a wildly different user base to that of a company selling roofing materials. Yes, those examples are wildly different and fairly obvious (well, let’s hope so…), but many social media campaigns have failed due to the operator of the account being unaware of the type of person they’re engaging with.
With that being said, with social media often providing powerful user analytics, your research might throw up some other more subtle insights that could have a massive impact on how you formulate future campaigns:
When Imperfect Foods first began advertising their less-than-perfect fruit and vegetable boxes on Pinterest, they presumed they’d get the most traction by targeting users interested in sustainability and healthy lifestyles. In fact, after analyzing the data, the company found that many users were also interested in keywords pertaining to money saving and cost cutting.
The Takeaway: Work out exactly who your company and its offering appeals to, and curate your content to suit that audience.
Creating Brand Awareness
Part of the reason for creating a marketing strategy is to keep all of your communications consistent, both in visual style and tone (voice).
A local band will never become famous if they play cover versions of famous songs. Likewise, you’ll need to find your own style and “voice” if you want to succeed on social media. Part of that voice should obviously be tailored to the audience you’re selling to, but you shouldn’t be afraid to add some personality and a unique style to your content.
Audiences in the industrial field may respond well to advice on filling their project pipelines and new technology to help them do their jobs safer and more efficiently. But deep down they engage with personal stories, human interest pieces and quirky imagery. Most of all though, they love social media accounts that are interesting and engaging. Be unique, be creative and be consistent. Those are the key ways to build brand awareness.
Interacting With Your Social Media Followers
When it comes to actually posting content and engaging with your followers on social media, internet marketers could learn a thing or two from the old school copywriters like David Ogilvy, who penned some of the finest magazine advertisements the world has ever seen. Copywriters of magazine and newspaper ads were masters at drawing in the reader’s eye and then captivating them with scintillating copy. Your posts should be doing the same thing. Especially in an era when the average attention span is a paltry 8 seconds!
Keep Your Visuals Classy
Photos and videos should be consistent in style and tone, and most importantly of all, they should be of great quality. Bright, well-designed graphics or eye catching photos can really add pop to your content, enticing users to click on posts, Tweets and updates that they might otherwise have missed.
When it comes to video, all of the effort that you’ve put into attracting followers to your product or business page will be in vain if they click play, only to discover that the sound is sub-optimal and the content dull and overly long.
Use Quizzes to Collect Data and Contests to Boost Engagement
Both quizzes and contests can be great ways to involve your audience in your social media campaigns as well as being a valuable source of data acquisition.
For the most part, quizzes tend to appeal to a user’s curiosity. Even if quizzes don’t relate directly to your products or services, they can create significant viral interest in your social media pages and ultimately help to build a loyal following. As a welcome bonus, a well structured quiz can help you gain valuable insights into your audience too. Not getting any traction with your quizzes? Turn them into prize winning contests and you’ll see engagement soar!
Respond to User Comments Quickly
People love receiving responses to their comments on social media platforms. If you respond quickly (and politely), you’ll garner more respect from potential customers and provide a warm, human touchpoint to your business that won’t go unnoticed among other users.
Which Media Platforms Should You Use?
Ultimately, it’s impossible to advise businesses on which social media platforms they should be using. One thing’s for sure though: The answer is rarely:
All of them
So how do you choose the correct platform(s)?
Social media sites vary wildly in both the demographics of their users, and also in how those users interact and engage with them. We could tell you that in general, younger users are abandoning Facebook for the likes of Instagram and TikTok, but that would be a sweeping overstatement.
As it stands in 2020, the following well established platforms are still the ones with the largest user bases and reach, despite what the latest guru might be trying to tell you:
Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thinly
By all means set up profiles on all the major platforms, but be extremely careful before engaging in a massive, cross-platform campaign that could leave you feeling overwhelmed. You’ll perform best if you concentrate (and learn the ropes) of one or two business-appropriate sites at a time.
In the industrial business to business (B2B) niche, LinkedIn is extremely powerful. The platform is well populated, rich in features and sees extremely high engagement in comparison to sites like Instagram, which can be a little lackluster for those outside of the fashion, health and consumer product spheres.
Likewise, when it comes to actually learning the ropes of these disparate platforms, there’s a world of difference between gathering an enthusiastic group of followers on Twitter compared to building a successful YouTube channel, both in the effort and technical ability involved.
The Takeaway: Pick a platform, become an expert and above all, remember to stick to the plan!
Successful social media marketing can prove successful for businesses willing to put in the time and effort to learn the ropes. Be engaging, creative and caring, laser-focus on your targeted audience, and you’ll create super-fans before you know it!
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