You know you should do it more, you know it should be consistent, but even as one of the most important aspects of growing your business, it’s also the easiest to ignore. In 2016, you cannot afford not to be present on social media; BIA have found that 97% of consumers use the internet when researching local products and services. Comscore also found that Facebook accounts for one in every six minutes spent online and one in every five minutes spent on mobile. What was once an industry reliant on phone numbers and word of mouth has been forced to evolve due to a fundamental change in the way people conduct searches.
Considering this clear reliance on finding services online, contractors who make sure they are easy to find on social media and search engines will be way ahead of the game. Anyone conducting a local search using the internet WILL find them first, and if their reviews are good, and they come across as likable, then people are not likely to search any further.
The good news is that social media is easy to grasp, and for the most part it’s free! Facebook is the very start, but the other major networks can also add massive value to your online presence and help drive potential customers straight to you.
Tip #1: Consistency!
First off, it is very important to understand that you should not begin a social media campaign if you are not willing to be consistent. If you have had a good motivated streak, and have posted consistently for several days at a time over a period of weeks, only to lose that motivation and the posts drop off, it will look as though your company has gone backwards. The assumption will be made that where you once grew enough to warrant consistent posting, you must have had to scale down your operations to no longer have the time or resources for social media. Not to mention, you are less likely to crop up on peoples news feeds if your posts are few and far between; it’s all about putting yourself out there for people to stumble upon.
What counts as consistency varies between platforms. As a basic guide:
Facebook should be a MINIMUM of three times per week, preferably once per day.
Twitter should be several tweets per day, along with interaction with other people’s tweets.
Instagram should be once per day at the most.
So why is consistency the key here? Isn’t it enough that you are occasionally active in your online circles? Well what you’ll hopefully understand by the end of this article, is that social media is all about personalities, and you have to understand the real purpose behind each platform and what people are actually on them for. This brings us onto our second tip:
Tip #2: Understand each platform!
Facebook, plain and simple, is for people to connect with family and friends, so why on earth would they want to follow a company when they are there to see what their friends are up to? What this means is that in order to entice people to follow you, you have to blend into the rest of their news feed and be a part of it like anyone else, i.e. be more like a friend than a company. Share things that are genuinely interesting to your audience, make jokes, share opinions, and the rest will follow.
For companies, Twitter is a strange place these days. Originally a platform for random thoughts and small updates, it has become an ocean of companies all following each other in hopes of a follow back, and all liking each other’s material in hopes of the same. Companies these days are followed by 1,000 people, but follow 5,000, making it impossible to even scroll down your own news feed. Because twitter moves so fast, marketing teams have to constantly source new information to tweet, leading to entire industries sharing the same industry articles and memes relevant to their audience, and it can show desperation to relate. This is a very basic twitter tactic, and will not get you noticed within your industry. If you are just hoping to boost your followers, the key is simple: interact with other people’s posts, and be a good follower, for the most part they will interact in return. People searching for local contractors are less likely to find you by your twitter page, and so this platform really is about standing out in your industry and giving the impression of being a knowledgeable leader. If this is what you see for yourself, you have to create your own content, which is a whole different story entirely. This will be covered in our upcoming blog post on how to manage a website as a contractor.
Instagram turns some of the normal principles on their head, because in this case, it really is all about you. IF people make their way to your Instagram page, it is for the sole purpose of seeing what you are up to through photos. For this reason, the tactics of the other platforms such as sharing other people’s posts just makes no sense here. If you have done work you are particularly proud of, take a good photo of it and post it! Spend some time experimenting with angles, lighting, and filters to determine the best way to photograph your work, and then stick with it. Quotes also go down very well on Instagram, and make sure to occasionally include pictures of yourself, your team if you have one, your office if you have one etc. after all, this platform is still about personality. Finally, the fact that Instagram is so focused on you is the reason why you should not overwhelm people with it, and so stick to one post per day.
Despite Instagram being the exception, this brings us nicely onto our third tip:
Tip #3: Don’t over-promote yourself!
Nothing kills the growth of a social media page than constantly posting about yourself, what you’re up to, what work you have done etc. Taking an interest in other people, as well as creating / sharing content which is genuinely helpful or interesting to your audience is the name of the game here. Have you ever followed the page of someone you admired, just to find that their page was just constant plugs for themselves and their products? If you’re like most people, you would not have followed for long for the simple reason that you see nothing of what you are following them for, their personality and their insight. If someone is a success in their field, people follow them for insights they can apply in their own life, so why would they just want to clog up their news feeds with self-promotion, which was most likely written by someone else anyway?
Tip #4: Online Reviews
Now this one is nothing new, online reviews have been round for a while, but social media reviews make it easier than ever to find your customers opinions. At one point in time, in the mid 2000’s, there were a plethora of highly populated review websites for local contractors and tradesmen. If you pay them a visit these days however, you’ll notice that what were once booming sites, even such as Yell.com, are now a sparse landscape.
Nowadays, reviews are an unavoidable bolt-on to your social media page, and if you are proud of your work you should be doing everything you can to make it easy for people to find your reviews. The first step here is google. If you are registered as a company on google, people can see reviews just by searching the name, which makes a huge difference on people who are conducting a preliminary search.
Your Facebook page is the next logical step. More than just your customers reviews, people can also see how quickly you respond to your online enquiries. If you have nothing to hide, show it!
There is an obvious problem here, in what to do with negative reviews, not just the fact that you may get them, as that part is mostly down to you (if you have the odd difficult customer who you just cannot win over, the mostly positive reviews will speak for themselves). The main problem comes from the fact that people are far more likely to write a review after a negative experience than a positive one. People do not generally write positive reviews unless they feel especially compelled to do so or they are asked, so don’t be afraid to ask! People are often much more willing to write them than you think, just make sure you mention your preferred platform so they don’t write one where no one will see it.
Finally, don’t get into arguments with someone who has left a negative review. If it really is unfair, reply to it once explaining your side of the story (not for their benefit, but for the benefit of other people reading it) and then just leave it. It is far worse to come across as confrontational, and people understand that you’ll never have 100% positive reviews.
Tip #5: Polarize.
We spoke earlier about companies who simply share articles and the odd bit of content, and interact solely for people to interact with them in return, and guess what happens: they all blend in, and nobody notices them. If you try to please everyone, and present your followers with vague, neutral statements, they won’t be compelled to interact with you at all. Do not be afraid to share your genuine opinions on matters relevant to your industry, even if people may disagree with you. Two obvious things will happen here: the people who agree with you will like you more, and the people who disagree with you will like you less. But isn’t that better than everyone just having no opinion of you at all? Polarising will compel your audience to interact with you, and with each other, for better or worse. People are having a debate about your industry in the comments section of your post? Great! They certainly weren’t there before, and they will be much more likely to return to see what you post next.
Important: Avoid issues which can stir up unnecessary trouble and are an embedded part of people’s lives. Politics, for example, is an absolute no go area, as well as the vast majority of social issues. The reason these topics are so volatile is because opinions are so heavily divided, and so extreme. It can truly hit a nerve with people, and so, if you are the type of person who enjoys discussing such topics, leave it for your personal page, not your professional one.
Tip #6: Where to draw the line.
You may be left wondering exactly how much time and effort all this will take, and that is a very important thing to consider. It depends mainly on one thing which is: What type of personality are you?
If you are a mostly reserved person who prefers to maintain your professionalism, then that’s fine, stick to the basics. Your main goal with social media should simply be to help people find you. This does notmean you don’t have to stay active, as you need to find ways for people to engage with you and potentially drive traffic to your website (again, this will be covered in a subsequent blog post), but it can mean you don’t need to go crazy updating 6 different platforms and thinking of 10 posts per day.
If however, you are a naturally extroverted character, and being funny and being noticed are second nature to you, then drive your social media as hard as you can! In addition to the three main platforms mentioned in this book, snapchat can be a fantastic way to show personality, and fortunes have been made by doing so. You can also be one of the few companies which returns twitter to its roots: spontaneous, funny, and interesting thoughts. The point is, if you are already doing funny or interesting things, or work with funny and likable people, then it will not be difficult to update all these platforms, because you will simply be documenting what is happening anyway. A great example of this is the extremely popular and hilarious “On the tools” Facebook page.
At the end of the day, if you are expecting to post on social media for the next couple of weeks and suddenly get a flood of new customers, then you’re going to be disappointed. There is more to this than just finding new business, it’s simply about complimenting your work with personality, and helping people to find you. Put yourself in the mind of someone trying to find a company like yours; what exactly would you want to see from someone’s Instagram page? Would you not be suspicious of someone who has no online presence, and isn’t it easier to just choose someone whom you can learn about online before meeting them? Would you not want to hire someone who is clearly personable and active within local circles and communities?
If you would like to get started, then be sure to create a precise, realistic plan regarding the frequency of your posts, and what level of response you would like to create in what timeline, and then it’s as simple as just starting!