Effective social media strategy for remodelers

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A solid social media campaign runs deeper than setting up Twitter and Facebook accounts. Professional Remodeler digs into how a remodeler should get organized to get results.

January 01, 2010
Sidebars:

Social Media: Where should you start?

Q&A with Emily Smith of AK Complete Home Renovations

Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites are the topic du jour for remodelers. But what's the strategy? How do remodelers execute it?

If you're going to jump into the social media fray, you've got to have a plan in place. Unfortunately, it's a new game for everyone, meaning many companies end up winging it — especially remodelers.

"They believe that a lot of clients are word-of-mouth, and what they're missing is that social media is word of mouth," says Internet marketing specialist Mitch Levinson of mRelevance, which has been working with home builders and now remodelers on their social media strategies.

 

Because it is new to so many people, it's intimidating but can easily be overcome. Levinson breaks the approach into four sections — "same as Marketing 101" — for his clients: commit to the program; define your strategy; implement it well; and monitor and tweak your company's approach over time.

Here's advice from Levinson and mRelevance's sister-company Flammer Relations using Bowen Family Homes as an example.

Step 1: Commit to the program

Sometimes social media efforts start from executives at the top who want to transition from traditional advertising to Internet marketing and social media. More often than not, however, the plan stems from a marketing department or active salespeople who make the social media pitch to executives, who might be reluctant to have their company dive in. Once Levinson's executive clients have a better understanding of the significance of building the right network, communicating the right way and using the right forums, they are more receptive, he says.

Mike Rieman, senior account manager with Flammer Relations, says Bowen Family Homes is an example of a company that has committed to a solid social media strategy. The move was a bottom-up initiative of sorts. Bowen's marketing director, Kelly Fink, pitched the social media program.

Step 2: Establish goals and a strategy

A key step to employing social media tactics is to define what the goals are. Ultimately, Levinson says, the goal is sales and contracts, which occurs through word-of-mouth and branding. You'll need to figure out which social media outlets to use and be prepared to cross-promote them by linking to content. The content that you post shouldn't be decided on the fly; have a strategy in place that is connected with your marketing program and tied directly to your sales team, says Levinson.

Step 3: Execute the strategy

You know what you want to accomplish, and you've figured out which social media networks you'll use. The content you create is an extension of your brand, so it's critical to have a detailed plan in place to make sure your company understands who deploys messages, stays on message, promotes itself well on several channels and can interact with audiences cohesively.

Step 4: Measure success

Programs today allow account owners to track the number of site visits and click-throughs; who's coming; from where; etc. MRelevance gauges success by tracking the social media account analytically, especially with on-site traffic reports. But Levinson admits measuring success is difficult: "We know the search results, and we know what people are viewing. I wish I could say, for example, they sold 30 houses just based off of Facebook."

A version of this article originally appeared in our sister publication, Professional Builder.

 

Social Media: Where should you start?

An integrated social media campaign might seem overwhelming, especially if you're dealing with a small staff or will be handling all social media strategy on your own. The best way to get started is to set up a blog and keep it updated, says Internet marketing strategist says Mitch Levinson of mRelevance. It's easy to do and is the most likely to remain a constant force in social media. "Use a blog as your foundation because social media is so constantly evolving," Levinson says. After all, he adds, MySpace was once the most popular outlet and it's nearly moot now for many businesses. Twitter and Facebook have the reins, but with how quickly technology evolves, it will pay to invest in a constant, such as a blog.

Q&A with Emily Smith of AK Complete Home Renovations

The AK Complete Home Renovations team has taken a comprehensive approach to social media. Marketing Communications Manager Emily Smith at the Marietta, Ga.-based company spoke to us about the social media plan there.

  1. Who recognized the need for social media outreach? Was it a bottom-up or top-down decision?

    It was a top-down decision, with collective input from all employees. Employees expressed enthusiasm to get involved in aspects of social media on behalf of the company before the decision was made to go ahead! The president of AK, Ed Cholfin, and I are equally involved in social media efforts. No one was hired specifically for the job — we both assumed varying roles in all the different outlets.
  2. Which service (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) did you begin with first? Why?

    It all started with LinkedIn. I first received an invitation to join from a former colleague and then all of AK jumped in! We then moved on to starting a blog; then Twitter, which Ed took on like a pro; and finally decided we needed to spread to Facebook as well. Decisions where we started were based on what we knew from others' experiences and our first-hand knowledge of the service's capabilities.
  3. How does the company measure the benefits? Are you tracking page visits or noticing an uptick in leads?

    We measure the benefits mostly by driving traffic to our Web site and blog. We are in an ongoing process of SEO. We honestly haven't seen leads from social media but have seen many opportunities for additional exposure. Twitter seems to be the best for getting people to click through to something. Ed has also used some very interesting tools at www.twittervalue.com and www.websitegrader.com to use as comparison tools.
  4. Describe a typical Twitter post: What approach do you take? What type of news do you share? Is it all business or do you throw in light-hearted fare?

    We try to change it up so we're not too much one way or the other. The majority of our posts are business related, but we try to put an interesting spin on it. Like, "Watch this video at work - there's no sound!" to promote our YouTube items. We never post anything personal but sometimes might put up a viral video or fun Internet game to keep people wanting to read our posts. We don't want to bore them or sell them. We just want to engage them.
  5. Overall, how would you rate your social media experience?

    As Ed said, "it has been rewarding and interesting to say the least." Twitter can be incredibly overwhelming as we have 2,800 followers. Ed has dealt mostly with that and gotten a lot of attention for his feats. He also has 5,000 connections on LinkedIn. If he wanted to, he could do nothing but social media. I try to keep a little more distance from it and just keep posting to drive traffic. Ed's methods have yielded the most attention, however, which is ultimately what we were looking for.

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