Twitter…Facebook…LinkedIn…YouTube…Pinterest… The list of social networks that you can participate in is endless. While most remodeling companies are convinced of the benefits of social media marketing, a strategy that drives leads and sales still eludes many.
Although jumping in “full-steam ahead” is usually a good idea when tackling something you are unfamiliar with, the reality is that taking a step back and using a more structured approach will actually benefit your business in the long run. Bearing that in mind, here is a 12-step plan that has proven to be successful for many companies in the industry:
1. Know the rules
As with any form of marketing communication, there are rules that you need to be aware of so that you can abide by the “best social media practices.” For example, most people will not pursue information on social networks; therefore, they will not appreciate having information forced on them by your company or brand.
2. Create a corporate social media policy
Regardless of the size of your company, it is crucial to have a policy in place before social media marketing is pursued. How do you intend to engage your customers? What social networks best fit your business (keep in mind that they are not all alike).
3. Set concrete, measurable goals
Determine what you are trying to accomplish with your social media strategy. What topics and issues will be of greatest interest to your customers and prospects? What kind of content will prompt them to come back for more?
4. Who needs to be involved?
Depending on the size and structure of your business, determine who you want to participate in the campaign. In some cases, a part-time employee or outside agency can be hired to focus solely on these efforts.
5. Incorporate it in your marketing mix
One of your primary objectives should be to make your marketing message go viral. Social networking alone is not enough to accomplish this; you need to integrate it with all of your marketing communications.
Add social networking icons on your website and the bottom of your email signature, regularly promote your blog and YouTube videos on Twitter and Facebook, and use keywords in your social communication to help potential customers find you online.
6. Listen up!
What are your employees, customers and target market saying about your brand?
7 Additonal Benefits of Social Media Marketing
- Find new customers
- Give current customers added value
- Create positive content to combat your detractors
- Improve your search engine ranking
- Build inbound links to your website
- Establish yourself as the local authority
- Network with other businesses
George Schaub, director of marketing for the Thompson Creek Window Co., Lanham, Md., says the following about how social media has impacted their business:
“In any customer service organization, best-in-class communication and response time are vital. Complaints and endorsements are online, and they go viral. Social media enables real-time communication between a brand and its users. Gone are the days of having to wait on hold or press dozens of keys to get through to a live person. Now, a consumer can quickly jump on Facebook or Twitter with a complaint, question or praise, and they expect a response from the brand within minutes rather than the custom 24-28 business hours. For consumers, the instant response is truly gratifying. They’ve been heard, and acknowledged. For brands, it’s an opportunity to demonstrate not only their best-in-class service, but also their rapid-fire response time.”
7. Share lessons learned
Your social connections have no desire to be bombarded with constant self-promotion. Many of the largest and strongest businesses in the industry don’t just focus on sharing their own material but also assisting others in reaching new audiences they might not have been able to before.
In his best-selling book The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini wrote, “One of the most potent weapons of influence around us is the rule of reciprocation. The rule says that we should try to repay, in kind, what another person has provided us.”
In essence, this implies that if you promote someone else’s content, they are likely to return the favor.
8. Post relevant content
To maximize your effectiveness in the social arena, we recommend that you utilize a four-step approach:
Corporate branding: Maximize awareness of your company, product, and service offerings.
Social engagement: Participate and listen to the online communication of your prospects and customers.
Drive traffic: Send prospects to a website or landing page where they can interact further with your brand.
Convert to customers: No hard-selling; promote free information such as sweepstakes, events, white papers, etc. However, make sure that their contact information is captured.
9. Be open and transparent
When crises arise—and they will—use these public forums to address situations immediately. You will gain the reputation of a proactive company who does not run from the tough issues, and it will gain you online support.
10. Commitment to the process and the willingness to evolve
Many companies have jumped into the realm of social media and thrown in the towel just as quick. Remember, social media is a process that requires constant fine tuning to perfect one’s strategy.
11. Find your brand champions
Are you more likely to buy something from a company that touts itself as the “best in the industry” or one that receives kudos on their products and services?
While the answer may be obvious, few companies seek out endorsements for their social networking pages. Consider giving away something of value to your past customers for something as simple as a recommendation on Facebook.
12. Track everything
Long gone are the days of not knowing the return on investment of social media marketing. Tools such as Google Analytics will allow you to measure the impact of these promotions and how they are affecting leads and sales. PR
Brad Yoho is the director of marketing for Dave Yoho Associates, the oldest, largest, and most successful consulting group serving the home improvement industry. He will be presenting with a panel of experts at the FOCUS 2013 Home Improvement Summit in Washington D.C. Learn more by visiting www.HIPSummit.com.