Not a Facebook fan? You may be one of the few. As of the second quarter of 2017, the website Statistica reports, “Facebook had 2 billion monthly active users,” which it defines as ”those [who] have logged in to Facebook during the last 30 days.”
Too Big to Ignore
It’s always a mixed bag on Facebook. From kitten-picture cuteness to circus acts gone wrong, pictures of meals that only make us hungry to acid exchanges of political views, logging on to the social media giant is often a mood changer, for better or worse. Yet millions spend hours every a day scrolling through their Facebook newsfeed, sending messages, and posting relentlessly.
So what do grandchildren photographs and music videos have to do with your home improvement business? About as much as you want them to. For many home improvement contractors, regardless of size, the largest portion of leads now arrive online via one medium or another. At some companies, online activity (SEO, Google AdWords campaigns, etc.) easily surpasses referrals and repeats for producing appointments. Social media is one piece of it, since it steers potential prospects toward that point of entry: your website.
Call Me, We Need to Talk
So if Facebook is where your customers go for information or to pass the time, should your company be there? And should you take it a step further and be actively marketing, with ads?
Respected remodeling marketing expert Darren Slaughter is definitely not a fan and thinks contractors are wasting their time and marketing dollars. “If you are a contractor paying for ‘likes’ on FB, you are an idiot,” he writes (“Facebook Advertising for Contractors: I Wouldn’t Do It!”). “Sorry, it’s true! Sure you can promote your fan page, talk it up on other marketing materials to “Like Us Up”, but if you are spending your cold hard cash on like campaigns, please stop everything you are doing and call me, we need to talk.”
An article at the Contractor Dynamics website sees it rather differently (“Complete Guide to Facebook Advertising for Contractors”). “As a contractor, reaching out to local potential clients and getting your company in front of them is vital, they write,” and Facebook advertising is one of the best ways to do that.”
So who’s right? There aren’t a lot of numbers to back up either argument. In the last few months, however, the Certified Contractors Network sent an extensive survey about marketing practices to its members, who are mostly roofing, siding and window contractors. A little more than ninety company owners responded and of these, 40 percent list “Social Media—Facebook, etc.” as either their best or second best lead source.
How to Do It
That’s the thing about promoting a home improvement business on Facebook: Everyone has a different story and a different opinion. Improveit360, a CRM system many contractors use to track leads from generation through job completion and beyond, acknowledges the mixed feelings many contractors have about the medium. (“Many of you don’t understand or even like social media–like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.”) But in “How Contractors Can Take Advantage of Facebook,” they lay out how it’s done.
First off, don’t confuse your personal profile with a Facebook business page. Set that page up, then invite everyone you know on Facebook to Like it. The page should contain:
- Contact information
- Pictures and videos of projects
- Current offers and coupons
- Associations (BBB, Angie’s List, NARI, NAHB, etc.)
Their advice? “You don’t need to dedicate hours and hours a day, but you can do a little bit here and there and make Facebook work for you.”
In its blog, Blue Corona (not a person but a ”data-driven online marketing company”) points to three remodeling and home improvement companies that are “doing it right” when it comes to remodeling and Facebook (“Social Media Tips for Home Remodelers”). The site notes the ways in which these companies are using Facebook effectively as a lead gen tool. One of the companies is Alure Home Improvements, in Long Island, which is described as “great at publishing infographics along with staff-focused posts that add personality to their page.” Another example is Normandy Remodeling, in Hinsdale, Illinois, who uses the medium to address its audience of 4,000 to “promote the strength of its brand in search of repeat customers.” The third example is DFW Improved in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. This page, Blue Corona notes, is great at dispensing useful information by sharing their blog posts and passing along tips which “helps customers trust them.”
Going Steady on Facebook
Success with Facebook equates to growing your fan base—meaning those who know and feel good about doing business with your company. Then find ways to convert those fans to inquiries, and the inquiries to appointments.
Of course your page won’t grow itself, so someone has to be accountable for making that happen. If you don’t know anything about Facebook or it’s not part of your world, find a freelancer who’ll take charge of creating and posting content. Regular, scheduled posts are indispensible to building a following. In an article at Forbes (“50 Free Ways To Increase Your Facebook Page Likes”), Jayson DeMers, who is committed to “demystifying” SEO and online marketing for business owners, offers 50 suggestions for building a Facebook following. Among them: keep posts engaging and short (100 to 119 characters), include lots of images, and stick to the 80/20 promotional content rule—in other words, “posting non-promotional content 80 percent of the time and promotional content 20 percent of the time.”
As for the 20 percent, make it count. Offer special discounts strictly to Facebook fans. Include testimonials that have clients talking about how your company solved their problem. Use the Facebook page to direct people to your website.
Know the Possibilities
While experts can disagree about the value to contractors of Facebook advertising, you’re unlikely to get too far there without it, according to Katie Moffat. In her article about small business and Facebook (“The Beginner’s Guide to Facebook Ads for Startups, small Businesses and Non-Profits”) she points out that “the difference from a few years ago is [that] nowadays, it’s pretty much a given that to reach people on Facebook, you need to supplement your page activity with paid advertising.” Her “beginner’s guide” begins with defining the ad’s objectives, placing the ad, and developing an ad budget, then moves through the different advertising options available.
The website of Performance Roofing, in Orange County, CA, offers advice that’s well thought out and based on experience (“Facebook Marketing for Contractors”). They write: “Many small businesses have found success with Facebook advertising because of the network’s unique ability to target extremely specific demographics of the advertiser’s choosing. However, unlike other ad sources, like television or print, Facebook ads tend to be most successful when promoting soft offers rather than pushing hard for a sale. Thus, expect to focus on giveaways and discounts that get people to become a fan and ‘like’ your page, so that you can convert those new followers into leads and sales down the line.”