How remodelers use social media.
Most remodelers are using the Web for business purposes, but social media has yet to catch on as a major source for information or marketing, according to the latest Professional Remodeler research.
More than 80 percent of remodelers said they visit Web sites at least several times a week for business purposes, and 54 percent said they do so on a daily basis. Accessing the Web through some sort of mobile device is also becoming more popular, as more than half of remodelers say they now, at least occasionally, use a mobile device to visit Web sites - although only 12 percent do it daily.
(Despite this, many remodeling firms still don't have Web sites of their own. Only 67 percent of respondents said they have a company Web site - although that number is up from 55 percent in our 2009 Business Results Study.)
However they access the Web, the top reason remodelers go online is to find product information. Sixty-five percent of remodelers cited products as the No. 1 topic they are looking for when going online. Subjects such as economics (10 percent), design trends (9 percent), business advice (8 percent) and how-to tips for hands-on applications (6 percent) trailed well behind.
Social media slowly catching on
While remodelers have embraced the Web as a source for business information, they're not nearly as involved in social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube.
Only 51 percent of remodelers ever visit social media sites, putting the industry behind the general public. About two-thirds of American adults visit social media sites on a regular basis, and 43 percent do so more than once a day, according to a recent Experian Simmons study. Social media is now also the most popular online activity, accounting for 22.7 percent of the time people spend online, up from 15.8 percent a year ago, according to Nielsen.
While many remodelers are using the new technology, there are also many in our survey that didn't have a very favorable view of social media.
"We never have used social media," said one remodeler. "We think of it more as a novelty for children."
Others expressed concern over the time it takes to use the sites and whether the return is worth it: "There are so many avenues of communication today that small companies do not have the staff to devote time" to all of them, one remodeler said. "We're living in an ever growing media of communications that cannot be matched by individual human capacity."
Another concern is making a mistake that could hurt the company's image with clients and potential clients, many remodelers said.
"If we don't execute this correctly, it can have a negative impact on our customer experience," said one remodeler. "Determining what the message will be, what audiences we are reaching and how we are going to further our brand needs to be established before utilizing any of the social media sites."
Of those remodelers that do use social media, though, 86 percent said they at least sometimes do so for business reasons. The biggest professional use is for communicating with other remodelers, something 25 percent of remodelers said they do. Only 18 percent of remodelers use social media for connecting with clients and 12 percent for interacting with manufacturers and suppliers (respondents could choose more than one option.)
Those remodelers that are using social media are fairly regular visitors, with 54 percent visiting for business purposes at least once a week, and 14 percent doing so on a daily basis.
Facebook is the most popular social network overall, with the site recently topping 500 million users worldwide. Remodelers, though, are more likely to be members of LinkedIn, as 64 percent of remodelers who said they visit social media sites are members, compared to the 51 percent that are members of Facebook. No other sites topped 15 percent, although smaller groups use Plaxo (14 percent), Twitter (13 percent), Contractor Talk (10 percent) or a variety of other sites (13 percent).
Even those who use social networks on a regular basis are not seeing much of an impact on sales. Forty-seven percent of them said that none of their business is coming from clients they've reached through social media, and another 35 percent said it accounted for less than 5 percent of their business.
"At this point I don't think it is making a difference, but then the amount of energy input is not high at this time," said one remodeler.
"It's growing, but it's not there yet," said another.