“Social Media doesn’t work! It will never match print advertising and marketing in the building services industry.”
That was me about a year ago. When the social media craze first hit and Facebook and Twitter were being mentioned everywhere, I shrugged off the technology as childish and pointless. In fact, I didn’t even have a Facebook page until my wife insisted I stop being an “old man” and get one.
I figured the Facebook profile was it for me—no more social media garbage and certainly not in my business. After all, the people that I deal with most don’t “Facebook” or “Tweet,” and why would I blog about something so boring as cleaning? No one will ever read it, right?
Within the last year, I have ditched my print advertising and started several new social media campaigns. And the results have been nothing short of remarkable!
Getting on the Social Media Bandwagon
In the old days, much of the sales process centered around faceto- face meetings. The key was connecting to a client’s needs, responding intelligently to their problems, and sealing the deal by looking them in the eye over a warm handshake. I couldn’t see how social media could ever replace face-to-face contact in the business world.
However, I’ve since learned that if you do it right, social media can be an extremely efficient way of connecting with customers and prospects. For me, social media is like having a close friend recommend my services to other people they know. It allows prospective customers to get a peek into your life and your company. Here’s a list of a few potential social media “friends” and how they can help you land a deal, retain a customer, and build your brand.
• Company blog: A company blog is like having your favorite teacher or professor tell other people all kinds of cool stuff about you, such as how smart you are and how hard you work, so everyone knows how great it is to work with you. Use your blog to post articles displaying your industry expertise and show your customers and potential customers that you have the answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. The site wordpress. com has many great examples of blogs, and you can use it to create your own.
• Facebook: A Facebook profile for your business is like having your mother show off her photos and mementos of your past achievements. This gives people a personal connection with you and your business, while allowing you to highlight want you want the public to know about your company. While people mostly visit Facebook to maintain important personal relationships and not necessarily to do business, millions of people visit the site regularly. According to the most recent figures, Facebook has more than 900 million users. What other medium has that kind of audience? Facebook allows you to tell your company’s story in a multimedia format. You can post behind-the-scenes photos of your staff, write about causes your company supports, make status updates showcasing major milestones in the life of your company, post photos of you with customers at community events, and so much more. Make your mother proud! See for yourself at www.facebook.com.
• Pinterest: Pinterest is a public photo album where you can tell the world about your company through digital images. This forum adds a level of personal access to your company that was impossible just a few years ago. Here you can post photos of your wishes, dreams, goals, things you are proud of, your office, places you have been, etc. Definitely don’t forget to post your floor and carpet “before and after” shots! Pinterest is relatively new, but the site is proving itself to be formidable in its ability to drive traffic to websites. Visit the site at pinterest.com
• Twitter: Twitter is your friend who knows everything and won’t stop talking about it. This service is your social media catchall. Everything you post on other social media sites, like your blog and Facebook, can be “Tweeted.” You also may want to consider adding an additional Twitter handle to address customer service concerns. Start “Tweeting” by visiting twitter.com.
The Danger of Dismissing Social Media
Social media marketing is something that most businesses will eventually have to adopt to survive. Just like any strong movement within a culture, social media has a momentum behind it that is bigger than any one person or event. Peoples’ needs are changing technology, and in turn, technology is changing the way people interact and behave. This is a cultural wave of tsunami-like proportions: You can either be crushed by it and then scramble to adopt it in its aftermath, or you can ride with it to new shores and possibilities.
You might be hesitant to adopt social media because none of your friends and colleagues are using it. But if they aren’t using social media, there’s no way for them to see just how widespread this technology has become in today’s marketplace. Amazon, Jiffy Lube, Dannon Yogurt and Target are all companies you may have purchased from without realizing that you could have learned more about them through these mediums. This raises two important points.
First, most relevant companies have social media accounts. As an experiment, think of all the companies you buy from on a regular basis, and then use Google to find their blogs and/or accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. You may be surprised to see just how many companies are using social media to foster awareness of and loyalty to their brand. This doesn’t mean they will have hundreds or thousands of followers on every account. For example, McDonald’s has only 677 followers on Pinterest. But the fast food chain has 21 million “Likes” on Facebook!
Second, though you and many of your friends might not use social media, what about the people in your life that are younger than 30? After speaking with all of your acquaintances, including your children, I’ll bet you’ll find plenty of social media users. Take people aged 20 to 30. This generation was one of the first to grow up with the Internet. Many of them are now in the workforce, holding entry-level to lowerlevel management positions. They may not be the decision makers in their companies now, but what about in five years? And think about where you’ll be in 5 years. Believe me, it will be much harder to start using social media several years from now than it would be if you started now.
If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking, “I’d like to start using social media, but I’m just too old and set in my ways.” Fortunately for us older folks, there are many companies out there to help us get started. Some social media specialists will handle everything for you, while others will simply provide you with the tools and training to do it yourself. I went with a company called HubSpot that provided me with the guidance, tools, and training I needed to become comfortable enough to do it on my own. Depending on what type of help you get, social media does have a bit of a learning curve, but it will be well worth the effort. Start now while social media is still fairly new and nearly everyone is experimenting and learning. Don’t wait and get left in the dust.