By Heidi J. Ellsworth
So, what is the big deal about social media anyway?
As roofing professionals, many contractors look at Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ as something from another planet. But contractors are finding that going forward social media will be one of the most important tools in their marketing program.
Upfront, don’t try to conquer all social media at once. There are some trends that are helping contractors decide where to start. It really depends on your type of business. For residential contractors, Facebook continues to grow in popularity. It is a great referral tool, letting your customers speak for you.
There are some great partners already on social media that can help jump-start your efforts. One organization for residential contractors that has taken a unique and altruistic approach to social media is No Roof Left Behind (NRLB). This organization was started by Jay and Dena Elie of Ridgecon Construction with the vision that by working to provide help to those in need they would be able to help their business too.
“It is really about everyone winning,” stated Jay Elie, president of No Roof Left Behind. “We wanted to understand social media but we also wanted to help our community. Living in Detroit there is a lot of need. We were able to combine the two and have seen extreme success.”
Now, NRLB has been sharing their success with contractors across the country teaching them how to leverage the promotional value while also helping their local communities. And for the residential roofing contractors, that is the true power of social media, creating buzz and interest in your own community. Facebook continues to drive that success.
For commercial contractors, many have found better opportunities on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional, networking website that allows contractors to connect with other businesses, facility managers, and property owners. It is a great way to offer educational articles from manufacturers, technology providers and distribution. Showcasing successful and difficult projects along with awards will only verify and build a strong reputation.
The site is also an amazing research tool. Take the time to look through LinkedIn locally and see who can become a contact. Read the articles that are being posted. Join the same groups that your potential customers are a part of. It is just the type of business intelligence that can make a huge difference for that next commercial bid.
As noted, don’t leap into too many social avenues at first. In all honesty, depending on your business there are several that you may never be involved in. But, one medium that is becoming critical for not only social media success but for website search engine optimization is Google+. Google+ is a social networking site owned and operated by Google, Inc. Google is giving Google+ content a higher ranking than the websites that have similar content. Google+ is indexed immediately for search. So whatever avenue you choose – Facebook or LinkedIn – take a few extra minutes and post your content in Google+ also. It will also help to register your business with Google+ Local in addition to other online directories.
“Google Plus is imperative,” says Vickie Sharples, owner of Roofers Coffee Shop, an online community for roofing professionals. “It is amazing for Search Engine Optimization. Basically, when you post in Google Plus you are hitting the top of Google searches. Creating strong content is the key.”
“You need to do a couple key things every day,” continued Sharples. “A great practice is to get your sales team to take pictures with happy customers, with approval of course, and post it. It makes it personal. If the homeowner is willing to let you post to their Facebook you have instant referrals.”
Sharples, who has seen great success with www.rooferscoffeeshop.com and supporting the site through social media, has gathered some key items that can make a large difference when it comes to social media success.
- You need interesting content and the best content a contractor can find is in the everyday things their company already does. First, think about the questions people ask when they phone in or write a post on that question. Just as you answered a question to your caller you are answering a question for your social friends.
- Among the most interesting things are photos and the king of all content is video. You don’t have to be Steven Spielberg and please don’t make it long, but almost anyone can shoot a video with today’s technology. Send your employees to work with a camera.
- Use a photo or video to show how you put paper under your truck to prevent oil leaking on a client’s driveway. Show how you care about your client’s safety by putting cones behind your trucks. Show a unique item from a roof that your team worked on and what is causing leaks. This is your chance to talk about your company values through photos.
- Remember that people don’t want to hear from “You” on how great your business is, they want to hear from past customers. They want to hear from others that your company offers high quality that it stands behind. Post testimonials and encourage happy customers to give the company a nice review and then share it.
These are all good content ideas that you generate every day without realizing it. Interactive content to spur active responses is key but it is also important to let current and past customers know you are on social media. As they “Like” your company, word spreads that, in turn, not only makes the telephone ring but increases your social media presence.
Social media is all about sharing what you already are doing well. Traditional marketing can be very expensive. Social media offers the opportunity to send a message out to the public in a new way that is currently highly regarded. Social media marketing brings them to you and all it costs is a little time.