Question: What is the best way to use social media for my contracting company?
Gary Elekes; Founder, EPC Training:
Obviously, using social media will be the first step. People in the trades aren’t typically social media users. So, they don’t believe that social media is something anyone else would utilize to look at a brand or determine the value of a company. I don’t necessarily mean monetary value, I mean, “Do I like what people are saying about you in terms of the community relationship?” Step one is use it, step two is to get out of your own way. Most people don’t know how to use social media to build a brand or a company because they’re in the business of selling and creating leads using social media. Lead generation will come from social media. On Facebook and Instagram, you have the ability to retarget. If you visit my site, I can chase you around your social media with targeted ads. You have the ability to establish Pinterest, YouTube accounts, Twitter – there’s a wide range of social media platforms. The important aspect is to engage in all of them but what you need is an overarching digital strategy. A lot of people will have someone inside the business – a son, a daughter, or a wife that’s likes social media – run their accounts. Just because they use it in their personal life doesn’t mean they’re good at the business aspect of it or have a well-thought-out digital strategy. When we absorb a lot of accounts that come to us after realizing that they’re not getting any results, we see a lot of activity on the accounts but it’s not directed with a strategy. There’s no thought behind posts in terms of creating engagement. The number one rule of social media is creating interest and engagement. I’d rather have 2,000 engaged users than 4,000 users who think I’m antagonizing them with posts. If you really understand social media, you realize that you’re not trying to sell something instantaneously today. Yes, you can do that but what you need to do is create some sort of a cause and tie your brand to that cause marketing. You need a strategy with the idea that nine out of 10 posts need to be interesting posts, content that is community oriented. July 4th is a good example, what’s going on in the community? People are interested in that because they want to know what’s going on. Maybe there’s a parade. Where are the fireworks going to be? These are all more relevant than, “Oh, Gary is having a birthday on July 11th.” While it’s nice to send out a Happy Birthday recognition, that’s more of an internal company communication. Consumers may be interested in that but after a while, it’s not going to be interesting to them. You need your strategy to have an overarching purpose and have all of your social media platforms tied to that strategy. There are very expensive software platforms that we use as an agency that moves a strategy through all the social media platforms so that everyone using those platforms are exposed to that strategy. I like the idea of having a social media calendar as well. Most clients will be able to tell me what events should be on our radar so we can schedule their social media posts related to those events. Those posts will tie into the overall strategy and create interest. Interest is what we want. Engagement is what we want. We want people to become passionate advocates for our brand. Not only will people like your posts, they’ll also share your posts. When people start sharing posts from your page, that’s when you’ll notice lead generation coming from the branding side. It’s very difficult to put lead generation numbers on social media at this point. We get lots of leads from social media but it’s hard to determine whether that came from a specific Facebook post or because we advertised somewhere else and they happened to see us on Facebook. The answer is, probably a little of both. My final comment is that there are very few companies that have anyone on staff who is capable of all that in the way that any agency would be. I advocate that you pay someone to manage your social media so you can hold someone accountable for the work that’s done. Typically, when you’re doing your own social media, it’s cheaper but not as effective and you end up losing the brand acquisition. So, be sure to engage, be on all the platforms, have a digital strategy, organize that around content that is community oriented, create calls to action, and consider paying someone to manage your social media.