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Social media is no longer just a fun way to keep in touch with friends or to stay up to date with current events. In the past decade, it has moved beyond the stage of simple novelty, becoming a business necessity in the process.
As you already know, tradesmen attract new clients a little differently than those involved in most other industries. The majority of the time, new business comes via word of mouth after a job well done. Others will use search engines, chiefly Google, to look for your type of service in their local area. If you rank high in the search results, they’ll look over your website, decide if they’re interested, and then proceed to contact you.
What we’re saying is that people don’t randomly choose service professionals. And they aren’t likely to choose one that doesn’t have a solid web presence or a strong customer following. That’s right where social media marketing comes into the picture.
Social media, when used correctly, can act as a one-stop marketing shop for tradesmen. It can help you attract new customers and build better relationships with current ones. Add in the fact that the vast majority of social media can be done for free, and it is easy to see why social media marketing is one of the hottest trends for tradesmen in 2015 and beyond.
The Benefits of Social Media Marketing
To make the most out of social media, you must first understand its key benefits. A solid knowledge of these benefits will allow you to tailor your social media efforts to make the absolute most out of them.
Perhaps the number one way that social media benefits tradesmen is by giving potential customers easy access to important information regarding their businesses. The best social sites are the ones that prominently display a website link, address, email, and telephone number. If a visitor to your social pages can’t easily and quickly figure out how to contact you, that social page is all but worthless.
Social media also helps tradesmen build stronger relationships with customers while establishing their preferred online brand image. Attractive, professional, well-maintained social media pages create a good image of you and your business in your potential customer’s mind. Establishing relationships with customers on each social site (such as taking the time to reply to comments) will ensure that your business is the first that pops into their head when they need professional work done.
Utilizing social media also helps tradesmen attract new customers. This is perhaps the nicest benefit of all. The effective use of social media means more keyword ranking opportunities for your website on Google. The more value you offer your readers, the more people Google will help bring to both your social sites and your actual webpage.
Finally, social media marketing allows you to monitor your competition. Visiting the Facebook and Twitter pages of other tradesmen in your area makes it easy to see what they’re up to. You can use this information to provide more value to your audience than they are to theirs. You can also use this information to see what is working for other companies in your particular niche and what isn’t working.
Best Social Media Platforms for Tradesmen
The bigger your online presence is, the better. In an ideal world, this would mean utilizing as many social media platforms as possible to promote your business. We all know that effectively using multiple platforms takes a lot of time.
Right from the get-go, it is important to note that quality is far better than quantity as far as social media for tradesmen goes. If you don’t have much time to set aside to social media marketing, then using only Facebook and Twitter is a good idea for you. If you have more time to dedicate, you might consider adding other platforms such as Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest into the mix.
The key here is to assess your needs. Ensure that you have plenty of time to spend on each social platform that you open.
Facebook and Twitter
Facebook and Twitter are the two most popular social platforms. They are almost essential in the modern day and age for tradesmen to use. Best of all, it is very simple to set up attractive accounts on each page. Both of these social networks also provide plenty of tools that allow you to connect with new customers and also see what sort of content is doing the best.
Google+ and LinkedIn
Though not quite as widely used as Facebook or Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn are both becoming very popular for use among tradesmen. LinkedIn is more of a professional networking site. Your profile has the appearance of a resume and is a great way to connect with young professionals. Google+, on the other hand, is quickly becoming important as well. A solid presence on Google+ can help your business gain credibility. And credibility is not only attractive to new customers, it also helps you further establish your online presence with the search engines.
Now, Instagram and Pinterest aren’t exactly essential social media platforms for tradesmen, but they can be highly effective when used correctly. Here, more so than Facebook or Twitter, an understanding of your specific audience is critical. Posting the wrong type of content on Instagram or Pinterest can hurt your business rather than help it. It’s important to research each of these platforms thoroughly before using them.
A recent trend with social media for tradesmen is the use of YouTube as a marketing tool. Once again, this is a hit or miss social media opportunity. Tradesmen that provide value to their audience (such as informative how-to videos on niche topics) will find YouTube to be an effective tool. Those that don’t provide any value (such as overly sales-y videos or videos that aren’t about anything) will likely find the exact opposite to be true.
Finally, a personal blog is a very effective online marketing tool to attract new customers. Though it’s not exactly social media, the two are closely related. Creating regular posts on your blog (ones that bring real value to the reader) and then linking them to your social media accounts (and vice versa) is a great way to improve the search engine ranking of your website.
Best Posting Practices for Social Media
As has been hinted at several times already, it’s not just about having social media accounts – it’s about using them correctly. To effectively attract new customers via social media, there are several things that every tradesman needs to keep firmly in mind.
Engaging, Valuable Content
First and foremost is the type of content that you produce. You must be using social media for the right reason. And that reason is to connect with customers, form positive relationships with them, and provide them with valuable information. Social media pages that are overly spammy do the exact opposite. If it looks like all you care about is more money and more customers, people are going to be turned off.
Image Heavy Content
The vast majority of users prefer to view image-heavy content on social media. This is the type of content that engages them. It makes readers interested to know more. As a tradesman, you might consider posting pictures or short videos of your completed projects.
For example, a landscaper might post pictures of their finished landscaping projects. Beautiful yards draw attention. At the same time, posting pictures of you digging a hole or tearing out shrubbery (steps in the landscaping process) probably isn’t going to get the same positive reaction.
Regular Posting Schedule
Outdated social media pages haunt the Internet. When a customer visits a social media page and sees that it hasn’t been used in months, they probably aren’t going to consider that company for any work. As a tradesman, it is essential that you regularly post to your social media accounts. Posting on a weekly basis is a great starting point. It will both engage your clients and help you rank higher in the search engine results.
Interact With Customers
Social media was originally designed with personal interaction in mind, not simply advertising. And you should use your tradesmen social media pages to interact with people in your community rather than simply sell to them.
The best way you can do this is to thoughtfully respond whenever somebody posts a comment on your page. Even just a simple “thank you” suffices, though a more detailed answer is always better. Engaging with viewers not only creates a better image of your brand in their eyes, but in the eyes of every single person that visits your page.
Interact With Other Tradesmen
One of the most underrated ways of using social media is influencer marketing. As its name implies, this type of marketing involves linking up with another person or business that is influential and popular in your particular niche. Establish a relationship with this person through guest posting. Create content for their popular blog or social page. The influencer’s audience will see your post, trust you because they trust the influencer and then visit your page.
An example of this is a landscaper linking up with a well-known local interior designer. Guest posting on the designer’s website doesn’t threaten your business (as would posting on another local landscaper’s page). In fact, it puts you in front of an all-new audience, causing your business to grow exponentially.
Another best posting practice, not only for tradesmen using social media, but for everyone, is to stay professional at all times. Your social media pages represent your business, so use them as such.
Don’t post any content that isn’t professional. Don’t post negative responses to comments (even if the comments themselves are negative). Finally, proofread every post – no matter how short. Spelling and grammar errors might seem like minor mistakes, but they will make a huge difference to the people searching for services.
Create an Effective Social Media Marketing Campaign
The best way to utilize social media marketing as a tradesman is just to jump right in and get started. There is a lot to learn, and it is far easier to learn along the way than trying to learn everything before starting out.
Probably the best starting point is a Facebook and Twitter account. Spend time working on both of these, looking at what other tradesmen in your area are doing. Listen and learn during this process. If you follow the social pages and blogs of other contractors in your niche, you are certain to come up with some great content ideas of your own.
Along these same lines, it is very important to identify what your audience wants to hear and see. Some particular industries such as, say, house painting aren’t the most exciting.
Chances are there is not a whole lot of house painting content out there to share with the everyday person, at least content that will keep them engaged. In cases like this, it is important to niche up and broaden the topics that you tackle. Even though your only service might be house painting, you could write about other home improvement projects as well. These will provide increased value to your audience and further serve to improve your company’s search engine optimization.
Above all, it is essential to tweak your social media marketing efforts as needed. As has been mentioned time after time again, get rid of what’s not working. Then experiment with new techniques. Eventually, you will find the perfect mix.
Tradesmen and Social Media
There is a surprising lack of tradesmen that are active on social media. It seems that many of these professional services businesses don’t think the marketing technique is necessary, or even helpful. Others simply don’t have the time.
When one looks at the tradesmen that do utilize social media correctly, it is easy to see just how successful a form of marketing it is. Social media lets tradesmen connect with new customers, establish better relationships with existing customers, and promote their businesses for free. And, once again, it doesn’t have to cost a penny…