Written by Chris Lambrinides
CHAPTER 8 - SOCIAL MEDIA
Should you have social media profiles?
Yes, even if you don’t intend to use them right away. At the least, reserve your company’s name on them to take control of your identity.
Likely, most of your customers and prospective customers are on the various platforms. Try to get in there with them when you can. Form relationships, add value, and protect your brand.
The Value of Social Media
My thoughts on the value of social media go back and forth. Sometimes I see the value, but I’m often left wondering because the value isn’t measurable. It’s hard to tell if it’s working!
It’s not like a direct mail piece with a call to action, where you can immediately gauge the value. But because it’s free, I find it worthy of a little exploration.
The real value of social media is it levels the playing field. You can get in there and compete against your biggest competitor. They have no way of outspending you with money. Those that form the tightest relationships with their customers and biggest fans, win.
It gives you the ability to do customer service publicly. If there is ever a complaint or problem, you can respond to it in almost real time. Every complaint is an opportunity for a sale. How you handle complaints when they arise will either get you more work or cost you quite a bit.
It can be an excellent human resource department, as well. We found some of our best hires through public recommendations on social media.
Social Media Best Practices
Be coolBe friendlyBe helpfulDon’t spam
It’s as simple as that.
Determine which networks to focus on.
You have so many choices. I recommend you try to claim your name on as many of them as you reasonably can. Lock them down, and then decide where to focus your time. I’d say share and take part in no more than four.
As of this writing, the top-ten social media networks in the United States, in order, are as follows:
So, where is the best place for you to spend your valuable time? Where are your customers most likely to be?
If I could pick only four, here is where and why I would spend my energy:
Facebook. Facebook is huge. Everyone is on it, and there are many opportunities to engage. It’s a must-have.
LinkedIn. Although this won’t help you from the residential standpoint we are focusing on in this book, I’m going to assume your company also does some commercial and business-to-business work. Having an active LinkedIn account and profile is a must-have for pushing this type of work.
Instagram. Although smaller than other popular networks, it’s growing fast. It’s popular with the younger demographic, and it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Google+. Like Instagram, it’s not one of the most popular networks, and there are more men than women there. But it is tied to the biggest search engine there is. As of this writing, Google has 78% of the US search results’ share. And Google+ is activity tied to SERP position ranking. It only makes sense for you to have a presence there.
These next two would be my runners-up:
Twitter. It’s great for conversation, and connecting with your potential customers is a piece of cake.
Pinterest. Review a demographic report of Pinterest users, and you will see that your target market is there. It’s mostly women, and reports show they have disposable income.
Getting the Right URLs
Make the names that you register coincide with the name of your company. Also, try to get vanity URLS if they are available to you. Get your company’s name before someone else does.
If your name is already taken across the major networks, which it likely is, consider another version of your name. For example,
if I couldn’t get the name or URL at the top for social networks for spartawindowcleaning.com, I would try to find another name variation that I could use consistently across them:
It’s important that you get a consistent name. Consider using the free web tool knowem.com. This service will check the availability of a name across hundreds of social platforms.
What Should You Talk About?
What content should you be sharing and talking about?
Share content both unique and curated. This could be a blog post from your website or a link to a relevant, interesting article. It should be something your ideal customer would show interest in and find useful or valuable, such as tips or articles on home improvement.
Share occasional promotional material, specials, coupons, and offers. Don’t go crazy here; keep it to a minimum. Offer things such as company information, hours of operation, holiday hours, general info, and behind-the-scenes stuff. Include interesting stuff about the people and stories behind your brand.
If you’re hiring, share job postings here. Make the information sound unique and interesting.
Join a conversation. Don’t use social media only to broadcast a message. Get in there and mix it up with your audience. Reply to questions and leave comments. Be available. Show you’re human.
Social Media Calendar
Keep a social media calendar independent of your marketing calendar. I recommend using a separate tab within your marketing calendar spreadsheet.
Keep it basic and simple. Try to lay out an ongoing inspirational list of ideas and possible topics. Preschedule or plan a month’s worth of updates and posts.
When it comes to your web presence, having a Facebook page is second in importance only to your website.
At the least, claim your page. Get a custom URL, and get your contact info up. Your page will rank almost by default for when someone searches your company name online.
Take it a step further from claiming the page and start making some posts happen. There is a handy, built-in post scheduler.
You can sit down and craft a whole bunch of posts at once, set them, and forget about them.
The next step is to start getting some likes. This will help your posts gain some visibility. The people you want to see your posts first have to like your page.
Warning: Not all your posts will show to all the people who like your page. Facebook has changed their algorithm recently. Your posts now have almost no visibility to your fans. A recent study showed that only 2.6% of a brand’s posts will be visible to its fans who liked its page.
On the surface, that would make it seem almost useless to bother posting there. But I still believe it to be important. The activity there does send off social ranking signals to the search engines. So, although you might not see direct results from your page, things are happening. Behind the scenes, the activity on your page is affecting your ranking with Google.
Even if you don’t use or like Facebook, you should have a presence. Go here to start: facebook.com/business.
You can have a page up and running in a few minutes. Populate it with pictures and informative posts. Put it into your ongoing content-marketing schedule, and be sure to push reviews at it. Encourage customers to like the page and leave reviews.
I often see window cleaners online asking their friends to like their page. It drives me crazy; please don’t do this. You want your prospective clients to see your posts, not other window cleaners.
Do not encourage people who are not your customers or not in your target market to like your page. The whole point of getting likes is to get your updates into your prospective clients’ news feed or to show people who like your page targeted pay-per-click (PPC) ads. If you load up your page with likes from window cleaning friends, you are lessening the impact of the two points.
Groups are huge. They are so popular now, and Facebook has groups for everything. Go to Facebook and type your town’s name into the search window. See what comes up. I can almost guarantee your town has a group.
See what types of groups are out there for your top-ten towns. Can you narrow them down further? Are there subgroups in your town for just neighborhoods? Can you join any of them? If so, great. Is there a way you can add value to the group or join the conversation?
Moderate a Community Group
Can’t find a group for one of your best towns? Consider creating one. It could be a little weird if you don’t live there, but there may be ways you can pull it off. Share relevant local news, sports, and happenings. Be helpful and informative, but take caution not to be spammy.
Warning: Do not broadcast any unsolicited sales messages into a group, especially one you do not own. The perception will not
be good, especially if it’s off topic. If you do own the group, though, there is no problem whatsoever. You can trickle in the occasional blatant sales message or promotion. Just keep it as relevant as possible.
Maybe consider starting your own Facebook group or perhaps even five of them. Pick your top-five neighborhoods that you work in, and see if they have a dedicated group going. If not, consider creating and administering one. You could invite customers you know who live in those neighborhoods. Then, run occasional promos and offers into it. Consider it your fee for creating and running the group.
Although I haven’t tried this myself, I would strongly consider it. There is no downside to experimenting. It’s completely free to create a Facebook group; the only investment is your time. Treat it as you would your e-mail marketing. Pump out the occasional offer mixed in with helpful content. Don’t spam people, and be valuable.
Here is exactly how I would do this (if I were going to try it):
Create groups for my top-five neighborhoods, such as “Glen Harbor—Friends” or something similar.
Invite or add some people I know who live in that neighborhood.Give them an incentive to invite their other friends.Be the admin of the group, and maintain complete control over who enters.Encourage conversation.
Mix in the occasional advertisement or offer helpful advice.
Give it a try; it might make a nice winter project. To create a group, go to facebook.com/groups and click the “+Create Group” button.
Other than Facebook
Register an account for your company at these places. At the least, lock your account name down:
Twitter, Google+, Instagram
Automate Some of It
With social media, it’s great to get in there, be personal, and have a conversation. But you have to sort through a lot of noise. Consider using a piece of software to manage all your accounts and updates. I recommend you check out hootsuite.com and buffer.com. They each have both free and paid account options.
Although Buffer has a more limited feature set, it is a better- fitting product for me. I find it to be better at sharing stuff, and it keeps me connected because I have to log in to each account.
The whole trick with automating this stuff is doing so without it appearing automated. If you send out automated content and messages only, they will all be totally ignored.
It’s easy to see what is automated and what is not. Put blocks of content on autopilot, but jump into the mix as well to interact. If you sprinkle real human contact around the prescheduled blocks, nobody will know. Keep it real!
Set it up in advance, and move on. Have @ replies all forwarded to your e-mail. The number-one mistake I see people make with social media is obsessing. They completely obsess and check in fifty times a day. Doing that will burn a tremendous amount of time from your life. It will quickly kill your progress on other areas of your work. Set it up, put in your automation, and then preschedule fifteen to twenty minutes a day max to get in there and interact—that is, unless you’re getting a significant chunk of your business, say 20% or more, from social media. There’s no reason to be there any longer than that per day. Jump in, have a few conversations, respond to any direct messages, and get out. Move on.
Don’t forget, you are building on rented property. Before you put any time and energy into social media, please know that you have no ownership of the content. Yes, you may have created it. But once it’s posted, it becomes their property.
This is one my biggest beefs with social media. You’re creating a lot of good stuff on someone else’s property. You have no real control over the content you spend endless amounts of time producing and pumping out.
When possible, build on “owned land” and share out from there.
Translation: Write about it and post it on your company’s blog first. From there, share it wherever you like. This way, you are in direct control and possession of all your material. Here's a recent blog post we put out about the best window cleaning tools, it doesn't have to be fancy!
Although it’s not likely, you never know how the networks’ terms of service may change in the future. Or maybe they will have an algorithm change, as has taken place with Facebook. We talked earlier about how page posts now show to only 2.6% of followers. It wasn’t always like that. In the past, many brands built out their whole businesses according to Facebook’s original page policies. When Facebook turned the traffic off overnight, you better believe it crippled quite a few businesses.