The following is a guest post from Darren Slaughter, a construction marketing consultant who works with contractors large and small to sell more, advertise better, and market to buyers.
Think of social media as relationship selling. Social media marketing is exactly like relationship selling in that by focusing on taking care of people – clients or customers will follow. Social media has that same personal feel as dealing with people one-on-one, but now you are able to reach a multitude of people at a time. Some aren’t interested, some are shopping around and others have cash in hand and are ready to buy, just like the prospects who consume your traditional media.
A word of caution on social media
Because of the personal nature of social media, I always recommend that you be the one in your organization who is responsible for the Twitter stream or Facebook page. Own it just like you would other key aspects of the business because you can easily tarnish your reputation online and off if an employee who you staffed out your social media marketing program to screws up the message.
Bringing the message to you
Instead of you having to go out and find people to interact with, I’m going to give you some tips on how to bring them to you. This will give you the opportunity to get involved in many more conversations giving you the ability to expand your influence even faster!
Blog searches — go to http://blogssearch.google.com and search for blogs aimed at do-it-yourselfers in your specific industry. Become an active member by commenting on the posts with tips and advice. Make sure to link back to your website or blog (blogs will automatically link back to your site from your name). Understand you have to be genuine when commenting on other people’s blogs. In other words, don’t use your company name as your name thinking you’re going to get link love. If your name is Bob, make the name Bob, not SuperContractingCompany, if your comments are valuable people will find you.
Make sure you don’t come off sounding like a salesperson either. You want to let people know you are the expert, but do it in a self-effacing way that makes people want to reach out to you. Help people out with any questions they have on their projects and if they find you to be informative and helpful they may move the process forward. The last thing you want to try and do is overreach and try to close someone through a Twitter conversation or blog post!
Be Alert…Google Alerts
Google alerts — go to http://google.com/alerts. You’ll see a pop-up box where you enter specific search terms for alerts you want to have sent to you either as they happen throughout the day or all at one time. Create alerts that are relevant to your trade, but also make them specific. For example, if your search term is “plumber” your mailbox is going to be packed in an hour. Instead, use “plumber Scottsdale Arizona” or “roofing prices Alabama” which gets you closer to a person that actually looking for what you do.
Google Alerts is a great tool because it will sort the conversation for you and bring it right to your email box. Within a few hours you can have more blog posts, Twitter streams, Facebook pages and forum updates than you can manage. And the best part about it is this is free interaction with prospective clients!
Do you tweet?
Twitter — I’m not going to get into what Twitter is in this post since the web is packed with information on the social networking site. Instead I’m going to talk about using Twitter’s search function to find people to interact with. Go to search.twitter.com and start typing in keywords that pertain to your industry. Once you take a 10,000 foot view you can try and narrow your search by using those same keywords for specific areas your company services.
Here’s an example:
Start off by searching for “plumbing” or “plumbing contractor”, get a general idea what the topic of conversation is that day, get in there and answer questions people are posting to forums, blog posts and Twitter and Facebook. Then use the same keywords but this time include cities or areas you service in your contracting business.
This will narrow the focus to people with the same questions, but who have the potential to directly do business with you. Treat everyone you interact with online like gold, but especially these people as they not only have the ability to hire you, but have the ability to say good things (or bad) about you offline as well.
Staying ahead of your competition
You can use the same methods I talked about above to research your market and keep tabs on your competition. You can stay up to date on new methods and systems in your industry as well as stay on top of breaking news in your markets. Whatever you want to keep tabs on, Google Alerts and Twitter Search can get you the information fast and efficiently. I hope by now you are seeing the value social media can bring you and your contracting company. No other technology in history has captured so many eyeballs so fast and you should be involved in social media if for no other reason than your competition is!
My story is pretty simple, I write a marketing blog for contractors that is a plain-English, pull-no-punches tale of what I see working for the clients I work with everyday. What I talk about isn’t theory out of some book, I am living it. I’m in the trenches getting my hands dirty just like you!
The topics I tend to talk about are print and online advertising, website design, social media marketing and sales tips and strategies that I hope will help grow your business. If you want to read more, you can check out my blog at http://DarrenSlaughter.com.