Whether you like it or not, social media is here to stay. Cecelia Haddad explains how best to use it to your advantage.
In today’s world, the social media market has become a dynamic, authentic and important entity. It has the ability to influence the ideas and opinions of millions of people worldwide. Since it is autonomous, substantial and changeable, it can’t be ignored. There is a real necessity for businesses and organisations to enter the world of social media, monitor it, act through it and respond to its challenges.
“But how can I make social media effective without spending too much time on it and is it really worth it?”
This is a question I often hear from clients when thinking about marketing.
Social media doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming and can be very effective with benefits that include:
– Building relationships and engaging with customers
– Raising awareness of your company and successful projects
– Demonstrating thought leadership and position you as an expert in your field
– Listening to, understanding and engaging with your audience.
You don’t have to use every social medium but rather choose the one or ones that are right for you. Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, Blogger all have advantages to offer the building industry. There are two stages in getting on board – listening and participating.
Listening means monitoring social media and you can do this for a month or two before you actively get involved.
– Your customers, competitors and even suppliers are already online and most likely talking about you
– You can gauge customer perception and use it to improve your offering
– This information gives you the groundwork and research on which to base your marketing strategy and help you confirm or conform your message.
And now get involved…
– It opens dialogue between you and current/potential customers
– It builds your brand visibility and provides an opportunity to promote your projects
– You can use valuable online feedback that is cost effective to collect
– It can drive traffic to your website.
Planning social media is a bit like planning to build a house. You have to start with a design and direction and while you may have to make some adjustments on the way, if you don’t have a plan it will never be successful.
There are just five steps to follow:
Determine your key messages – what are you going to say about your organisation, how it is different from other companies and why a customer should build their new home with you. Make sure this stands out from your competitors.
Develop a content calendar – a month by month plan of what you are going to talk about through social media. You can change the theme each month for example, sustainable homes, energy saving tips for designing your new home and planning a major alteration and addition.
Schedule content to be posted on a regular basis – there are some free and low cost social media services that allow you to write posts and schedule them in advance so you don’t have to be at your computer at the time you want to post something. This is ideal for builders who are almost always on the road or on a building site and planning ahead will save so much time.
Feedback – monitor comments and be sure to respond to both positive and negative. Positive comments need a ‘thank you, that’s great to hear’. Negative comments need an action – dispelling a myth, correcting a fact, altering a perception or fixing a problem or complaint.
Evaluate – this involves revisiting your starting point and measuring where you arrived. What changes have occurred? What has worked and I need to do more of? What didn’t work and why? What I need to improve or just stop doing altogether.
Here are some tips for best results:
Amp up the use of visual content: images and videos are far more noticeable and are more likely to prompt engagement than text.
Keep it short: posts with 80 characters or less get far more engagement. Just because you can fill 140 characters doesn’t mean you need to.
Find a balance between informative and annoying – there are many different opinions about how often you should post but in the building industry and considering the subject matter then following this guide: Twitter – once per day; Facebook – twice per week; Linkedin – once per week and a fortnightly or monthly written post.
Don’t just broadcast your message. Ask questions, get people talking, debating and thinking.
Build your connections: spend time finding former customers, influencers, people who might refer you and increase your circle of contacts.
Start small and build slowly. It takes time (and patience).
Finally, just do it. You have to be in it to benefit.