Social media can be a great way to gain more exposure for your business and more traffic to your website. The choice used to be pretty easy when it was just two big platforms, Facebook and Twitter, that dominated the market. Since there were only two, many businesses could pretty easily maintain a presence on both in between their normal business activities.
The social media landscape is a lot different now. There are dozens of networks that are all vying for peoples’ attention. As a local contractor or small business owner, you definitely don’t have time to keep up on all of them. And you might not have the funds to hire a full time person. So what do you do?
Focus your efforts
Your time is money. You can’t afford to spend it on things that don’t give you an immediate return. What that means for many local contractors, is focusing on finding and finishing new jobs. It also means focusing on ways that you can integrate your social media presence with your normal day to day. So you’ll also need to focus yourself on some channels that really work.
To do that, you need to figure out which networks your customers are already using. One simple way to do this is to just go out and ask them. Give some of your existing customers a call and tell them you’re going to start a social media account and would like to know which one they prefer. You may also want to ask them specifically which social media websites they would use to research your specific product or service.
As you do this, you’ll likely start noticing some trends. The trends among your customers are likely to be consistent with similar customers in other areas. This is true across the population as a whole, and many of the big social media sites have user bases with very consistent browsing and buying habits. There is a lot that you can learn from these macro trends as well.
Let the platform do the work
In our experience, there can be opportunities on any social media platform that you choose. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting your message in front of your target audience. Some of the platforms make this easier than others. For example, sites that rely on hashtags for organization can be easily dissected simply by searching for hashtags that relate to your business. Twitter and Instagram are two great examples of this.
Try visiting each of their sites and searching a hashtag such as #plumbingproblems or #electricalrepair or some other term that is relevant to your business and see what comes up. The first term you pick may not be very popular, but there will likely be some posts or you may see a more popular term in the ‘autocomplete’ field before you hit search. Check the autocomplete and the other tags on existing posts to find other, more relevant posts. You can continue on like this and get a good feel for the type of audience you’d be reaching. Social media makes it easy to learn more about and connect with people, so go ahead and do just that.
The different platforms have inherently different audiences too. In the Instagram and Twitter examples above, most Instagram users are younger, but old enough to have some money. They’re also very technology savvy, and are motivated by sharing visual content such as images and videos. If you were a landscaper or home architect, this is a great place to target potential customers by showcasing your work.
On the other hand, Twitter is a primarily text-based platform that made its name for popularizing quick and to the point messages in 140 characters or less. Users on this platform fancy themselves as looking to get straight to the heart of the matter; no time for fluff. Because of this it has become a popular destination for folks that are interested in the news or politics. If you run a small publication, operate a blog, or if you’re President of the United States, Twitter can be an effective place to find new subscribers and reach new people.
LinkedIn is great for professionals to network with one another. If you’re a commercial contractor looking to make contacts in the business world, this can be a great place to start. The newsfeed and hashtagging are becoming more popular on the platform. Possibly the biggest appeal is the search functionality, which lets you search individuals quickly and easily.
Facebook can be a good option and has a fairly diverse user base as well, however it has largely become a ‘pay to play’ platform and if you don’t have the adspend, it can be hard to reach your audience. There’s also throngs of other paid networks that can be great for local contractors, such as HomeAdvisor, AngiesList, and more. The latter are often viewed more as a lead generation opportunity, but most also have a social component.
What about the other social networks?
There are dozens others as well, and figuring out if they work for you can only be done by testing the waters. Our recommendation for folks just getting started that already have busy jobs would be to choose one of the options that we discussed. Once you have picked one out, then its time to set up a schedule and stick to it. Know what type of content you want to post, how you’re going to target your audience, and how often you want to post. Then make it happen. Overtime, your audience will grow and your business will increase.