Word of mouth is a strong marketing and sales tool within the construction and real estate industries. As a GC, specialty trade contractor, home builder, property manager, or supplier like Sage, our businesses are built on relationships and the referrals they provide. So when I look at social media I don’t see it as something totally new; it’s simply a way to amplify our relationship building. After all, people buy from people–whether offline or online.
Quite a few construction businesses are already using social media in their marketing, according to recent research conducted by the Construction Marketing Association. But how can you most effectively use these new social marketing tools? Here are a few tips:
- Take the lead from your current and prospective customers. Are they using social media? Why are they using it? Where are they socializing online? Your involvement in social media from a marketing and sales perspective should be based on you target market’s involvement. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dip your toe into social marketing if most of your customers aren’t. Use of social media is growing, and it’s not just among the young, so it pays to get ahead of the curve and start establishing your company’s social presence.
- Set your objectives for social media. It’s relatively easy to create a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media account. But don’t go into it blindly. Determine what you want to accomplish from a business perspective and let it guide your social marketing activities.
- Show your specialty. What makes you and your company unique? Do you offer a special service? If you focus on installing water heaters, for example, you could post information on how to select a water heater, when to replace it, and the difference between traditional and newer heat-pump models. Social media gives you a way to connect with others who are looking for someone with your expertise.
- Remember social media rules. Social media is not about direct selling (although it can lead to sales). It’s about conversations, interaction, and networking. The key is to provide your social site followers with information they value.
- Be consistent. I once ran across a blogger whose most “recent” post was three years old. Now this may be an extreme example, but it does drive home the point of sticking to a regular schedule for posting on your social sites.
- Be patient. Using social media to market your company is a long-term strategy. As the CMA survey confirms, the biggest benefit for most construction companies is awareness, followed by increased website traffic, and then sales leads. Essentially social media supports the typical buying process. And as more people embrace social media these benefits will increase.
The above guidelines are good to keep in mind when implementing your social media strategy. In future posts, I will provide examples of how other construction and real estate companies are making social media marketing work for them.
About the Author
Deb Carpenter-Beck is a writer and marketer with more than 25 years of experience in the construction and real estate industries. She often writes about technology and best practices and is passionate about helping contractors and real estate professionals achieve their business goals. You can follow her on Twitter @DebCBConstruct.