by Barbara Walsh
As a painting contractor and small business owner, you have probably heard all the arguments about why you need to have your business on social media. The truth is, yes, social media marketing should be an important part of your overall marketing strategy. Why? Social media is a way to “stay in touch” with current customers, a vehicle to attract potential customers, an avenue to connect with others in your industry, and a great way to position your company as a leader in its field and a stable business in the community. In order to achieve all these goals you need to be active on the platforms you choose for your business.
If you’ve looked around social media platforms, you will notice many business accounts have been abandoned and forgotten. If you open a social media marketing platform and decide it is not a good fit for you now, consider deactivating the account or deleting it. Nothing looks more unprofessional than a business that does not actively keep up with their social media. Don’t be that painting contractor!
Which social media sites should I use?
Determining which social media platforms to choose is really a matter of where you feel your customers are and which platforms you are most comfortable with. Also, you need to know that not all platforms should be treated equally. That is to say, you must vary your content for the audience. If you are using a social media marketing dashboard to automate posts (like Hootsuite) be careful not to post the same item the same time of day on each platform. I generally will automate a post, then go into each platform within the dashboard and change up the days and times for auto posting. The reason behind this is you will have followers on multiple platforms and when they start seeing the same information, they will “unfollow” some of your sites and your numbers will decrease.
Also, be aware that nothing will turn away followers quicker than the wrong content on the wrong platform. Be sure not to self-promote constantly. People are interested in what value you can provide to them, they are really not all that interested in your business. So posting nothing but photos of your jobs will not interest many past customers. Now that they’ve connected with you, they want information relevant to their lives. Don’t feel you need to target every post for the entire audience, that’s really not possible, share varied content daily as a way to interest everyone.
What content should I post on which platforms?
The following are some of the platforms I use for my painting contractor clients and the types of posts that are relevant to that platform.
Facebook – Perhaps my favorite site and certainly the most popular, Facebook is a place you can post many different types of content. This is a good place to post job photos, painting tips, painting information and trends, business and inspirational quotes, funny pics and cartoons. Use hashtags as a way to get noticed in search functions, and on most posts either hashtag your company name or link back to your website. Also, remember part of social media is being social, so follow and comment on other company pages, especially other local businesses and painting contractors throughout the country to build relationships and dialog.
Twitter – It’s my opinion that as a local painting contractor, not many of your customers will be following you on Twitter, though I believe you should still maintain a presence there. Why? Because it’s the second largest social media site. Twitter is a good place to share industry information and connect with others in your industry. It’s a good place to “”listen.” By that I mean, follow other painting contractors and see what they are saying and sharing. This is another place where the use of hashtags is an important way to get found.
Pinterest – While Pinterest is thought to be a “site for women,” businesses abound here. It is a great way to showcase your products, jobs, and general painting ideas and information. Create boards that will interest your customers, such as before/after job photos, DIY paint ideas, painting colors, tips and tricks, other homeowner information etc. Use hashtags on this site as well and link back to your website on most pins.
Google+ - While Google+ is not showing itself to be among the largest platforms as originally forecasted, it is the best for search engine optimization (SEO). Why? Because it’s a Google platform, and Google wants you to use its products. You may get more customers here than on Twitter, as many folks have Gmail accounts and then have opened and utilized their Google+. Also, Google+ is a good place to connect and share with others in your industry and groups pertaining to your industry or local business chambers. The information you share on Google+ can be similar to what you share on Facebook, keep it varied and fun. Here too, hashtags are used to get found in search and links back to your website are important.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a professional platform. This is a place to connect with local business owners to get noticed and connect with others in your field around the world. Share industry information and tips. Join groups and be active in them by posting your original blog content and asking and answering questions.
How often should I post content to these platforms?
My recommendation is to post most frequently on Facebook (2-3x a day) as their algorithm is such that only 14% of your total audience will ever see your posts. Post on Twitter 1-2x a day. It’s a good idea to post daily on Google+ as well. On LinkedIn, I generally post 2-3x a week and take a look in groups weekly.
There are many other platforms out there that you may enjoy and might benefit your business such as Instagram, Home Talk, and Houzz. I would recommend researching them and seeing if they are for you.
Sound like a lot of work! Yes, social media marketing is a lot of work, not only do you have to properly set up your platforms, you must continually maintain and monitor them. Responding to inquires and questions should be done within 24 hours and being social on others pages is a must.
Should I outsource my social media to a professional?
While some painting contractors enjoy and find the time to manage their own social media, others do not. If you don’t have the time, interest or expertise I would recommend hiring it out. In today’s digital world you need to be active on social media, so although hiring out may seen counter productive, it’s better than not having a presence at all. Hire an agency that you can trust to be the voice of your brand. Look for someone who understands your business and is like-minded in how you might respond to different questions and inquiries.
Some Final Thoughts
Just like in real life you need to keep in mind that social media marketing is an extension of your business. Keep your information and comments professional and avoid hot button topics that may turn off your audience. Remember, social media is about being social, so actively participate and engage with others.
My best advice would be to open only those social media platforms you are interested in and can actively manage and participate in. I have met some great contacts and gotten jobs through social media marketing, so get started and have fun!
Barbara Walsh is owner and marketing consultant/social media strategist of Walsh One Marketing. She can be reached at barb@WalshOneMarketing.com or (352) 551-8721, or visit www.WalshOneMarketing.com.