Increasingly, smart marketers are using social media to engage customers in their immediate market areas and beyond. In fact, 90 percent of marketers feel social media is important to their businesses, according to a 2016 Social Media Examiner (SME) study. The top benefits as indicated by study respondents include increased exposure (89 percent), increased traffic (75 percent), developed loyal fans (68 percent), providing marketplace insight (66 percent), and generating leads (66 percent).
So, why haven’t some businesses embraced social media? Maybe they’re not sure where to start or how much time it will take. About one-third (34 percent) of marketers spend one to five hours per week—and most are small businesses. A significant 24 percent spend six to 10 hours per week. Generally, the longer marketers used social media, the more time they spent. Of those using social media for two years or more, 64 percent invest six plus hours a week (SME, 2016).
Six Platforms You Should Be Using Right Now
Not sure which platforms to use? Here’s a rundown of six social media platforms that should be on your radar.
Facebook continues to be the most popular social network among adults, especially females age 25 to 34—prime targets for home buying and home improvements.
In addition to creating a Facebook page (for business) where you can show off products and projects, consider boosting Facebook posts, running Facebook ads, and hosting Facebook contests and giveaways.
Although Twitter has decreased in favor among marketers in the past year, it still ranks among the top four social media platforms used by social media marketers. Use Twitter to offer updates, insights and perspectives that showcase your company’s expertise and stimulate conversation.
Engage customers by tweeting new product and project photos, industry articles, awards and recognitions, testimonials, and career openings. You can also use Twitter to promote blogs, tutorials or helpful videos that you house on YouTube or your website.
YouTube is also one of the top four platforms used by B2C marketers, according to the Content Marketing Institute, and the second most effective social media platform, next to Facebook. And 63 percent of marketers plan to increase their YouTube marketing (SME, 2016).
Use YouTube to engage customers with videos that document projects from start to finish, demonstrate proper care and maintenance, or inform customers about “invisible” products like underlayment and moisture barriers. Consider offering style tips and design suggestions for those who really want to make a statement with their wood flooring, and show real people in their homes giving testimonials about your products or workmanship.
LinkedIn isn’t just for job seekers. Seventy-six percent of marketers use it in their content strategy, according to the Content Marketing Institute. It ranks fourth in usage behind Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Build a presence for your company with a LinkedIn company page that includes your company profile, branding, employees and content.
Use LinkedIn to share information about your products or industry, write articles or share others’ content, post job announcements, list company achievements and of course, connect with others in the industry. Members used LinkedIn as their personal database to stay connected to others in their industry, tracking associates’ career moves, reviewing endorsements and checking jobs skills.
Houzz.com is where architects, builders, designers, contractors and anyone who makes homes beautiful can post pictures of their work. In 2013, 48 percent of homeowners surveyed by Houzz plan to remodel or build in the next two years. A whopping 84 percent intend to decorate or redecorate; of those, 58 percent plan to hire a professional.
To get the most out of Houzz, set up your profile, post high-quality photos, get reviews, participate in discussions and answer questions, and network with other professionals in discussion groups. Put a Houzz badge or widget on your website and submit one of your projects to be featured as a “Room of the Day” or “Kitchen of the Week.”
Another visual medium, Pinterest lets users upload, save, sort, and manage images and other media content, called pins, through collections called pinboards or “boards.” Boards are typically organized around user-created topics or themes. Others can re-pin or share, and content can be pinned from outside the community as well.
With 100 million active users—85 percent of them female—Pinterest is a goldmine of potential customers. Several sources cite that 88 percent of consumers have purchased a product they pinned, and 49 percent have purchased five or more products they’ve pinned. Perhaps that’s why 42 percent of marketers plan to increase their use of Pinterest (SME, 2016).
To tap into this market, an installer might create boards to display creative patterns or unique flooring they’ve installed in kitchens, bedrooms, dining rooms or family rooms. Additional boards could be created based on type of wood, or interior design style. Larger retailers might organize boards by geographic areas served, customizing them by the product selections. Include professional photos of finished installations with testimonials to build your brand.
It’s Never Too Late to Start
If you’re not using social media yet, the good news is it’s getting easier. The platforms are more simple to use with ever-improving tools and functionality. And tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, EveryPost and SocialOomph help you create, schedule, analyze, and otherwise manage your content marketing programs on social media.
When you approach social media marketing strategically, with an overall plan that looks at each platform as part of an integrated whole, your efforts will not just be efficient, they’ll be more effective.
Best Practices for Social Media Marketing
Maximize your time and energy investment by following these guidelines:
- Give them somewhere to go. Capitalize on the increased traffic driven by social media with a website that’s easy to navigate, well-designed and content-rich, while answering customers’ questions and giving them an incentive to call or visit.
- Properly brand your social media platforms. Visitors and followers should immediately recognize your company branding.
- Be an editor, not a marketer. Create blog posts, videos and other content about topics customers care about to encourage sharing.
- Don’t post the same thing across all social media; instead, capitalize on the strengths of each platform.
- Don’t go dark; be consistent yet moderate in your communication. You don’t have to post every day or even every week, but choose a schedule and stick with it.
- Do several platforms well, rather than many poorly.
If resources are limited, focus on effectively executing one or two.
- Avoid over-automation. Pre-scheduling generic posts can become a crutch that keeps your content from being timely, spontaneous and fresh.
Katrina Olson is a freelance writer and principal of Katrina Olson Strategic Communications. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.