A lot of plumbers hesitate to engage customers and prospects through social media. The reasons vary. For some it’s time. Others do not understand it well enough to appreciate it. And others know they should get involved with social media, but are unsure how to start and fear making a mistake. Here’s how to engage your customers the right way.
· Engage:Social media is social. It’s meant to be interactive. Interact with the people who are connected with you. Comment on their posts. Respond to their comments on yours. Having a conversation with customers is the essence of marketing.
· Be human:Use your personal voice. Do not try to be formal, corporate and stuffy. People do not engage corporations. They engage people. Be human. Let your personality shine through. This is one of the big advantages a small business has over a large corporation when it comes to social media and why it’s foolish to turn your social media over to a third party who can’t speak like you.
· Open up:Reveal something about yourself. If you are a huge Crimson Tide fan, it’s okay to let people know. This is part of what makes you human.
· Don’t open up too much:Have you heard the term TMI (too much information)? If you wouldn’t talk about it or show it in a Chamber of Commerce mixer, maybe you should keep it out of social media. Assume anything you post is public.
· Add value:When you post, add value in the posts. While people will appreciate getting the occasional coupon or special offer and might enjoy your trite observations of life from time to time, offer up information of value. With social media, people aren’t finding news. News is finding them. Share a link to a Contractor magazine article on a plumbing innovation. Link to an informative video about clearing a stopped toilet (or create your own video).
· Don’t be paranoid:When someone wants to connect through social media, appears to be local, don’t worry about how you know the person, connect. Building new relationships is the whole point. Along the same lines, don’t worry too much about privacy settings. So what if someone you don’t know sees the picture you posted of your golden retriever or happens to learn something about your company?
· Learn the culture:Each social media platform is different. Each has its own culture. Each has its own nuances. Spend some time getting a feel for each platform before you start posting and sharing.
· Focus on best platforms:If you are selling a lot of commercial and retail work, LinkedIn might be the best platform for you. If you are residential and believe the decision maker is women, Facebook and Pinterest are probably the best. Each platform attracts a slightly different demographic. Focus on the platforms that will help you most.
· Consider your audience:What is important to your audience? What do they want to learn more about, whether directly related to plumbing, or not? Also, what turns them off? As a rule, it’s better to keep your opinions limited on controversial subjects like politics where you alienate half of the population.
· Be local:To generate a local following, leading to local calls, maintain a focus on local issues. Talk about the local news, local developments, things in the community, and so on.
· Tagging:While you may have the good sense not to post a picture of you doing a 360 off a diving board while chugging a beer during the neighborhood’s annual pool party, that isn’t true for the guy down the street. Fortunately, removing an identifying “tag” that alerts people it’s you in the picture is an easy process.
· Spell check:Smartphones and computers automatically spell check and grammar check unless you turn the feature off or ignore the suggestions. Use the technology, but remember computers are not going to catch everything.
· Do not feed trolls:Do not get into flame wars with people on social media. It wastes time, fails to persuade, and makes you look hot headed. So, keep your temper when someone says something stupid. Remember, if someone is posting on your thread/page/board, you can easily delete the offending post.
· Repurpose:What you post on one social media platform can be shared with others. While services will even do this for you, it’s better to post on your own. Why limit yourself to the lowest common denominator, like Twitter’s 140 character limit?
· Give hat tips:When you share something from someone else, give credit. No one likes plagiarists and some victims of plagiarism lack a sense of humor, but have attorneys in abundance.
Matt Michel is CEO of the Service Roundtable, which is the website for cutting edge plumbing ideas from the leaders in the industry. Visit www.ServiceRoundtable.comor call 877/262.3341 for a free tour.