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Social media marketing for the working contractor (Part 1 of 5)

Part One: The Instagram Video Advantage


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October 12, 2017 by John Bleasby

Over the next few weeks, Canadian Contractor will examine some of the subtleties of social media marketing, looking at three popular platforms: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. We’ll wrap up with strategy talk with an expert consultant, and outline successful social media marketing stories within our industry.

In its most basic form, Instagram is like other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter — another opportunity to showcase your projects and your building team. As the name suggests, Instagram is designed for the immediate uploading of photos and messages created from mobile devices. However, the challenge is, as with any other platform, to differentiate your brand in an increasingly crowded social media world. That means you need to consider both what you say and how you say it. As Marc Hill, founder and president of Digital Giants, a full service B2B digital marketing agency based in Barrie ON says, “Content is what web presence is all about. It’s what engages and draws people in. Content is the currency of both social media and search engine optimization.”

Today’s Smart Phones make shooting videos simple and the results crystal clear

Take it live, with video
Most Instagram posts are simply a photo, a comment, and not much else. Yet Instagram has the potential to be more than just another static showcase for your craftsmanship, expertise, and talented design/ building team. Specifically, you can post videos, such as a walk-through of a featured project, or introduce members of your team in a fun and friendly manner. That can help you stand out from the crowd.

Kiefer Limeback and his brother Kyle know this. The duo are real-life builders, but as online tool reviewers known on Instagram as The Toolaholic, the Limebacks have amassed over 125,000 followers, using mostly videos to make themselves stand out.  In a cover story interview for Canadian Contractor’s print edition last year, Kiefer explained why they chose the Instagram platform to get their ideas across. “My posts have a spur-of-the-moment realism. I post from my phone; there’s no film crew. We’re on site, this is really happening, and we’re reviewing a tool as we use it.”

Spontaneity matters more than production values
It’s spontaneity that makes the Limebacks’ videos so appealing. Although Kyle behind the camera understands lighting and angles, as busy builders on the job they simply don’t have time for complex production values. “I post news about tools even in the middle of an actual job,” Kiefer said. “I don’t have to go home and edit anything. It’s real time. It’s natural. It’s like a diary. I pride myself on that. It’s all on my cell phone. If I make a mistake, I make a mistake.”

Kyle Limeback videos brother Kiefer for one of their Instagram posts. The duo have over 125,000 followers of their on-line tool reviews

You’re may already be using social media now. However, there are always ways to improve. If you’re on Instagram already and want to take it to the next level by using videos, or if you’re curious about new ways to market your business to prospects, here are some tips, assembled from experts in the field.

Be consistent with your opening imaging… Use a brief, friendly introduction that perhaps features you or your company front man.

… but remember to think like a customer when it comes to content.
Ask yourself: “What is important for prospects to know about my contracting services?” “What is unique or special about the project I am featuring today?” As Marc Hill suggests, “Be sure to answer the big questions customers might be asking.”

Have some fun! Use videos not only for room-to-room tours of your latest projects but to introduce members of your team. So much of your business is based on relationships and trust; showing your crew helps that process. Be occasionally quirky too!

Easy on the sales pitch! You have a maximum of 60 seconds for a video message on Instagram and should probably keep it under 45 seconds. Plan it in advance and don’t be upset if it takes a few ‘takes’ to get it right. Try to keep the information-to-sales-pitch ratio around 85 per cent to 15 per cent.

Where’s the camera? Be sure to look at the camera’s eye on the phone, not at the screen, particularly when shooting selfie-style. And don’t use cue cards — viewers can see where your eyes are looking! Speak clearly and don’t rush.

Check your lighting. Avoid glare through windows. Shoot a ‘test take’ first to make sure the room is well lit without any sudden high and low light changes.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times….”
When is the best time to post? According to a study commissioned by the Huffington Post, the time of day your post matters. “On average… 2 am and 5 pm are the best times to post if you want your followers to pay attention,” the report suggests. “The worst times are 9 am and 6 pm. ” Interestingly, the study suggests that Wednesday is the best day of the week to post and Monday the worst. (We’ll have more to say on that in a later instalment.)

After you’ve posted…

Tell your clients when you feature their projects. They’ll be flattered, and more likely to share your post with their friends, thus improving your reach and ‘word-of-mouth’ reputation.

Be sure to respond. If someone comments on your post, tell them that you appreciate their comments. Perhaps it will start a conversation that will engage others. Check your grammar and spelling, otherwise you risk looking sloppy.

Have a regular posting schedule. Don;t leave long gaps between posts or you risk being overlooked or forgotten. However, you can overdo it too. Start with two or three posts a week and see how your followers react.

Track the viewership of your post. Make a note of what type of messages work best and modify your approach from time to time by keeping up to date on trends.

Link your posts back to your web site. Your web site is where all that great information and background on your company lives, so that’s where you should be driving traffic. Say your web site’s address out loud or include it in the text that accompanies the post. Then, by tracking your web site traffic with Google Analytics, you can determine what messages resonate and which platforms are working best.

Go on to Part 2: Facebook (It’s a crowded platform. How do you get noticed?)
Go on to Part 3: Twitter (The President likes it, but will it work for you?)

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