Social media marketing for the working contractor Part 5: The Plan!
Without a plan, your social media marketing efforts can go to waste
By John Bleasby
Busywork. That’s a term for paper shuffling with no measurable forward progress. It’s like moving tools and materials aimlessly around without any drawings to guide you. You don’t act that way on the site, so why would you do that with your social media marketing? Putting the pieces of a social media marketing puzzle together was the subject of John Bleasby’s recent conversation with Marc Hill, founder and president of Digital Giants, a full service B2B digital marketing agency based in Barrie, ON.
Some business owners might be overwhelmed when confronted with the complexities of putting a social media marketing plan together. How should they begin?
The most important thing is to have a plan. It’s easy enough to post on Facebook, for example, but you can waste a lot of time if you don’t know how you’re doing it. Planning means marshalling resources, developing objectives, and creating content. With a plan, you can share some of the responsibilities as necessary.
What’s the first question that should be asked when developing a plan?
Understand your audience, your potential customers, and what they want. Most people are looking to solve problems on social media, get informed and get educated. They’re looking to you to provide answers. You have to understand what your audience specifically wants and what their challenges are, and then help answer that.
But why even use social media for marketing at all? What’s wrong with the local paper or radio station?
The beauty of digital is that you really target the type of people you want to reach. There’s nothing like it. An ad on the radio or in the paper with a limited budget might reach the right age group, but not likely the homeowners or prospective homeowners that you want or need to reach, or even those in the right neighborhood.
Forming objectives and making a plan requires some thought: the type of work one’s company does and therefore what problems it can solve, who are the most successful past customers, and who the competition is. That might require some in-company brainstorming.
Having clear objectives right from the beginning is really important. The people who succeed at this usually have a plan of what they are going post over the next few months, when they’re going to take pictures, and how they’re going to write their content. That makes it easier to execute the frequency and timing of their strategy.
So much is said about content. How should a company develop their content?
Start with your tone of voice, your brand, and the style of what you are going to post. It has to be consistent, not all over the place.
When you say “tone of voice,” what do you mean? Be friendly? Show your face? Be personal?
You’re actually having a conversation with prospective customers. It should be very natural, very transparent and normal, the way you would speak to someone if they were sitting right in front of you.
Can you offer any specific examples for the working contractor?
Explainer videos help build trust, so put yourself in the video and explain a project. Or perhaps go through the entire process of doing a particular task. That’s a way to build up your reputation as a trustworthy source of information. People will start to follow. Maybe post a tour of a finished home or show the progress of a six-month project every two weeks. That way, you’re becoming your own daily newspaper, producing your content, filling your own channel. It gives people a reason to follow and come back again. People enjoy seeing what’s behind the scenes. That’s the beauty of social media. It allows you to pull back the curtain and show what’s happening.
Does it have to be your own content all the time?
You can be a curator of content. Maybe one third or two thirds is yours, and the rest is from some other source. There’s no magic formula really. In fact, reposting is a great way to build up a community. Maybe include material from some of your suppliers as well, because they often have good content.
What are the biggest mistakes companies make when using social media for marketing that hinders its overall success?
Consistency with the posting is very important, not just from a point of view of content but of scheduling. You’re building trust and expectations. If you’re only throwing something up once every three months when you finish a project, there’s no consistency. Also, people give up too early, too soon. It takes time to create a connection with the audience, so it takes a while to see the value, maybe three to six months to see the return.
Let’s discuss returns. Are there simple ways to see if the strategy is working?
Start by asking your customers, “Where did you find me?” “Where did you see me?” Include links in your posts that lead back to your website so you can see any increased traffic coming to your site. Have a phone number or extension that is related specifically to your social media to help you understand where the calls are coming from.
What are the advantages of bringing in a third party to help manage the social media plan, either in whole or in part?
A good digital partner can help you save money by helping you reach your target customer much faster.
Bringing in someone from outside can help set up the plan, teach you how to execute your plan, or manage the whole plan for you — there’s all sorts of different ways. You can outsource some of the work to help you stay more consistent. It’s scale-able down to almost any size business— ‘micro-hiring’ I call it. This allows you to stick with what you do best, which is building and creating.
Have you read earlier installments of this series?