If someone types in your company name or the type of product in a search engine, you should already be showing up on the first page.
Even better is reaching them before they have thought of your company or product name — when they are trying to solve a problem and are searching for a solution.
What I don’t understand is why so few companies have caught on to this important part of a building material social media campaign.
Take your product and think of the problem the customer is trying to solve. Type that into a search engine and see what shows up.
See who and what appears on the first page – I bet it isn’t you or your competitors.
For example if you were an insulation company, type in terms like: energy savings, utility costs, eliminating drafts, lowering utility costs, soundproofing a home, building a new home, sustainable home, zero energy home, building green and so on.
Chances are you don’t show up and neither does your competitor. Look at who shows up and see how helpful their information is. There may be one or two links that are helpful but the majority will be sales-oriented and not educational.
This means there is a big empty space for you to fill in many of those pages just by providing helpful information. The only cost to this is the cost to develop the content. There is no media cost.
Here is how to build an effective building material social media campaign to fill that big empty space.
1. Set up a blog. Anyone can set up and start a blog a little or no cost. It’s as easy as going to www.wordpress.com. The secret to having a successful blog – meaning one that pops up in search results – is posting content to it on a regular basis and making sure that you link your website to every post.
2. People like doing business with a real person. Put someone in charge of all social media. No it doesn’t have to be their only job, but they will become the “face” of your company. When they post, it will be “Josh, from Acme Building Products.”
3. Have your social media person set up accounts on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus and other appropriate social media sites. This is their business account, which is separate from their personal account. You don’t want inappropriate party photos – or worse – getting mixed up with the company. You could probably set accounts based on a fictitious person but I’ll leave the ethics of that up to you.
You can and should have company pages on social media, but there are two other reasons to set up a personal account to represent the company.
4. Find the right LinkedIn groups for your business and join them.
For building material marketers, they can reach many of their channel customers through LinkedIn groups such as the Roofing Contractor or Kitchen Dealer or Architect groups. Individuals can join these groups while companies cannot.
5. Join Google+. While many people are trying to figure out the value of Google+, there is one very important reason to belong. Google is looking for helpful information that answers a search query and values it over sales messages.
Most importantly, Google has a program called Google Authorship. When an individual has a Google+ page with a photo, Google monitors what they post. If they post a series of articles around a single subject, Google recognizes them as an expert and awards them Google Authorship status. Now you will show up at the top of searches around this topic and with your photo as part of the post. This is only available to individuals and not companies.
How you communicate is as important as what you communicate in social media.
6. Establish the process and boundaries for your social media program. You can take an active or passive approach to social media.
With an active approach, the lead person is online frequently making comments and responding to others. Examples of an active approach are posts like “Wall Street Journal Announces Housing Starts Rise Today” or “Having fun at the builder’s show, how about you?”
With an active approach you have to trust the person to post what they feel is right. You can’t make them get approval on everything they do, as it will take the immediacy out of it. It also unnecessarily adds costs and complications as people have to stop what they are doing to approve posts.
With a passive approach everything you do is planned and has time for approvals, if required. An example of a passive approach is to post to your blog once a week. These posts can be written in advance and then posted.
Establish the process of who needs to review posts. Be careful not to let the sales manager have too much say. To be effective the content needs to be educational and not sales oriented.
The bottom line on your building material social media campaign?
You are helping someone solve a problem where your product is a possible solution. You are not selling them why your product is the best solution.
In my next post, I’ll share with you the detailed steps necessary to be successful in building your online credibility through social media.