Social media used to be considered an extra project. It was a cool way to interact with customers, but traditional marketing was the real deal.
Today, social media marketing isn’t an add-on – it’s essential. Building materials companies that don’t have an effective social media strategy aren’t just old fashioned, they’re actively losing sales.
That’s the keyword: “effective.” Marketers need to be smart about the way they use social media.
Creating LinkedIn accounts that are mostly inactive doesn’t do much good. Using Instagram without knowing what makes a good post is almost as bad as not using it at all. But doing it right can grow your business.
If you’re in building materials, here are a few tips that will help you grow your sales through social media. I want to thank Homan Wilkinson from Condoly for his valuable contributions to this article.
Establish Measurable Goals
Every aspect of your marketing should have clear, achievable goals that you can measure and track. Social media marketing is no exception.
The first step to creating a good social media campaign is nailing down exactly what you want to achieve with it.
Do you want to spread the word about your new product? Do you want to strengthen your relationships with existing customers? Do you want to gather lots of leads that you can then try to convert?
Or maybe your goals are a bit more abstract and big picture. Are you using social media to position your company as an industry leader? Do you want to create informative posts so people recognize you as an expert?
You also need to decide who you want to reach. Do you want to get the attention of architects or contractors? Are you trying to build brand recognition with dealers or with builders?
Give your campaign concrete goals and timelines. Instead of something vague like “growing your social media presence” aim for something like “gaining 5K followers within the next six months.”
Choose the Right Target Audience
Every follower counts, but you have to decide which ones will count the most.
The fact is, as much as you’d like to reach out to every type of customer, you’re going to have to prioritize the ones who are most likely to buy from you.
Depending on your company and your product, that could be contractors. It could be builders. It could be facilities managers. Whoever it is, that’s your target audience.
Now it’s time to study them. Follow them on different social media platforms. Read their blogs and publications. Reach out to some of them so you can pick their brains.
Get a good sense of which platforms they’re most active on. Figure out what kinds of content interests them, what solutions excite them and what kind of problems they’re really hung up on.
Narrowing your audience will focus your strategy. Focusing your strategy will save you time and money while helping you reach the people who matter the most for your success.
Pay Attention to Your Competitors
Your research should be focused on your customers. But it also pays to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing on social media.
Don’t copy them or rip them off. All of your content should be creative and original. Instead, look for the areas they’re not covering.
Is their messaging slightly off the mark? Are they not speaking to their customers’ real problems? Are there important topics they haven’t touched on?
You can fill the gaps they’re ignoring and get the customer’s attention.
Create Top Quality Content
Social media might be social, but you have to do more than interact with your customers and followers. You need to grab people’s attention and get them to stop scrolling. And the best way to do that is by creating high-quality content.
Remember that social media marketing is basically a form of content marketing. You need to create micro-content that will inform, entertain, and engage your customers. You simply won’t get many likes or retweets on your posts unless you’re creating something worth sharing.
There are a few things you can do to make sure your social media posts get more attention:
- Make it visual: Most social media platforms rely heavily on images. Instagram and Pinterest are all about eye-catching images. On YouTube, a killer thumbnail can be the difference between 150 views and 150,000 views. Even on Twitter, which was originally text-based, a great image or video clip will almost always get more traction than a string of words.
- Go live: Live video streams can be surprisingly captivating. It’s more casual and off-the-cuff, which can convey authenticity. Live video can be a great way to premiere new products, run through the installation process, or just answer questions or give tips and advice to the people tuning in.
- Schedule your posts: Pay attention to your analytics to see when your customers are most active. Do the posts that go out at 10 a.m. get more action than those you post at 4 p.m.? Scheduling your posts can help you get a lot more impressions. You’d be surprised at how different the engagement can be on the same post depending on whether it goes out on Friday or Saturday.
- Put some thought into your captions: Your image might be the focal point of your post, but it’s the caption that will give your followers context. Use it to give extra information. Maybe link them to a product that you’re featuring. Or ask a question to create extra engagement.
- Don’t neglect the hashtags: Do you know what happens when you search #constructionlife on Instagram? You get almost one million posts. Try #buildingmaterials and you’ll still get more than a quarter of a million hits. Pay attention to your customers and the hashtags they use and follow – using the right ones is a great way to get new eyes on your posts.
Engage Your Followers
Unless you have a podcast, you might not know that most podcasters don’t measure their success in terms of subscriptions.
That’s because a subscriber isn’t necessarily a listener.
Open up your podcast app and you’ll see why. You probably follow a couple of podcasts that you listen to every single week. Then there are some that you listen to now and then, when an episode sounds interesting enough. And then there are podcasts you haven’t listened to in months but haven’t bothered unsubscribing.
What matters to podcasters isn’t the number of people who hit Subscribe – it’s the number of engaged listeners they have.
It’s the same with social media. A nice big follower number looks great. But if you don’t get a lot of engagement from those followers, it really doesn’t mean much.
If you have 10k followers but can’t manage to get more than 100 likes on a post, it’s hardly a success.
If no one ever clicks on the links, shares the posts, or leaves comments, you’re just getting crickets instead of new customers.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Your posts don’t have to fall flat. There are things you can do to get your followers to engage with you.
First, don’t post and ghost. You’ll get the most engagement right after posting, so stick around and be ready to like the replies, share the best ones and take part in the conversation.
And keep things personal. Don’t be too formal or detached. Speak with them at their level, in a casual tone. Even though you’re representing a company and they’re a customer, it should still feel like a friendly conversation.
Work with Influencers
More than 80% of marketers believe that influencer marketing is the most effective way to build brand awareness.
That’s not surprising, because an influencer isn’t just someone who reaches a wide audience – it’s someone that audience trusts. A recommendation from them is more powerful than any traditional ad could ever be.
Just be sure you’re working with the right ones.
Mega-influencers with huge follower counts usually charge top dollar even for a single mention. For most companies, the better option is working with smaller scale influencers. Don’t let their smaller follower count worry you. If their audience is engaged enough, an endorsement could still turn a lot of them into new customers.
Also consider up-and-coming influencers. They have small but growing audiences and they’re eager to collaborate with companies. Because they’re still working to establish themselves, you might only have to send them samples of your product for them to talk or post about them.
Be on the lookout for grifters and scammers. Anyone can call themselves an influencer. They can even buy followers on the cheap to make themselves look more legitimate. Before reaching out to someone or agreeing to work with them, pay attention to their social media. Do they post high-quality, original content? Do they get lots of genuine engagement from real people in the industry? Do they seem to actually know their stuff? If not, it’s better not to associate your brand with them.
Analyze Your Performance
Once your social media marketing campaign is under way, you should be performing regular checkups on it to make sure you’re getting the most out of it. Analyze your best-performing posts and your weakest ones to figure out what draws in your customers and what doesn’t really move the needle.
Social media sites aren’t CRMs. Not all of them will display your metrics on a convenient dashboard. The ones that do won’t give you all the information you want.
That’s where social media analytics tools like Hootsuite can come in handy. They will help you track which posts are doing well and give you a comprehensive overview of your social media performance as a whole.
Knowing what works and why is going to help you optimize your social media output, which will help you turn more followers into customers.
Presence Isn’t Enough
The term most people use for social media activity is presence. Your social media presence is all the things you do across those different platforms.
But presence isn’t enough. Presence means you’re there. It doesn’t mean you’re creating new customers, selling more products, or strengthening your brand.
Instead, think in terms of your social media success. Don’t just be on social media – actively grow your business through it.
To get there, you need to begin with a goal that you can track and measure. Once you have that and learn how to create the kinds of posts your customers want, you’ll see that social media marketing isn’t some small project – it’s one of the best ways to gain new customers and grow existing ones.