Social media marketing
By Amanda Pollard, Houzz Contributor:
What is social media marketing?
Before we start, let’s get to grips with what social media marketing actually is and what it means for your business.
We can define social media marketing as the process of increasing the visibility of your firm by using social media channels. Your strategy will change depending on what you want to achieve, but the goals are usually to make people aware of a particular product or service, drive traffic to your website and gain new customers.
Why should you use it?
The internet is where most of your clients are going to be looking for you. If customers want to find a tradesperson, designer or any other service nowadays they invariably search online, so it helps if search engines can find your website or profile quickly.
If you need to create a website for your company, the Houzz Site Designer tool is free and in less than 15 minutes you’ll have a site. Want to get your website to the top of the search page? You’ll need to build up its search engine optimisation (SEO), and one of the best ways to do this is with social media.
As you build up followers you can direct traffic to your website or profile, which will enhance your search engine score.
Another benefit of social media?
It’s a way to gain insight into the needs of your customer base, so that you can offer a good service and retain clients. You can also use it to check out the competition, and to establish yourself as a professional in your field. And if you need another reason to get your business on social media, it’s probably the fastest and most efficient way of reaching out to and connecting with potential new customers, regardless of where they live.
Social media strategist, Jemima Gibbons offers a good tip, “Focus on building your network rather than instant sales. Remember, social media is about building relationships over the long term. You often hear people likening social media to a pub or a party – you wouldn’t just walk in and start shouting about what you want to sell.”
Which platform should you use?
There are so many social media channels around nowadays that the choice of where to direct your marketing energies can be overwhelming. Rather than enthusiastically posting everywhere, it’s best to start small and direct your attention to one or two platforms, before you move on to a new one.
To decide which ones to choose you need to define your objectives, and also work out which channels your target customers are using. For example, if you’re looking to increase general awareness it’s useful to choose one of the larger, more established platforms, or if you want to effectively target homeowners who are planning a renovation project, an industry-specific platform such as Houzz would be more effective.
A good way to find out where your customers are looking is to check out the social media profiles of your competitors. See where they’re directing their energies and use the number of followers they have on each platform as a rough guide to which ones are more effective for your niche.
Get to know the platforms .
To help you decide where to target your marketing strategy, here’s a brief outline of some social media platforms.
Facebook is one of the original social networking sites and is still going strong today. If you’re looking for a platform with a huge amount of users, 2 billion in fact, you can’t go wrong with Facebook. By posting relevant content that’s interesting and worthy of sharing, you’ll have the opportunity to reach a potentially massive number of people. It also offers an effective way of targeting advertising at customers.
Twitter is different to Facebook in that you can only share posts of 280 characters or less, so it’s great for posting simple messages or linking to other content. You can make one-to-one connections on Twitter easily by joining conversations, retweeting or mentioning other users, so it’s a great place to follow up on leads or even make new ones. It takes time to make an impact on Twitter, however, so you’ll need to invest time and effort. There also isn’t as much opportunity for target advertising.
Instagram is a fast-growing social media platform and, according to some reports, has more brand engagement than other channels, so it’s a good choice for small businesses. This platform is designed for sharing images and short videos.
LinkedIn is a good option for lead generation and for help building up a professional network. It offers the potential for connecting directly with leads, as well as sharing interesting industry-focused content. By joining groups you can share your professional knowledge and establish yourself as an authority in your field.
Houzz is a useful platform for home-renovation specialists – it offers the chance to connect with users who are actively looking for content on home refurbishment, and has a number of ways to engage. Users can create ideabooks with images that you and other professionals might have uploaded to the platform, and these will link back to your profile or to the profile of the professional who uploaded them. You can share your expertise by joining discussion boards and commenting on content on the site.
Wherever you decide to start your social media marketing journey, it’s important to do your homework first, determine your goals and devise a long-term strategy.