Tips and Hints: Social Marketing

How the building sector can better utilize the power of social media
 Twitter makes it easy to interact with customers

The construction industry is notorious for its lack of innovation and reluctance to embrace the technological trends that have so transformed other sectors. The pragmatic, elbow-greased approach to building physical structures has often meant neglect for the dynamism of the cybersphere by construction-oriented firms, resulting in a deluge of 90’s-era websites, pixelated graphics, and cheesy MIDI soundtracks – or the lack of an online presence entirely.

In the new economy, however, companies can no longer afford to shy away from the marketing potential of the interwebs and the emergence of the high-potential but difficult-to-master realm of social networking – 75 percent of businesses already have an established social media presence, and this number is growing fast. This month, we’re running through some tricks and tutorials to help bring your firm into the burgeoning e-commerce era and tap into the social marketing pipelines.

The Facebook Page

A company Facebook page is quickly becoming a non-option. Facebook is to social media as what Microsoft was to personal computing – for much of the online world, it’s the only game in town. Home base for many people’s browsing, shopping, and entertainment habits, Facebook is rapidly evolving into a portal to almost everything people want to do on the internet – and users are demanding that businesses be available on a medium they know and trust. Setting up a company page is easy – think of it as an interactive yellow page ad; a quick resource to convey to the entire Facebook audience (800 million and growing) who you are and what products you offer. The comment section is also a great way to interact with customers, highlight special offers or articles related to your field, and point clients to other aspects of your business.

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Facebook’s younger but rapidly maturing brother Google+ is another important avenue to reach customers, in that Google recently incorporated Google+ results directly into its search algorithm –  meaning Google searches for your company will give priority to your Google+ profile and information. To ensure that the most accurate information comes up in searches for your company, it’s a good idea to create and maintain a Google+ page and connect with other suppliers/partners in your field. More versatility and functionality is surely on the way, as Google is constantly updating and expanding this media platform.

Recommendation Buttons

On both Google+ and Facebook platforms, a key element of growing followers and reaching audiences is the recommendation button. Coming in the form of a ‘+1’ on Google+ and the ‘Like’ function on Facebook, these tools are simple ways for users to ‘up-vote’ content they support or enjoy. Recommendation hits like these will give your company prevalence in search functions and news feeds, as well as provide potential customers with visible credibility for your company and products. As Facebook and Google both roll out higher interconnectivity, the recommendation button will become a more effective way to distribute reviews, product information, news updates and more, as the sites will perform much of the marketing end for you themselves. You can even easily install these buttons across your entire web presence (company website, blogs, etc.) by adding a simple code for Google+ and Facebook.

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The Twitterverse

According to Postling, Twitter conversations account for more than half of comments received by small businesses on social networks, though only about a quarter of businesses maintain an active Twitter presence – meaning swaths of customer interaction and marketing potential are ripe for the picking by tech-savvy companies. A Twitter account is simple to start up, and once the lingo and stylization is mastered, engaging a large customer base is simple. A quick guide to common terminology is below:

Follower – you’ll need these. The more interesting/relevant things you have to say, the more followers you should be able to get. Your tweets show up in their Twitterfeed.

Twitterfeed – where all the tweets go. You’ll see a rolling list of tweets from people you follow

@ mention – use the @ symbol directly in front of a username to have that tweet show up on the desired party’s mentions list; a great way to start a conversation

Reply – uses the @ mention feature to address a specific tweet publicly

Direct message – a private way to reply to or address a specific follower

# hashtags – use these directly in front of a word that describes a topic/trend that your Tweet deals with (e.g. #construction, #greenbuilding)

RT, or retweet – when you repost a tweet by someone you’re connected with; this makes people feel special, and is a polite way to steal great quotes, stories, or ideas

Short-link – sites like Bitly (and even Twitter’s own built in function) will shorten links to help you stay within the 140 character limit

Twitter handle– another term for someone’s username. You’ll get it.

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