Self-Taught MBA: Getting Social With Guerrilla Marketing
Get started with social media even if you’re not interested. It’s free, it’s easy to learn, and it offers the best guerrilla-marketing opportunity in history.
If you’re like me and don’t care to spend time updating your Facebook page or Tweeting your friends, you may need a social-media primer to realize how far out of touch you are with the new reality of this parallel world of public interface. While you’re at home sending emails and looking at websites, the rest of the neighborhood is at the social-media party, interacting in real time and generally ignoring you (and your business) because you’re not there. If this sounds like you, I recommend you view this brief YouTube video and then come back here to learn how easily you can get engaged in what has become the best guerrilla-marketing opportunity in history.
In case you didn’t see the video, the statistics are staggering: 62% of adults that used to spend their computing time on emails and websites now spend about 24 minutes a day on social media. Sixty percent of consumers post comments on social media about goods and services purchased-a mixed blessing because those comments can be good or bad. And 93% of marketers say social media are the most important tool available for advertising.
What is social media? There’s Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, not to mention YouTube, Flickr, Pinterest, Google+, Foursquare, and Instagram, and the list grows almost daily. Relax. You don’t really need to know them all or use more than one, or maybe two. I use Facebook and LinkedIn with limited use of Twitter. For homebuilders, remodeling contractors, and subcontractors, these sites will suffice.
The social-media advantage
The advantage of social media over a website begins with simple fact that you don’t have pay a web developer to get started. You can set up your business site and maintain it without any programming or computer expertise. You can also run ads, promotions, and contests, and generally stay in touch with your customers without doing any of the distasteful things normally associated with marketing, such as cold calling, spamming, and spending money on print ads and junk mail. For those who hate selling (and sales reps), social media are a painless means of promotion. The only drawback is that you must update your posts and respond to comments at least once a week. If you let your site go static, you lose all momentum. Your customers – or fans – move on.
To see this in action, check out these two Facebook promotions. Ironwood Builders runs some competitions (a fun means of involving customers) and makes good use of photos. Notice customer comments on their site. Hartland Homes makes excellent use of photos to track projects in progress and to profile typical homebuyers, which is a way they leverage word of mouth, as these customers share construction photos with friends and family. To see how the big boys do it, check out Beazer Homes‘ Facebook page: You’ll notice not all customer comments are positive; there’s a way to manage that (read on for more about that).
For most homebuilders and remodelers, Facebook is the place to start. It’s still the number-one social-media site and has the best usability when it comes to building and maintaining a business page. It is the easiest site to navigate, use, and make it a snap to connect with followers. It also has the largest reach. If you have a personal Facebook page, you can set up a business page right now by going to your home page, scrolling down to the bottom, and looking for the Facebook hyperlinks on the lower-right area. Click on the arrow next to “More” and select “Create a Page.” Select the type of page you want, probably “Local Business or Place,” and Facebook guides you through the rest.
Once you have built your page with general business information, some pictures, and comments, you get the ball rolling by inviting your friends. If you already have a personal Facebook page, just look for the “invite friends” window on the right hand side of the screen (or click on the arrow next to “Build Your Business” in the upper right) and start selecting those you wish to invite. When they come to visit, most will select to “like” your page (the thumbs-up logo), which means that their friends will know they liked your page and they will receive a notice every time you update information.
You can see how this will grow exponentially and how simply updating your page makes it easy to stay in touch with the community and your customers. Other ways of getting the ball rolling include an email link that Facebook offers to invite your email contacts. You’ll find this tool on the “Build Your Business” tab at the upper-right area of your page. Select your email service, enter your password, and see your contact list pop up. You can then select those you want to email; Facebook will do the rest automatically, emailing all your contacts an invitation to “like” your page.
Here’s what it looks like:
A suggestion for your Page will be sent to your subscribers who are already on Facebook.
Fernando Pages suggested you check out his page.
Simple enough, but powerful. As soon as 30 people “like” your page, Facebook will begin tracking activity on your page in a window with a chart labeled “Insights.” This way, you know how many people have seen your business promotion, and you can tweak your approach to maximize results. You should also add a link to your Facebook page on your email signature and your website, if you have one.
Soon enough, you will begin to get traffic and, inevitably, comments. Good comments are great and the only reply needed is “thank you.” Criticisms can be a little harder to deal with, but they require a response. Sometimes a simple apology works. At other times, it’s best to take the matter out of the public eye by asking the individual posters to contact you privately by email or phone to discuss the situation. If an unhappy customer posts multiple complaints, you can delete all but one that contains your invitation to deal with the matter person to person, and then block this individual from posting additional comments to your site.
If you want to spend a couple of hours learning the basics of social media, as I did, I encourage you to see this free webinar, Discovering Social Media.
Next time, I’ll discuss LinkedIn, a social-media site geared to business-to-business activity and is perhaps the best means of reaching customers for subcontractors and consultants. It’s also a great way for homebuilders and remodelers to participate in business forums.
Social media and what to avoid
Facebook community and guidelines
Twitter logo information
This list adopted from Using Social Media for Your Business, Amanda Bergstorm, Nebraska Cooperative Development
The Brand Sphere: Social networks and channels present brands with a broad array of media opportunities to engage customers and those who influence them. For homebuilders and remodelers working in local markets, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter are a good place to start.