Self-Taught MBA: Getting Social With Guerrilla Marketing - Fine Homebuilding

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Building Business

Building Business


Self-Taught MBA: Getting Social With Guerrilla Marketing

comments (7) January 17th, 2013 in Blogs
FPR Fernando Pages Ruiz, contributor

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. 
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. Click To Enlarge

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. 

Photo: Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/briansolis/6039016890/in/photostream/

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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.

Recommended

 

Fernando Pages Ruiz

Fernando Pages suggested you check out his page.

Like

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.

Social housekeeping  

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.

You can see my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/BuildingAffordable

Additional resources  

Social-media marketing

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

 

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posted in: Blogs, business

Comments (7)

apu04 apu04 writes: Very nice blog and informative
Posted: 10:45 am on February 14th

EduardoG EduardoG writes: I must disagree with this premise of using Facebook for a number of reasons:

Having used Facebook for my business for over two years, sending out info on specials or informative tidbits to FB friends, finding numerous FB sites of groups in my target market with thousands of friends on them (such as military pages when giving a military discount for my service) I have yet to receive one call. I always track my marketing by asking callers where they heard about us. Other negatives about using Facebook:
1. People can post negative comments on your business site
2. A friend can post something offensive to others, who will then judge you by the post that has ended up on your page from your friends posting.
3. If using a personal FB page that also mentions your business, you can turn off potential clients who may not like your political or social commentary or postings of your friends, etc. TMI
4. The reason I got off FB entirely is that I realized that they must be planting spyware that could read my email address book at the ver least, as people were being suggested to me on my FB page that were only linked to me through my Outlook address book and no other way.
5. The negative origin of FB being Zuckerberg using the original version to slam former girlfriends and other students, the possibility that he took other students IT ideas to create it and did not give them credit or financial compensation.
6. The fact that FB is now selling personal information of all users to big companies, and is collecting social and political comments to create lists based on your personal opinions. This is Big Brother at its worst. I find it to be a huge invasion of privacy with very little reward in promoting my business.

I find a professional looking website with photos and client quotes along with a nice business card that directs people to the site a much better advertisement for a business, combined with getting out into the community, making personal contact and giving them the card (making sure to mention the website to check out our work).
Posted: 11:35 am on February 3rd

MChandler MChandler writes: I really enjoyed having dinner with you all the other night. I got a lot out of IBS I really recommend that you take a look at the Tradies app for I-Phone and Android and at infinicards from US.Moo.com

As far as my approach to Facebook goes I have to look back to when I was just starting out and a mentor/early employer/ friend took me aside and said that to be successful in sales it is important to meet people in non-sales environments such as social events, non-profits, church groups and school events. Even coaching your kids sports league can give people who would never call to set up an appointment a change to connect, ask a few informal questions and "suss you out" to see if you feel like the kind of person they can trust and work with.

So my Facebook presence is not as a building company but as an approachable person who owns a building company. I highlight that I'm an environmentalist and recreational musician, sculptor, inventor and a guy who loves being a dad and mentoring young musicians.

I do put pictures of my construction projects and links to upcoming classes and events where a person might easily approach me and talk about building. I post notices of accomplishments and industry recognition that spreads the word that I'm an expert in my field.

I don't typically "friend" current clients. I want to be sure they're enthusiastically satisfied before I give them the ability to post on my wall. Once I'm sure of that, they can be a great source for positive comments and "likes".

Not having a "commercial" presence on Facebook keeps me from getting hit with charges from Facebook and it means that people "friend me" rather than becoming "fans" My goal is to be seen as knowledgeable, approachable and a creative problem solver. I want folks to click through to my website when they are ready to talk business.

My partner actually has two Facebook personalities - one as a home designer and another for her dance and dance apparel business. She feels that it might be un-productive for folks who think of her as a designer of cool eco-homes to be seeing rambling new-age posts and images of the latest fashions from Burning Man festival. She doesn't "friend" me on her dance wall, maybe she wants to shelter me from that too.

I don't "friend" my teenager either. Neither of us really need to have the other's friends showing up on our walls.
Posted: 5:19 pm on January 27th

FPR FPR writes: DancingDan, I had dinner with two builders last night, one uses Facebook to promote his business, the other does not. I hope to get Mike Chandler to post here explaining how and why he believes Facebook helps him get to know his clients and keep in touch with them after the job is done. Regarding your point on sloppy writing, I know what you mean. We may have won speed and quantity in communication, but lost a great deal in thoughtful dialog and careful prose.
Posted: 3:53 pm on January 25th

FPR FPR writes: DancingDan, I had dinner with two builders last night, one uses Facebook to promote his business, the other does not. I hope to get Mike Chandler to post here explaining how and why he believes Facebook helps him get to know his clients and keep in touch with them after the job is done. Regarding your point on sloppy writing, I know what you mean. We may have won speed and quantity in communication, but lost a great deal in thoughtful dialog and careful prose.
Posted: 3:52 pm on January 25th

FPR FPR writes: DancingDan, I had dinner with two builders last night, one uses Facebook to promote his business, the other does not. I hope to get Mike Chandler to post here explaining how and why he believes Facebook helps him get to know his clients and keep in touch with them after the job is done. Regarding your point on sloppy writing, I know what you mean. We may have won speed and quantity in communication, but lost a great deal in thoughtful dialog and careful prose.
Posted: 3:52 pm on January 25th

DancingDan DancingDan writes: I am a social media agnostic, Fernando. My business has a FB page, but I'm not convinced it does us much good. I guess it helps our visibility.

What I saw on some of the pages you link to (and esp. the Beazer homes) are people whose command of English is pretty crappy - grammatical mistakes, bad spelling, etc. That's both the people posting and, unfortunately, from whomever runs it for Beazer.

It obviously (or perhaps not so obviously) makes Beazer look bad for their public face to write poorly, but I also think having all these posts that barely make sense don't do their brand much good either.
Posted: 10:40 pm on January 18th

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