Social media. You've probably heard of it. You may have heard it could help your business. But are you taking full advantage of it? Decorative concrete contractors can use social media as a business marketing tool. And best of all, it's free. Rich Holschuh, owner of Concrete Detail in Brattleboro, Vt., is a huge advocate of social media marketing for decorative concrete contractors, and in this article he shares his social media marketing success story and tips.
Concrete Detail is a small company with four employees during it's busiest times. His small business also keeps a small budget, he says. Traditional marketing outlets were too costly for his budget, and they didn't reach a targeted audience. In 2009, he began to explore social media marketing.
"I live in a rural area, and I do not have a large client base so I need to reach out to a larger radius. Social media allowed me to expand my company's presence immensely from my computer," Holschuh says.
Holschuh first started with a Facebook page for his company. "People are familiar with Facebook," he says. "The potential to hook up with people is big because the audience is big." Holschuh says his Concrete Detail Facebook page currently has around 100 fans. "I basically use it as a place to showcase my latest projects and get comments back from people," he says. But as a marketing outlet, Holschuh found Facebook was not offering him what he was looking for.
Holschuh decided to keep his Facebook page but focus his social media marketing elsewhere. He chose Twitter. "I find Twitter works the best for me, and I can see the results," he says. "Through building a network I've had invites to quote jobs I would never have been aware of. It's been a true return on value."
Holschuh's biggest advice for contractors starting a Twitter account is to make sure your name represents your business directly. "Don't pick something cutesy. People need to know who you are," he says. Holschuh chose @concretedetail for his account name. Once he started his free Twitter account, he first searched for other Twitter users involved in concrete. He built up a core group of around 40 followers, but the group was made up mostly of other concrete artisans and manufacturers. Since Holschuh intended to use Twitter purely for marketing, he soon realized his core group was not the target audience he wanted to market to.
Holschuh wanted to reach the architects, designers and showrooms that were buying his concrete, so he searched his followers' lists of followers to find the people he really wanted to reach. And he found just what he was looking for. Holschuh's Twitter account now has 600 followers, he says.
Unlike Facebook, Holschuh uses his Twitter account as more than just a showroom. He tweets with project photos but also the latest innovations he's come across, new clients he has found and news about what's going on in the company. He also uses his Twitter account to link and drive people to Concrete Detail's website, his blog and his Facebook page.
But it's not just a matter of opening an account and tweeting whatever you feel like. Holschuh says what you tweet to your followers needs to be genuine and reflect your business. Let your target audience see what is unique about you and about your company. Keep your tweets relevant to your business and your marketing plan. And use social media to convey that you are an expert in your business. "You're showing them you not only make concrete but you know concrete," Holschuh says.
Rich Holschuh uses his Twitter account to convey important information to his followers as well as present himself as the go to source for decorative concrete related questions.
Not completely free
While social media marketing is great because there is no financial cost to get started, it's not completely free, Holschuh points out. "Social media can be time consuming," he says. "It may involve work outside of business hours. And you have to be consistent. It takes a plan. You have to pay your dues."
Holschuh says it took him seven months to build a real following and get worthwhile responses on his Twitter account. But like all marketing, consistency and patience are necessary.
When using multiple social media outlets, organization will be important. To help manage his social media, Holschuh uses a free software program called HootSuite. This allows him to keep all of his social media organized in one place.
"Social media has been a turning point for me," Holschuh says. A lot of contractors may have an "I don't need that attitude." And he says that may be true. Social media marketing may not work for everyone, and contractors could do fine without it. But if you want to "up your game" Holschuh thinks this is the way to go. Now that social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook have been around for a while it's time to get involved.
"The rules are changing. They have changed," Holschuh says. "The future is already here but the trades are sometimes slow to take things up." So if you're looking for a new, inexpensive way to market your company to a small or large audience, social media marketing may be the way to go.