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Contractors and Social Media: 3 Tips to Increase Your Online Presence

By on July 5, 2012 in Social Media with 12 Comments

Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part series focused on providing practical social media marketing tips and techniques to help painting contractors increase their online presence.

social media growthIn the last article, I noted that the place to start your online marketing efforts is actually with your website. This is also where your social media efforts should point back to – because this is where potential clients are going to hang out and learn more about you and your company.

Now that your website is visitor-friendly, you can begin integrating social media into your marketing strategy. Here are 3 tips contractors can use to increase their online presence.

Tip #1: Create a Blog

A blog is an excellent way to share information with consumers and keep your website content fresh.

Blogs are an amazing marketing tool, but one mistake too many contractors make is not setting their blog up on space they own. Instead, they have their blog hosted on a free blogging platform (such as Blogger or WordPress.org) – which is the same as building a house on rented land. Make sure you control your blog – by hosting it under your domain name.

Here are two examples to illustrate what I mean:

Free bloger barFREE blog URLs will look like this: http://yourpaintingcontractor.blogspot.com. Blogspot is part of the website address, which means rented land. It will also have this blogger bar in the top left corner:

Contractor-controlled blog URLs will look like this: http://yourpaintingcontractor.com/blog. Here, your blog is just an extension of your website URL.

It is important to have your blog as an extension of your domain name for these two reasons:
  1. Free platforms are great for casual blogging, but not for businesses. You don’t own the real estate on these free platforms, so you also have no control over what happens. They could disappear or change at any time. This puts your content in jeopardy – and it could be lost forever.
  2. Not linking blog content (aka fresh content) to your URL will not give you good “SEO-love” from search engines. You want to use your content to help pull traffic back to your website through searches, and the only way this will happen is if the search engines “see” that fresh content is being put under your URL.

How a blog helps one painting contractor sell jobs

The power of sharing knowledge and information is huge, and contractors are seeing its value in a few key ways. Besides consumers reading your blog after-hours when they are considering a painting project, you can reference a particular blog article during sales calls. Chris Haught used this example in my recent teleseminar:

I was on a recent estimate where a customer wanted some accents on her walls: some faux effects, some Venetian plaster, and some different things. She was particularly concerned that she hired the right painter who could handle the work she was describing.

She said, “I saw these walls in this home,” and she described it to me. Well I was able to open up my iPad right there and bring up my blog post where I’d written about a home where we had done that type of decorative finish before. I showed her the blog post that described what we’d done, how much the homeowner loved it, and how well we worked with the general contractor.

Once I showed her that, she didn’t fixate on price or want to talk to anybody else. She wanted us to do the job. I used the blog post to show my experience and knowledge of the product, and that we could do that job.

You can also use blog articles to follow up with an inquiry via email. Simply link those posts to your email when you are answering your prospect’s questions or describing the benefits of using a particular product.

Through the process of consumers reading your blog, they are getting to know, like, and trust you. Blogs build credibility, differentiate you from the competition, and often eliminate (or at least greatly reduce) haggling over price.

Tip #2: Start with One

The one mistake that I see many contractors make with social media marketing is that they try to do too much too quickly. They get onto Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Houzz.com, and Pinterest all at once. It is the equivalent of going from 0 to 67 mph in 2 seconds flat!

What happens then? They’ve greatly under-estimated the time and energy it takes to be good at social media, and it quickly becomes overwhelming and unmanageable. They are not able to comment and interact with their audience on a consistent or timely basis, and they crash and burn – throwing up their hands in frustration and declaring, “This stuff doesn’t work!”

So if you are new to social media, start with one platform. Get the hang of how to carve time out of your schedule to post regularly, how to best interact with audiences (because each one is different) … and test out different approaches to see how people like to interact with you.

Most contractors start with Facebook, since that’s where many of their customers hang out. Just remember to make your posts interesting, fun, and helpful – and not always business related.

Tip #3: Build Your Email List

The whole point of using online marketing techniques is to make sales, right? You can’t make sales if you don’t know who is taking a closer look at the services you provide, and one extremely important way to stay connected with them is through email marketing. By publishing regular and consistent emails to this list, over time many will gain trust in you and see you as a highly capable painting contractor. Furthermore, even if they don’t need your skillful services, they could easily refer someone who does to you. Having an email list – quite honestly – is like having gold in today’s marketing world, and you need to constantly replenish your list with new connections.

This is why you want your website to be the hub of your online marketing efforts.The Website Social Media Diagram

Because prospects will either not be ready to buy or simply decide not to buy, you’ll need to constantly replenish your email list with new connections, and you get those by inviting them to sign up for your email newsletter (or other offer) on your website. Again, even if these folks don’t purchase from you, they may recommend that someone else checks you out.

 

It should be no surprise when I say that online marketing for contractors is here to stay, and  when it comes to social media marketing, what’s popular (and useful) today may not be the same a few years from now. Take Pinterest, for example. This social media platform – the one that no one had heard about 365 days ago – is on fire today!

And this is precisely why I recommend that you build your online presence with those “places” you own, always making sure your website – your domain name – is the hub that you are pulling people back to. That way, when the next social media platform takes the world by storm (and it will), your foundation (your website, blog, and email list) is still solidly growing your online presence.

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Tess Wittler
Tess Wittler is a content creator and consultant for the construction industry. She takes pride in truly understanding contractors and the home improvement industry - because she’s spent her entire career promoting it. Over the years, Tess has built a solid reputation of being the “go to” content writer for contractors - because of her understanding of the industry, knowledge of content and social media marketing and careful attention to detail - to get the words just right. Tess is thrilled to be involved with Blogging Painters to share knowledge and collaborate on ideas to help painting contractors grow their businesses.
Tess Wittler
Tess Wittler

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  1. neil says:

    This is a really helpful article, I am currently adding content to my site and am finding it a challenge to find time and energy to research and write interesting posts on top of my work.
    I am so glad you say do one task at a time because as you say just thinking about all the different platforms makes my head spin.
    I guess its just another hat for the self employed to wear.

    • Tess Wittler says:

      One way to gather blog content ideas is to spend 10 minutes writing down all the questions your customers typically ask you. Those questions make great (and often short) blog articles. Make sure you create a category called FAQs and label these posts as such. Once you have a few under your belt, you can make a link from your website to these FAQs and have a new section for your website – one that is automatically updated every time you write a new FAQ post.

      The other important reason to take social media one at a time is to gauge your effectiveness. While some contractors have seen great success with staying in touch via Facebook, others are seeing more ROI with Twitter. It really depends on where your audience “hangs out” online. Take it slow and steady … and best of luck to you, Neil.

  2. Contractors are now using social media to excel their visibility online. It is more effective since many people are using these sites every time.

  3. John says:

    OK…on a serious note…I find it unrealistic for a “contractor” to engage in social media. Most of the time, I find that they “hire” someone to do this on their behalf. Sure, there are exceptions. Wifes, tech-savy friends, Sons & Daughters that take on the challenge….but overall, contractors are busy doing “contractor work”, not blogging or playing on FB.

    • Scott says:

      Your right, John. Most contractors don’t take the time to look at a wider marketing effort until the “contractor work” runs out, and of course it is kind of late at that point. Balance in all things…

      • Tess Wittler says:

        I agree with Scott in that every business needs to be forward thinking and work ON their business and not only IN their business (lesson from “E-Myth Revisited” by Michael E. Gerber).

        Having said that, John, if your clients aren’t reading blogs or “playing on Facebook” and you don’t foresee them doing so, then you are right; there is no sense investing the time, money and energy it takes to have a solid social media strategy. I feel, though, that any contractor that doesn’t take online marketing serious in today’s world, will soon be out of projects and working for someone else.

        Finally, there is absolutely nothing wrong with hiring a competent person to write your blog articles for you or assist you with other online marketing. This can be a wife, a child or an administrative assistant – or it can be a freelance copywriter (like me). As long as it is done property. Content marketing and the strategy behind it is an art, just like the fabulous projects featured here on Blogging Painters. Not everyone can do it.

        No matter who you get to write and provide high-quality content, you’d be wise to vet them well and make sure they have a solid understanding of your business so they can become an part of your “virtual team” and help you move your company forward.

  4. Terry Grogan says:

    Have you seen much success with Pinterest for a home painting business? We were just talking about setting one up, but I still don’t know.

We would love to hear what you think!

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