Social media marketing has been around for quite some time now. Many of you may have read one or more of the multiple writings I have devoted to the subject of social networking for your business; either on this site or, for example on the pages of CONTRACTOR Magazine [Ignore Social Media at Your Own Risk]. You may already be a seasoned pro at marketing your business and its services online via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn but, and it’s probably a big but for many, are you doing it right?
The success of your social marketing program for your business is ultimately determined by the ability of said program to connect on a one-to-one, human level. If you are already using social networking to reach your current or potential clients, are you being human? What does that mean?
Some might say that brands, such as your business, are less than engaging. Maybe on the surface it might seem that a plumbing or HVAC “brand” such as your company would have to stretch quite a bit to be “engaging” or “fun” but others are doing it and you can too. One of the key factors in becoming an engaging brand to your customers is using every day, common language. Establishing a more relatable, non-corporate online presence intentionally can make a huge impact.
Most people don’t realize it but when we speak professionally we are using a different language altogether than that of which we use when talking amongst friends. It’s a phenomenon in linguistics known as “code switching”. Code-switching refers to how a person alternates back and forth between multiple languages in a single conversation or while addressing different audiences. For example, you may speak to a business contact via a phone conversation while in the office using a certain vocabulary and in the same breath switch to an entirely different vocab to address one of your employees that you’re friendlier with. There’s nothing wrong with this situation but when put in the context of marketing your business you might consider being professional yet human, or less starchy so as to portray that you’re a human.
In other words, when a client comes across your Twitter handle or Facebook feed, they don’t suddenly transform into a “professional-only” mode that consumes, filters and reacts to content based 100% on their own professional life. No, instead they are more likely to react to things they identify with such as being a parent or the likelihood they own a home and receiving timely preventative maintenance tips they can do on the weekend themselves. Being the human voice behind your company in your marketing will put you in touch with them on a personal level, engaging them at this level will have you on their list when a need for your professional services arise.
As a trade contractor whose job it is to promote yourself and your services you must remember that the fundamental nature of behavior for the masses does not have us conversing solely as professionals, but as normal human beings with our many faults and nuances. Use your voice when talking about your company. Offer up helpful tips for your customers, even if they’re not entirely related to you own expertise, and mix in a little humor once in a while. Just remember to “code-switch” and portray your offering, via social networks, as a human would. Not just another business stiff looking to make a buck as you consider every possible contact as a potential sale. That marketing will pass by many more than it will engage.
If you’re looking for some examples of how adding a human element to your marketing could look like, here's a list of some that stand out to me:
Anderson Plumbing, Heating & Air (San Diego) @AndersonPHA
Casey’s Plumbing (Portland) @CaseysPlumbing
HTP (Heat Transfer Products, Manufacturing) www.facebook.com/HTPinc
Langan’s Plumbing & Heating LLC (NJ) www.facebook.com/Langan's