Why Social Media Is Important For Your Business
Social media is a part of our everyday lives and essential for business. Whether your field service business is small and family-owned, a large enterprise, or somewhere in between, there is a tremendous value and endless opportunities on social media, such as increasing your customer base, building and nurturing relationships with existing customers, reputation management, and more.
Social media provides a direct outlet for communication with current and potential customers. What are they saying about your business or the industry in general? What are their needs, wants, and interests? How can your service help solve their problems or make their lives more convenient? Or, how can you improve your service? People tend to be open and vocal on social media. If they are unhappy about something you will hear about it, quickly. Users can tweet at or message you right away, leave a review, or simply create a post expressing their feelings to their network. If they are ecstatic about something, they will rave about your service to their friends and family and provide recommendations. 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family, and 88% of users trust recommendations written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts.
If you visit your town’s Facebook group you will likely notice a post along the lines of “Hey! I am new to town and looking for a landscaping company. Has anyone had any great experiences with a company they can recommend?” If loyal customers jump in and recommend your business, the first thing that the person asking will do is click through to your Facebook page – before your website. So, your page must be active (frequent posts, up-to-date hours of operation, phone number, email address, website, mission, etc.) If you have a page but have not posted since 2016, the hours aren’t current, or your contact information isn’t accurate, it may give the impression that you are not in business anymore.
Furthermore, social media provides an opportunity to humanize your brand. People do business with people they know, like, and trust. Awareness leads to engagement, engagement leads to trust, and consistent interactions with customers can lead to loyalty.
Pre-Planning Your Social Strategy
Without a solid plan, being active on social media can be overwhelming. The key is to figure out where your business fits into the landscape of social users. How can your presence provide value to your customers and how can you engage with them to build relationships?
Completing the following questions, outlined by Marketing Consultant Mark Schaefer, will be helpful when building out your social media strategy:
1)What makes you truly unique? Why will people want to be a part of your community? What is your story?
2) How will you sustain your social media presence?
3) Is your brand conversational? Can you be? For example, if you are an HVAC business, how can you make your content more conversational than the average HVAC advertisements and standard recommendations that users typically see? You can tell real-life, non-typical customer stories with a funny, relatable twist. Or, horror stories where your technicians had to save the day. Try to create content that can spark emotions and strike up a conversation.
4) Who is your audience? Know your target audience before creating content so you can ensure your message is correct and that you are creating content that will resonate.
5) Can you create value for your users? Why will users interact with your page in a world of content overload?
6) Do you have a clear vision of what success on social looks like to you? Be sure to have goals in mind so you can base all of your content around those goals.
Executing The Strategy
Now you have a solid foundation to start building out your plan. The first step is to outline your goals using the S.M.A.R.T method (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.) All actions going forward should be taken strategically so there are not any unplanned posts that do not contribute any value to the end goal. Business-oriented goals can include brand awareness, attracting new business or lead generation, customer satisfaction and social care (engagement), and reputation management. After your goal is clear, you can begin to outline your strategy and tactics. For example, let’s say the goal is to attract new business and generate leads, the strategy will be the “how.” How can you attract new business in the upcoming busy season using social media?
This is the stage where you will decide the platforms you are going to use. Depending on your business and customers, that could be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or a combination of these platforms (there are many others, but these are the main channels that field services would likely fit into.) It is a good idea when you are just beginning to start small. Social media is time-consuming, and if you attempt to engage on all platforms you may overwhelm yourself. Choose one platform to spend 80% of your efforts, and one or two others to spend 20%. Your plan should be flexible and adaptable, so you can always add platforms as you become more comfortable.
Use these outlets to get your message out to potential clients. Tell your brand story, share your mission, and talk about topics that you stand for. Inform your audience of the services you offer, highlight customer tutorials, get involved in the community, and announce promotions. These would be considered tactics, or the steps you should take to attract new business on the determined platforms.
For a successful social media marketing plan, both organic social and paid advertising should be a part of your tactics. We will explore tips for organic strategy in this blog. The age-old rule of organic content is the 80/20 rule. This means 80% of your content should be shareable content that is providing value. It should inform, educate, or entertain your audience. Get your best technicians involved and put a face to your services. Encourage them to contribute content by snapping pictures with happy customers or creating before and afters of jobs. The content should still relate to your business and services, just not be overly promotional all the time. Shareable content is essential in social media because it extends your reach and creates audience engagement for your brand. When people share content, it is an extension of their online personality. Users will typically only share if they think that the content either accentuates their individuality or provides some value to their friends, family, and network. This is one reason why knowing your audience is crucial.
The other 20% of your content should be promotional. (So, if you are posting 15 times a week, only 3 of those posts will be promotional.) This might not seem ideal when trying to attract new business, but it is important to remember that users are not primarily on social media to be served ads and promotional material. Traditional marketing methods do not apply on social media, some are even rejected by users. So, with that 20% of promotional material, you have to get creative. Users are scrolling so quickly, by thinking outside of the box and getting creative you can make your content rich and “thumb-stopping.” Video and stories are optimal, but visually appealing graphics can still be powerful.
Keeping up a social media presence that is impactful is demanding. It takes creative and strategic thinking, as well as time. The recommended time is a minimum of 1 hour a day. That does not sound extreme, but when you are busy with many other duties that come with running a successful business, it can easily be overlooked. Ideally, your business should be posting at least 3 times a week, but no more than twice a day. A useful tool to use for planning ahead to make sure all of your posts go live is a content calendar. You can find many different templates online, or you can create your own. Basically, a content calendar is a way for you to map out and strategically plan your posts ahead of time. This way you aren’t scrambling for a last-minute post that does not align with your goals. Think of it as a monthly planner, for your social networks. Set aside time in your schedule to plan out posts to ensure that your pages consistently have a variety of rich content always going out.
Another useful tool is a scheduler. Unless you have someone on your staff dedicated to social media, you may not have time to sit down every single day to schedule posts. Some platforms have their own scheduling tool, but there are many other tools that make it possible to schedule all of your content to go out on different days, at various times, and on multiple platforms. Some of these tools also suggest optimal times, monitor a brand’s social media mentions, enable you to engage with brand advocates, and offer robust reporting tools. There are many available that address the needs of different-sized businesses, but some notable platforms are; HootSuite, Sprout Social, Buffer, and Sendible.
Customers prefer social media as their top choice for customer service. This is known as Social Care and they expect an answer within four hours of reaching out to a business. That means you need to be there to catch a complaint and resolve it or respond positively to praise from a satisfied customer very quickly. By not engaging, you’re not only telling your audience that you’re not present, but that you don’t want to provide additional avenues for communication. An engagement strategy is crucial for any business, particularly for field services. This can cover everything from handling reviews, responding to comments and shares, and reaching out to customers or groups.
Similar to a social content strategy, an engagement strategy should also tie back to the goals. How can social engagement contribute to your success? Some examples of goals that engagement can aid are; customer acquisition, brand awareness, recruiting, and relationship development.
If you think of engagement in terms of your objective, it can help to hone in on where you put your efforts. Liking, commenting on, and responding to every single engagement can seem daunting. Be real with the amount of time and level of engagement your business can sustain. If you are doing it on your own, how much time in your day can be spent engaging before it hinders your real work? Knowing which interactions are most valuable to the big picture can save you from wasting time and resources.
For example, if your goal is customer acquisition, you may want to focus on engagements that inquire about services and estimates and not pay as much attention to comments that do not ask a direct question. Similarly, you would want to ensure that you are quickly answering any private messages and responding publicly to happy customers (as well as unhappy customers.)
Reviews typically find their way to the top of the list of priority engagements. While they are great for businesses and consumers alike, they can also be hurtful to a business when a customer has negative feedback. Even if the feedback is not truthful, it still impacts your reputation. The main objective when handling negative reviews is to take the conversation offline, as well as to show the customer, and potential customers considering your services, that you genuinely care and want to resolve the issue. Take the following steps when handling negative reviews;
- Never argue with the customer online!
- Show empathy towards the specific situation, making the interaction personal, without being overly detailed.
- Ask the customer to privately message you to collect their information for the right person to reach out to.
- If the customer does not reach out, provide them with the phone number (or email) of the person who will best take care of the issue. Never give a generic number that the customer will then call only to be put on hold or transferred back and forth. This will only make them angrier and more likely to comment again.
- If the customer provides you with their contact information but you are unsuccessful in reaching them send a follow-up personal message.
- Document all negative reviews and look for common themes, this could provide insight into how you need to improve.
- If the issue is resolved and the client is happy, you can ask them to remove their review.
While many businesses only focus on handling negative reviews, positive reviews should not go unnoticed. The customers who write positive reviews go out of their way to help your business and other potential customers search in your vertical. Be sure to respond to every positive review by thanking them. If you have the time and resources to craft a personal response for each review, that would be ideal. Let them know how happy you were to handle their needs with great service and that you are looking forward to doing more business with them in the future. If you have a referral program, mention it to them in your response!
Being responsive to messages and comments that are relevant is extremely important as well. 45% of consumers go to social media first when they have questions or issues. 34% reach out to commend brands for their services, and 21% of consumers are more likely to choose a business that they can reach on social media. Using this opportunity to engage with your customers, or potential customers is the perfect chance to build meaningful relationships. Many businesses overlook engagement. In doing so they are missing out on tremendous value at their fingertips.
Strategical thinking, time, creativity, and flexibility all contribute to a successful social media marketing strategy. Social is no longer used solely for sharing statuses and connecting with friends. Today, social media is connecting global and local communities, as well as connecting businesses to their customers on a personal level. With Facebook alone reaching over 65 million local business pages, there is no denying that having a social media presence is essential to run a successful business.
Now that you have an understanding of how social media can help your field service business, learn the critical importance of Google reviews for your business!