I get asked all the time about strategies for social media. “How do I market my kitchen and bath firm on social media?” “How do I get the most followers?” or “How can I get the most leads?” The answer isn’t a straightforward one.
I’ll answer all of those questions, but first let’s put the Internet in perspective. Years ago the Internet was a very anonymous place. The only way your business was going to get known was through being listed high on search engines. This led to the rise of SEO (search engine optimization). This was process where savvy nerds could optimize your site so it would climb its way up the rankings. This method involved tinkering with keywords, and purchasing space on search engine listings.
Now the Internet is a very different place. Aside from being a fantastic resource for cat videos and baby pictures from your friends, it’s very “social.” Our virtual world is starting to mimic the real world. People share pictures and stories with certain groups of friends on Facebook. Large groups of people get together on Pinterest to scrapbook and trade DIY project ideas. Amateur photographers are flocking to Instagram and so many felines have had their talent discovered on YouTube.
To put this succinctly, the Internet is a group of real people, not people anonymously hiding behind a keyboard with a number for a username.
To reach these people, you have to think of the Internet, the social Internet, as a big networking event (or series of networking events). You can’t just go to any event, either, you’ve got to go to the right ones. By way of being savvy, friendly, engaging and genuine, you can meet potential clients and friends that way.
So how do you navigate this big networking event we call the Internet? It’s all about knowing where to go and why. Allow me to be your guide!
Instagram is a place where people share pictures. Pictures can only uploaded one at a time, and special filters can be applied to enhance them. Many people tag pictures with hashtags which makes the pictures searchable. With your Instragram account, you can search for pictures with words like “design” or “kitchen.” There you can engage in conversation with people about pictures they’ve posted. You can also post your own. With Instagram, you can really show off your sense of style with other like minded people. Think of this as a continuous interactive portfolio of your work. Don’t be afraid to be yourself! Pictures of your pets, coffee and food are always popular and can really humanize you and your business.
Facebook has about 1.2 billion active users. This is the most popular social network. If you’re on Facebook, you know that it’s a very personal experience. You communicate with close friends, and wish there weren’t so many wedding and baby pictures. Come election time, you probably yearn for those baby pictures over political posts!
I’m sure you’ve all seen companies ask you to “Like us on Facebook.” This is a play for brands to get you invite them into your personal feed on Facebook. This is a big thing to ask. Do you really want Super Mega Corp. posting coupons on your feed? Probably not. But how about if a local business posted updates on local news, sports, and weather? Perhaps they posted interesting recipes and shared pictures of remodels in progress?
That would be something that a potential client would welcome seeing in their feed. Act with your Facebook page as you would an event in person: You’d wear a nametag, but you’d keep the conversation engaging and interesting.
You may have heard of Pinterest before. It’s essentially an online scrapbooking service. From Pinterest, users can “pin” pictures to different boards that they create. The pictures that are on Pinterest are typically very design, DIY and food focused. Most of the pictures have links in them that lead to a website. If you see a tantalizing picture of lasagna, clicking on it will usually lead to a recipe. This visual, design focused way to find pictures can be a really fun and interesting way to browse the Internet.
Now you may be asking yourself, “How is this going to help me market my kitchen and bath firm?” Well, let me answer with an example. There’s an interior designer and color consultant that I know. She decided to create her profile in Pinterest. She uploaded pictures of different rooms and put them on many different boards. In addition to that, she went through Pinterest and found many related pictures to mix into her boards. So, for example, she has a board that’s all about the color blue. Many of the pictures are of projects she’s done. In addition, she has many pictures that inspire the color blue. In a short amount of time, she has been able to digitize her entire profile and enhance it with Pinterest content. In addition, people that browse her portfolio can talk to her about it right on Pinterest.
She will even work on clients’ designs using Pinterest. You can create a “secret” board that is shared with only certain people. Her and her clients will often “pin” pictures together to create the inspiration for a project.
Facebook built a social network for everyone, everywhere; Houzz built a social network for kitchen and bath designers and consumers interested in home design. Houzz wants people just like us to upload pictures of completed remodeling projects. Each picture that is uploaded is carefully tagged and organized. This makes it easy for consumers to log in and look for remodeling inspiration. They can drill down categories to specific style and color, something that you can’t do elsewhere on the Internet.
The ultimate goal of Houzz is more than just getting people the pictures they want; Houzz wants to be a consumer’s “go to” source for remodeling advice. To that end, Houzz gives you more ways to share and engage. There’s a “feed” that is akin to Facebook’s “news feed” that allows you to post updates and share pictures and articles. There is also “Houzz Advice.” This is a forum that you can go into and answer the questions of consumers who are looking for remodeling advice. This is a fantastic way for you to show off your knowledge. Houzz is a digital networking event that is marketed directly at people who need your services. You should certainly be there!
The Magic Bullet
The big take away here is to just be yourself. As with venues in real life, these different social networks attract different people for different reasons. If you go there, interact, engage and share and you’ll make connections – just like you do in real life. It’s not about the most followers, Web site hits, or “likes,” it’s about the personal connections. You can always find a technical person to help you with the technical aspects of these social networks, like apps and uploading pictures. But the most important part – being yourself – can only be done by you, and you’re the best at being you. So go out there, get online and be yourself.