This question comes up all the time when I talk with HVACR contractors: “What should I do with my social media?”
Unfortunately, that’s the wrong question to ask. Better questions would be:
• Who exactly is your audience?
• Why would engaging with them on social media help them? (remember, it’s about them, not about you)
• What kind of social media activities would help my customers succeed, and thus grow my business?
Yes, social media is part of marketing, but it’s not like your granddaddy’s marketing. Instead of trying to interrupt your customers and prospects to get their attention (like we do with normal marketing), social media, in order to work, MUST provide value. You must deliver something that positively affects your customers’ lives or they won’t spend any time with you.
That means NOT starting with Facebook or Twitter. It means developing content that makes an impact on your customers and business, based on solid marketing goals.
Our 2011 Content Marketing Playbook discussed 42 different ways you can distribute content to attract and retain customers. Let’s review five of the top 10 (as voted on by our Content Marketing Institute community).
1. Blog – A blog is just a tool, but a very powerful tool for sharing content. It can become the center of your entire online marketing strategy. Having a website today is not enough. Somewhere, you need an engine that houses all the great stories you want to share with your customers. A blog can do that .
2. Enewsletter – I firmly believe that if you are selling any kind of service maintenance agreement, you should be sending them a monthly enewsletter that DOES NOT sell. Your goal with your ongoing customers is to communicate with them on a regular basis to make sure you are consistently adding value. An enewsletter can do that. You can look to repurpose the content from your blog so you don’t have to recreate the wheel with your enewsletter.
3. White Papers - These are typically 8-12 page reports that cover an issue of importance to homeowners. They should have an objective tone without being overly promotional. You want your readers to see you as a thought leader, not a salesperson.
The idea is to demonstrate your knowledge on a subject and to provide viable solutions to a problem or concern. A well-crafted white paper can be a source for shorter posts for your blog as well. Here’s a great example of a white paper on Home Comfort for Consumers from Arzel Zoning.
4. eBook – Just like a white paper, but designed more like a magazine. Think of something that would look good on an iPad. The Playbook is an example of an eBook. You can also take an eBook and download it to SlideShare, a free online service. Slideshare is like the YouTube for PowerPoints, and will make it very easy to share your great content on your blog or Facebook page.
5. Video - Sites like YouTube and Vimeo provide a simple way to upload your videos. You can employ low-cost desktop video editing programs to create near-professional videos that go beyond the "talking head" approach.
Next time you make a “happy call”, get permission to interview the homeowner with their home comfort concerns. How about getting video of that furnace that wasn’t maintained correctly? There are stories all around you to get compelling video; you just need to prepare to make it happen. Those videos can be uploaded to YouTube, which can be showcased via Facebook, Twitter or your blog.
The point is this: all these are social media tools, but it’s the content (what’s inside) that will make all the difference. Be interesting to your customers. Have a clear idea why you are doing what you are doing. Think like a publisher.
Joe Pulizzi is CEO of SocialTract, the leading blogging and content service designed for service companies. SocialTract is part of the Content Marketing Institute. Joe is also co-author of Get Content Get Customers, which details how companies can publish content to drive revenues. Joe can be reached at [email protected].