Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Social media and the tradesperson

Builder, carpenter, electrician, plumber, gardener... whatever your trade, you are probably aware that the Internet has taken over the world of advertising and marketing in the last few years. Business cards, newspaper adverts and TV commercials all display their website address or email. The phrase "Like us on Facebook" or "Follow us on Twitter" has become common on the high street and in restaurants. 

But where do YOU fit in? How do you, as a tradesperson, make use of the Internet to attract new clients? How can you get social media to work for you?

Have faith in the medium
For many of us, the Internet is something we understand and use every day. We search for restaurant offers or movie times, we browse Facebook for pictures of kittens and we tweet about our day. But when it comes to promoting our business, we don't trust it. How many times have you heard these phrases:
- I had a Facebook page but it didn't work, I didn't get any Likes
- I used Twitter occasionally but I didn't have many followers so I stopped bothering
- I got a website but no one visited it and I didn't get any new work

These are things that Bath Business Web hear a lot from tradespeople. The key to all of them is the same. The website, Facebook pages and Twitter profiles are all tools to help you advertise and promote your business. They have to be used to be successful, and used in the right way.

Social media is SOCIAL
The biggest mistake people make with social media is misunderstanding its function. Social media is designed to let people socialise. Businesses can make use of this by interacting with other users, getting their brand known and trusted. They can showcase their work, their offers or promotions and put a personal face and voice to the brand name. Replying to contacts from people, sharing their interests as well as your own and building a relationship that lies between professional and personal are the keys to building a strong social media profile.

Sadly, many businesses ignore this function and instead expect a mere presence on Facebook or Twitter to earn them Likes and Followers. They fail to realise that you must earn your profile strength in this world, by producing great content and interacting with not only your existing fans but all of your potential ones as well. 

Paid advertising on platforms like Facebook and Twitter can produce excellent results, getting your company name specifically targeted at people in your area who want your services. This is why social media is powerful for business - all the information Facebook or Google + collects about you as you browse is used to point adverts at you that you'll love. But ultimately if your adverts direct potential clients to an empty Facebook page with no Likes, it's wasted money.

The bottom line
Think of social media as a 24hr business lunch, a way to talk to your clients no matter where you are. When you visit a client you would probably give them a pitch, discuss their expectations from the work and their needs. You'll make sure you are dressed appropriately, maybe in work clothes, maybe in uniform. You'll be honest and open with them, talk about the challenges of the job and probably tell them about yourself, your company and how you've dealt with jobs before.

Social media lets you have those conversations with many potential clients at once and without intruding on the rest of the day. Be accessible, be honest and be professional and you will find that social media is a tool your business will benefit from. 

See also:
Social media mistakes you don't want to make 
5 Small business secrets

Web design, when you need it - email us and mention "the blog"

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