Take Advantage of Social Media

Take Advantage of Social Media

LinkedIn

I have received a few questions on how to best use Linked In for contractors.

Many people think Linked In is only effective for white-collar business people who sit in an office all day and have time to ‘explore and build their network’.

Fact is, there are plenty of builders and contractors consistently generating leads and growing their businesses by leveraging Linked In.

After you build your personal profile and company profile, the next step is to join some groups that are relevant to your business or industry.  There are at least a few groups for every industry, and groups on Linked In for contractors are no exception.

Start off by joining five or six groups and familiarize yourself with the types of group members and discussions that are going on in those groups.

Participate in the conversations where you can add some value, and answer peoples’ questions, and help them in some way. If you take just a few minutes to craft thoughtful responses, you will be amazed at the connections you make.

Soon, you’ll be getting (and making) contact requests and continuing those conversations in a personal message format, which can lead to building your network and potentially growing your business.

In addition to joining conversations, depending on the structure of the group and the posting guidelines, you can also start conversations, ask questions, or take polls.

To take it one step further, you can leverage Linked In for contractors even more if you have your own blog.  When you write a blog post that is relevant to a particular group, you can either submit that blog post to the group administrator or post it directly to the group. When you post an article or blog post that you have written, you lead people back to your website to continue reading.  Once at your website, people have the opportunity to engage with you and your business, which can lead to deep, mutually-beneficial relationships.

There are some keys to remember when using Linked In for contractors…

First, as with any other form of relationship building in business and in life, lead with your giving hand.  Genuinely seek to add value before you ask for anything.  When you do this, you build trusted adviser status among your peers.

Second, don’t spam your Linked In wall or groups with sales pitches, offers, or general overuse.  This just leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth and is no way to build relationships or build a business.

Third, be consistent and give it time.  Using Linked In for contractors is not going to catapult your business overnight.  As with any other business strategy, you get the most value out of it, and provide the most value, when you engage on a consistent basis.

Google

If you are a builder or contractor looking to increase your presence online, you can no longer ignore Google Places for contractors.

The Definitive Construction Company’s Guide to Google Ads: What, How, and Why

If you’ve ever created a marketing plan, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Google AdWords. However, the resources available for it can be confusing. Some say that it’s not worth the money if you don’t have a dedicated marketing person; some will tell you that you can make it work, but only if you do a lot of homework.

We want to help your business succeed. That’s why we’ve put together a complete guide to Google AdWords: what it is, how it works, and why you should think about using it as a marketing tool for your business. If you have any questions afterwards, ask us — we’ll do our best to answer.

Part One: What is Google AdWords?

Put simply, Google AdWords is a pay-per-click advertising system that Google uses to get your business in front of customers who type the right keyword or keyword phrase. For example, if you’re a plumber in Ankeny, Iowa, one of your keyword phrases might be “Ankeny plumber.” If someone types that phrase in, and your bid wins, a link to your website will appear at the top of the Google search results. If the customer clicks that link, then you’ll be charged — but only if they click the link.

Sounds confusing, right? It’s not hard. A lot of people overthink their AdWords campaigns, which can result in them getting less desirable results. And, unlike a lot of advertising, you only pay for clicks — for actual views of your site — as opposed to paying a flat fee and hoping your advertisement is successful.

Though there are many different variables to Google AdWords, it also has an incredibly convenient tracking system that shows you results for your most-clicked keywords or keyword phrases, the actual sales your website is generating due to your ads, the campaigns that are the most successful, and more. It lets you target people in your specific service area and provides you with a greater chance of visibility. If you’re willing to contribute a little money and time, you should see a strong ROI (return on investment). Let’s get into how you can be successful.

Part Two: How Do I Set Up Google AdWords?

The first step to using Google AdWords is setting up a business account. You’ll want to connect your account to your business email and your website — if you don’t have a business website, or at least a landing page, Google AdWords won’t work for you. Plus, you’re losing out on a huge potential customer base. We suggest checking out our convenient website-building service; we specialize in designing and building websites for contractors to drive leads to their businesses.

Getting Started

Once you’ve set up your account, you can start your first Google AdWords campaign. It’s very easy to get started: you choose your budget, design your ads within Google’s word limit and style rules, choose your keywords and keyword phrases that you think will best gain you customers, and enter your billing information.

Keyword Research

But what keywords should you choose? Well, Google AdWords lets you choose several different keyword matching options. For example, if you choose to use a “broad match” on the keyword phrase “Home Remodeler in Galveston,” your ad may also appear in front of people who search “home remodeling,” “remodeling Galveston,” or “remodeler Galveston.” It might also show if someone searches “Galveston home remodeling.” And if someone misspells their search and Google recognizes that, your ad will also appear.

However, if you’re wanting to focus your keywords on something very specific, such as “residential basement remodeling,” you can choose to use “exact match” for those keywords. Exact matches can be useful in bringing you customers who are close to choosing a contractor; returning to the basement remodeling example, you might use a very targeted phrase, such as “affordable home basement remodeling company in Albany” to pull in customers who know they want to remodel their basement and are choosing between a few options.

Campaign Structure

The best feature of AdWords is the ability to monitor your ad campaigns. This lets you set up several different campaigns targeting different keywords, and see which one does best, which allows you to hone your advertising so that you’re getting the most bang for your buck. We recommend starting a few campaigns with a small budget limit, no more than $20 a day, and putting your bid at about $1.00 per click to test out the effectiveness of your advertisements. And make sure, when you’re building your ad, that you show them on the Google Search Network only. Showing them on the Google Display network puts your ads on websites instead of on the search results, which isn’t nearly as effective in gaining leads and bringing customers to your business.

We also recommend checking out Google’s tips on choosing the right keywords for your ads. You can also get more information about how Google uses keyword matching to better inform your choice of how to use your keywords. And if you’re not sure which keywords are best for your business, you might consider exploring this list of most-used contracting keywords. It can give you an idea base for your keywords, which you can then customize to your particular needs. Google’s Keyword Planner can also help you research beneficial keywords to build an AdWords campaign around, and is another resource we strongly recommend using.

So — you’ve set up your account and chosen your keywords. Now what? Well, you can link customers to the home page of your website, but it might be more effective for you to send them to a specific landing page or somewhere they can easily provide you with their contact information. If you have a page on your website that’s already set up to quickly inform a potential customer of what you can do for them, with a contact form, that may be the best place for the customer to land. If, however, you prefer the customer call you, you may want your ad to link to the particular service page they’re looking for — for example, an ad campaign revolving around boiler repair and replacement should link to that specific page on your website, not your general home or contact page.

Management and Optimization

Setting up your AdWords campaign is only part of the work. It’s not a “set it and forget it” sort of project; if you want to optimize your results, you’ll want to follow a few key steps.

A/B Test the Ads

First, you should try out several different variations of your ad copy. Using 3-5 different variations of your ad will help you see which is most effective in your target audience; run all of the ads for several days and choose the most effective one. Then run several new copies of your ad and choose which one works best in that batch. You can then run your two best ads against each other and see which performs the best; this is the basic way to handle A/B testing, and will help ensure you’re using the best ad for your target demographic — and, therefore, spending your money wisely.

Review Your Campaign

Reviewing your campaign is also important. You should review your ad’s effectiveness, the keywords you’re using, and even which search terms your ad is showing up under (all features available through AdWords’ analytics system). If you notice your ad is showing up on keywords that aren’t related to your business or your area of expertise, then you should add those words to your “negative keywords” list, which will prevent your ad from showing to people who are clearly looking for something else. This, again, will help you save money — you won’t be paying for clicks from curious people who weren’t actually interested in your services.

You should also make sure to routinely check and see what other people are bidding for your keywords, and adjust your own bids accordingly. Following these simple steps will not only improve your business’s AdWords success, but will also save you money in the long run.

So now that you’ve learned about how AdWords works, let’s talk about why you should use it for your business.

Part Three: Why AdWords is a Useful Contractor Marketing Tool

As part of a comprehensive marketing plan, Google AdWords can give you a strong leg up on your competition. Though it can seem expensive at first, you can get a strong, and quantifiable, return on your investment with just a little planning and effort. Targeting your advertisements to your area and the specific customers you want to attract will help you bring more people to your website, which will translate directly into more customers for your construction company.

However, it does take time and effort on your part. If you have trouble with technology, it might be better to have someone help you with your campaigns. But with time and attention, your Google AdWords campaign can immensely benefit your business and improve your profits.

Contractors’ Experiences

We asked a few contractors from our network about their experiences with Google Adwords. Some of them claimed they have never seen good ROI and a few had better experiences with Adwords. Quite a few contractors we talked with just didn’t have enough knowledge on the subject and did not think they could start small and test Adwords without spending thousands of dollars on ad spend and management.

Perryn Olson offers an interesting insight into how he uses Adwords:

“I’ve used Adwords occasionally for immediate results, especially if the company is new or not well known, but prefer the long-term organic approach. Many times my strategy is to start heavy with Adwords and back off after 3 months and ween off it completely within 12 months once organic is showing strong results.

The best recommendation I would give: Use specific landing pages, don’t drive traffic to your homepage!

7 Adwords Advertising Mistakes:

1. Linking to a Homepage

One of the most common mistakes you can make in regards to your PPC campaign is sending your clicks/traffic through to your homepage. As a contractor, you think that all your visitors are going to find all the services they need. No matter how much you’d want that to be true, it isn’t. Because of that, you want to make sure that the process from keyword, ad, and all the way to the landing page is as relevant and also as streamlined as possible.

It’s imperative that ads and keywords are allocated relevant landing pages and are broken down into logical ad groups. That’s because this makes it a lot simpler for users to easily find what they need to make an inquiry, call, or purchase from you. For example, someone searches custom home builders in Atlanta, and your ad says “custom home builders in Atlanta, low prices with 10% online discount.” However, when the user clicks on the ad, they are taken to your landing page and there’s not even a single mention of Atlanta. Since the website won’t offer the user what he’s looking for, he is going to close it and take his business elsewhere. It’s important to always be as relevant as possible!

2. No Optimization

You need to always optimize your PPC campaign. Setting it up once and then leaving it as is will only result in you spending a ton of money and getting you zero results.

To fix this, you need to report, implement and learn about the performance of your best ads so you can make the most of your AdWords budget and campaign. Not only that, but there are new updates, competition, continuous market changes, and seasonality which directly impact the performance of any account. To make sure you avoid the negative impact of these changes, you need to carefully plan and then optimize your campaigns as best as possible.

3. Lack Of Tracking

You spend a lot of money on online advertising, your CTR (click through rate) is high and you also get a lot of traffic, but how are your sales doing? If you employ no tracking for leads and sales, then how can you know if your current online campaign is successful or not? While it’s true that a lot of people land on your website, without conversion tracking or analytics implemented on your website, you’re only going to have your money and time wasted.

In fact, when you think about it, it actually makes no sense to invest in something without knowing what works and what doesn’t bring you leads, sales and profits. In this case, to avoid shooting in the dark, it’s best that you install Google Analytics as soon as possible. If you don’t like it or want to use something else for various reason, then there are many other tools out there you can download.

4. Not Using Negative Keywords

Not all search traffic is created equal, and by using a suppression list, you’re going to ensure that your ads won’t be displayed in searches that are related, but actually irrelevant. In your campaign, you need to employ a keyword list that won’t cause ads to be displayed. It’s a vital requirement when it comes to fine tuning your targeting.

For example, if you only build custom one story homes, then you wouldn’t want your ads to be triggered when people are searching for custom two story home builders. By eliminating unnecessary keywords, you can easily improve the CTR and conversion rate of your ads.

5. Not Testing Ad Copy

Most of the time it’s more time efficient and simpler to use a single variation of ad copy that perfectly reflects your brand, and then make use of it for all your key phrases. To a certain degree, this method will work for some ad groups, but if you want to leave your competition in the dust, then you need to create ads that are both engaging, relevant and clever.

If you’re not the only contractor in town, then it makes sense to run variations as soon as possible in order to see what works and then make the necessary changes to your ads on a weekly basis. In this case, account structure becomes very important, since it allows you to effectively group keywords and then test each of them and see which ones are performing the best.

6. Search & Display Networks

The search and display networks of Google AdWords are not as similar as you would think. There are many differences between them, in addition to the fact that they work independently. For one, the content network or display network is the Google’s network of partner websites. This is the place where advertisements are delivered depending on demographic and content usage for that specific platform. In order to run the two strategies successfully, it needs different targeting settings and ads. That is why separating these 2 individual campaigns is essential.

On the other hand, the search network is basically where users type in their search key phrases and based on them they’re going to have different search results displayed. For now, stay away from the display network. It’s not a road you ever want to go down by yourself.

7. Ad Scheduling

It’s recommended to ensure your ads run only during peak hours when the highest number of conversions will occur. For instance, most of the time businesses are going to experience their best conversion rates between 7AM to 7PM. Keep in mind though that this can vary from one industry to another. To know how long and when to run your ads, you need to review your Google AdWords campaigns data first. By that I mean, have your campaign running for a solid month, then go into your data and look to see what the best times are for the campaign (conversion wise).

By only running ads during your peak conversion times, you’re going to have a great baseline to use when it comes to optimizing other aspects of your campaign, such as your landing page copy and/or your text.

What is Google Places?
It is a Google business directory that displays local results when people are searching for particular products and services online.  If you are a plumber and someone in your town or county is searching for a plumber, and you are all set up with Google Places for contractors, there is a chance that your listing will show up in the Places results.

Why Is It Important?
As a builder or contractor, when you are looking to improve your online presence in an effort to drive traffic to your website, there is no one tactic that works.  Marketing online is an ongoing strategy with the goal to be everywhere where your prospects are looking for the services you offer.  As I have written about several times before, there is no magic bullet to online traffic generation.  In order to generate traffic online, you must have a modern optimized website, a good SEO content strategy, a full Google Places listing, along with some other things.  You can’t just rely on SEO to grow your business.

The Quick Step-By-Step Google Places Guide for Contractors

Google Places is not going to turn your contracting business around tomorrow, but it’s so simple to set up that you can’t ignore it, especially if you’re looking to improve your business’s online presence and start generating more business from the web.

Take 10 minutes right now, read through this quick Google Places guide for contractors, and build your free Google Places listing.

Go to the Google Places Website
Go to this link:  https://www.google.com/business/placesforbusiness/ and click the blue button to get started.  If you do not already have a Google account, you will need to sign up for a free one. If you do have a Google account, you can log in with your existing username and password.

Build Your Listing
Google will prompt you through the steps to enter your company, contact information, service area(s), hours of operation, add photos, and provide additional details.  Pro Tip:  If you have photos and/or videos, be sure to add them here.  Google loves photos and videos (especially You Tube videos, because they own You Tube), so they will only help your listing show in the Google Places results.

Complete and Verify
When you complete building your listing, on the next page, Google will verify your address.  They will then send a pin number to you in regular mail.  This usually takes 5 days to receive.  When you receive the pin number, just follow directions in that piece of mail (3 steps) to verify your account online. Once you verify your account with your pin number, it may take Google 1-2 weeks to publish your Google Places listing.

See how easy that was?  If you do not want to do this, ask your web developer or the SEO agency you work with.  Any good SEO agency should have already done this for your business.

Why Being On Google Maps Is Important For Contractors

If you’re a small- to medium-sized business owner, especially a contractor, you might not have considered the tremendous importance of being indexed on Google Maps. After all, if you serve an area and don’t have a physical location, why would you need to have a map on Google? You go to clients, not the other way around.

However, if you’re not using Google Places – Google’s simple service that lets you list your business on Google Maps – you could be losing out on local customers. Since Google tends to blend organic service results with their indexed businesses on Google Places, completing the simple signup and getting your business registered could easily place you higher on search results than competitors who might not be signed up. For example, if you register your business as serving, say, the Tri-State area, and a customer searches for “Tri-State home remodeler,” then you’d be more likely to show up. Improving your search engine ranking is a great step to take towards improving your overall website conversion rate.

Free Online Marketing

Google Maps is a great way to improve your marketing, completely for FREE. Because Google Maps also show up on smartphones – and strongly affect the results that do show up on mobile phones, with Google’s new search algorithms – having your business listed could mean that you would be top billed when someone is searching on their mobile or tablet.

Not only that, but if you have a Google Places listing, you can also display pictures, videos, hours, payment methods, coupons, and so much more. Customers can even leave you reviews directly on your Google Places/Maps profiles, providing yet another place to build your trustworthiness and giving you another option to enable your customers to leave you a positive testimonial.

And if you do happen to have a physical address – say you’re a remodeler with a design showroom – you can put in the location of your physical building as well. Instead of putting in, say, Jackson, Mississippi as your location, you could put in your actual address, and customers searching for plumbers in Jackson, Mississippi would pull up your direct location. You’d be able to drive people to your showroom, as well as provide people who are looking for a home designer or remodeler with a phone number to contact you easily.

As I mentioned earlier, Google has also changed their search engine display results for mobile users, due to the drastic increase of people searching for local businesses on their smartphones and tablets. If you jump on this early, you’ll have an edge in terms of being a recommended or preferred local business, which has the potential to greatly improve your search rankings both on and off mobile devices.

Simple to Use

You may be thinking “I don’t have time to go through all of that!” And we totally understand. As a contractor, your time is valuable. But it’s so simple to create a Google Places account and get listed! With only a few steps, you could be taking advantage of this free marketing tool for your business.

  1. Go to Google My Business and either click “start now” or click “sign in” if you already have a Google Account.
  2. Once in, you’ll be asked to fill in all the pertinent information for your business, including your name, location, phone, address, category, etc. You will need to put in a physical business address at this point; however, when you choose the option “I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location,” the next screen will allow you to set your radius of service and keep your address hidden (unless you also have a physical location, in which case you can check the box which says “I also serve customers at my business address” to display both your physical address and a radius map.)
  3. Verify your information, and you’re ready to go!

Note: There may be some additional Google Verification steps to go through, but for the most part, setting up your Google Places account is a quick and easy process that should only take 5-10 minutes.

Use for Multiple Locations

Do you have multiple physical businesses, or do you serve more than one city? You can set up multiple locations on your same business profile, which will let you target individual cities or radius areas throughout your service area! Doing this can help you target more customers for specific service types. For instance, if you know a specific city you service is wealthier and enjoys having custom homes built, you can target that area with a “custom homes” keyword to draw more business to your site. Remember – verifying your business on Google Places creates a Google Plus Business page for you, so use that to link to your website, upload pictures, get reviews, respond to questions, and more!

Google Places – and, through an account there, Google Maps – is truly an invaluable tool for small- to medium-sized businesses and contractors. With the increase of mobile searching and the emphasis Google is now placing on Places accounts in search results, getting a Google Places account and verifying and indexing your business is a huge step towards improving your search ranking and enjoying totally free marketing benefits.

Not only that, but when you combine a Google Places account with a fully optimized, high-quality website, you’ll be ahead of the curve when it comes to marketing and conversion. If you’re interested in improving your business results and making more money, get in touch with us today. We’ll help you go over your marketing options, talk to you about the potential of your business, and help you with everything from building a website from scratch to getting customized SEO packages. Let us help your business succeed today!

Google My Business

Google My Business is a free tool that connects Google search, maps, Google Plus, and Google Reviews into one convenient application.  The application helps local businesses get found more quickly and conveniently online.

If you’ve ever Googled a company or a local business, you’ve likely seen their Google My Business profile show up in search engines, like the information boxed in orange below.

Even if you don’t have a website, you can get a free Google My Business profile so your information shows up when people are searching for your company.

Already have a website?  Well this will just bolster your web presence and strengthen your brand online.

Oh, and having an updated and optimized Google My Business profile helps with local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as well.

There’s no excuse for a contractor or any local business not to have a profile:

  • It’s completely free
  • You can do it yourself
  • It will take 10 minutes of your time.
  • And if you never want to touch it or update it again, you don’t have to. It’s more or less a set-it-and-forget-it type of thing (unless you want to market your page).
How to Set up Google My Business

1 – Go to http://google.com/business

2 – If you already have a Google account or Google Apps for Business account, click Sign In.  If not, click Get on Google

3 – Choose Business Type – Most contractors are going to select Service Area because they service customers and the customers’ location.  If you have a design showroom or a physical office that people visit, you can select Storefront.

4 – Search for Business Name and Address – Start typing in your business name and address.  If the correct name and address pops up, click on it.  If not, click None of These Match – Add Your Business at the bottom of the dropdown list.

5 – Enter or Update Your Business Information – Enter all of your relevant information. Note:  The format of your Name, Address, Phone (NAP) is important.  Ideally, you want this information to be in the same format as it is on your website and other online properties.  For example, if your street is listed as ‘Main Street’ on your website, list it as ‘Main Street’ on your Google My Business profile (not ‘Main St.’).  This is a little thing that helps with your online presence and local SEO.  When you’re finished, click ‘Continue’.

6 – Enter your service area information – Either choose a radius (in mi or km) or choose individual towns that you service.  Click Continue.

7 – Confirm and Continue – Check the box to confirm your information and click Continue.  Your page will be created.

8 – Verify Your Business – Google needs to verify that the business information you entered is correct.  The way they do this is by sending a postcard to your business address.  Yes, it sounds old school, but it’s really one of the only ways to verify your address.  Click the Verify Now button in the red bar and Google will send you a postcard with a pin number within 1-2 weeks.

9 – Complete Your Profile – Here, you can upload a profile photo, add photos, and add a business description.  We recommend adding as much as possible here so your profile is complete.  Be sure to save all of your updates.

You’re all set!  Your profile won’t show up in Google search results until you get that postcard and verify your business address.

Once your business is verified, you should start seeing your profile show in search results within a couple days.  You should also start soliciting some Google reviews from happy customers, clients, and partners.  And if you are into social media marketing, we recommend posting regularly to your Google Plus profile, which will only strengthen your online presence.

How To Get a Google Star Rating in Search Results

One of the most frequently asked questions we get from contractors is how they can get those orange stars to show up under their company name in Google search results.

Have you ever done a Google search and noticed that some results have those orange stars next to their name, and some results don’t?

There’s a reason for that. It’s not random.

If your company doesn’t have those stars, the good news is that it’s actually free and easy to get them!

While something like this may seem insignificant and not worth your time, reviews are an important criteria that people take into account when hiring contractors. In fact, in a Houzz survey from 2015, 81% of homeowners said that reviews are the most important factor they consider when hiring a contractor.

Using Twitter for Construction Companies

Let’s talk about leveraging Twitter for construction firms and builders.

Recently, there was a discussion in one of the LinkedIn groups for contractors to which I belong.  The title of the discussion was:  Twitter for Construction Firms – Does tweeting help your brand?

My answer is yes.  If done correctly, Twitter can help your brand.  But Twitter is not going to make or break your business.  Twitter isn’t a marketing strategy, just like Facebook isn’t a marketing strategy.

Think of it this way.  Twitter is a screwdriver in your toolbox.  You can’t build a house with only a screwdriver.  And you can’t build a business, or generate enough leads to grow your business, with Twitter alone.

Since Twitter for construction firms is just one tool in your box, if you have the resources (time and personnel) to consistently spend a few minutes on Twitter daily, it certainly can help to build brand awareness, stay on top of industry news and trends, and even establish yourself as an authority and a leader in your industry or in your local geographic market.  1 million people are signing up for Twitter every day, so it’s definitely here to stay.

How to Use Twitter Effectively

As a contractor, you may be wondering which social media platforms are best for you to use – if any – and how to properly use them to get the most benefit from them. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn – there’s a wide variety of platforms out there, all of which target different audiences. Used correctly, Twitter can be a great tool to help your company stand out from the crowd of other contractors in your area. With just a little time and effort, you can create a Twitter account that will establish you as an industry leader and authority in industry topics, whether that’s new methods of home construction or new types of piping that are more effective and durable than existing methods.

Over 50% of active Twitter users follow companies, brands, or products on social media, and with approximately a million users a day, that number is only growing. But while Facebook is a great platform for people to find reviews, locations, hours, and more information about your business, you’re more likely to gain Twitter followers than Facebook likes. If you have the resources, we highly recommend maintaining a Twitter account – while it may not lead directly to conversions, it will increase your online presence and brand viability and recognition.

Setting Twitter Strategy for Construction Firm

As with any pursuit in business, it’s important that you begin with the end in mind.  Why do you want to use Twitter?  What do you think it can do for your business?  How can you help inform other businesses and consumers?  If you don’t have a clear reason for doing it, don’t bother.

Promote Your Brand Using Twitter

There are a few simple ways to promote your brand or business using Twitter, but the first step is to consider your end goal. What do you expect from Twitter? What do you think it can do for your business? Make sure you have a clear reason for creating your Twitter; without direction and drive, you’re much less likely to get the traction you’re looking for.

When setting up your Twitter profile, make sure you’re using your logo as your profile picture, with your Twitter handle either your business name or as close to your business name as possible. Link to your website in your Twitter bio to encourage traffic, and make sure your Tweets are connected to your business and industry. It’s also important to be authentic, personal, and open – much like a website, this is a way to build trust and rapport with people who may be potential clients or networking partners.

Consistency

Another important part of any social media platform is consistency. Make sure that you’re posting regularly, preferably every day. Share stories about your industry. If you write a blog, link to your blog. Show off your latest completed project or awards you’ve received. If you’re looking for employees, you can use Twitter as another way to advertise your openings.

Don’t Overdo It

Twitter sees billions of posts a day. People are constantly liking, sharing, and retweeting other people. It can be incredibly easy to get overwhelmed. Start out with 1 – 3 posts a day. Follow other industry professionals and retweet them. The more active you are, the more followers you’re likely to have – but if you’re flooding peoples’ feeds with Tweets, they’re going to unfollow you.

What to Tweet?

(For newbies, the verb tweet means the act of posting or replying in your Twitter account.)
Here are a few suggestions on things you can Tweet:

  • News about your company
  • Industry articles
  • Photos of your projects
  • Awards or recognition you receive
  • Testimonials you receive from your clients
  • Advertisements for career openings in your company
  • Promote your blog posts, articles, and free reports
Best Practices
  • Be authentic
  • Be personal
  • Transparency lowers the barriers to doing business
  • Don’t get overwhelmed.  Twitter can be very noisy and busy.  Start small and ease into it.

Many people mistakenly try to use Twitter as a lead generation tool.  While it can be quite effective in some industries, I haven’t found any statistics that show construction companies generating consistent quality leads from Twitter.

My opinion is that by engaging with Twitter for construction firms or professional firms, you probably won’t see success as a lead generation tool, but it’s a good way to nurture leads.

One way to nurture leads is to promote your blog posts, articles, press releases, testimonials, and the like, and link back to a landing page on your website so people can engage with you more and learn more about what you do.

Last but not least, Facebook!

At the end of 2015, Facebook quietly unveiled a feature called Facebook Professional Services that lets potential clients find local businesses in their area, based on the business ratings and reviews. It currently supports over 80 business types, from women’s health to home décor, plumbing to interior decorating, and is designed to be a new competitor to Yelp and Angie’s List.

But how can you benefit from Facebook Professional Services? What’s the best way your contracting business can take advantage of this feature? We’ll give you some information about how to best optimize your local business page, as well as the best ways to reach new customers using this tool.

First: What is Facebook Professional Services?

Every page on Facebook, whether personal, professional, or fan, is archived in their system. Facebook Professional Services is a dedicated directory inside Facebook’s larger organizational hierarchy that is specifically for pairing local businesses with interested customers, based on the business’s reviews and ratings. Customers can either use the search box to find businesses in their area based on specific keywords or browse the top local business categories. The search results are organized based on a number of factors, including:

  • How close the business is to the customer’s area of need
  • Matching keywords between the customer’s search and the business’s page name, category, and description
  • How many ratings the business has received and how recent the last rating was
  • Interactions between the page and customer
  • And more

Essentially, Facebook Professional Services is one more way Facebook is branching out and increasing the functionality and effectiveness of your business page. We’ll teach you how to take advantage of this, and maximize your page’s likelihood of showing up in local searches.

Choosing the Right Categories and Subcategories for Your Page

Making sure you’ve selected the appropriate categories and subcategories for your contracting business is vital to showing up in Facebook Professional Services. One of the best ways to discover if you’re using the right keywords is to search for the categories or keywords you think a customer would use to find you, and see what Facebook suggests for you to use. For example, typing “contractor” in the search field brings up “Contractor” and “Concrete Contractor,” whereas typing in “Home” brings up “Home Improvement” as one of the potential options. So if you’re a contractor specializing in home improvement, you would want to select those categories and add them to the Page Info section of your About tab. That way, if local customers search for either of those categories, they’ll be more likely to find you — and more likely to become your customer.

Fill Out Your Business Details

All of the information on your About tab shows up on Facebook Professional Services. You want to make sure your short description, business hours, and contact information fields are filled in; the more details you have, the more likely it is that a customer will reach out to you.

Enable Check-ins, Star Ratings, and Contact Options

If you have a physical business that people can go to, make sure you’ve enabled your check-in option. You can do that easily by editing your address and checking the box beneath your map. This will also allow customers to easily leave you star ratings without having to write a full review, which could boost your ranking and make it more likely that you’ll show up in local searches.

You also want to make it as easy as possible to contact you! We recommend adding a call to action button to your Facebook business page, either linking it to your website — if you have one — or turning it into a click-to-call button for mobile users.

If you have the time and resources to respond to messages quickly, adding a message button to your page and letting customers contact you directly through Facebook is a great way to prove your accessibility and fast response. We recommend only doing this if you can guarantee most responses within 24 hours, however. You don’t want to leave potential customers hanging on, waiting for an answer from you!

Encourage Your Customers to Leave Ratings and Reviews or to Check-in to Your Business

Since Facebook Professional Services seems to be largely based on the number and quality of reviews, ratings, and check-ins your business receives, you want to encourage your current customers to leave you positive feedback. You can use Facebook signs on your business page to encourage reviews, send your customers a link to your page after you’ve completed your service, or post reminders on your business wall encouraging past customers to review and rate you. The more engagement you have with your customers and the more positive reviews and ratings you get, the higher chance you have of showing up at a top-ranking spot in local searches.

Remember: while Facebook doesn’t currently have any guidelines that say you aren’t allowed to incentivize positive reviews, they believe strongly in keeping page activity authentic. In other words, it may not be in your best interest to provide specialized discounts on future services to customers who provide you a review. Besides, you want customers to review you because they genuinely liked what you did for them, not because you paid them to do so!

Keep Your Page Up-To-Date

This might seem like a basic suggestion, but making sure your page is active and updated frequently is a fast, easy way to let customers know that you’re open for business. Make sure you have a profile photo and a cover photo, and try to update your page several times a week. Your updates don’t always have to be strictly business, either; feel free to include updates that might be of interest to your target customer base or your local community. This will make you feel like an approachable business, and may also contribute to an improved ranking in local searches.

Contractors Guide to Facebook:  Ground Rules

Content Is the Foundation

You’ve heard it here; you’ve heard it a million times.  Content is King.  Any type of marketing, especially online marketing, begins with content.  Whether it’s written content, images, project photos, infographics, videos, quotes, or even other peoples’ content that you’re repurposing, you should have a vault of content that you can share with the world.

Howard happens to have a passion for photography, so he has 40,000 images of his work over the past 37 years.  Of course you don’t need that many photos, but make it a habit of carrying your camera or smart phone around to job sites and snapping photos.  People love to see before, during, and after pictures.  We get a kick out of seeing how much work goes into a project, the attention to detail, and the dozens of steps it takes to design, build, and deliver a new project.

Be Consistent

These days, when a consumer looks at a company’s Facebook page and the business hasn’t posted anything in a couple months, one of the first things the consumer is wondering is whether the company is still in business, right?

You don’t have to post every day, but we recommend a few times per week at a minimum.  One way to ensure you post consistently is for you or one of your team members to block of 5 minutes every morning or evening to get on Facebook, share something, and engage a little.

You’re not going to see immediate results in the form of followers or sales, but the compound effect of engaging consistently will bear fruit in the long run.

Be Relevant

People go on Facebook to be entertained or to learn; they’re not on there to buy.  Make sure you’re sharing things that people will enjoy, that enable people to learn a thing or two.  Inspire new ideas with photos of your latest project.  Provide some tips on home improvement.  Share information that will help them make better decisions.

Remember, marketing is not about you; it’s about your audience.

Be Excited

Howard is the perfect example of a business owner who truly loves what he does.  That passion and exuberance is shines through everything he posts.  He enjoys designing and building pools and landscapes and he loves sharing his passion with others.  Don’t be afraid to show some personality.  Show the world what gets you out of bed in the morning.  Have some fun with it.

“It’s about being inspired!  Sharing ideas and information and having us all achieve and realize our own inner potential.  I share what I do and love, and hope that it brings enjoyment to others.”

Engage, Don’t Just Promote

This is one of the biggest mistakes businesses make – treating Facebook as a one way street.  Social Media is not a megaphone for you to blast your message out to the world.  Social media is for engaging, for building relationships, building your brand.

We talk about posting consistently, but it’s equally as important to engage with other people and businesses in your local area or your industry.  Answer questions, comment on others’ posts, respond to your audience’s questions and comments.  Engaging also adds personality to your business and builds trust with your audience.

Contractors Guide to Facebook:  What to Post

Now that we have some basics rules out of the way, the next question you’ll probably ask is what to post on your Facebook page.  We always recommend a mix of different things that balance promotion with helpful information.

If you’re reading this, chances are you are a residential or commercial contractor doing work in your local geographic area.  That means that you now have a platform for engaging with your local market and establishing your company as a local expert or authority.

Too many contractors just focus on promotion by only posting photos of the projects they’ve done.  While people like to see photos of your work, you’re not necessarily going to build trust and expert status if everything you post is about you.

Remember, your marketing should be focused on your market, not you.  Here’s a good mix of what we recommend posting:

Project Photos

People love seeing progress pictures.  Before and After contrasts work really well.  Take photos all the time – when you’re doing estimates, before the job begins, different phases of the project, and of course the finished project.  Again, this is something that’s so easy to work into your daily routine, but something that so few contractors actually do.  In just a few minutes a day, you can build a huge library of content.  If you’d like to get really ambitious, provide context to your photos by writing a brief description of what they are and why you’re sharing them.  Howard rarely posts a photo without including a little blurb about what it is, where it is, and why he’s posting it.

Personality

Don’t be afraid to inject some personality into your business.  People want to see who’s behind that corporate logo.  Maybe you share information about your hobbies, your weekend hike or weekend beach trip.  Maybe you just write a little blurb about a project you’re really excited about.  You don’t have to share your whole life, but give us a little glimpse of who your company is and how you’re different from other similar companies.

Local Community News & Events

Share some information about local events, local restaurants, other businesses, charities you’re involved in, the local high school football team, networking events, and the like.  This is a fantastic way to build a community atmosphere right on your Facebook page.  It helps connect you with like-minded people and future customers.

Helpful Hints for Your Market

Ask yourself how you can put your audience in a better position to make educated decisions about the types of services that you offer.  If you’re a kitchen remodeler, for example, share some DIY kitchen makeover tips.  If you’re a landscape architect, tell us how we homeowners can spruce up our yard over the weekend.  In addition to being super useful to your audience, this type of stuff will put you on the fast track to becoming an industry leader.

Promotions and Special Offers

Be careful about how much you try to sell your services on Facebook, but also don’t be afraid to extend special offers to your audience.  A popular way to do this is via seasonal specials or holiday specials.  You don’t have to offer a discount or a coupon to have a special.  A promotion can be as simple as letting people know what you do and how they can take the next step to becoming your next customer.

Testimonials

Similar to photos, testimonials are a huge asset that most contractors don’t take advantage of.  Telling the world how great your company is has its place.  But when other people talk about how great your company is, it carries a lot more weight.  Share your testimonials and reviews on your Facebook feed.  Bonus points if you include actual names, photos, or even videos.

As you can see, our recommended strategy is a healthy balance of these various elements – promotion, photos, information, community news, and so on.  A handy rule of thumb to keep in mind is to improve your audience’s position in everything you do.  Are your Facebook followers more informed, more educated, more entertained, or more inspired after having seen your updates?  If so, you’re on the right track.

Contractors Guide to Facebook:  Pro Tips

For those of you who pretty much have a good strategy in place and are looking to improve your presence on Facebook and maybe even generate some new business, here are some more tips to help you get to that next level.

Invest in a Decent Camera

Smart phone cameras have come a long way and can take some great photos.  But if you really want to awe, especially if you’re taking indoor photos where the light for smart phone cameras isn’t always ideal, spend a few bucks and invest in a good point and click or DSLR camera.  Photos are your content that you can use for many years.

Show the Details

Any kitchen remodeling contractor worth his hammer and nails can build a nice kitchen and show it off on Facebook.  One of the things that separates you from others is your attention to detail.  Take some time to take detail photos of your work that show your audience the small things you do that make a big difference.  Not many contractors do this, so it’s a quick way to stand out.

Lead People Back to Your Website

Posting on Facebook is not a marketing strategy.  And Facebook, or any other social media site for that matter, shouldn’t be your online platform.  Ideally, your primary platform is your own website.  Your website is the only thing that you can always have control over.  Your website is also the best place to convert casual visitors into actual paying customers.  You don’t have to, and in fact shouldn’t, do this with every post, but from time to time, share photos or content that bring interested people back to your website to potentially take the next step.  Your photos should never exist only on Facebook or only on Houzz.  They should always at least have a home base on your website.

Feature Other Professionals

An effective way to grow your audience is by leveraging other contractors’ audience.  Share their posts or post some of their project photos.  You’ll be able to extend your reach and grow one another’s following.  Plus, this helps establish trust because you’re not always posting about your company.

Post in Real Time

There’s a reason Reality TV is so popular.  We’re a nosy bunch of people and we like to see what other people are up to, especially on Facebook.  Some of the contractors who do Facebook really well,  constantly posting in real time.  This helps us get a glimpse into the daily life of your company and relate to on a more personal level.

The Ultimate Facebook Checklist

Ensure Your Settings Are Right

With a simple change to your settings, you can receive an email, phone notification or even a text message to let you know when someone sends a message to your page or comments on a post. Simply visit your Facebook business page, click ‘Settings’ in the top right, and select ‘Notifications’ from the menu on the left side.


Activate Your ‘Call to Action’ Button

In 2015 Facebook introduced a new button for business pages, which is located at the top of your business page on the cover photo. This button provides seven options that can drive traffic to your website or an app:

  • Book now
  • Contact us
  • Use app
  • Play game
  • Shop now
  • Sign up
  • Watch video

Make sure you pick the most relevant one for what you want to achieve.


Boost Relevant Posts

The average organic reach for a Facebook page post is just 2%. That means for every 100 people who like your page, only two of them will see the posts that you publish. One way to increase the number of people seeing your posts is to ‘boost’ them. This means that for a fee you can push your content to more people’s news feeds. You will not want to boost every post, only those that will help you achieve your marketing goals. For example, if you have free capacities that you need to employ, boosting this content will reach a wider audience.


Complete Your ‘About’ Section

Of course, you’ve already done this, right? Check to ensure your address, phone number, price range, website, mission, etc. are completed. To access this section, click ‘About’ under your cover photo, and you can add any information here.


Post Videos to Your Page

In 2014 Facebook overtook YouTube for the number of videos viewed online, putting it at the top of the video marketing tree. The autoplay feature (where a video starts playing automatically as a user scrolls down the news feed) has seen videos double the organic reach of posts.


Ask Questions of your Audience

What is your biggest problem when trying to market your business through Facebook? If you could outsource one part of your marketing, what would it be? How often do you review your marketing strategy?

I have loads of questions I’d love to explore with you, but what could your audience tell you? Posting questions on your Facebook page is a great way to find out more about your customers. It’s also a good way to drive engagement in the form of likes and shares, which shows Facebook that your page is doing a good job.


Vary the Types of Posts You Share

The most common reason for a person unliking a Facebook business page is ‘uninteresting posts’ (32%) (Kentico Digital Experience Survey, 2015) but what makes a post interesting?

The ideal length of a Facebook post for maximum engagement is 40 characters (Fast Company, 2015) but what sort of content should you be sharing? Users love posts which are topical, relevant and friendly.


Schedule Posts to Maintain Presence

One of the biggest complaints I hear about social media is how much time it can potentially take up when you are trying to run your business.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could write your posts in advance and schedule them to publish at regular intervals throughout the week while you get on with your day?

With Facebook’s scheduling tool, this is exactly what you can do. The tool is available for free to all business owners. Not only does it save you time, but it gives you the freedom to maintain a presence on Facebook without having to create and post content every day.


Use Branded Graphics to Increase Your Profile

You have just milliseconds to catch someone’s attention as they scroll down their Facebook news feed, but one way to stand out is through visual content such as photographs and graphics.

A strong brand image is a valuable asset for your business. You want to be sure to present content to your audience in a clear and consistent way. This is just as true on social media as it is in print, so consider this when sharing images.


Share Links to Your Website (and include a good image)

Research shows that people click more on shared links when they are displayed using its own native link format.

To achieve this post layout, simply paste the URL of the page you want to promote in the ‘Status’ box, and you should see an image, headline and a bit of text automatically appear.


Ask People to Engage With Your Posts

Ask and you shall receive. Consider asking your audience for their comments at the end of your post to create engagement.


Be Personal

The clue to social media success is in the name: SOCIAL media. Don’t be afraid to share stories about the people in your business, staff birthdays, business milestones, and even pet updates!


Integrate Facebook into Your wider Marketing Plan

Facebook is just one of the tools out there in your digital marketing arsenal but it needs to be used in conjunction with the others. What other social networks are you on? What content do you publish on your website? How do you use email in your marketing? What offline activity are you planning and how does it link with Facebook?

Create an integrated plan that includes online and offline activity to effectively build loyalty with customers and generate quality leads more consistently.

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