Social Savvy: How curious are you about social media for your business? Jun 19

By Christine B. Whittemore

Many business owners resist social media because they believe it requires too much time. Make no mistake: promoting your business via social media is a time commitment. But with a bit of curiosity and experimentation, individuals can find strategies that work for themselves and their businesses and discover opportunities to connect with customers in new and productive ways. And eventually, social becomes simply another thread in the fabric of the day, the way things are done.

Flooring dealers can easily be skeptical about the value they will reap from investing in social media activity: they have so many other plates they are juggling; they’re plenty successful without social. But, I ask, how do you know that social can’t help your business if you haven’t tried? Do you automatically say no to a new product introduction? What if it turned out to be an amazing profit generator? What if social media offered you the means to differentiate your business and allowed you a way to influence future customers? Wouldn’t that be worth exploring? The only way you can find out for sure is if you open yourself to possibilities and experiment.

A SOCIAL TAKE ON THE BUSINESS
What would it take to do some social media experimenting?

Let’s start with Google My Business. Try claiming and verifying your Google My Business listing, then regularly encourage customers to leave a review. Whether positive or not, you should acknowledge each one. After a while, you may discover that prospective customers start finding you via this listing.

If you haven’t set up a Facebook business page, consider doing so. Or, if you have one already, commit to publishing one update every week. You might share images of your team at work, helping customers or completing installations. I bet you have new product introductions. Why not share pictures and some highlights about them? What if you created a short video where you describe and show that new product? When you publish it on your page, you might call out the product manufacturer or even specific Facebook friends who might like it. That’s being social with people you know about products you like to support a business you believe in. After a while, you might discover people making friendly observations, asking questions and coming to visit you to learn more.

If you like video and feel ambitious, you might start to compile and publish YouTube Videos of your customer installations on a weekly basis. They’re complex, involved and make for a dramatic before/after transformation story. Atlantis Water Gardens, a New Jersey-based pond contractor, publishes updates weekly on its YouTube channel. The business currently has over 17,000 subscribers, and most videos have several thousand views each and plenty of comments. One has 22,000 views, and it’s 14 minutes long. As you look through its channel, you’ll notice early efforts with short videos that weren’t very popular. Atlantis Water Gardens kept experimenting and now has a formula that works.

The company recently did work on my pond, and I got to see them in action. It has a drone to get overhead images. It has a camera with a microphone and regularly stops to record its progress and add commentary. And, when it’s done, it gets a testimonial from its customer.

Here’s why this is a big deal in the marketplace.
• Each video brings to life a project completed.
• It educates prospective customers.
• It involves them emotionally because the videos connect the project with the property owner.
• It makes the construction of the water feature public, allowing viewers to experience the work process, the personalities of the Atlantis team and their work ethic. The mystery goes away while the magic remains.
• It provides visual bragging rights to the happy pond customer, thereby driving word-of-mouth.
• It supports the sales process.

BEING SOCIAL IN REAL LIFE & ONLINE
Atlantis Water Gardens’ approach is the equivalent of the Installation Design Showcase that the Coverings expo does. In past years, the installation process took place during show hours in front of everyone in attendance. This year, because it happened before the show, video captured the entire installation, documenting it for show attendees.

Surfaces held a competition in 2019 where installers had to complete their tile, carpet, wood or other material installation during the show. And what about the Certified Tile Installer hands-on test that took place in the public arena during Coverings or Surfaces in front of the world?

Yes, being social can open you up to critiques, but you have to believe in yourself, be confident enough to deal with mishaps and be open to judgement. There’s an honesty required that no one can fake. That’s what makes a permanently recorded testament to your work powerful. You can’t hide. You can’t blame someone else. You have to show up and deal with mistakes, should they happen. At the same time, it involves your customer emotionally and intellectually, and it makes you stand out.

You don’t have to invest in a drone. You don’t have to purchase a special camera and microphone. You can simply use that amazingly powerful device in your pocket: your mobile phone. Try going live with Facebook. That’s what Tile Outlets of America did when it attended a weekend home show in the Fort Myers area. It experimented with four short live videos:
• During set-up when the team, including the store manager, were working hard.
• Early on the first day to highlight what it was showcasing. By the way, it reminded viewers that a sale was going on at the store.
• Early on the second day to recap comments and reactions from visitors to the home show.
• On Monday morning when it broadcast the drawing of prize winners from the weekend event.

You need to be willing to experiment. First, try out the tools. Do you hold your phone sideways or lengthwise during Facebook Live? Well, both work but when you do it sideways, it’s better for desktop viewing. At the same time, it may be awkward to do so.

Then, try out the options. Are you better off doing Facebook Live or YouTube? Did you know that YouTube offers a live option? Perhaps an Instagram story is more to your liking. You may discover that your true followers are on one platform and not the other, or that you have different kinds of followers on each platform. The only way to learn is by experimenting.

You may discover that you prefer impromptu video sessions or that photos combined with written commentary works best for you. Or you may want to edit to achieve a more polished end result. Explore and determine what’s right for your business.

MORE SOCIAL BANG FOR YOUR BUCK
Figure out how to multipurpose your content. If you create video, how will you promote it? Can you showcase it on your website? Can you add more detail around the story in a blog article where you embed the video? Can you use it in your showroom or during training sessions? People learn in multiple ways, so provide them with different ways to access your information. And then use it in your sales process. Give your prospective customers “homework” based on the content you’ve created. Provide them with the opportunity to get deeply immersed so that they fully and completely buy into you and the solution you offer. Hint: Be sure to make use of tracking tools on your website so you can monitor whether your students do their “homework.”

Watch and observe. What do you see that could make a difference for your business? Can you encourage prospective customers to create a private Pinterest board when they share their sources of inspiration? Can they text you images of their rooms so you can provide feedback? Can you convince them to use your room visualizer to upload a photo of their space and try out new flooring products? That’s where the social possibilities happen-when you make it easier for them to work with you to solve their problems.

Doesn’t it make you curious about what’s possible?

Copyright 2019 Floor Focus