How to use social media to market home and building products
By Amanda Eden, Stoner Bunting Advertising
August 29, 2018 | 1:28 pm CDT
The home and building products industry is filled with innovative products and brands aimed at everyone from middle-class consumers in suburbia, to the influential and powerful movers and shakers of the architecture and design world. Some of these brands and products are about as niche as niche gets. And on top of that, marketers are tasked with executing social media strategies for companies and organizations that have extremely narrow and hard-to-reach audiences. What are the keys to making it all work? 
Honestly, it takes a combination of experience, planning, strategy, and education.
Below are some tips and tricks from two influential industry blogs that align with our social media development strategy and offer helpful hints for home and building product companies out there looking to break through the onslaught of social media noise out there.

Think like a Whizard

The folks at Whizard Strategy, who just so happen to also be experts in the building material industry, offer some great tips for implementing a social media strategy. The Internet is a big empty space after all and can be extremely intimidating for companies with little-to-no existing presence. 
However, with effective, educational content tailored to the right audience, this space begins to shrink. If you are just starting out on social media, or are looking for a change of pace, follow these 6 steps to success:
1 | Set Up a Blog
Anyone can set up and start a blog a little or no cost.  It’s an easy process and there are more options than ever. The secret to having a successful blog — meaning one that pops up in search results — is posting content to it on a regular basis and making sure that you link your website to every post.
2 | Create Business Social Media Accounts 
Remember, this is your business account, which represents your brand and should always be separate from a personal account. Making sure business social media accounts are separate from private ones ensures inappropriate party photos — or worse — don’t get mixed up with the company. 
3 | People Like Doing Business with a Real Person
Put someone in charge of all social media. No, it doesn’t have to be their only job, but they will become the “face” of your company. When they do post it will show up as “Josh, from Stoner Bunting,” not a nameless digital representative named “Author.” 
4 | Find the Right LinkedIn Groups for your Business and Join Them
For building material marketers, they can reach many of their channel customers through LinkedIn groups such as the Roofing Contractor or Kitchen Dealer or Architect groups. Individuals can join these groups while companies cannot.
5 | Establish the Process and Boundaries for your Social Media Program
You can take an active or passive approach to social media. With an active approach, the lead person is online frequently making comments and responding to others. With a passive approach, everything you do is planned and has time for approvals, if required. An example of a passive approach is to post to your blog once a week. These posts can be written in advance and then posted.

Learning from established brands

While Whizard Strategy offers great tips for establishing a social media presence and creating specific social media campaigns for product launches, sometimes it is best to take inspiration from larger, more established brands with a strong digital presence.
Social Media Today published an article discussing how startups and new brands can learn and absorb from the expertise and social know-how of proven companies. The author provides four ways to emulate the successes of industry giants:
First, steadily scale your social media marketing efforts. New businesses are often eager to find the right tools for developing a successful marketing strategy. Fortunately, social media provides the opportunity to market broadly with minimal cost — but there are many different networks to choose from. 
Take a look at how the established brands within your startup’s industry are growing on social and try to set that pace for your business. Too much, too soon can spam the social scene with unimportant posts or result in a sudden lack of content. Quality is more important than quantity, so identify which platform is best to start with and grow from there at a pace that is comfortable for your own business.
Second, you should both recognize and use social media as a customer service tool, not just a dumping ground for photos. Providing customer service is an impactful way for startups to utilize social media. Customers expect instant replies, and monitoring and responding through your social accounts is a great way to meet that demand and help turn customers into brand advocates. 
Larger brands do well with this, as they usually form teams responsible for responding to social inquiries. Just because your startup is smaller, it doesn’t mean you can’t have this type of dedicated team or team member ready and waiting to reply. However, since two-way conversations on social networks are critical customer service gateways, whoever is charged with responding must remain committed to the task.
Third, it’s also important to select the right social media platforms for your business. Not every company needs a Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ account. For example, visual social networks like Instagram and Pinterest are particularly effective for the fashion industry, whereas the technology community often gravitates toward Twitter for brand-building. 
Established brands already have a clear overview of which platforms are most effective in getting their content and message across. Look to others (even fellow startups) in your industry and identify which platforms are most relevant for promoting what your business has to offer. This will help to define your startup’s social media presence more strategically and achieve your overall goal of brand awareness.
Fourth, maximize social media as a recruitment tool. The entrepreneurial startup spirit is increasingly more attractive these days to both recent graduates and established professionals. Social media is the perfect way to tap into the pool of available talent, but it can be a challenge to promote job vacancies on Twitter or Facebook, successfully. Take a look at larger brands’ recruitment posts to see how they are reaching out for job openings. Is one platform more successful than another? Big companies have mastered the art of identifying top talent and knowing who to bring into the company.
Amanda Eden is director of public relations/media strategist at Stoner Bunting, which has been building relationships in the home and building products industry since 1984.

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