Whoever coined the phrase “the only thing certain is change” must have been talking about social media. For those of us who use social media to support business goals, it can be challenging to keep up with best practices and strategies amidst all the ebbs and flows across the various social platforms.
Despite ongoing changes, I come bearing good news! Regardless of nothing staying the same, you can use social media confidently – and effectively – by holding to some key strategies and tactics that never change. You can combine your business savvy and common sense so that social media supports your overall goals now and into the future.
The ideas you’ll find here can be applied to your endeavors on just about any social media platform. These days, our industry is most active on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest (maybe in that order), but down the road, that mix may change. Even if it does, these core strategies will likely translate so that you can keep going strong with social media.
Make every post and interaction point to true north (your business goal)
What is your goal in using social media? While there can be many good and reasonable answers to that question, you’re ultimately aiming to get customers to purchase from you. This goal is the proverbial true north, and your “posting compass” should always point to it as you engage with followers and create content for business purposes.
IMPORTANT: This does not mean that every post should be directly selling something. Social media is about SHARING – not selling. With social media, you’re getting customers to know, like, and trust you, so that they’ll prefer to work with your business now and in the future. And, actually, it’s this subtlety that makes the need to remember your ultimate goal so necessary. If you don’t have true north solidly in mind as you create content, it’s easy to get off course and “post just to post.”
You don’t want to crank out content without purpose or interact with followers without focused intention. Always remember: you’re using social media for the professional goal of earning paying gigs. Social media works best when you opt to show in order to tell!
Go with Inspo, Info, and Get-to-Know content to connect with customers
If you’re wondering what to post on a day-to-day basis, default to “Inspo and Info” posts supported by “Get-to-Know” posts.
While photos are a constant go-to (this industry is visual; always remember that!), video content also performs really well on social media. Feel free to use both stills and video in your posts, whether you’re sharing inspiration, information, or inviting folks to get to know you.
Inspo – “Inspo” is short for “inspiration” and is a term often used on social media. Inspirational images and videos are great for our visually driven industry. Inspiration posts can spark ideas and get customers’ minds turning as they plan upcoming projects. With ongoing Inspo posts, you can become a resource for tile design ideas – the go-to for designers who seek the unique.
Inspirational post ideas:
- Pretty tile, of course! – nicely arranged samples, color stories, close-ups to show product details, quick video clips to show play of light over tile texture
- Real room scenes – images of actual installations – can be pro or amateur shots
- Theme images – images featuring tile photos that align with/are related to special days (#mosaicmonday, #tiletuesday, #walltilewednesday #fridaysfloor); images that showcase your expertise in certain applications or market segments (i.e. – our top five flooring installations, our most recent master bathroom projects, etc.)
Info – There’s so much to learn about tile installation. By sharing helpful information you can establish yourself as the ultimate expert in the industry – a trusted source for practical and important insights that help specifiers transform their beautiful inspiration into real-life installations.
Informational post ideas: always includes a compelling image while conveying pertinent content
- Installation tips – useful insights that help designers work with you as they make specifications, facts/info to help them intelligently and confidently spec the right tile for their projects, tips on what to ask you at various junctures during projects
- Ideas for specific applications – i.e. – considerations for high-traffic flooring, wall tile for shopping malls, top three priorities for tile in healthcare facilities
- Did you know? posts – posts that succinctly explain miscellaneous tile terms and interesting tile-related tidbits such as “What is DCOF and why does it matter?”
- Technical performance features – i.e. – advantages of certain types of tiles for specific applications.
Get-to-Know – These posts are the chance to showcase your personality, as well as the personality of your business. They can be excellent when used intermittently to help customers come to know, like and trust you even more.
Get-to-Know post ideas: considered to be intermittent, filler content – tertiary to Inspo & Info posts
- Quick intro – a post in which you introduce yourself and explain your role with the company; nice to sprinkle into your regular posts a few times a year, so people can see your smiling face and get acquainted or reacquainted with the person behind the posts
- Industry involvement – pics from trade shows, workshops, association events, etc. – purposed in highlighting how you are always learning and staying on top of the latest for the tile installation industry
- Community involvement – posts that showcase participation in local events, activities, charitable happenings that convey you’re someone locally connected who cares about the community at large – making you relatable and “real” to your customers
Make your socials local
Want to catch your ideal customers? “Fish where the fish are…and use the best bait.”
That’s an old adage, but it’s a really helpful reminder for the modern age of social media marketing. It’s better to catch 50 “fish” that are likely to bite than 5,000 that are just swimming by. Remembering that the true north for your social endeavors is to get more people to hire your company, you’ll want to employ all the targeting tactics possible to catch your best customers.
- Use local hashtags – The social media hashtag is fundamentally a search tool. It was born as a way for people who have a shared interest in a topic to easily find and follow posts about that topic within social platforms. To that end, choose words and phrases in the same way you would determine key search terms for a website’s search engine optimization (SEO).
- Be topical, but also be geographically specific in order to increase chances of connecting with people who could actually come into your showroom. For example, “#dallas” has 17 million hits on Instagram, while #dallasdesigner has 88K; however, it’s a pretty sure bet the most targeted audience is following the latter hashtag.
- Do a little research to determine the top hashtags being used by your local customers and relevant audiences. Use those hashtags in all your posts – every time you post – to help attract more of the right eyeballs to your content.
- Insider tip: Create a note on your phone with your collection of “always include” hashtags. Then, you can simply copy and paste them in your captions each time you post from your phone.
- Tag other accounts – Tag brands, designers, and customers any chance you get when posting. This will help ensure that the relevant parties will see (and possibly share) your content.
- Include geo-locations – Whether you’re posting from a job site or your office, include your location in the post. The social platforms are typically more likely to “show” content to followers who are in your area, so be sure to include where you are to potentially increase targeted views.
Make your socials, well, social!
Social media should live up to its name by being reciprocal, conversational, and interactive. As much as the content you post should hit the right marks, you should also be present in other ways on social media, as well – for best results.
- Find the right “fish” – Identify the folks and firms in your area that you know…or want to know, and follow or connect with them. Even if you never posted anything, you could still get lots out of your social media simply by following and then watching what these strategically selected accounts share. It makes for excellent market research; in the marketing biz, this is known as “social listening,” and it can be a great source of ideas and insights to help you grow your business.
- Be comprehensive – In creating your follows and connections, start local by targeting interior designers, builders, A&D firms, installers, media outlets, design influencers, partner brands (such as manufacturers and setting materials companies), sales reps with partner brands, and regional chapters of associations in your area.
- Follow suit, so to speak – Every now and then, take notice of the accounts that your top followers are following and follow those accounts, as well. This is a useful tactic for expanding your targeted circle.
Engage regularly, meaningfully
- Comment and like – Take a few minutes each day to show some love and pay attention to those you’re following on social media. Like others’ posts. Comment on what they share. Chime in if you have an idea that might be helpful or can answer a question they might have.
- Be conversational – Social media works best when treated with the standards you’d expect in an actual, in-person interaction. By keeping a conversational tone that invites response/back-and-forth interaction, you are more likely to keep a connection going and, over time, deepen the relationship. One kind word or question that shows genuine interest and curiosity can go a long way to winning over a customer and earning her loyalty.
- Share others’ content – See something wonderful that is relevant/fun/offers inspo or info? Share it (make sure you have permission to do so), and give lots of acknowledgement to the account/person that posted it first. People love it when their content really resonates, and they often are thrilled that their posts are deemed “regrammable” or shareable. This is a great tactic to employ when someone has tagged you or the brand in her post; it’s a great, easy way to amplify the message.
Seek support and suggestions anytime
Please feel free to reach out to me if you ever have questions about social media or digital marketing. I have 22 years of experience in the tile industry, and through my digital marketing agency, Msg2Mkt, LLC, I lead marketing strategies for a range of clients. I’m more than happy to offer specific insights. Find me at [email protected].
Irene Williams is founder of The Digital Life Academy and a coach, speaker, and author on personal development and digital wellness strategies. Previously, she spent 25+ years as a marketing consultant in the flooring and building products industries. Find her digital business card at irenewilliams.biz.
Irene earned a BA in Professional Writing from Baylor University. She serves on the board of Borderless Arts Tennessee, the state organization for arts and disabilities, and occasionally tackles a half-marathon for good measure. She's based in Nashville, TN.