As a sheet metal or HVAC business owner serving residential customers, you might not have time to spend on social media. But your target customers are already there, and they use these avenues to connect with people, find businesses to hire and read business reviews — all tasks relevant to your business. You certainly don’t want to miss this opportunity to discover new customers looking for a company like yours.
In this three-part series, we’ll talk about the benefits of using social media marketing and share steps you can take to maximize these efforts. In this first part, we’ll focus on the reasons investing in social media might be worthwhile and the questions to ask yourself to help decide where to target your efforts, according to Lauren Wattie, vice president, Vault Communications, who spoke on this topic at SMACNA's 2022 annual convention.
Today’s Social Media Users
First, let’s look at the use of social media to help gauge the audience types that are present in these avenues.
According to Wattie’s research, there are 4.7 billion active social media users — 59 percent of a total population of 7.98 billion — a 5 percent increase from the previous year.
And social media use keeps growing each year.
On average, people spend six hours and 49 minutes on the internet daily, with two hours and 30 minutes on social media channels — a 3.5 percent increase from the previous year.
What are people doing on social media platforms? Forty-seven percent are on social channels to keep in touch with family and friends, while 36.3 percent are just filling their spare time. Reading news stories comes in at 34.8 percent, while 30.9 percent of people search for content that interests them. Next, 29.1 percent are seeing what people are talking about, 27.9 percent are seeking inspiration for things to do and buy, and 26.5 percent are finding products they want to purchase. Twenty-four percent of people are sharing their opinions with others, while 23.7 percent are watching live streams and 23.3 percent are making new contacts.
An important data point for businesses is that 23 percent of social media people seek content from their favorite brands. Then, 22.5 percent are doing work-related research or networking. Twenty-one percent are finding like-minded communities and interest groups or talking about their life events.
A whopping 75 percent of people aged 16 to 64 who are using social media (including networks, message boards and vlogs) are doing so to seek out information about brands, products and services, Wattie says.
What’s grown a lot over recent years is video content, Wattie shares. Approximately 92.4 percent of internet users aged 16 to 64 watch multiple types of videos daily, including music, tutorial, comedy, livestreams, gaming, influencer, sports, product reviews or educational videos.
Why Should SMACNA Businesses Invest Time & Resources in Social Media?
Wattie says the reasons SMACNA businesses should spend some of their marketing budgets on social media are increasing. She highlights the top five reasons:
- Increase brand awareness. Research proves you can boost a positive brand reputation through social media. For instance, 83 percent of Instagram users say they discover new products on that platform. By posting online, a SMACNA business has a cost-effective way to increase its company’s digital visibility.
- Humanize your company and improve customer service. Since social media users log in to social media platforms at least once a day, businesses can connect with them daily. Also, a positive customer service experience can encourage current and prospective buyers to return. It can also help you improve brand trust and loyalty.
- Stay top of mind and uncover industry trends. Social media encourages transparency. There, consumers and brands exchange conversations in real time, which can create human connections and build trust within their communities. These conversations can include complaints as well as your customers’ latest interests.
- Increase website traffic. Social media marketing can also help you attract website traffic. When businesses include their website addresses in all their profiles and the content they promote and source themselves, they can continue driving traffic to their websites. Using call-to-action language can encourage those website visitors to become leads.
- Use social channels to get your content in front of new people. You can use social media platforms to assess what types of content your potential and current customers want to see from you. For example, you can develop engaging, relevant blog posts that respond to customer questions. This shows them you care. You can even repost customer photos to improve engagement and conversation rates. Monitor your mentions and brand tags to keep track of positive customer interactions. Then, share those interactions with your followers.
Smart Questions to Consider Before Investing in Social Media Marketing
Social media presents an additional opportunity for product manufacturers and service providers to build and enhance relationships. But for those new to social media, it can be confusing to know where to start.
Wattie suggests that when determining whether or not you want to invest marketing dollars in social media, a SMACNA business owner should ask themselves these important questions. The answers can help you determine how much to spend, which customers to target and where to direct your dollars.
- Who do you want to engage on social media?
- Why might they be using social media?
- Which platform(s) will be most relevant to their motivations?
- Are you looking to reach a specific gender?
- Which age groups are you most hoping to reach?
- Are you hoping to appeal to some generations more than others?
- What types of incomes do your typical customers have?
- What common values does your target audience share?
- What social platforms does your target audience use?
- What content do they like?
- Who else are they following?
In the next issue, we’ll look at each social media platform to help you choose which ones to target your time and money.