Using Social Media To Market Your Small Construction Business

Social media for a construction businessThe local handyman is a staple of any small community, a reliable face armed with a toolbox of tricks and the expertise to help out just about anyone. Wandering around with a smile on his face and a cheery whistled tune for his soundtrack, everyone knows the local handyman.

Well…that’s how it used to be anyway. Unfortunately, as local communities become fractured and bigger construction companies begin to up their marketing budgets and force their way into local markets, the good ol’ local plumber, electrician or carpenter might be finding it hard to survive.

Part of the reason for this lies in marketing, and how the general public now interprets a flashy TV ad, a catchy radio jingle and a bells-and-whistles website as a sign of quality. With money to burn, big construction companies are able to put themselves in front of potential clients at the expense of smaller businesses.

This effect has continued online, with big companies able to spend more on vital search engine advertising space, as well the kind of websites and digital marketing strategies that see them fly up to the first page of rankings for a broad selection of frequently searched terms.

In the past, a crafty local handyman could counter this effect by placing an advert in the local shop window, by placing a listing in the phone book or even by placing an advert in their local newspapers. Unfortunately, the effectiveness of these methods has dropped dramatically; local shops are being closed to make way for supermarkets, phone books replaced by online directories and the circulation of local newspapers dropping dramatically.

However, what we previously considered to be the cornerstones of a community haven’t disappeared – they’ve just moved. Whereas once the best way to connect with a community was through a newspaper ad, social media is now the best way to get local people talking about, and recommending, your local business.

But how does social media work for a construction business? And how does a business advertise effectively on a platform where people don’t want to be advertised to?

Social media is different to other forms of marketing in that aggressively putting your business out there is possibly one of the worst things you could do. Instead, social media is less about selling your business and more about socialising with others in order to build your business’ reputation.

This means putting across your business in a personable and relatable manner, treating your customers less as selling prospects and more like people. In this sense, small construction businesses tend to have two distinct advantages.

The first is that most small construction businesses will only have small number of staff, meaning that the personalities of various staff members can be utilised to give the company a ‘face’. Adding this element of personality makes a company much easier to relate to and gives people the impression they’re actually talking to people rather than a faceless corporation (this is especially effective if you sign off updates with the name of the person updating).

The second is that most small construction businesses will only serve a small region, meaning that they can focus almost exclusively on engaging a small target audience. With strong regional knowledge, a local construction business can arguably fit in better with a community and integrate itself better than a large company ever could.

Which is nice, in theory. But how do you put that into practice?

The best way to get started is to do a bit of advertising in order to promote your page. Facebook allows you to hypertarget who your ad reaches and for a small sum, you should be able to reach a significant proportion of potential customers in your area.

Twitter is a bit trickier and requires a bit more effort. You’ll need to identify people who use Twitter and who happen to live in the area your business operates in, as well as determining whether or not they would be interested in your services – following a bunch of 14 year-old One Direction fans probably isn’t the best strategy.

Once you’ve followed enough people, begin engaging with them but do it on their terms. Monitor trending topics and conversations to determine what is currently concerning people, and discuss that with people. If you can find a way to work in your business, that’s a bonus but definitely should not be the focus of what you do on social media.
Along with setting up your profiles, you should also work on building a base of content with which to promote and engage your audience with. This could consist of blog posts (a good example being Multiquip), videos, graphics or anything else you deem suitable. What you choose to cover will depend entirely on the type of customer you’re trying to engage but how-to’s and other informative content tends to work well. Don’t forget to inject a bit of personality either.

In all honesty, there is no big secret to social media apart from be social. Don’t always go for the hard sell; although there’s no defined ratio of social-to-promotional tweets, about 70-30 would be a decent guideline.

So if you’re struggling to market your small construction business against various big companies, try going social. It might be the best business decision you ever make.

 

About Chris Smith

Chris Smith is a freelance writer specialising in copywriting, search engine optimisation and social media. He has previously written for State of Search and Search Engine Journal. You can find him on Twitter @ChrisSmith897.