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Marketing online: Making the most out of social networking

August 5/12, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 4

By Lindsay Baillie

 

Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are ideal online platforms to help retailers communicate and stay top of mind with potential customers. What’s more, most marketing experts agree these sites open opportunities for those dealers to meet people of influence—those who can become consumer ambassadors for your company. However, before spending valuable time and money building a social network, it is crucial to understand why you’re on these sites and how to navigate them.

An important component of successful social media marketing is the fact that these sites allow flooring dealers to be social with a large pool of people. However, having a social media account can be detrimental to a business if the account is inactive or if communication is only flowing one way. As Mark Saxby, social media consultant, Status Social, explained, “Your target audience is present on a platform that encourages two-way communication. A common mistake is to realize you need to be on social media but not understand why. Where flooring companies often go wrong is to set up accounts on all the platforms they’ve heard about, and then they work their socks off trying to post content on all of them. The results: suffering from creative burnout, zero results and a mediocre presence on each of the platforms.”

Saxby believes flooring dealers should focus on one or two social platforms and be clear on why they are on them. “Set some targets,” he explained. “Gain an understanding of how the platforms work and make sure everything you post achieves your objectives.”

When creating content for social sites, it is important to remember that consumers do not want to be blatantly “sold.” They are on these sites to be social and gather new, easily digestible information. Irene Williams, owner-principal of Msg2Mkt, LLC, a digital marketing, public relations and social media management firm, said retailers should avoid a heavy sales approach with posts. “Your followers are not drawn to that kind of content,” she explained. “They come to social media to be inspired and stay apprised—not to be sold. If you’re posting images with lots of type and marred with your watermark or logo, you will likely alienate audiences. And when your followers don’t pause in their scroll to view what you share, the algorithms of the social platforms can actually downgrade your content’s appearance in newsfeeds because of low engagement.”

To post more socially appealing content, Williams suggested dealers focus on “design inspiration” in the form of visually appealing photos and videos. Two social sites that truly lend themselves to these types of content are Instagram and Pinterest. “Instagram is all about the visual and was born for mobile—a great combo for our smartphone, 24/7 marketplace,” she said. “For best success, post regularly, use location tags and regional hashtags to help your posts show up in geotargeted searches. Also, use Instagram Stories as often as possible and take time to follow, like and comment on others’ posts. This will encourage a reciprocal social experience that can earn attention and interest for your profile.”

Flooring dealers can utilize Pinterest to drive traffic back to their websites. Williams suggests retailers treat Pinterest more as a search engine than a social site. “Use keywords in titles and captions to align with what your potential customers are looking for,” she advised.

When it comes to posting content on Facebook, experts say dealers should focus on uploading photos their intended audience (the consumer) would like. Dealers should also post when they attend seminars and conventions, according Lisbeth Calandrino, retail industry consultant and FCNews columnist.

Status Social’s Saxby said he views Facebook as a great place to “turn your fans into your sales team, referring your company to their friends and families.” To do this, he suggested posting content a dealer’s fans want to see, such as stories about the store’s team, its values and why the store does what it does.

Post with a purpose
While almost all the social platforms lend themselves to video and photo posts, dealers must make sure each post serves a purpose. If posting a video or a photo, a dealer can share important information in the caption such as product details or the answer to a question. “Rather than pitching products, use social networks to position yourself as a resource to readers or viewers,” notes Katrina Olson, marketing consultant and principal of Katrina Olson Marketing + Training. “Share links to articles or other third-party sources such as trade magazines or blogs. Show before and after pictures of your projects. Show how a new wood floor or carpet completely changed a room. Share stories about how you solved a problem or addressed a challenge with an existing customer.”

Equally important as a dealer’s content is user engagement. Digital marketing experts agree, engagement is more than a simple “like” or “re-tweet.” It involves thought-out, personal responses. “You wouldn’t go to a networking event and do nothing, would you?” Calandrino asked rhetorically. “If I write something on your page, you need to look at my page and do something for me. Instead of just clicking on what I’ve written and liking it, you have to write something and make it personal. Talk as though the person is standing in front of you.”

Along the same vein, Olson explained no matter the social network a dealer chooses to use, be consistent and stay active. “Get involved in discussions and comment on others’ posts or articles. Ask satisfied customers to provide comments, photos and recommendations on their social media platforms—then share them on yours. Let them toot your horn for you.”

In addition to freely posting pertinent images and information and properly engaging with your audience, flooring dealers can also take advantage of paid opportunities, which are available across all social platforms. While dealers do not need to go overboard with spending, experts do suggest dealers take advantage of some paid advertising that allows them to target ads to consumers with trackable results.