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Digital Marketing: Putting social media to work for your business

Expert advice on helping dealers take the virtual plunge

November 7/14, 2016: Volume 31, Number 11

Achieving success at retail in today’s high-tech marketing, media-rich world requires a departure from traditional consumer-outreach thinking. Experts the world over agree that a solid social media strategy should be at the core of any marketing program.

That begs the question: What’s the best way to get started? It might sound elementary, but the first order of business is to get to know your audience. Experts say a retailer’s customer demographic will shed light on where they are spending time online. Facebook, for example, is the most popular social media platform for women ages 34 to 54.

Next, review the various social media platforms to see what might work best for your needs. The possibilities on social media are growing and evolving, with new platforms launching frequently (see graphic). Among the most popular are Houzz, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn. Before deciding on a platform that best suits their needs, objectives and, yes, capabilities, retail business owners and operators should consider how much time they can devote to social media. Many experts agree that about an hour a day should be spent on each social network (at least when first starting out). Next, retailers need to consider the audience and demographics. For instance, which social networks are used most by your customers?

Many online marketing proponents believe Facebook tends to deliver the greatest results given its widespread use across varied demographics. According to Christine Whittemore, chief simplifier and digital marketing specialist at Simple Marketing Now, it’s helpful to start with Facebook as most dealers are already familiar with this social network on a personal level. “I’m hopeful that someone has done some experimenting and is somewhat familiar with one of the networks,” she said. “It really helps to understand the network from a personal point of view before getting involved with business perspective.”

Starting off small with Facebook makes sense, experts say, as consumers often search that platform in much the same way that they look for a regular webpage. At the same time, marketing advisors and professionals only recommend posting something on Facebook that has a purpose. In the case of floor covering dealers that means attracting new customers and retaining customers that dealers have already sold.

On the flip side, many retailers remain hesitant to get involved with social media because of seemingly inevitable negativity, particularly with customer reviews. Most dealers know all it takes is one unhappy customer sounding off on a social network or review site to potentially affect other consumers. However, business owners should take these reviews as opportunities to turn negatives into positives.

“More frequently, consumers who are thinking of replacing a floor are looking online for answers: what to buy and where to buy it,” notes Paul Friedrichsen, owner of BrandBiz, a marketing and branding consultancy. “That means she’s probably paying close attention to online reviews. In fact, research says 70% of online customers rely on reviews before making a purchase. So, if you’re not listed on a review site then you’re not in the game. Even worse, if you are online but your reviews are lousy, you’re already losing.”

Ultimately, presence on the top social networks is key, particularly visually based platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. Posting original, engaging content on Facebook is paramount, along with short, attention-grabbing blurbs on Twitter. Business listings on Google+, Yelp and Angie’s List will help with search rankings and garnering customer reviews. Houzz—which allows users to express their creativity—is another network rising in popularity in recent years. It works like Pinterest in that it is based on inspirational photos, which falls right in line with the home furnishings/fashion industry. Once a dealer has selected a platform—or group of platforms—the next move is allotting a budget for online marketing initiatives. One of the best things about social media, experts say, is it offers an advertising vehicle for a very low price. You can actually choose to spend nothing, but experts suggest working with a budget—it can be as little as $35 a week—to get additional exposure. “It’s the cheapest media money you will ever spend,” Friederichsen said. “You could spend $10 on Facebook to boost a post or ad and get 1,000 people to look at it. The return on investment for this doesn’t compare to anything you’ll spend in mass media.”

Whittemore also encourages boosted posts. “You are basically paying Facebook for increased visibility. It’s a fabulous tool because you can target certain people in specific locations and you can do it for very small amounts of money.”

But don’t boost everything and anything, she noted. “Before you boost, see if the post gets some organic attention [with likes and comments]. If it’s a dud, don’t waste money on it. You want a mixture of updates—some about you and some about topics that are of interest to your customers. You have to test what works.” social-infographic2015

Creating a connection
At its core, social media is a helpful tool for building relationships with customers. It’s an opportunity to give them a behind-the-scenes view of your business or how “human” you are. It also enables dealers to highlight top-notch customer service and the quality of completed jobs. Experts recommend dealers share photos of their best installations.

“If you want to attract new customers or get the word out about your business, you may want to focus on what’s new in the store or talk about some events you are hosting,” Whittemore suggested. “Think ahead of time to decide what you are going to share and when. And if someone comments on your post, be sure to respond in a reasonable amount of time.”

Experts also suggests dealers get their customer service reps and sales teams involved with social media as well, as this helps with consistency. “It’s not a matter of showing up once; you have to be there all the time,” Whittemore stated. “It’s like joining local business organizations or attending chamber of commerce meetings—you have to go regularly to meet people and hand out business cards. Social networking serves the same purpose, except you’re doing it all online.”

 

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Social networking becomes tool for success

by Emily J. Cappiello

Social networking is no longer an added part of success; it has become one of the main tools to help businesses thrive. Social networking allows companies to get closer to their customers and can even help consumers find local flooring stores, since Facebook is becoming an ever-increasingly popular search engine as well as social networking site. YouTube can enable people to network with each other but can also be used to supply partners and potential customers with educational information about products. And with new additions like Pinterest, social networking is growing by leaps and bounds. Continue reading Social networking becomes tool for success

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QEP expanding social media presence

Boca Raton, Fla. — QEP Co. has just launched all new social media outlets through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn.  “These new social network platforms provide QEP Co. with another method of communicating and engaging directly with our current and future customers,” noted Jamie Clingan QEP Co. Sr. vice president, marketing “Real time information about our company, products and employees will be posted to keep customers up to date with product launches, sweepstakes and allows them to view and share product how-to pictures and videos.” Continue reading QEP expanding social media presence

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Formica announces social media campaign

Barnwell, S.C. – Formica Flooring announces the launch of a 2012 social media campaign, which includes a blog (appropriately named FormicaFloorum) on formicaflooring.com and an enhanced presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and Google+.

The FormicaFloorum blog contains helpful entries on choosing the right laminate flooring brand and style, and informing the consumer about the difference between hardwood and laminate by sharing stories of actual homeowners. Formica Flooring’s Facebook and Twitter pages are consistently updated with informative and engaging posts and links, and a YouTube channel will soon host videos on a variety of topics related to laminate flooring. Continue reading Formica announces social media campaign

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Home Legend connects with customers through social media

Adairsville, Ga. — Home Legend, a leading supplier of hardwood, bamboo, laminate, cork and luxury vinyl flooring is staying connected with its customers and reaching out to new ones through social media outlets. “Home Legend currently has an online presence on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube,” says Jamann Stepp, Home Legend Vice President, Sales and Marketing. Continue reading Home Legend connects with customers through social media

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Why you need to get in on the online experience

In honor of our forthcoming second edition of the Guide to using Social Media in Business, we’ve decided to share some statistics that didn’t make it into the update:

We all know websites are the cornerstone of any integrated business. But did you know that:

•There were 255 million websites at end of 2010

•21.4 million websites wereadded in 2010

•16.91 billion web pages exist

•There are 2 billion Internet users worldwide

•There are 273 million Internet users in the U.S.

•1.1 billion Web searches per month in U.S.

•1.7 billion terabytes of information created and stored on Web each year

One social site that didn’t make it into the guide but really should have: Are you familiar with StumbleUpon?

•2.2 million web pages added every month

•51 pages added every minute

•50.34% of U.S. social media traffic driven through StumbleUpon

•Average session on StumbleUpon is 69 minutes

Can you believe this?

•186 online videos average Internet user in U.S. watches per month

•2,232 online videos average Internet user in U.S. watches annually

•53% of employees research potential job candidates on social networks

•17% of time spent online devoted to a social network

•20% of couples now meet online

•20% of divorces are blamed on Facebook

•37 million people watched VW’s Super Bowl Darth Vader ad on YouTube

•Groupon will reach $1 billion in sales faster than any company in history

•1.5 million real farmers, compared with 80 million Farmville farmers

•90% of consumers trust peer recommendations; 14% trust ads

•Babies in Egypt have been named Facebook

•If users were citizens, Facebook would be the 3rd largest country in the world behind China and India. Combined with Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube they would be the largest country in the world. Yet, Facebook, and Twitter are technically not allowed in China so they do not count any users from the world’s most populous country, and both YouTube and LinkedIn users have had services cut off now and again.

Google+ has 26 million users, 72% of which are are male

•Most users will click shared content within the first 2 minutes. If each page view generated a second of attention we would see 90 years of attention daily