Successfully navigating the world’s most popular social media platforms and getting results isn’t easy, even for the pros. Social media for contractors is harder than social media for artists and clothing retailers, so you have to be hyper-aware of upcoming platform changes and what they mean for you.
An updated algorithm for Facebook means that you won’t see as much engagement from homeowners and other potential customers as you used to. Not without paying for it, anyway.
Tweets are showing up in Google search results, thanks to a deal between Google and Twitter.
Google+, as we knew it, is slowly vanishing from the world wide web.
LinkedIn is adding more robust analytics for businesses, which will only help you hone in your marketing strategy. They’re also changing pricing, connections, and groups.
We, the marketers and contractors of the world, can’t stop social networks from enacting radical changes. It’s out of our hands. You can either give up on social media entirely or embrace these changes and roll with the punches.
Guess which course of action we recommend? Only stand-up comedians make money from whining, so let’s explore these changes and what they mean for you, the contractor.
Facebook for Contractors
If you’re not paying for exposure, posts from your Facebook page are reaching less people than they did last year.
Facebook updated (and will likely continue to update) its newsfeed algorithm. The social media giant is constantly seeking feedback from its users so it can improve their experience.
“We dug further into the data to better understand this feedback. What we discovered is that a lot of the content people see as too promotional is posts from Pages they like, rather than ads. This may seem counterintuitive but it actually makes sense: News Feed has controls for the number of ads a person sees and for the quality of those ads (based on engagement, hiding ads, etc.), but those same controls haven’t been as closely monitored for promotional Page posts. Now we’re bringing new volume and content controls for promotional posts, so people see more of what they want from Pages.”
What do posts that might not make the cut for your audience’s newsfeed look like?
- They solely push people to buy a product or install an app
- They push people to enter promotions, contests and sweepstakes with no real context
- They reuse the exact same content as ads
Facebook is filtering its users news feeds more than ever, and your posts might not show up as much as they used to unless you’re paying. It’s tempting to solely use Facebook to promote your contracting services, but those repeated overly-promotional posts are the kind of content Facebook is minimizing. Facebook is great because it gives homeowners, building managers and other prospective customers a glimpse of the people behind your contracting business, so take advantage of that.
Your organic reach doesn’t go as far as it once did, and the news feed was already a competitive place.
From Facebook, in June of 2014:
“News Feed is designed to show each person on Facebook the content that’s most relevant to them. Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300.“
Things are even more strict now.
Why It Matters: With these algorithm changes, less homeowners are going to see your posts unless you pay to promote them. This is the new norm and there’s nothing any of us can do about it.
What You Should Do: Should you give up on your Facebook page? Absolutely not. Your Facebook page usually shows up near the top of Google’s search results when someone searches for your contracting business. It’s important to keep your information up-to-date, as potential customers will often research you on Facebook.
Facebook says (bolding is ours):
“Pages still matter — a lot. They offer a free, easy-to-maintain online presence for people to discover and learn about a business. They work across desktop, mobile and tablets without requiring any extra configuration, and contain complete information about a business. They also offer tools to create videos, photos and events that bring a business’ story to life.”
What many businesses may not realize is that Pages are an important destination for their current and potential customers. In October, for instance, nearly a billion people visited Facebook Pages. Of those visits, more than 750 million happened on mobile devices. Many businesses also use Pages as a customer service channel. Businesses should think about their Page as a cornerstone of their online identity, not simply as a publishing service. The businesses that are doing this well understand the discovery and communication that happens when people come to their Page.”
Though your posts might not reach as far, you should still follow Facebook’s best practices for business.
Finally, there are a few things you can do to cope with reaching fewer news feeds. Tell better stories, understand what excited your audience, and be more relevant to Facebook users’ lives. Your audience, the homeowner, would love to see before/after photos of your work and read stories from the job site.
BuzzSumo has more great tips from social media experts in this post.
Facebook is also offering its own training for marketers, which is worth checking out. Their instant articles program, which is eventually rolling out to all businesses/publishers on Facebook is worth checking out, too.
Twitter for Contractors
Twitter and Google have finally reached a deal. Although Search Engine Land reports there’s no changing of money involved, tweets are showing up in certain Google searches for mobile users. Twitter and Google report that the feature is coming to desktop searches soon.
“By deeply integrating Twitter’s real-time content into Google search, we hope you find it easier than ever to explore your interests across both Twitter and Google,” said Jana Messerschmidt, vice president of global business development and platform for Twitter.
Tweets will appear in search results when a topic, often pertaining to a current event, is trending on Twitter. Tweets might also show when you search Google for a famous person or a hashtag.
Ardan Arac, senior product manager for Google, wrote in a blog post:
“It’s a great way to get real-time info when something is happening. And it’s another way for organizations and people on Twitter to reach a global audience at the most relevant moments.”
That post also explains the integration in more detail.
So, what’s in it for Twitter? Even more traffic. This should be an interesting development for both Google and Twitter.
Why It Matters: For starters, your mobile search results are changing. Twitter is a fast-paced social network that often breaks news stories and explores current events as they happen, and that’s now reflected in your search results.
Presumably, if the stars align, your tweets could be featured in Google search results in the future. We’re not completely sure how it works just yet, but it’s something to think about.
What You Should Do: Keep tweeting. If a trending topic is relevant to what you do as a contractor, join the conversation (but never force it). Your tweets might potentially reach an even larger audience now, so make sure they’re good.
Also, write more questions into your tweets. Many people enter ‘long tail’ searches into Google now, such as “why is there a water stain on my bedroom wall?”
If you tweeted, “Why is there a water stain on my bedroom wall?” along with an appropriate hashtag and a link to content on your website, explaining the symptoms of a leaky roof, who knows– your tweet might just end up on somebody’s Google search.
Also make use of localized hashtags. If you’re a roofer in Butte, MT, use the ‘#butte’ hashtag whenever it’s appropriate. There might come a time when your tweets show up in local Google searches.
These are just theories of course, but with Twitter reaching an even bigger audience, it’s more important to use the right hashtags, engage with your users, and compose the best tweets, ever.
Google+ for Contractors
Google+ is either dying or changing, depending on who you ask.
“Sources confirm that Google has no immediate plans to ditch the name “Google+,” but what that name represents is about to dramatically change. It appears Photos and Streams will cease to be simply features of Google+, and will become two distinct products under [Google VP Bradley] Horowitz’s watch.”
According to a study from digital marketing veteran Eric Enge, published in April of 2015, the number of active Google+ users is less than 1% of Google’s 2.2 billion users.
“Enge analyzed more than 500,000 randomly selected Google+ profiles. Since a Google profile is created automatically when people sign up with Google, it was no surprise to find that 90% of the people with profiles on Google+ had never posted publicly there at all. Enge extrapolated this analysis across the 2.2 billion users on Google and concluded that while the “active profiles” on Google+ amount to 111 million users, only 6.7 million users have 50 or more posts ever, and only 3.5 million have 50 or more posts in the last 30 days.”
Google+ never became the big contender it set out to be. It didn’t defeat Facebook or Twitter. So now, Google is looking to move onward and upward.
“I think increasingly you’ll see us focus on communications, photos and the Google+ Stream as three important areas, rather than being thought of as one area,” said Google SVP Sundar Pichai to Forbes.
Google’s new photo sharing service, which is independent of Google+, is coming soon. There might be some marketing opportunity there, especially with before/after residential project photos.
“… the company is building a photo tool that will not only retain the functionality of Google+ Photos, but also allow users to directly post pictures to other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.”
At the very least, Google+ is being gutted and split down the middle.
Why It Matters: If you used the social networking aspect of Google+, your time is coming to a close. It’s being split, which means more operational changes are in the works.
We don’t exactly know what the future holds for Google’s Streams and its new Photo app, but if you used Google+ for social media marketing, things will never be the same. It’s time to say goodbye and re-learn everything you once knew.
What You Should Do: By all means, keep your Google+ page up to date for now. Google’s new, My Business feature covers Google+ and Google Maps, and your accounts should be automatically upgraded.
Keep an eye on My Business and make sure it contains correct information. If you’re active in Google+ communities, keep on it. They still seem active for now. Communities were always a great way to keep up on what’s new in the contracting world, so enjoy them while they last. Hangouts still work just fine, too, so if you use them for communication, you should continue to do so.
This also teaches us that no social media platform is bulletproof. Google is the biggest name on the internet, but Google+ is quietly fading into the shadows. You can never put all of your marketing eggs into one basket because these social media platforms can collapse at any time. Any business, especially a contracting business, always needs multiple communication and marketing channels.
LinkedIn for Contractors
Social media for contractors should always include LinkedIn. Even if you’re not operating in the B2B sector, it’s essential to establish a presence on LinkedIn.
If you use LinkedIn for marketing, there’s some great news: LinkedIn is now presenting you with even better analytics.
From Ad Week:
Each of these metrics provides a top four, with each category being represented by a percentage. Currently the analytics only gives details on posts made within the last six months, but it provides data on likes, comments, shares, and pageviews. The analytics also only provides data on logged in LinkedIn users, but it identifies each of those users.”
If you blog on LinkedIn or make use of LinkedIn showcase pages, this is great news.
Greg Cooper also outlines 10 more LinkedIn changes, which are mostly all positive for businesses, in this post.
Why It Matters: Knowing your audience and speaking to them directly is one of the most important parts of any successful marketing effort. If you use LinkedIn for marketing, you’re about to know your audience much better.
From a LinkedIn blog post by digital marketer David Petherick:
“Analytics for publishing on LinkedIn provides insights into who’s reading and engaging with your posts. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to evaluate whether you’re reaching the right audience, which posts are resonating with readers, and more.”
What You Should Do: If you don’t directly use LinkedIn for marketing, keep your profile and presence up-to-date and operate as usual. If you’re a B2B contractor and you don’t already use it, you need to make LinkedIn a part of your overall marketing strategy.
If you use LinkedIn for your marketing efforts, make use of these new analytics. Learn more about your audience and how to target them effectively. Test, test, test. With more data at your fingertips, you’ll spend less time doing even better marketing work.
Social media platforms change, regardless of our feelings on the matter. As a contractor, your business growth depends on a solid marketing plan. Social media for contractors is important, especially in a constantly changing landscape.
You can’t stop social networks from changing, but you can educate yourself about the changes and adapt. That’s the key to successful social media marketing.
To your inbound marketing success!