In 2016, the United States was the largest social media advertising market, with 78 percent of its population having a social networking profile, according to Statista, a statistics firm that researches quantitative data. The year before, $9.4 billion dollars were spent on social ads.
Yet social media is often overlooked by commercial construction owners as an effective marketing tool. Its strength is interactive communication and connecting businesses to customers and to other businesses. But the biggest asset may be its ability to increase a company’s exposure.
When surveying which social platforms were used most to market businesses, Statista found Facebook to be the number one choice at 93 percent. The other top performers included:
- Twitter: 76 percent
- LinkedIn: 67 percent
- YouTube: 53 percent
- Google+: 49 percent
- Instagram: 44 percent
- Pinterest: 40 percent
Although there are several options, it’s not necessary or advisable to use all platforms. In fact, it’s more effective to choose those that work best for the industry and specific business. When used appropriately, social media can help position the company as a leader in the field.
B2B or B2C Marketing
Marketing’s goal is to reach the target audience with the right message in the right format. One of the early decisions of what specific social media platform(s) to use depends on whether it’s primarily for business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B) communication.
The 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report notes that those reaching out to consumers are more likely to use Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest, while those targeting other businesses focus more on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and SlideShare.
Marketers in B2B use a blog as a way to connect with existing or new customers. Well-written and researched content can be shared through social media channels, as well as contribute to a higher rank in search engines because it establishes the company as an expert in the industry or as a trusted resource.
Hubspot, an inbound marketing company, states a business blog as a vital part of a marketing strategy because:
- it helps drive traffic to the business’ website;
- it can help convert this new traffic into leads by adding a lead-generating call-to-action on every blog post;
- it helps establish the business as an expert authority; and
- it drives long-term results.
Driving long-term results allows for a blog to continue to pay off in value down the road. Hubspot notes that 70 percent of their blog’s traffic and 90 percent of their monthly leads come from past posts.
The rule of thirds and other benefits
The key to social media is not to make the sale but to engage the audience and build relationships. Only then should the conversation begin about the product or service. When providing content, Hootsuite, a social media management system, recommends using the rule of thirds:
- 1/3 of social content should be used to promote the business and convert leads.
- 1/3 of content should be used to share ideas from thought leaders in the industry.
- 1/3 of content should be used for personal interaction.
This type of division not only establishes a business as being very well-informed in the industry but also as more personal.
Social media has too big of an impact to ignore, according to Emily Copp with Hootsuite. Referring to the different platforms as marketing giants, Copp lists 10 benefits they can bring to businesses.
- Gain valuable customer insights;
- Increase brand awareness and loyalty;
- Run targeted ads with real-time results;
- Generate higher converting leads;
- Provide rich customer experiences;
- Increase website traffic and search ranking;
- Find out what competitors are doing;
- Share content faster and easier;
- Geotarget content; and
- Build relationships.
Using social media should no longer be a question for construction businesses. It takes more than being on time and on budget to compete today, and the need for the greatest exposure has never been higher. Whether it’s used for engaging prospective clients or posting photos of completed projects, the impact of social media is strong and compelling.
To get the best return on investment, owners should decide which of the available social media options are the best fit and choose one or two to start. Software is available to track results, leading to a more successful marketing strategy, but more importantly, to more work. Although it takes time to see results, social media’s reach is far and wide and the benefits of a strong presence will impact a construction company’s business today and in the future.