Social Media Basics for the Construction Industry

Whether you currently have a social media effort or just getting one started, there is a huge amount of information available on the Internet about everything you supposedly should be doing. And once you’ve done your research, there are “social media gurus” everywhere claiming to be experts across industries, companies and customer bases.

The fact is, it doesn’t work that way. Just like any other good marketing effort, social media marketing must start with the needs of your customers. It is not one-size-fits-all. Construction distributors, rental stores and contractors have different social media habits than customers in other industries.  

The "4 Ws"

Don’t worry though, there is an easy place to start. By figuring out the basics (the why, where, what and when — in that order), you can develop a great social media effort that works with all of your other marketing efforts. 

WHY social: 

This is really a two-part question. 

WHY should social media be part of your marketing efforts?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last five years (since you are reading this, I would guess that’s not the case), you certainly know what social media is and recognize the popular platforms. The truth is, your customers are exposed to social media almost every day even if they don’t think they are using it for work. For example, embedded YouTube videos of construction equipment are all over the Internet and are all housed on a social media platform.

Because social media content, like videos, is so easy to find and access, if you’re not creating and posting it, your customers aren’t watching your videos learning about your company, your products and/or your services, as they are the sales process. You need to change that. 

“But we are using social media, WHY aren’t we getting a lot of engagement from customers?” 

This is the more likely challenge that your company is facing today. Let me start by saying, contractors are not usually early adopters to the latest tech trends. And while most contractors are fairly chatty in person, you probably won’t find too many of them spending a significant part of their day chatting online. That doesn’t mean they aren’t consuming content, it just means they aren’t actively contributing it. Keep this in mind as you set expectations for measuring engagements. 

The other point to keep in mind is that social media cannot replace traditional and effective marketing efforts successful brands have used for years. Social media needs to be one piece of a much larger marketing effort that utilizes a variety of different tactics to identify and engage with customers. Too many “social media gurus” have led marketing people astray by presenting social media as the silver bullet for all their marketing needs.

Our job as construction marketers is to surround potential customers with helpful content that steers them our direction when they are in the purchase cycle. Social media should be just one piece of a well-choreographed marketing effort.

WHERE social: 

New social media platforms are popping up all the time. While your customers may not be on Snapchat, it’s a safe bet that they are carrying around a smartphone and are spending time consuming content from other social media sites or apps.

Your job as a marketing person isn’t to try to be the best at every social media platform. Trying to be an expert at all social media is a formula that usually results in being an expert at none. Instead, your job is to identify the right platform for your company to engage with your customers and then do a darn good job of giving them what they want.

WHAT social: 

A good social media effort in the construction industry starts with a focused content marketing strategy. The best place to start with developing a content marketing strategy is by asking the question: “What do our distribution channel partners and our customers want from us?” The answer to that question is they want to be informed, educated and entertained. 

About what? 

Now, it’s time to spend some time with your sales team. Find out what questions they are getting asked a regular basis. Write those questions down and then get to work answering them using a combination of text, visuals and video.

Post the content to your website, pitch it to the media and share it on the appropriate social channels. Keep in mind that certain types of content perform better on certain social media platforms.

WHEN social: 

Perhaps the single most neglected topic when discussing the subject of social media is timing.  A mistake desk-jockeys, like myself, often make is overlooking the ways contractors spend their day. Most of your customers are not likely sitting in front of some type of screen all day. That means a lot of the content you post between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, might not even be seen. To keep this from happening, mix up the time of day you post and see what works best for each platform you’re using. A great tool that I’ve used to help me with this is Buffer. Similar to HootSuite, Buffer schedules posts across various social media platforms during peak traffic times, increasing the likelihood that your stuff will get read. 

Getting Started

Don’t be intimidated by social media. The key to being successful is getting started. Understand the basics, develop a plan and then try something. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Keep on trying until you find the right mix for you and your customers. 

If you have any questions or want some help, just let me know!