Social Media Strategy for Contractors

There is a lot of BUZZ around Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, YouTube, LinkedIn), but how can it be leveraged by a Plumbing Contractor? How can you use social media to grow your contracting or home services business? Take a look at the video below:

As I talk to contractors throughout the country about internet marketing and social media, I tend to get a puzzled look. The question is, "How in the world does all of this social media stuff apply to my business? How can I possibly use Facebook in a way that would help me grow my revenues, grow my service calls, and get more repeat business?"

I'd like to try and bridge the gap on where the lowest “hanging fruit” for social media is in your plumbing or HVAC business by asking, "What's your number one source of business today" Just stop and think, where does most of our revenue come from? You'll quickly come to the conclusion that your number one source of revenue is repeated and referral business.

Social Meida = More Repeat & Referal Business

The lifeblood of any service business is your existing customers returning for services over time, and your existing customers referring you to their friends and family. If social media is harnessed correctly, it gives you the ability to take that repeat and referral business, inject it with steroids, and take it to a whole new level.

Let me explain why I feel that it's a great place for you to really connect with your customers and get more repeat and referral business. Just a couple of Facebook stats:

  • The Facebook currently has 1.6 billion users.
  • The average user has 135 friends, and checks in between 6 and 9 times per day.

If you can get your real customers, current and past, your sphere of influence, to connect with you on social media, Facebook, Twitter and/or Google+, your business is exposed to their 135 friends as soon as they “like” and follow your page.

It's almost as if they'd sent an email, or they'd sent a text message out to all their friends saying, " I used this great contractor in our area. The next time you need their services, why don't you think about them?" It's extremely powerful to gain exposure to their sphere of influence.

Another major advantage is that they've given you permission to remain top-of-mind with them. The average user, like I said, checks in between 6 and 9 times per day. They login to check out the updates on their Facebook wall and to see the updates of all the companies and people they have liked or are friends with. If you're posting updates to your social media profiles, the people who have liked your page are going to see the new content whenever they login.

They are going to see an update and your logo. They're going to see some special offer or promotion, and it's going to peak their interest. Next time they need your services, who do you think they're going to call?

There is a higher probability for them to use you again, and refer you to their friends, because they remember youyou and had a good experience with . They know who you are. You've remained top-of-mind. If you look at major companies like Coca Cola, Pepsi, and Lay's, they spend billions of dollars a year on advertising and promotions; TV, radio, print. What's the whole thought process behind that? They're developing their brand, so they can maintain what we call "TOMA," top of mind awareness. Leveraging social media inside your existing sphere of influence is a great way to tap into that top-of-mind awareness.

Where should you start? Where can you start using social media, with all of the different platforms out there? With so many different social media tools, what should you be using?

Social Media For Contractors

In my posts on SEO, we talked about having a blog and putting out consistent updates. Well, blogging ties very nicely to your social media strategy. These are the social media profiles you definitely want to have set up and ready to roll in your business.

Let's talk strategy before we get into the granular details. Talk about high level. How do you leverage social media and how do you gain that initial following?

Well, first of all, you want to utilize email to get initial engagement. Having an active social media profile with daily updates is not worth a hill of beans if you don't have likes or viewers.

Now, at the same time, if you have thousands of irrelevant people that have pressed like on your website or on your Facebook profile, it’s not going to work to your advantage if they're not people in your area. They're not homeowners. They're not the target market that we discussed in the marketing fundamentals.

You want to make sure that you have a strategy to get your real customers and your true service area engaged with you in social media. You should leverage email to engage your customers to get to your social media profiles. We take a multiple?step process.

The first thing you want to do is build that list or go into your customer relationship management system, if you have one, and export the name and email addresses of your customers. Current customers, past customers, sphere of influence of your friends, your business partners, the people that you do business with, and put them into an email.

Queue up a nice little message that says, "Hey, we appreciate your business. We appreciate your relationship over the years. We're getting active in social media and would love to have you engage with us. Please go to," and give them a direct link to your Facebook page, "and press the like button."

There are a couple of things you can do. You can offer them an incentive, something of value like a coupon or a discount. Or, if you feel like you've got an active customer base that knows who you are and likes you, just ask them to do it as a favor.

You'll be able to start building that following. Now, you don't want to stop there. You don't want to just send one email out that says, "We're on social media." You now want to build it as part of your business.

In the Google Maps Optimization chapter, I talked about having an email go out after service, thanking the customer for their business and asking them to go ahead and write a review for you on one of the various online directory sites.

Well, there's no reason you couldn't send a subsequent email to that contact, maybe a day or two days later, that says, "By the way, we're actively involved in social media and would love it if you would engage with us." Then give them a direct link to your social media profiles where they can press like, subscribe, and follow to start engaging with you on social media.

The key is that it needs to be an automated process where you're typing your customer's name and their email address. These emails go out to everybody that you serve without any hiccups, without any potential for dropping the ball. If you don't do it consistently, you won't get a true following and you won't get your real customers engaging with you on these social media platforms.

That's step one. Leverage email to build that initial engagement and that following of your real customers. Remember, we want authentic customers, and not just throwaway links and subscribers.

Once you've got that part squared away, you have got to think about what are you going to post. What information are you going to put up and how frequently? You should post to your social media profiles once a day. If that seems like too much for your business, post once a week at a very minimum.

These should be informative posts. It should not be a sales pitch. It should not be, "Here's 10-percent off your next service."

You can do that every now and then but more than 80% of the time it should just be social content: “Here's a picture of a kitchen that we remodeled”, ”This is what's going on in our market”, “Here's a picture of us at the latest home show.”, etc.

Keep it informational, keep it relevant, keep it social, and then you have to engage. Social media isn't a one?way dialogue. You shouldn't be going to your social media profiles and pushing out updates that don't have any engagement. You shouldn't just be posting. You should be trying to get people to reply to your post: "Hey, that was funny", or "That’s a beautiful picture", or "Thanks for that great tip," all of which you can reply back to.

Then, listen to what your fans are saying. Once you've got a flow – you’ve got 50, 70, 100 or a couple of thousand people that have liked you – you are going to be able to hear what they are saying as well. They might post something that's totally irrelevant to you, like "Hey, tomorrow's Billy's birthday." There is no reason that your organization couldn't reach out and say, "Hey, wish Billy a happy birthday for us!”, from your company. They will think, "Wow, this is a company that cares. This is a company that's real and authentic."

Engaging in social media is probably the lost art. Most people that use social media just post one?way messages, which is not the idea. It's a social platform, so there should be conversation. There should be dialogue.

The next thing you want to do is to develop your brand and make sure that you enhance the bio section on each one of these profiles. Within Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+, you will have the option to fill in an 'About Us' or bio section. Write some interesting information about your business there.

Take the information from the 'About Us' page on your website where you talk about where you guys were founded, why you started the business, the service that you offer, etc. and pop that into the bio section on your social media profiles.

You also have the ability to put an icon on each one of these social profiles, and you want to make sure that you're using an image that represents your business. It can either be a head shot of the owner or it can be a logo.

Below is an example of a few social media icon options from good to bad.

Social Media Profile Images - Good to bad
If your personality represents your brand, then it's not a bad idea to use a nice head shot so that people resonate with you. People tend to buy from individuals more than they buy from businesses because a business is an anonymous entity and a person is someone that they feel they can get to know, like and trust.

Don’t be like our bad examples, “shaggy” or the “drunk contractor.” Don't put a picture of yourself in a t?shirt with a beard grown out. Be professional. Represent yourself as an important part of the business. Stick with the examples on the left – the logo and/or the professional head shot, as opposed to the shaggy or a weekend photo of you doing something crude and lascivious.

It’s all about branding, so make sure that you're leveraging the header graphic and the image icon. If there is an option for you to customize the background, do it!. You want to make sure that you've got the elements that marry up with the overall branding of your business.

Make sure everything on your social media profiles is consistent with your website. On your website, you've got a color scheme, a logo, and maybe you've got brochures that are made up. Make sure that there's a consistent flow, look, feel, and color scheme on all of your social media profiles, website and offline materials.

Don’t forget to have a plan; how often are we going to post? What types of posts are we going to put out there? How are we going to engage our customers? What social media profiles are we going to be involved with? Remember in chapter two we talked about the fundamentals of your marketing plan (market, message & media). You need to make sure that you have a clear understanding of who your customer is and who your ideal customer is. Then, make sure that you are crafting a message that will resonate with that particular customer. You need to think about all of these things as part of your social media strategy.

Don’t just dive in. A common mistake would be to just setup the profile and start posting with no thought process or plan behind it. Think about it. What pages are you going to be on? What message are you going to put out? What color scheme are you going to use? Set all of that up and then get very specific about who your target is. Is your client the commercial type? Is your client a residential type?

One solid method is to schedule your post types:

Monday, Wednesday and Friday are the days that you are going to put up tips; Ex. what to do when the toilet starts to backup; what to do in the event of a plumbing emergency; why you should consider tank versus tankless, etc.

Tuesday and Thursday, you'll post photos; pictures of really interesting things relative to your business; pictures of nicely renovated bathrooms; pictures of silly things like a gummy bear coming out of a faucet; pictures that are interactive.

Saturday and Sunday you post coupons

I am not saying this is the editorial calendar you should follow. However, the point is to make it easy for yourself so that you know what is going up and when. You can be streamlined and it can be automated.

When we talked about the blog in the SEO post, we went over leveraging content. Because that content is king, you have to be creating updated information on a consistent basis. This content can go up in various places. As you post a new piece of content, it can go to your Facebook and Twitter pages automatically. It can go straight out to Pinterest if it has a photo included, and you can take your blog content and syndicate it to recreate great social media content.

Remember, content isn't necessarily just written text. You are a an expert on your craft. You know things that the average consumer doesn't, such as what to do in the event of a plumbing emergency, why somebody would want to consider tank versus tankless, or why somebody would want to consider trenchless sewer replacement.

You can either sit down and write about it, you can take an audio recorder and record yourself talking about it, or if you're comfortable on video, you can break out the camera phone and shoot a video talking about an issue that your ideal consumer may be facing.

That one piece of content can serve multiple functions. The first function can be posting videos up on the social media, on websites like YouTube, Vimeo, and Vine, where you can upload interesting clips and videos.

Syndicate your content

You can also take that video and have it transcribed using a service like There are various transcription services. That video of you talking about the benefits of tankless can now be transcribed into text, which may then be used as a blog post and be syndicated into your social media profiles. Another step beyond that is using that same audio and turning it into an audio podcast that you can have hosted on your website.

There are a lot of things you could do, to take your content and work with the modality that you're most comfortable with. Some people like to write. Some people like to talk. Some people like to be on video. Figure out what you are most comfortable with and run with that. This is how you create social media content for your online marketing plan.

Remember, educational content that's published in multiple places gives you industry expert status. By publishing and getting picked up in the PHCC, the local newspaper or a reputable blog, you are considered an expert. This is going to drive your credibility, which in turn, will result in more referrals.

I want to give you some examples of good social media posts.

The following example is a great tip for preventative maintenance. It's, "Never flush your Kleenex tissues. The paper fiber does not disintegrate like toilet paper, and it causes clogging in your toilet." Then, of course, a shortened link back to the website, an The point is to give a quick tip like that once a day, keeping you top-of-mind and helping you to put out fresh, relevant content.

Example of social update - quick tip

Here's another example. You wrote a post, and you're using a tool  like Hoot Sweet. It can grab that RSS feed and automatically have that post hit your social media profile. If there's a new blog post, you can post something like “five questions to ask a plumber before any repairs,” and of course a link to where the blog is posted.

Example of social update - recent blog post

Here's an example of how you can do something interesting with pictures. In the picture below they have plungers that are being used as hangers. It says, "A bit of plunger ingenuity. Need extra hanger space? Grab a plunger." You'd be amazed the things you can do with pictures. There's 200 percent more engagement with photos on Facebook, than there is with text.

Example of social update - funny picture

It's easy to find an interesting picture like this, post it with a quick little quip, and get some great engagement from your followers on social media.

Another sample, "Don't know how to get rid of scratches in your porcelain sink? Here's what you can do." Then they provide 23 tips to save time and money, and includes information on how you can seal porcelain sinks and fix metal scratches. This is a great place to share information and post valuable content that your consumer might find interesting and use to their benefit.

Example of social update - tip on external site

What not to post:

1. Use the 80/20 rule for marketing messages, put out 80% information and 20% marketing.

2. Keep it business related. Your political and religious beliefs are never a good mix with business.

3. Photos of your kids playing tee ball are good, but don’t let it dominate your page.

4. Keep your vacation photos on your personal social sites.

5. Keep your business opinions, beliefs, and interests to yourself.

Sometimes knowing what not to post is more important than knowing what to post, because the natural tendency is to go to these social media profiles, and just post promotional material. So, don’t post a coupon every single time you log in. If you do that, everybody that liked or subscribed to your page will start to disappear before you know it. They'll stop subscribing, they'll unlike you, and they'll unfriend you.

You have to use the 80?20 rule for messaging: 80 percent informational and fun stuff, and only 20 percent should be promotional.

Try and keep it business related. You don't want to get into your political and religious beliefs, because if somebody disagrees with you, you can create a negative atmosphere. That’s not something you want to do on your business profiles. You've got a personal profile for a reason. If you want to put your religious and political beliefs there, knock yourself out. Just keep it off of your business pages.

You may not necessarily want to put too many photos of your kids on your page, even though if you're a personality brand. Don't let your kids and your family be the dominant positioning behind your business profile page. Obviously, keep your vacation photos and again, your opinions and beliefs, off your business page. Family photos are another thing that should be kept primarily on your personal profile.

When and how to engage

We talked about asking your customers to ‘like you’ on Facebook, and asking your customers to write testimonials. We also talked about interaction and responding to your customer’s actions. "Hey, thanks so much for the follow. We appreciate it." Or, if they write you a testimonial, make sure you blow that up.

Not only should you say thank you, but you should also share it. "Hey, Jean, thanks so much for the positive testimonial. We appreciate your feedback. We appreciate your business, and this is what keeps us going. This is what we're in this business for." Then, you could take that testimonial and put it on your website, or embed it on your website through the various widgets and short codes that Facebook provides.

For example, you make a post saying, “Because tankless water heaters provide hot water only when it's needed, they save up to 40 percent of your energy bill.” Then, one of your followers says, "How long do tankless water heaters last?" This is your engagement. You want people to ask questions, and then you want to be able to talk back.

You can write, "Typically, 15 to 20 years. Have you been thinking about installing one in your home?", "I have, but I'm not sure how to get started." You can say, "Take a look at the tankless page on our website. Let's schedule a time to talk, so I can show you all the benefits of going tankless."

This is just a way to put out relevant content, and if you're paying attention to your feed, you can turn it into some great conversation. Again, you want to be active on social media. It's a great way to get repeat or referral business. You need to be on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Google Plus. You want to utilize email marketing to gain that initial following, and then post updates that are informative and not sales-oriented on a consistent basis, and engage.

If you do this regularly and correctly, you're going to grow a nice following of real customers in your true service area. You're going to remain top-of-mind and it's going to help you grow your business in terms of the lifeblood of your organization, which is repeat and referral business.

Example of a Customized Facebook Page:


 Example of customized Facebook Profile for Contractors

Example of Banded Twitter Profile:

Example of customized Twitter Profile for Contractors


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