Social media

How is social media affecting your business?

Updating, posting, tweeting, upvoting, digging, and sharing are the new keystones of online marketing. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Reddit, and hundreds of others are making businesses more personal, even though their connections are purely digital.

Even home improvement professionals are finding that social media creates interactions with customers that are innovative and effective at generating new business.

Why We’re Asking:

Starting on May 1st, professionals of all kinds–including eLocal team members–will log-on to their computers and attend the Social Media Success Summit 2012. This online conference will feature top social media experts sharing their insight on how businesses can best utilize new marketing techniques. In anticipation of this, we thought we’d ask how our experts are using social media.

It’s not always clear how a Facebook status update can lead to a plumbing job or a new design project, and we know that simply having a Twitter account doesn’t make your phone start ringing off the hook.

While a home improvement professional’s success is not dependent on social media campaigns, many experts do find that their business is greatly aided by it. Because we have access to some of the best professionals in the business, we’re curious to know how they’re using these new tools to advocate their own services.

So experts, it’s time to weigh in:

How is social media affecting your business?

How do you use social media?
What sites do you feel are the most important to target?
What sort of things do you post?
How frequently do you post?
Do you think social media helps or hurts your business?
If you don’t use social media, what are your reasons?

Experts, post your answers in the comment field below!



  • Greg Chick @ Ramonas Plumber 04/24/12

    Linked in has brought me many contacts that have turned into great relationships in my emerging direction of speaking and teaching my trade. I find the other social networks annoying.

    Linked in has threads that can rally up things that would otherwise be impossible. If I don’t see a thread of my desires, I can start one and wa-la if an issue or opportunity actually exists it is there. Great feedback from peers that could save you wasted efforts. It is free consultation and taken correctly a good pulse for reality. Regional issues are clear to see and universal issues are therefore identified. This new world of networking is only as good as ones ability to use it and understand what is collected from it.

    I have made money from the networking and look forward to using the net as the major forum for my future growth.

  • Sam Lazarus @ SM by Best 04/24/12

    We at ServiceMaster by Best in Wichita KS use Facebook, LinkedIn, Google + and Pinterst. There are many other sites that we would like to participate, however finding the correct person to do SM-Marketing is quite a challenge that I have run into. I post rather sporadically and need to get more disciplined about posting relevant things in a consistently and timely manner. I have chosen these sites due to convenience and not sure what results will come in the long run.
    I have posted mainly things that are related to industry information that may be useful to someone or linked articles where we have been either featured or I have been quoted. My goal at this moment is drive traffic to our website. Since we are a service oriented business, I do not think I am going to get work out of this, but if I can increase the traffic in the long run and become a resource to as many as possible.

  • Dawn Ohnstad 04/24/12

    Let me count the ways! I decided as part of my 2011 business plan, to move forward agressively with Social Media Marketing (SMM) as part of my husband’s (we are partners), and my real estate practice. To do this, I ascertained that it would need to be a step-by-step approach so that I could continue to do real estate work while I learned and began to incorporate SMM into our business. Over the course of the entire year, I utilized online tips which were offered in the package I purchased from a social media marketing company to help me accomplish my goal. Day by day, I had small “assignments” to do which after a year, brought me up to speed with Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook Fanpages, Twitter and Blogging.

    Utilized all together, along with retooling our website to have a properly “built-out” backend in order to maximize the Google recognition for our work…we have a fully developed SMM structure, and the knowledge to use it.

    As a result of this effort, we now have 15 listings, all of which either directly, or indirectly came as a result of the SMM campaign. We have become known for our SMM expertise, so much so that I now teach classes to other agents in our company on how to utilize video for real estate. We provide fully produced Realtor Hosted Video Tours (which I have talked about before on this site) which have allowed us to sell our listing faster than average time on market, and create urgency in buyers to offer closer to asking price. Using our SMM these listings are getting virtual “showings” that reach over 100,000 people who have 1st or 2nd tier connection to me.

    Social Media has completely changed our business….but here is the key to it all…it is not something that produces results by dabbling..it is all or nothing I say…

    Once it has been set up through initial startup time/expense the returns on this investment are limitless…it is here to stay.

  • Terry Peterman 04/24/12

    The rising significance of social media is something that every business must take into account and should factor into their business operations. The opportunity to engage and easily communicate with your customers is a very important aspect of today’s business-customer relationship. This is becoming an expectation on the part of your customers. And recognizing that your customers will come to you from different venues and will be looking to be served up information and/or provide feedback in a growing number of formats is imperative. Knowing this, I have made efforts to establish a solid presence in the “established” social media. I have a Facebook page, a Youtube Channel, Twitter account, and a LinkedIn account. I also recently set up a VYou account, which is a Q & A video format social network.

    As my “how-to” information business is very visual in nature, the Youtube channel probably gives me the largest reach, with over 500,000 views and growing. I have had a very positive reaction to the VYou format as well.

    Each social media outlet is used for different aspects of our communications and marketing functions. I use my Facebook and Twitter accounts to share updates from my website and Youtube channel, and new communications such as my newsletter. My Youtube channel gives me a greater audience, with more new eyes to my videos. I post to my social media outlets as frequently as I update my website with either new content or put out a newsletter or video.

    I believe that embracing social media, while it adds more work to my business operations, is a must-do in today’s world. It gives me instant feedback from my customers, and provides a great opportunity for them to get to know me/my business at a much deeper level. Serving up frequent communications via these channels lets them know that I am “real”, and in it for the long run – hopefully giving them greater confidence in my services and expertise. The real challenge is getting them to participate in two-way communications. My customers come to me with a problem they are seeking an answer for. Once they receive the information, I want them to “stick around”. My goal with my social media channels is to get them to come back and keep the conversation going.

  • Tanya Stock 04/24/12

    The question should be “Does Social Media Generate Business” because that is truly the million dollar question. As far affecting it – Yes it affects it as it is another “t” to be crossed or and “i” to be dotted.

    Depending on the trade or industry some social media forums are made for it.. such as Houzz or Pinterest. For others You Tube seems to be a teaching tool as well as a source of advertising. But as in all marketing you must note how your customers are finding you and the costs (which includes time if not dollars) are in parity. Meaning you are noting how you are being found and that the overall costs are being met equally.

    For me I have found blogging an immense resource, that said its not generated income from customers who would use my service. And I have found many professional contacts and relationships via Social Media – such as Facebook, Linked In, etc but actual paying clients no.

    So while its affected my business it hasn’t changed my earnings. I still have to do trade shows, advertise, network in person etc. I can lead people to my official sites for information but as they say “if they can get the milk for free why buy the cow” So I have to make sure that there is a reason to actually use my services vs simply “Googling” me.

    Social Media is like any marketing tool you get out of it what you put into it.

  • Kraig Kalashian 04/24/12

    A good social media campaign can give you alot of exposure to an audience you may not have been able to reach otherwise. However I think the impact of investing resources towards social media needs to be specific to your business. For example it may benefit a skilled trade to have people promoting you to their social networks. On the design side it’s a little more ambiguous as to how those mediums translate into clients. We promote on Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Tumblr, Linked In, Pinterest, Houzz, and Flavors. We have had thousands of people view or share our work with others. Unfortunately though we have never had a client come to us directly as a result of social media alone. That being said, I believe that social media forces you to confront your public image however I don’t believe that social media alone can make you successful if your underlying talent and business model are not sound.

  • David Parker @ ER Plumbing 04/25/12

    You might not think a plumber would use social media, but here at ER Plumbing Services, we have learned that social media is the way to connect with our customers. Social media connections result in brand recognition, referrals, and repeat business.

    We use social media in the following ways:

    Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Linked In – We post several times a week to share plumbing tips, answer questions, advertise through promotions, run contests, and interact with out customers. We post pictures and videos of our most interesting projects and showcase our capabilities.

    Pinterest – We share inspirational photos (for example, bathroom renovation photos), videos and images related to the Charlotte area as a service to the general public.

    Blog – We update our blog weekly, educating the public about plumbing issues of all types.

    Interactive Online Forum – We answer questions online in our ASK DAVE column, where people can get free plumbing advice.

    Has social media helped our plumbing business? You bet! We just bought three new trucks at a time when many businesses are shrinking. Social media works, and you bet we’ll keep using it.

  • Grand View Builders 04/25/12

    At Grand View Builders we use social media to connect not only with residents of our communities, but the community of the Greater Houston area in general. It is important to connect within these circles of people because there is a bigger conversation happening on these social channels, and why wouldn’t you want to be a part of it?!

    We constantly monitor networks on Facebook and Twitter in order to stay in the loop of both the community and industry, relaying information and insights that pertain to our followers. We also utilize a blog, in order to more intimately connect with Grand View Builders homeowners, offering advice and activities that pique the interest of loyal residents.

    Social media in no way hurts business, in fact, it allows potential consumers to get to know your brand on a more personal level. Although it is not easy to maintain these various networks, having someone dedicated to shaping the way that your brand interacts with consumers, organizations and other businesses is an invaluable tool for shaping your brand’s perception. You know the messages that you want to convey through your business and these social channels help to share the message with the community at large!

  • Steve Sparhawk, DeckTec Outdoor Design 04/26/12

    I’m not exactly what you’d consider an “early adopter” of new technology, so swallowing the social media concept was a challenge for me. I brought in a social media specialist to help me devise a strategy to integrate social media into our marketing plan.

    In the day and age of people sharing information, we have found that the best way to use all social media venues is to use it to invite endorsements from raving fans, as well as educate our audience on industry news and community happenings.

    Our strength in certain social media outlets such as Facebook and LinkedIn has been to network with other professionals and find ways to collaborate with one another and grow both our businesses simultaneously.

  • Peter L. Mosca 04/26/12

    Knowledge is power so my best recommendation may be slightly off target but nevertheless important. Creating and subscribing to Google Alerts on issues, topics, demographics, etc. of the customers and clients you serve is a great way to stay atop of your business while at the same time share through your various social media channels any information you deem pertinent to the audiences you are trying to reach. That way, clients and prospective customers come to rely on that information and view you as the ‘expert’ in your professional discipline.

  • Jason Crook (PHAG interiors) 04/27/12

    Like most companies, we’re still new at using social media. The transfer of the retail component of our business to an exclusively on-line environment back in 2010 has dramatically enhanced both our use and understanding of this complex and ever-evolving medium.

    Fast forward to 2012. . . Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Pinterest, Houzz, we’re using pretty much all the BIG players in our social media space. Again, like most companies, we struggle with how to integrate our initiatives across all these platforms, not only with each other, but with our overall branding efforts in more traditional media forms, as well.

    What have we learned? The simple answer is a heck of a lot. The more complex answer, well, that’s probably a case study in and of itself. In the beginning, we were focused on using social media tools as a way of gaining further exposure of our brand, “brand-building,” if you will. This resulted in a great deal of time and energy being spent broadcasting brand messages to our customers across the various social media platforms. More recently, we realized this strategy was not leveraging the key strength of what social media offers: two-way communication with key constituents!

    Armed with this new-found knowledge, we’ve begun to focus on how we can use these platforms to build and strengthen relationships by offering our clients a chance to interact with us instead of talking at them. More importantly, we’re actively using the platforms to, not just collect information, but also listen to what customers have to say. We now let them weigh in on color-choices or finish options for products we carry at retail, we ask them to respond to before and after picture presentations of our design work, and provide them opportunities to engage with our design experts, free of charge, by pitching questions and ideas for an expert opinion. Now that we’ve become more comfortable and confident with some of the tools we’ve been using longer, we’re even engaging our customers by reacting to pop culture and news stories as a way of being truly “socially” engaged with our audience.

    Sure, we provide customers information on trends, and tips for success that are consistent with our “brand message,” even showcasing some of our favorite new products from time-to-time, but what social media has done to help our business is to provide us a platform to “live our brand” by delivering the down-to-earth interaction and expert information we’re known for individually on a mass, and global, scale!

  • Alan Hilsabeck Jr 04/30/12

    As with any technologies, Social Media is one that also cannot be ignored. There are so many avenues one can use in todays Social Media World that it sometimes becomes overwhelming, even for the professionals. At first I thought why do it and it will take up way too much time out of my already busy schedule to keep up…Now, I see the great value of using Social Media as my major Marketing Arm to my business. At the touch of my fingertips, I have access to the World and all it costs me is my time. Whether it is writing a Blog on E-Local or updating my business’ Facebook page, I am reaching out to a much greater market base than I ever have before with “traditional advertising”. Using sites like Houzz, HGTV.com and Pinterest and others similar I am able to update my projects and gain valuable Exposure to countless number of potential clients not only increasing my Company “Brand” but also keeping my name out there on the internet. This all leads to increased chances that when someone is searching for a great Kitchen, Bath, and Interior Designer they will find my Hilsabeck Design Associates, Inc. On average, I update atleast one form of Social Media two to three times per week, again “keeping it fresh” while increasing my “status” on the internet search engines. We just started this at the beginning of 2012, and so far have secured 3 great clients as a result. Like a good friend of mine, John Morgan, says in his NKBA Presentation on Technology: “If you are not using some form of technology in your business, your competition is”.

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