The building materials industry isn’t exactly known for its speed in technology adoption, at least not when it comes to digital marketing. It’s easy for many suppliers to assume that social media is “for the kids,” a better suited platform for younger and hipper brands.
But the numbers don’t lie. According to a Pew Research Center study conducted last year, 56% of adults online are using more than one social media platform regularly. And that’s not just young adults—for example, the same study reveals that 72% of online adults between the ages of 50 and 64 use at least Facebook regularly.
This is all to say that social media is no small potato. It’s a part of our everyday lives. If your goal is to have your building materials reach more eyeballs across the country…well, those eyeballs are on social media.
Of course, it’s likely that your competitors have already picked up on this and have been busy perfecting their social media game for years. If you’re only just starting to consider adding social media to your marketing strategy, you may be surprised to find that most platforms are already saturated—yes, even in the building materials space. Your biggest challenge is going to be informing your audience why your building materials are the best.
With so many other suppliers offering the same or similar products as you, what can you do to make your company get noticed?
It’s all about strategy and personality.
One thing that many companies, regardless of industry, tend to forget is the personal touch. It’s one thing to blast out hundreds of tweets telling people to buy your products—it’s another thing to get them to trust you and remember you offline when it’s time to make a purchase. And it’s even better to make such an impression that you are regarded as an industry expert.
Giving a Voice to Your Building Materials Company
We touched on the idea of brand voice in our last post, but it’s a subject worth revisiting.
By starting one or more social media accounts, you've already taken the first step toward giving your company a voice. Many marketing analysts note that building materials suppliers like you aren't always great at interacting with home buyers or contractors. Leveraging social media marketing can give you a way to finally start interacting with them.
One thing you can start with is simply using social media to make yourself more human. Building materials aren’t always exciting and, given the commoditized nature of the industry, it’s hard for consumers to imagine that there are actual human beings behind the brand. Giving your company a personality is essential to get away from the overly staid B2B persona.
You can begin by utilizing your social media presence as a customer service hub. If your brand already has some modicum of recognition, there’s a good chance that people are already talking about you—it’s just a matter of listening and responding (professionally, of course).
On social media, you can troubleshoot issues your current customers are having and even answer questions asked by prospects who want to know more about what you have to offer. By answering them personally on social media, you've already succeeded toward branding yourself as reliable and trustworthy.
Finding the Right Audience
There are a lot of social media platforms out there, and it can be difficult to determine where exactly to start. Gut instinct might be telling you that you should just establish a presence on every site and hope for the best, but to be honest with you, that usually just ends in heartbreak and a massive loss of time.
Before you get started with social media marketing, it's important to feel out who your audience is and where they are. One way to understand your audience is to experiment with developing buyer personas. Once you have a clear understanding of who you’re marketing to, you can begin to research where exactly they hang out online and determine where you need to be focusing your valuable time and energy.
So, for example, if your primary buyer persona is a contractor or architect in their mid-40s to mid-50s, you can find out where people of that demographic typically spend their time online—likely Facebook and LinkedIn. Then you can work to establish your presence on each of those sites. Conversely, if you want to appeal to Millennial homeowners with a penchant for DIY projects, Pinterest and Instagram are going to serve you much better.
Developing buyer personas also includes honing in on pain points related to home buyers and building contractors, or whoever your specific audience may be. They almost all have major headaches, especially when buying reliable products for their building projects.
By choosing one or several concerns to address, you'll be able to create content specifically for social media you know attracts readers immediately. You can even utilize common hashtags that relate to your theme so your content is easily found.
Telling a Story
Even if you've successfully addressed all pain points for your customers during the awareness stage of their purchasing process, those who are ready to buy their building materials now (i.e. those in the decision stage) will want specific information about specific products. After all, they don't want to buy something blindly, only to find out it doesn't work for them in the middle of construction.
It's why knowing what your audience wants and expects from you is important. Educating them not just about their problems, but also your specific products and how they work is essential to attracting any long-term interest.
The best way to do this is by leveraging social media to tell a story. Don’t just say “this product is awesome and you should buy it.” Show them how awesome it is and highlight all the benefits they will get by selecting it over the other guy’s product. Paint them a picture of the product in use from the moment they buy it to the moment they use it in their project and beyond.
This can include sharing testimonials and quotes from previous happy customers, especially retweets or shares of their actual social media posts. And don’t forget that visuals pack an extra punch on social media—you can create videos that demonstrate how your products are made and how they work in actual, real-life scenarios.
On that note…
Promoting Real Building Projects
Proving the value of your products in the offline world is vital. By showing real-life examples of what contractors could do with your building materials, you’re helping your audience complete the mental image they have of what their project will ultimately be.
By promoting building project ideas and supply lists, you show what's possible and why your products provide an advantage over a competitor’s. Doing this nurtures trust in your company by showing you care about the customer’s success, not just your own bottom line.
Another way to approach this would be to showcase your past and current customers’ building projects. This not only shows your building materials in use, but puts a human face to the review that’s not just your own. That type of social proof and the belief that you’re a supportive partner can go a long way in terms of building trust for your brand.
Say It Like You Mean It
As with any online marketing endeavor for building materials companies, social media will only work for you if you are willing to put in the work. Creating a bunch of profiles across the Web that then lie fallow for months at a time can give people actively seeking brands online the wrong impression. So if you’re going to do it, do it right.
Furthermore, you should only behave on social media the way you would in front of an actual prospect standing in front of you. While the Internet is rife with people who like to complain—you’re always more likely to see bad reviews than good ones—it’s important to conduct yourself professionally and not get caught up in flame wars that can negatively impact the public’s impression of your brand.
By remaining active and continuing to be helpful as your following grows, you can not only set your building materials company up as a trusted source, but stage your products to reach more people than you could have ever previously imagined.