Focus Marketing Efforts Through Platforms You Own

Social media is an important tool for reaching potential customers no doubt, but you also do not want to be overly invested in platforms you don’t have complete control over

Focus Marketing Efforts Through Platforms You Own

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill

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When Facebook told businesses it was all about getting “likes,” we put our efforts into getting “likes.” We thought the cards we printed out and the “like” campaigns we ran were worth it. That the more “likes” we got, the easier it would be to get our important news and sales posts out to potential and existing customers. 

Then in 2016, Facebook changed its algorithm to prioritize content shared by friends and family — as well as entertaining and informative content. That meant a big drop in organic reach for businesses.

We all let out a collective sigh and began putting money into Facebook Ads and boosted posts, just hoping to get our content seen. 

Then Facebook shifted the focus from “likes” to “followers” and began phasing out “likes” altogether. Another collective groan.

And then just recently, Apple iOS14 was released, giving users the ability to decline personal information sharing and tracking with the Facebook platform. The result? Limited ad targeting and higher ad costs. 

The iOS update happened right around the same time that Twitter and Facebook banned Donald Trump from their platforms and Apple and others pulled specific platforms from their stores.

The last bit involved politics, but there’s a lesson in all of this for business owners like you, as well: That you shouldn’t bank your business on platforms you don’t own or control. 

Algorithm changes. Privacy restrictions. Platform bans. These are the realities of the social media world. And you and we? We can’t control any of it. 

We can’t control the priorities of the social media platforms. We can’t control the direction they take the platforms in. We can’t control how they’re affected by privacy changes and regulations. So we definitely shouldn’t be relying 100% on social media for leads and customer relationship management. 

What should we do instead?

#1 Do: Use social media to build brand awareness.

For now, your potential customers are still looking to social media when shopping for a new plumber. 

  • They’re checking your Facebook and Instagram for photos of your work.
  • They’re checking Facebook for recommendations.
  • They’re checking your social media accounts to get a feel for your brand. 

So no, you shouldn’t ditch social media just because you can’t control the platforms. You should focus on the things you can control on their platforms — the content you’re posting, the way you’re engaging with customers and potential customers, the story you’re telling, the information you’re sharing, and the way you’re portraying your brand.

Consistency is key in building brand awareness and confidence in who you are. So be consistent in both when you post and what you post.

You can also run a brand awareness ad (or a boosted post) on social media, pushing it to people in your service area. Using social media this way can get your brand out in front of people who may not yet know about you or follow you on social media. That way, when those potential customers are in need of a plumber, they’ll think of you or recognize your brand in the search results when they Google “plumber near me.”

#2 Do: Use social media to direct traffic to your website.

One of the smartest ways you can use social media is to use it to direct traffic to your website. You can do this simply by sharing engaging content from your website and linking back to it or by running a traffic campaign with Facebook Ads. 

But keep in mind: Whether you’re directing traffic back to your website through organic posts or through ads, you need to provide enough information so that potential customers feel compelled to learn more but not so much that they feel like they don’t need to click through to see the full article or blog post. 

Once you’ve sparked their interest and given them a reason to click, direct them to your website’s blog or informational landing page where they can learn more.

Which brings us into the next point …

#3 Do: Make sure your website is engaging and informative.

Your website is the one major “platform” that you do have total control over. You get to control the story that’s told about your brand, the information customers and potential customers have access to, when and how potential customers can access it, and when and how potential customers can contact you. 

Of course, search rankings can fluctuate with search engine changes, but your website itself is still totally in your control. So take a good, hard look at it. 

Can potential customers find answers to their questions? Is it easy to navigate your site? Can your contact info, hours, and other crucial info be easily found? Are you adding informative and engaging content regularly? Is your website built to convert?   

If your website isn’t built to convert and it’s not engaging and helpful, it’s time to make some big changes. For tips on what makes a high-converting website, check out this article.

#4 Do: Collect email addresses and engage via email.

Speaking of websites, are you using yours to collect the email addresses of your customers and potential customers? If not, consider changing that.

Email is still one of the most direct and effective lines of communication you have with your customers and potential customers. There’s no middle man. That means: As long as you don’t have any email delivering issues, whatever you send is landing in the inboxes of your customers and potential customers. And as long as your subject lines are intriguing and your content is valuable and helpful, your emails will continue to get opened and read.

Here are a few ideas on how to collect email addresses:

  • Add an exit intent pop-up to your site that offers something valuable to site visitors in exchange for their email address.
  • Add a “Subscribe to Blog” button to your blog posts and homepage.
  • Create checklists and helpful guides around the services you offer, and give them away in exchange for an email address.

Once you have that email address, be respectful and thoughtful in how you use it. Don’t send an email once a year and call that engagement. Get on a schedule. 

That said, never send an email just because “It’s time.” Every email needs a purpose and should deliver true value to your customers and potential customers. If you don’t have a reason for writing, don’t write.

Keep Your Focus on What You Can Control

What’s the moral? Don’t bank your business on a platform you don’t control. Instead, use social media as a tool, a piece of your marketing strategy. Social media can be an effective and inexpensive way to reach your target customers. But it’s not a silver bullet and it’s not where all of your focus should go. 

Take advantage of the opportunities platforms like Facebook can bring, but always focus the majority of your efforts on the things that you do own, like your website and your email list.

About the Authors

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill are the co-founders of Spark Marketer, a Nashville, Tennessee-based digital marketing company that works primarily with service businesses. They're also co-authors of the book, Blue Collar Proud: 10 Principles for Building a Kickass Business You Love. Both regularly speak at service industry trade shows and conferences across the nation. Visit www.sparkmarketer.com or www.facebook.com/sparkmarketer.



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