Social media is one of the biggest buzz phrases around. To young folks who had a Facebook account issued with their birth certificates, it comes naturally. For the rest of us, it can be a bit confusing.
Just about everything we see these days is somehow integrated with social media. There are QR codes in newspapers, hashtags for your favorite TV shows and “Like” buttons on just about everything with a screen.
When having a Web site first became the rage, many kitchen and bath dealers had one made – often without really knowing why. But in time, they came to understand that they make great virtual store fronts, similar to putting up a billboard or taking out a newspaper ad.
In the beginning, the Web was all about media. Google made billions of dollars a year with its electronic billboards. Media in the form of advertisements is how we’ve gotten free services for years, whether it’s Gmail, or your local radio station.
Then something happened: MySpace. The Internet was taken by storm with people posting all kinds of personal details for the whole world to see. It was amazing and confusing: Why would millions of people post pictures, videos and personal thoughts all over the Internet? As a former bartender, I only have an amateur degree in psychology, but in my opinion, it’s because people are social creatures.
All of these free online social spaces were funded by online ads, which all shared the goal of getting as many eyeballs on them as possible.
MySpace garnered the attention of millions. Marketers took notice, and the “Social Media” revolution was on. While MySpace may have since become all but extinct, Facebook, Twitter and Google are now raking in billions in profits by offering free social networks supported by ads.
So here we are today, knee deep in the social media craze, and you may be wondering what you can do with your Web site to make it more relevant, and how you can integrate social media effectively into your online marketing strategy.
If you were just selling widgets, a fancy Web site and nice graphics might just be enough. But most kitchen and bath dealers sell far more than products. They sell knowledge and experience first, and then products.
In the past, it was fine to explain that on your site, but in the new “social” Web, you need to engage visitors. That means having meaningful conversations with potential customers, and convincing them you have the knowledge and experience they seek. Pretty pictures aren’t enough anymore. And that’s where social media comes in.
While a lot of kitchen and bath firms know they should be involved with social media, they often don’t really know how – or even why. As a result, many sign up for a few different social networks and never use them, or they carpet bomb them with advertisements, which risks annoying the target audience.
Think of it like this: If you went to a networking event, a home show or some other gathering where you could talk to potential customers, you wouldn’t walk in yelling about your product. You wouldn’t go around with a giant logo on your T-shirt, and you certainly wouldn’t ignore people’s questions about your product.
Instead, you’d weave through the complexities of etiquette and conversation. If you can convince someone through conversation that you are a great resource, then you have a great chance at making a connection – and a sale. This is how the social part of social media works. Armed with this information, you can evaluate how to get involved in social media with a very different perspective.
Twitter is fantastic for getting and giving instant information. You can reach millions of people instantaneously, and if you maintain constant engagement, you can quickly build a substantial following. Imagine being able to search for tweets from local people asking about kitchen remodels. You could be the first to respond. They would ask follow up questions, and maybe even buy a kitchen from you!