By Ed Avis
Memphis Reprographics is well known in that city’s AEC community. It’s not because the company has been around for generations – in fact, they opened in 2010 – but rather because of a strong social media presence the firm maintains. Their social media effort is creative, consistent, and measured – three key attributes of social media success.
“I’ve found we have much better brand awareness through our social media, a lot more name recognition,” says Chris McNally, vice president of Memphis Reprographics. “This allows our sales team to sweep in and helps us get in the door and make the sale.”
Below are five things that matter when a reprographics shop develops its social media presence, some based on Memphis Reprographics’ success and others from experts in small business social media.
Tip 1: Strategy Matters
Take at least a few hours to, preferably a few days, to plan before you dive into your social media campaign.
“Before you even start I would brainstorm a strategy,” McNally says. “Think about how you’re going to maintain your campaign, how you’re going to maintain your brand, what messages you want to broadcast, and how you want to use it as a sales or marketing technique. Make sure there’s a strategy at play so you’re not just dumping a bunch of stuff out there.”
Developing a strategy can be an intense process – click here to read an article with some good strategy-development tips – but one key question a reprographer should ask is, “What platforms do my customers use?” AEC firms use the basics, such as Twitter, but many also are into photo-intensive platforms like Instagram and Pinterest. Consider opening accounts on those platforms and posting images of interesting projects you’re involved in or noteworthy projects in your community that might attract your clients’ attention. But don’t overshoot. It’s better to start on one or two platforms that you can really manage than seven platforms that you’ll ignore after the first week.
Tip 2: Content matters
The point of just about any business-to-business social media campaign is to get attention, so you want content that will put your company’s name in front of your potential clients. McNally uses his Twitter account to frequently send images that he thinks the architects and contractors in his area will like, such as photos of on-going construction projects that he takes when he’s traveling around town. He also gets creative – around Elvis’ birthday he posted a photo of himself and a few colleagues wearing silly Elvis glasses that generated a lot of feedback and was even picked up by a news agency!
Another content area that McNally has succeeded with is re-tweeting content posted by his clients. He feels that this shows his clients that he’s paying attention to them and cares about what they’re doing.
Many reprographics shops post videos on YouTube of interesting projects or new equipment. Here’s a YouTube video from Thomas Reprographics discussing their 3D printing capabilities: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnphp4Llh_c
Tip 3: Time matters
McNally estimates that he spends about two hours a day on social media. That’s a big investment in time, and you could probably get away with less, but don’t make the mistake of posting lots of content for a few days and then ignoring your campaign for the next six months. That’s worse than not starting a campaign in the first place!
What will you do for two hours a day? You can post new content, obviously, but you can also visit your clients’ social media sites and comment on or “like” their posts or re-tweet their Tweets, respond to comments on your own Facebook account, or find new potential clients to follow on Twitter or Pinterest.
You should also pay regular attention to your company on Yelp or Foursquare to see if anyone has posted comments or ratings about your shop there.
Tip 4: Expectations matter
Don’t expect someone to see your Facebook post, call you up, and say “Hey, nice post, I want you to become our reprographics shop.” That only happens in Fantasyland! What social media does is put your name in front of your potential or existing clients, hopefully repeatedly. Think about Coca-Cola advertising – everybody is already familiar with Coke, but the company repeatedly advertises. Why? Not because they think consumers will see the ads and suddenly run out and buy Coke, but because they want to keep Coke in front of consumers’ minds, so when they’re thirsty, they’ll want to drink a Coke.
The same goes for your social media campaign (or any promotion) – You want your reprographics firm to be on the top of their mind all the time, so during that one time per month that they need a plot or lamination or something, they’ll remember you. Or when your salesperson makes a call to a new prospect, that prospect will already be familiar with your firm. As McNally said at the top of this article, his firm’s social media campaign prepares the ground for his sales staff.
Tip 5: Measurement matters
You may never know exactly what the impact of your social media campaign is, but you definitely should measure it regularly so you can tweak it as needed. Assuming you have limited energy and time for measurement, just do these things once a week: Check Google Analytics to see how traffic to your website is trending and where that traffic is coming from; visit your Facebook admin page to see what your Facebook traffic is and what posts are drawing attention; see who is following you on Twitter; and ask your sales staff to ask clients if they see your social media posts.
Naturally, you can get way more complex In your measurements – a quick web search will give you dozens of reports and services -- but if you just do these four things you’ll be far ahead of most businesses that use social media.
Social media should be a part of your strategy. You don’t need a million people following you, but don’t ignore the impact you could have if a handful of the right people follow you.
“Don’t ever think that it’s not important,” McNally says. “Social media is here to stay no matter what anybody says.”
Ed Avis is the managing director of IRgA. This article was based on a presentation he is giving at the ERA/IRgA Convention in Baltimore April 3-5.