To paraphrase Ray Kinsella from “Field of Dreams,” if you build it, they will come. While the original phrase was about a fictional baseball field and the spirit of baseball legend Shoeless Joe Jackson (or Kinsella’s father, but I digress), it also holds true for your social media platforms.
Providing more than a static website, social media platforms can elevate your organization’s online presence and create an ongoing dialogue about your services and industry. Recognizing the speed at which companies can use social platforms to reach target audiences, a growing number of champions in niche industries are using social media to connect with customers, industry partners, prospects and the communities in which they work.
This was a key topic of conversation in the third episode of Build With Strength’s Concrete Credentials podcast (titled How an Influencer Thinks About Concrete).Host Gregg Lewis, executive VP of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA), spoke with Andrew Athias, social media influencer and, more recently, social media and digital marketing coordinator at The Silvi Group, a Philadelphia-based construction materials supplier. It was a fun interview! More important, Athias provided tips for anyone working in niche industries who are considering launching or ramping up social media efforts to build an audience and increase their exposure.
Without spoiling the podcast for those who want to listen in, I’ve highlighted a few takeaways from Athias along with additional tips from AOE based on social media strategies we have executed with clients.
Reach people where they are
If seeking job applicants for open positions, where do you publish help wanted ads? If trying to build your organization’s presence in a local market or community at large, how do you share news and accolades? Local newspapers and industry-specific publications are good places to start, but you are missing out on exposure and “word-of-mouth” opportunities if you do not actively exist where people are spending their time: on social media outlets.
Consider this: Seven out of every 10 Americans say they use (or have used) social media, according to a recent Pew Research report. YouTube and Facebook are the most widely used platforms among U.S. adults, while those under 30 seem to favor Instagram, SnapChat and TikTok. Of course, LinkedIn should never be discounted for professional networking.
What’s more, according to a Harris Poll on behalf of Sprout Social, 55 percent of consumers learn about new brands on social media. In fact, 77 percent of consumers are more willing to buy from a brand over a competitor after a positive experience with that brand on social media.
Humanize your organization
Find people in your organization who are not camera-shy and are willing to share their stories on your platforms. How did they get involved in the industry? What does a day in their life look like while on the job? What do they find fun, or exciting or fulfilling about their job?
Post about employees celebrating milestones, such as work anniversaries.
Share behind-the-scenes photos or videos (be sure all safety regs are followed). While employees are accustomed to the equipment or processes they use daily, customers and laypersons may find them fascinating.
Find trends and relate them to your industry. (Remember how the construction industry got creative with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014?)
Be the content you want to see
If nobody else in your industry is creating the type of content you want to see, create it yourself—and post often!
Use tags and hashtags
When posting about projects, partnerships or charity/community events you have participated in or sponsored, be sure to tag the other players involved, including project owners or event organizers. Tagging others will allow your posts to be seen by their unique followers, thus increasing your exposure. Hashtags are also useful to help categorize your messages and enable users to find your organization when searching for specific types of content. This is especially helpful for those in niche industries.
Create a social media position—or hire a consultant
Creating and curating content can be a full-time job. You cannot expect a full-time staff member to take on additional social media responsibilities without spreading themselves too thin. Eventually, a team of people may be required to create timely graphics and videos and manage multiple social media channels. However, the first step is to create a full-time social media position or hire a consultant, like AOE.
To add to the “Field of Dreams” catchphrase, if you humanize your organization through social media, more people will “follow” (or “like”) and engage with your brand. Just like engaged employees are more likely to stay with an employer, engaged clients and prospects are more likely to keep your organization top of mind.
For help developing a social media strategy that fits your organization’s goals, contact AOE.