Sam Ball, previously of Utopia Bathrooms and now director of Serendipity Happens, a specialist KBB marketing consultancy, helps you decide which social media platforms are right for your business
For the converted, social media is an easy sell. If it’s something that you engage with on a personal level, you will relate to the many hours that can be whittled away on each platform.
In an industry where an image alone can sell a product, social media, and those platforms based primarily on posting imagery can only complement your current marketing activity.
Statistics show that browsers are attracted to posts that contain a pictorial element. While we might appear to be reading each post, our brain comprehends the image and, to a certain extent, second-guesses what that post might be about. It is only then that we decide whether to read the post in more detail or skip over it.
For so many of us, time is precious and clinching an order must take priority over a tweet. But if your business isn’t currently active on any social-media platform, it may be wise to start by considering which platforms are a priority for you.
Knowing your target audience demographic is key to which platforms you should choose for your company, but as a general rule of thumb, never post on any platform without an accompanying image.
In an ideal world, retailers should opt to be active across all five main platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Houzz. However, if the thought of starting all five from scratch is daunting, or due to time constraints simply not viable, consider creating an Instagram and Pinterest account for your company. These two platforms are based totally on pictorial content, perfect for any kitchen, bedroom or bathroom company.
You would be way off the mark in presuming that Instagram is purely a platform for sharing photos of the umpteenth slice of cake or pink flamingo product. There are now more than 800 million Instagram users, and between us, we have uploaded more than 40 billion photos. It is estimated that a further 200 million users will have joined Instagram by the end of 2018.
Globally, there are more than 25 million businesses on Instagram, and it is believed that its 200m daily users visit at least one business profile every day. A vast amount of users want to discover the latest trends, products and services, giving kitchen, bedroom and bathroom retailers the ideal opportunity to tap into this cost-effective, mobile social platform.
Whether you reach for your smartphone first thing in the morning, while grabbing a sandwich at lunch or on the commute home, we are all creatures of habit. Once hooked on social media, we simply can’t break away from it.
Create meaningful posts to engage with your target audience and watch your Instagram followers grow. And meaningful or topical posts are paramount to ensure that your target audience sees your posts.
Back in spring 2016, Instagram introduced a new algorithm. Posts that used to appear in chronological order would now appear through feeds based mainly on engagement and, primarily, the engagement the post receives within the first hour. Any engagement made in the form of a comment should be treated as if it were a conversation and duly replied to – if a reply isn’t appropriate then simply acknowledge the comment by liking it.
Ideally, the images you upload should be perfectly styled and professionally shot. Many manufacturers are happy for retailers to have access to their image libraries and the obvious choice would be to simply upload each image along with an accompanying caption. But does that really give your potential customers an insight into the ethos behind your business? Choose some appropriate hashtags, both generic and ones specific to your company.
Ask your customers if they would mind if you took photographs during the installation process, or simply a ‘before and after’? They might even be willing to give you a quote. Obviously, it would be wise to ensure that the homeowner is happy for you to share their newly-fitted bedroom, bathroom or kitchen on social media, especially if they appear in the images. Remember to include your chosen hashtags. Not only will this help to reinforce your brand, but will enable you easily to locate all imagery that has been given the same hashtag.
Like Instagram, Pinterest is perfect for your business, as it is all about imagery and inspiring potential customers. However, unlike the other platforms, Pinterest shouldn’t be considered as a social media site, but as a search engine.
With more than 175 million Pinterest users and over 50 billion pins to choose from, it’s easy to see why the average time spent on Pinterest averages nearly 15 minutes. A predominantly female audience, and with a median age of 40, more than 85% of us have admitted that we have purchased a product directly because of Pinterest.
It’s responsible for approximately 5% of all website referral traffic, with two-thirds of the pins representing brands and products.
Once you’ve decided that Pinterest is right for your company, you should upload all imagery that you own the rights of to your boards. Try to think of Pinterest like a library. A dictionary would never be in and among the cookbooks and a novel would never randomly appear in the art section, unless of course they had been mixed up.
And so, before uploading your pins, decide on the names of your boards. These first boards are the foundation for your Pinterest business account. Once uploaded with accompanying details and hashtags, you can then create further boards and re-pin your original pins. For example, a painted Hague Blue kitchen might be initially pinned to a board called ‘Painted Kitchens’. It can then be re-pinned to other boards such as ‘Blue Kitchens’ or ‘Hague Blue Interiors’. These boards can then include other pins that would complement your product – blue appliances, for instance?
Pinterest also has algorithms to determine what a user sees in their home feed. Pins that appear used to be ‘newest’ first. However, Pinterest now ranks pins on four main factors – domain quality, pin quality, pinner quality and relevance. So take time when uploading each original pin.
Like all marketing, nothing is guaranteed. However, one thing that is guaranteed is that if your business isn’t active on social media, you certainly won’t be taking advantage of this captive audience and their potential custom.
It might seem like too much effort, but ask yourself, are your competitors currently active? If the answer is ‘yes’, then it’s time to play catch-up. If the answer is ‘no’, it’s the ideal time to start and lead the way.