Zach and Beth talk about major current and upcoming changes to some of the biggest online platforms and what they mean for building material manufacturers.
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The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insight on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.
In this episode, Zach and Beth discuss shifts from Facebook, Instagram, Google and LinkedIn and why building material manufacturers need to pay attention.
The biggest change for Facebook is the revamp of how it looks, including both your profile and newsfeed. This isn’t just about improving aesthetics, however; it’s actually a very strategic move by the social media giant.
One specific shift: Facebook is openly saying they’re moving more towards promoting content that is focused around events and groups. To do this, they’re decreasing one-on-one posts from connections. That’s because most people are using the group features of Facebook these days and are looking for relevant information within these forums.
This is true across the board, including in the building materials industry. There are incredibly active Facebook groups for a variety of audiences, such as woodworkers, architects, contractors and builders.
One of Facebook’s key differentiators is it’s very text-based platform and that the interactions on the platform are as well. People post questions, comments, ideas, success stories, job site builds, problems, products they love and hate, and questions their customers have. It’s an endless array of content within these communities which doesn't translate to other platforms like Instagram.
If you’re a manufacturer and you have an audience that really loves your industry or elements around it, look for culture niches within your building products. Examples of relevant groups could be woodworkers, remodelers or home builders. Either find those groups or start your own.
It’s also important to recognize that you need to treat everyone like a micro-influencer. Carpenters, woodworkers and roofers, in particular, have a huge collective presence on social media. This trend is common within the hands-on, skilled labor community, and they frequently talk and share about their products and experiences.
This public sharing makes each touchpoint more important than ever. One individual can have a wide range of influence so each contact can be a make or break a sale or your reputation. It’s also a positive opportunity to get your product in front of a huge number of qualified leads.
Another major shift in the social media landscape is happening on Instagram. They’re starting to make shopping a bigger part of the platform. People on Instagram don’t just view it as a place to connect with friends; they also use it to research and find products as well.
Consequently, Instagram is making the purchase process more ingrained in the platform by allowing anyone to add shop tags to their photos. So Jane Doe down the street can tag her H&M shirt without H&M ever getting involved. Ultimately, Instagram wants you to be able to complete a purchase from any website without leaving the Instagram platform.
What does this mean for building materials manufacturers?
You can’t just think about your website for e-commerce; now you have to think about Instagram as well because they’re trying to improve that checkout process and user experience.
This is an incredible opportunity for a brand who partners with influencers or those that have followers who naturally promote your brand because they can link to the product. It’s great for things like power tools, hand tools or anything that can be bought in one part.
Imagine the increase in sales you’d see if people didn’t have to remember the name of the product they saw or figure out a way to buy it. Plus, this new feature on Instagram reduces users’ ability to second guess their impulse buys.
Sometimes it’s hard to prove the ROI on social media marketing, especially if you’re not running ads. With Instagrams shop tag, you can now directly track those correlations.
Shifts in Online Ad Spend
In 2018, Google and Facebook controlled the majority of online ad spend; however, 2019 is the first year ever that online ad spend has been greater than traditional ad spend. The catch, though, is because of Amazon.
In response to Amazon’s growing stake among paying advertisers, Facebook has made it easier to shop and ship through their Marketplace. Our research also confirms this growing trend of people making purchases based on things they’ve seen on social media.
In a recent survey asking people if they buy things they see on social media, we found that up to 60% of respondents replied positively. This was a huge jump from a similar survey we performed just seven years ago.
One of the reasons for this increase is the power of reviews and recommendations. Today, you’d never buy something on Amazon that had a low-star rating. Similarly, we’re starting to see people who have hundreds of thousands of followers on social media give recommendations and followers instantly buying the products because they really trust the influencer’s opinion.
The next shift will very likely impact people for years to come. Google recently made a change within the Chrome browser (the most popular browser out there) that will greatly impact online shopping. Currently, if someone makes a purchase through Amazon, they can attribute other steps through different platforms that led to that purchase, such as website visits or online searches.
Now, however, Chrome is stripping that data and putting it under the privacy bucket. This means that there will be no sharing of third-party data across platforms, which will make tracking the buyer’s journey much more difficult. However, Google still has access to that information. As one article put it, Google is the only one who wins in this scenario.
This step is clearly an attempt to control Amazon’s ad spend because it hurts the analytics Google offers. While this may not sound like a big deal, it is for marketers because it’s now more difficult to prove if a campaign was successful or not.
In short, LinkedIn is trying to be the Facebook of business—and they’re making strong progress. There’s a lot of conversations happening on LinkedIn that used to happen on Facebook. Plus, the conversations are more filtered because users consider it a business environment.
One shift is we’ve seen recently with LinkedIn is the addition of more reactions to posts, as an effort to provide more data to gauge reactions on ad platforms. This is an extremely popular feature on Facebook and should help drive engagement between members on LinkedIn as well, by helping users express themselves better.
Another upcoming change on LinkedIn is that they’ll allow people to ask for suggestions on vendors to work with, allowing for more business features. This is similar to Facebook’s recommendation feature.
If you’re not already thinking about digital marketing, these changes really illustrate that it’s going to be harder and harder to catch up. No matter where you are in online marketing, avoid basing your strategy on information that’s two or three years old. Each platform is constantly changing, and it’s crucial to keep up with them in order to stay ahead of your competition.
If you have a question about the future of digital marketing and how to stay ahead of the curve, we can help provide clarity. Just send us an email at [email protected].