Holly Avera tells us why social media should be a key component of your digital efforts and four simple trends you should be incorporating into your building material marketing strategy.
More About This Show
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 talk to Holly Avera, the social media marketing manager at Venveo.
Holly lays out the how and why of social media specifically for the building materials industry and gives us a forecast of the channel’s future.
Holly Avera is the social media marketing manager at Venveo and works directly with our clients to help them grow sales using various platforms. She focuses on four specific areas: strategy, content, listening and engagement.
In this podcast, she offers some pretty incredible insights into both the current and future state of social media for building materials and what you can do right now to increase your sales. After all, being active on social media isn’t just about gaining followers, it’s about being where your customers are spending time.
Where Marketing Is Going and Why You Need Social Media to Stay Ahead
Marketing, in general, is making a move towards personalization and customization in a way that we have never seen before. The question for building material manufacturers is how to maximize this opportunity to reach more people than ever before by engaging leads in this customized environment. When you figure out how to do this well, you’re going to see higher conversions in sales and a better ROI in your marketing.
This is true of all social platforms, including Facebook and Messenger, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Manufacturers that double down and focus on social media today are the ones who will win because, frankly, most companies in the industry haven’t put in the effort yet.
Another major marketing trend is the shift from storytelling to story living. This means showing what it looks like for your products to be part of your customer’s life. The greatest opportunity to demonstrate that is through social media.
A lot of manufacturers doubt whether their audience is actually on social media. But studies from the PEW Research Center indicate 95% of U.S. adults are using social media consistently today. Building material manufacturers can — and should — use social media to personalize the customer experience and validate your company’s value.
4 Crucial Social Media Trends for Building Material Manufacturers
Let’s look at the four biggest trends in social media marketing and how building material managers can take advantage of them.
#1: AI Enhances the Customer Experience
Artificial intelligence may sound scary, but it’s definitely not. Instead, AI can help you use technology in a way that enhances the customer experience, such as scaling one-on-one conversations using chatbots. You can give hundreds or even thousands of customers the same amount of attention without having to use up human resources.
We’re clearly going to see a greater incorporation of AI in marketing. Start by mapping your customer’s journey to see what it looks like from awareness to purchase. You can then identify the friction points to see when people are dropping out before making a purchase. Once you find the friction point, there’s a good chance you can then use AI to take over repetitive tasks that your team does and free up your employees to talk more in-depth with customers at other touchpoints.
Build a structure and let AI step in until your customer is at a deeper level that requires human interaction.
#2: Influencers and Employees Should Help Build Your Brand
Influencers are certainly not a new thing, but increasing your partnerships is an easy way to make your brand personable and resonate with your target audience. Think of strategic partnerships as an extension of your voice.
In addition to external influencers, the greatest untapped resource your company has is your employees. You should leverage everyone from entry-level to executives to have buy-in into your brand’s social media presence. By starting now, you can take advantage of an incredible opportunity to create socially and digitally savvy employees.
It’s important to coach your employees and give permission to engage with your company’s social media content. Why do you want them to engage? Because it humanizes your company. Employees become advocates for you, which leads to more trust and organic conversations with your customers.
Plus, your employees have social networks that are probably 5 to 7 times the size of your company’s following. When your employees advocate for you, you add an authentic voice to your brand. Employees are positioned as having the backstage pass and lend a trusted voice to the conversation.
There are very few (if any) building material manufacturers doing this right now. An easy place to start is by encouraging employees to create a LinkedIn profile that’s connected to your company. Just make sure that you never force your employees to do something on their personal social media accounts. It will backfire every time. But if you give them permission to engage with your company and show them what to do, we bet they’ll be more than willing to help.
#3: Privacy Is Seen as a Right and Should Be Protected
There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about online privacy. It’s not only ok to gather data, but also necessary. The catch? You need to be upfront with your audience about what you’re doing with their information.
If you're asking for an email, for example, tell them what you’re going to do with it, like send them a monthly e-newsletter. Simple, upfront communication on how you protect their privacy is a huge step in establishing trust.
#4: Video Is the Future of Social Media Content
Another huge trend for social media is an increase in the use of video. The good news is you don’t need a huge marketing budget to pull this off; instead, focus on human interest stories with specific types of video. Examples include live videos where employee share their stories and behind-the-scenes of what goes on with the product before it gets to the customer.
Don’t be afraid to do video. When you go live or do a Facebook story, know that it’s ok if you’re not able to control 100% of what happens. Any mistakes or technical errors simply humanize you and make you more real to the viewer.
Another upcoming extension of video is augmented and virtual reality, which helps you create the story living part of your marketing. These tools show customers what their life would like with your product.
For instance, a customer could get a roof quote in real time or see what a wall would look like with a specific application. Show customers in advance why they cannot live without your product. Ikea is already doing this with furniture, so it’s certainly viable to incorporate this into your own marketing for a much more expensive product.
Augmented or virtual reality helps to remove friction and close the gap between digital and purchase.
What Building Material Manufacturers Need to Do Right Now to See Results
The main takeaway is that social media is no longer optional for building material manufacturers. You need a strategy that includes presence, engagement and analytics. Make sure you have an understanding of what makes your company unique and how you can show that on social media, whether it’s through chatbots, employees, influencers or video content. It’s an effective way to showcase your brand so you can reach the right people.
And what do people want from social media? They want personalized, tailored content that makes a connection. The ultimate goal is to get people excited about your brand so that they can share their experience with others.