Embrace and engage: Online marketing is a dealer’s ally

Home Inside FCNews Embrace and engage: Online marketing is a dealer’s ally

April 27/May 4, 2015; Volume 29/Number 2

By Amanda Haskin

Utilizing social media to grow a business is no longer an option but a necessity. According to Socialnomics, social media influences 93% of shoppers’ buying decisions.

There are currently over 1.39 billion active monthly Facebook users, Instagram has exceeded the 300 million user mark and Pinterest users have contributed more than 30 billion pins since the service was founded, a number that has grown nearly 50% in the past six months alone.

“This is where the business is,” said Jamie Jordan, owner of Jordan’s Flooring in Mar-tinsburg, W. Va. “You can go on my Facebook to see reviews, photos of what we’ve done, what we have to offer, what manufacturers we work with. People are building [a level of] comfort with you before there is even a phone conversation or before you go to their houses.”

Making the decision to embrace social media is the first step, but simply having an online presence is not enough—content is what defines a successful social media campaign.

Visual content has proven to be most effective in attracting potential customers, especially in a design-oriented industry like flooring. Before and after photos, behind-the-scenes shots and inspirational design ideas are all examples of visual content to which consumers respond well.

“We’re in a visual world,” Jordan noted, “so [I post] a lot of photos of finished jobs.”

Liz Eure, director of marketing at Carpet Plus in Charlottesville, Va., said she always tries to include a photo on a post when possible. “I try to keep my posts short, interesting and informative. Instagram is great for our industry because it’s very visual and people love seeing photos of beautiful floors and rugs.”

A social media site that is all about visual content is the more industry-specific Houzz, which has recently surpassed 25 million in unique monthly users. “Color, style and fashion are first and foremost,” said Mark Woods of Ideal Floor Coverings in Falmouth, Mass. “Houzz is a place where customers can go for real-life ideas. The person looking at Houzz is closer to buying a product than someone we’re marketing to on Facebook.”

With quality content comes engagement, which can be a form of advertising in itself. “It does not need to be like a TV commercial or a radio ad,” said Kevin Owen of Owen Flooring in Chatham, Ontario. “You simply try to engage the customer and it turns into an advertisement. We promote the Owen Flooring brand by trying to help consumers find what they need [such as] the differences between hardwood and engineered hardwood, pros and cons, etc. We make the customer want to buy from us because we are doing everything we can to help her know and understand the product like we do.”

Eure added, “The biggest boost we’ve ever gotten in Facebook followers was when we ran a pet photo contest last spring. In addition, we donated $2 for every new ‘like’ to our local SPCA. We were blown away by how effective that was. Paying to boost posts on Facebook is also a great way to get new followers.”

For many retailers, the hardest part about social media is getting started. The breadth of possibilities is seemingly endless, and many dealers simply don’t have the time and proper understanding of the concept to fully engage with it.

Woods has someone on his staff dedicated to just social media, which allows the company to showcase its own personality while giving it the necessary time and attention.

Jordan, on the other hand, credits his 13-year-old daughter for helping him with the business’ social media. “She tells me what is hip, cool and trendy. She’s really the guru behind it. More people should listen to their kids on the way of the world today because they know where it’s at.”

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