Joining the Party

April 29, 2011

Social media is on the rise, and water dealers are beginning to join the conversation to reach out to customers. Rich Anderson, founder and CEO of ClearView Water, Denver, discussed how he uses social media with Water Quality Products Associate Editor Kate Cline.

Kate Cline: What kind of social media do you use?

Rich Anderson: In terms of social media, I use what most people regard as the big three. I use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Actually, throw a fourth one in—YouTube as well.

Cline: What kind of updates or content do you post on these outlets?

Anderson: I would say Twitter is more conversational. That is more where you meet people, you chat with people. A lot of my stuff on Twitter is finding likeminded people, likeminded businesses, certainly within our service area. I am really specific on that—I do not chat with people in Wisconsin and Texas and Tennessee. It is not because I do not want to help those people, but we service Colorado, so I tailor my message and my following specifically to Colorado. Twitter is very conversational; you might talk about things like different charities to support. Last night there was a worldwide event through Twitter called a Twestival. About 200 cities participate around the world to support local charities. The one last night supported a charity called Earth Force, which is a Denver-focused outreach to teach young children to be active in their community.

Facebook is a bit more ClearView Water-specific. This is what our customers say about us; this is our equipment; these are the services we offer and things along those lines. Probably the coolest thing on Facebook is the ability to feature installations. We do not feature every installation, but for many we put a picture up on the site.

If people are not familiar with water treatment, it is a good way for them to see what a piece of equipment does.

Cline: Who takes care of updating social media at your company?

Anderson: For the past almost-two years I have handled that personally. This is the cool part—when you do meet people, the whole magic with social media is when your social media presence matches and mirrors your real-life personality. So there is no filter between myself, the company and our messaging, because it really is me. The way I chat and converse through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is exactly how I am when you meet me in real life. There is no disparity between the “advertising” and when they actually meet the person in real life. I think that is really important. You can achieve that by having an employee or a social media strategist do that on your behalf.

Cline: How much time do you estimate it takes everyday?

Anderson: I believe it is important to limit your time. I do it daily, Monday through Friday. That is important—this is one of those things that you need to do or don’t do, but I absolutely do it every single business day, 30 minutes to an hour across the day.

Cline: Why do you think social media is a good fit for the water treatment industry?

Anderson: First and foremost, there is such a growing awareness and a growing need for improved water quality. So that is part of it. The other is that the world at large is very engaged in social media, so if you want to be part of the conversation, you have to be part of the conversation. It is a cool way to bring a human element to essentially an equipment sale.

Cline: Do you have any tips for a company looking to get started on social media?

Anderson: I would say first and foremost, try it. Unless you are saying something that is completely out of line, you are just joining a conversation. Picture a cocktail party. This is a virtual conversation at a party or a gathering over an extended period of time. First and foremost, I would say get involved. If you are first starting out, just try 15 minutes a day—that’s it, 15 minutes. I do not know anybody who cannot spare 15 minutes. Then I would say, be a good listener. Open up a Twitter account, open up a Facebook fan page and look out there and see what people are saying. Target your demographic. If you are a water filtration company that serves a four-state area, it makes good sense to talk with and be talked to by people within those four states versus everywhere else in the world.

Cline: What lessons have you learned in the last few years using social media?

Anderson: A great learning lesson is to listen first and you will find people within your service area. They are interested in what you have to say, but first and foremost, be interested in others. The biggest pitfall—I do not care whether it’s somebody selling dishwashers or water heaters or water filtration units—is constantly saying, “I make the best this, I do this, we do this, we do that.” It is a one-way conversation. You will get tuned off in social media, just as if we meet at a coffee shop and all that person says is “I do this; we do this.” If it is all about them, people tend to turn that person off. The same thing happens with social media.

Rich Anderson is founder and CEO of ClearView Water. Anderson can be reached at rich@clearviewwater.com or 303.801.7031. Kate Cline is associate editor for Water Quality Products. Cline can be reached at kcline@sgcmail.com or 847.391.1007.

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