This article originally appeared in Water Quality Products magazine April 2020 issue as "Information Highway"
Have you ever posted on social media about weddings, vacations, an evening on the town at the newest restaurant or attending your favorite concert? How about checking in at the airport or on your cruise as you leave port? You might even posta selfie with a cocktail and the ocean behind you, while noting that you are “feeling good” with a fancy emoji or hashtag “#vacation!” These are some of the terms we hear and post types or topics we think of when the term “social media” comes to mind.
Admit it, most of us have done this in one way or another. Perhaps we do it just to show our family, friends and neighbors who are not on the cruise or event with us what a good time we are having or are about to have. And maybe we are even trying to produce a little envy. So why do we feel the need to do it? There are a number of reasons, but first and foremost because we have a story to tell and we want others to hear and see it. With that in mind, let us focus on the instant story and feelings social media can help us tell for our customers.
Social media, when used properly, can be a powerful, relevant direct marketing tool. There are rules to learn and as always, please use your powers for good. We all can agree that we are living in the fastest and most abundant information age in history. In some cases, news becomes old after 24 hours. As business owners, we can use this to our advantage, but we must move quickly.
How Water Quality Businesses Can Leverage Social Media
How is this relevant for a water quality business beyond the cruise pictures or plate of food that looks too good to eat? In 2020, social media is an integral part of everyone’s day to day life. People are constantly looking for reassurance through reviews, Facebook posts, Instagram photos, hashtags and more before they decide to purchase an item or schedule service. If a business does not have some sort of social media presence, many potential buyers will move on to a competitor that does.
As silly as it sounds, we have become accustomed to quickly seeing and acting upon the things we want or need. That is why it is so important to make sure your posts are current and relevant, including events, photos, offers, reviews and even how you interact with your customers. Social media is also the greatest vehicle ever to help us “strike while the iron is hot,” as it allows us to respond in record time.
For instance, a U.S. EPA regulatory change or local municipal issue, a water crisis, such as fire chemicals leaking into a water table, old pipes breaking down or even a boil-water alert may hit the news hard. This is an opportunity where social media gives us a platform to offer our expert opinion, advice and solution just in time to reassure the consumer before the next news cycle hits, and we can do it with a large reach. Social media allows us to tell the whole story. Not only our own story but with other stories we care about that affect both our customers and our business.
Your website can and should be your social media war room. Social media allows us to create free organic inbound links using a blog or featured expert information from your web pages. In layman’s terms, that means getting more people to visit your site and read more pages. This positions your company higher than your competitors who are not keeping their sites relevant when people search for your product or service.
Social media–Facebook in particular–is filled with prospects waiting to hear from you. You can position your company in the forefront with some of the lowest cost, most effective and targeted advertising available. Everything you need for prospect targeting success can be selected, including geography, education, age, interests, behaviors and more. Display advertisements can be created or you can ‘boost’ a post that has a lot of likes and engagement and then target specific audiences that may not know your company yet. You can even remove your existing customers from seeing your advertisements if you are trying to reach new prospects.
Please note, one of the most important rules is to not use your personal social media page for any of this. Be sure to create a business page with a business identity. Having business pages for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or all three is a great way to market your business in the public eye, and as outlined above, most of it is free.
According to digitalinformationworld.com, Facebook is the third most visited website in the world with a monthly average of 21.18 billion hits. In my opinion, Facebook is currently the most powerful social media site for the water quality industry. In addition, Facebook is a must since a potential customer may be able to see your information in a search even if they may not have an account. If you did no other social media, I recommend at least a Facebook page.
How to Start Your Business Facebook Page
Here are a few tips on how to start your business Facebook page:
- Make sure you create your Facebook page as a Business Account. This will allow you to customize your “About” section, draft and schedule posts including photos and videos, create targeted advertising campaigns that can be shown in both Facebook and Instagram news feeds, view page insights and more.
- Customize your “About” section by adding your hours, phone number and website along with a brief summary of what your company offers. Think of this as a mini website with an abbreviated amount of information.
- Be sure to post one to three times a week. People like to see consistency and so do Facebook and the search engines. If you stop posting, it will stop appearing in feeds.
- Create posts that encourage people to interact with your page. You can try polls, contests and more, but relevancy to get them back to your site to see the “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me) is key.
- Always drive traffic from your Facebook posts to the corresponding page on your website. Paste the relevant link from your site into your post after a brief teaser of information. Make users go back to your site for the whole story or offer.
- Once your social media accounts are created, it is important to promote those pages to gain followers. Put the social media icons on your website, email signature and even business cards. In some cases, depending on the website you have, you can have your web developer include the Facebook news feed anywhere in your website or footer.
Social media is going to continue to be a crucial component in business marketing. However, it does not have to be another task on your list of things to do that is too stressful to manage. Take the first step. Create a business profile and start engaging with your customers. Get your presence started. Also, the same way you get help from an accountant, consider help from a professional marketer. As you have read above, there is a lot to consider and keep up with the consistency. Many water quality professionals work with someone in or out of their office who implements the content, images and videos sent from them while in the field.
And lastly, have fun with it! Remember, your current and prospective customers want to know more about you, like a new certification or something funny you came across on the job, a business-related sign or situation on the road, anything that develops the relationship. Use social media to stay visible, stay relevant and most importantly, to stay in the forefront of your target audience so when they need a water quality expert, they will think of you first.