“Social media is taking conversations we typically have with a buyer or potential buyer in person and putting them in an online forum,” says Carol Flammer, managing partner at mRelevance, in Atlanta. She says that social media not only helps direct potential clients to your company website but it also helps small businesses with reputation management, allowing them to control search results from browsers so that the top results from an online search bring up their website, blog, or social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google+ etc. … Flammer says the combination of social media and search engine optimization (SEO) is a powerful tool that equalizes the playing field for small businesses.

Chris Marentis, founder and CEO of SureFire Social, says that business owners need to make sure that all their company’s social media components have dynamic content and “shareable” components that help broaden its base of leads. All social media should lead users to the only digital property that a company can control — its website and blog.

Engaging Medium, Engaging Content 

Offer content that engages your target audience, says Stephen Hoefer, president of Inbound Marketing Associates, in  Manlius, N.Y. The consulting firm helps remodelers and other small businesses create website content, then optimize the pages so that search engines can find them. “Most people coming to a social media site for a company are looking to either solve a problem, engage with someone to solve their problem, or are seeking feedback on something they have seen on your site,” Hoefer says.

For example, Inbound Marketing helped one remodeler create website content about kitchens and baths, design ideas, and remodeling trends, which the remodeler then promotes on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Inbound’s marketing associate Mary Karpinski says that the remodeling business has a long sales cycle, with most clients thinking about projects they want completed in six months. During this long cycle, potential clients use social media to learn about a company. She says that showing a portfolio of projects helps the potential client gather ideas for the project. If you include photos and biographies of your employees, they can see who will be working on their project and the certifications and backgrounds of these individuals. Offering guides or data help the client view a remodeling company as offering helpful solutions to their problem. Social media also helps remodelers stay in touch with past clients who may need service work or have additional remodeling needs.

Building Reputation: Expert Advice

Consultant Darren Slaughter recommends that contractors build a reputation as an expert — providing DIY tips or offering suggestions on product selections through social media. Potential clients will buy from those who educate them rather than those who are trying to “sell” them. He says that over time, social media will become a “confidence factor” for potential clients — something that being a member of the local chamber of commerce or having a good standing with the Better Business Bureau previously used to provide.

“It’s about what people say about your business versus what you say about your business. If 500 people ‘like’ you, that is a bit of a recommendation or citation that the next person you work with uses to determine whether they want to do business with you,” Slaughter says. “Social acceptance on any level has a value to it.” —Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.

Want to learn more about social media? Stay tuned for our July 2012 feature story on the topic.

More REMODELING articles about social media:

Networking With Social Media

Social Media: The Lifecycle of a Post

Connect With Your Clients: An Interview With Chris Marentis