If you’re not currently using social media, now is a great time to rethink that decision and start making the most of this highly effective toolset

By Jess Campbell

Social media isn’t going anywhere; in fact, it has be-come a vital part of business.  The piling industry hasn’t always been the first in line to utilize social media, but now is as good a time as any to drill down and get started.

Whether you’re using social media or not, know this – your customers, competitors, suppliers and potential customers are. Social media is quickly overtaking more traditional means as the top method of communication between businesses and consumers.

Elizabeth Mitchell is the owner at Clearwater Social Marketing in Winnipeg. Mitchell indicates that using social media is imperative for success in business, no matter what industry you’re in.

“Social media allows you to build your brand and reach into the marketplace that you want to be in,” she said. “It not only allows you to connect with existing customers and build on those relationships, but it also helps you to connect with potential customers and, oftentimes, those potential customers who you maybe haven’t even considered yet.”

Andy Sneddon is the construction manager for Graham Piling Services in Edmonton. Sneddon uses LinkedIn to forge relationships with his existing clients and to find new ones, likening it to electronically handing out brochures.

“LinkedIn is an electronic marketing tool, so that’s why I use it. For Graham Piling, it gets our name out into the market so we’re able to target the industries we want to work in and, specifically, the clients we want to work with and the people who make the decisions,” he said.

Getting started

If you’re new to social media, getting started can be over-whelming when you begin considering which platform is best, how to manage it or what goals to set to ensure a positive ROI. Lowell Brown, CEO and social media advisor at GoingSocial.ca, says you need to start simple.

“Start with goals,” said Brown. “Decide what you want to get out of social media and why you’re using it. Do you want to build your reputation, build awareness or increase sales? You need to set out a proper strategy and determine how you’re going to achieve those goals.”

Mitchell agrees.

“Sit down with your communications, marketing and salespeople to develop your strategy,” she said. “Designate who is going to manage social media; this is a priority before you move forward.”

Mitchell says that the designated social media manager should not be a busy receptionist or someone from your marketing department with a huge personal social media following.

“The person who is managing this for you really has to want to do it. It cannot be just one more task they need to complete within their very busy day. I cannot emphasize enough the difference between using social platforms personally and as a business tool. Unless you understand how to use it as a business tool, it’s never going to be effective,” said Mitchell.

Once you have a strategy, you can begin to build your following. Choose a platform that your active audience – competitors, customers and potential customers – are already using.

“Figure out where your audience is,” said Brown. “Don’t use a platform where your audience doesn’t exist. If they’re not where you are, they won’t take action.”

Choose just one or two platforms; there’s no need to be everywhere, at least not at first. Then begin following people in your industry.

“To build a following, ask yourself who your clients, stake-holders and suppliers are, then follow them. Look through Piling Canada magazine and follow the people in there. Then you need to start engaging right away. Retweet an article that you liked, or comment on what someone else has posted,” said Mitchell.

Engaging in what other people have shared will show them who you are and that you’re interested in the same things. The goal – and likelihood – is that they will follow you back.

Brown says it’s not just about quantity, but also about quality.

“Don’t get too hung up on the number of followers you have,” he said. “You could have fewer followers but if those people are engaged, that’s much more important than having lots of followers that aren’t interested in you at all.”

With social media, content is king. This means you need to be consistently sharing interesting posts that your followers interact with by liking, commenting and sharing. A good starting point is to post something every day, whether it’s a video, photo, link to a news article or update on what the company is doing. For Sneddon, what you post should never be about bragging rights.

“I don’t like to post things like, ‘We’re doing this huge project there,’ or ‘We bought this new rig here.’ That’s not what I think it should be about. What I do post is that we’re working in a sector or we’re doing work at this location and here are a few photos – general informational posts for our followers,” he said.

Brown suggest incorporating a blog into your website, thereby creating more shareable content.

"Blogging is super important," he said. "There is a time commitment to write the articles, but creating information on your own website through a blog helps your search engine ranking and feeds that content you could be sharing on social media."

A social ROI

Social media can be difficult to track in terms of ROI. For example, increased traffic to your website from followers clicking on a Facebook link is easier to track that your online reputation. Thankfully, there are tools – many of them built into each platform – to help you track your progress and make sure you're heading toward your strategic initiatives. But you must be committed to putting in the work to see that ROI, as it’s not likely to be immediate.

“Social media is the long game. It takes a long time to build up. But those followers, they become your tribe,” said Mitchell.

Outsourcing your social media management is an option if you can’t do it in-house, and will then have professionals monitoring ROI on your behalf. But be sure not to simply hand it off and be done with it.

“Make sure the company you go with is someone who’s going to work for you, and make social work for you,” said Mitchell. “If they can’t communicate with you and explain how they’ll deliver the ROI, that’s not good. Make sure whoever you hire really understands how to use social media to benefit your industry and company.”

“The hardest thing for someone without the understand-ing of the platforms is knowing what to do and how to use them,” said Brown. “It comes down to understanding where you need help and being able to find a provider that meets your needs and your budget.”

Utilizing social media is a critical part of business today and in the future.

Sneddon puts it best: “You need to move with the times. If you don’t keep up with the trends and with what’s going on, you will no longer be with us.” 


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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.