Everybody does it. According to a report they gave in January 2015, Facebook has 1.39 Billion people logging in on a daily basis. That's more than the population of China at 1.36 billion. So I know you're using social media in your personal life. In spite of that, the CAM industry as a whole is having a bit of trouble figuring out how to use this 'social media thing'. And don't blame it on age. The fastest growing demographic for social media is senior citizens.
We've heard the benefits of implementing social media for business - increased exposure, more B2B leads, better search rankings, and lower marketing costs. So what's the hold up? Why are we in the CAM industry flying in the face of all evidence and ignoring social media as a way to grow our community association management businesses?
I think the real reason we have trouble implementing a social media strategy into our business is fear. We're afraid it might take over our lives, that we might say something that we regret, that we might build it and nobody will come. And those fears are totally valid. But those things could happen in any medium with any venture. By playing to the fear, you ignore the potential success that a social media strategy can bring to your business.
A Case Study
Ben Isip of Towers Property Management has adopted a very successful social media strategy into his management business.
[Social media] gets our name out there and helps spread the information. If we help a homeowners association today by answering a few questions, next year they may be looking for a management company and they will remember Benjamin Isip or Towers Property Management. Once you get the hook out there, people contact you for proposals and information. I’ve had three requests for proposals this week.”
Isip publishes a mix of user created content and information from TOPS, Florida, HOA attorneys or other vendors. He uses HootSuite to post to all of the different platforms simultaneously, so it doesn’t take much time.
Everything I put out there is useful for homeowners or board members,” said Isip. “Any homeowner can read about how to take care of bats, alligators, or changes in the law from the blog on our website. People tell me that they follow my company on social media to get a curated list of articles.”
Towers now spends half as much money on marketing because of social media.
Rather than have a booth at an expo and spend $1,500, I can use that day to post on LinkedIn and Google+ and get the same number of contacts.”
Social media has helped Isip grow the business.
In the last year everything really skyrocketed,” stated Isip. “I still participate in a few things to keep our physical exposure up, but for the most part we spend our time and effort on social media.”
Want to see the same levels of success? Here's where to start.
1) Know your Audience
Any good social media strategy begins with a deep understanding of who you are talking with. If you are busy putting out information about landscaping and your primary customer lives in a condo, that's not very relevant to them. Make sure that you know exactly who your dream client is, so you can speak to their pains and their needs when you post on social media.
2) Know your Network
You have enough on your plate as it is. You cannot afford to stretch yourself too thin when implementing your new social media strategy. That's why it's a good idea to set some boundaries for yourself. Don't try to get in on every single social network. Pick and choose the right ones for you. (Refer back to #1 - where is your target audience? That's where you want to be too.)
Each social network you engage on has different value and a different audience. For example, Facebook is great for strengthening existing relationships. So that's a great place to reach out and interact with homeowners in the associations you already manage. Share news and information that is relevant to them (local, or related to an issue they are going through.) By contrast, if you are trying to attract new business, LinkedIn is an amazing social network. Simply join one of the many various industry groups and watch for people to post a question you can help them with. Then just be helpful and be yourself.
3) Be Useful
You know that guy at a party who asks you 'How's it going' and you say 'Good, you?' then he proceeds to bend your ear for the next 20 minutes talking about how great his life is? Don't be that guy. Companies who go on social media and only talk about themselves and their product are missing the point entirely. Social media is about building relationships, and relationships need to work both ways. Make sure that you are providing something to your audience that is helpful to them. Something that makes them want to continue the relationship. Otherwise they may excuse themselves to 'get a drink' and never come back.
4) Be Available
Social media is a conversation, not a one way megaphone that you can shout into. Don't forget to check your private messages, @mentions and replies. When a prospect contacts you through social media they expect a near instant response, and giving one (even in response to complaints!) is a great way to show that you are the kind of company people want to work with. Remember that social media is public and the Internet is forever, so anything you post can either contribute to, or take away from your potential success for years to come.
5) Be Consistent
Like exercise or dieting, social media is most effective when you do it consistently - it ramps up. Set a schedule for yourself, even if it's only 2 or 3 posts a day, and stay with it! Remember that fear of building it and nobody coming? That may happen at first, but you know that once something is out there on the Internet it never goes away, so every post you make that doesn't get read today helps to build a body of work that will be read tomorrow.
6) Use the Right Tools
Even if you only choose one or two networks to post on, it's easy to get sucked into spending hours a day on social (it's kinda like TV that way). You can combat that by choosing the right tools. I love Buffer for Twitter and Facebook. It's got a super simple interface and you can schedule an entire day's worth of posts in just a few minutes. (I do it while I am enjoying my morning coffee - it also helps me catch up on all of the industry news from the previous day.) For other networks, or a more advanced program, you can't go wrong with Hootsuite, which creates an aggregated feed you can read and schedule posts all from within the program. Best of all, both of these programs are completely free to start out.
Social media done right can provide a huge range of benefits for your business. Remember these tips when you are creating a social media strategy for your management organization and you can be seeing amazing results too!