The Cleaning Industry Gets Social
Categories: Innovations, Trends & TechnologyBy Graeme Golucki | March 7, 2018 << Back to Articles
Social media is an all-encompassing term for interactions created and shared in a virtual community or network. It can take on many different forms such as blogs and microblogs, social networks, photo and video sharing, and discussion forums. According to a Nielsen Media Research report, Americans spent 121 billion minutes in July 2012 on social media Web sites.
Today, social media isn’t just for teens to come up with #clever #hashtags and post “selfies.” In fact, cleaning-industry organizations are actively participating and leveraging the power of social media to boost their businesses. For example, ISSA’s LinkedIn group recently surpassed 14,000 members. That’s thousands of professionals networking and discussing jansan topics on a daily basis in one small corner of the social media universe.
Social media provides businesses a variety of ways to interact with their colleagues and customers. Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter offer an inexpressive way to communicate and build brand awareness. Some sites, like LinkedIn, can be used to recruit new employees and build relationships with peers through knowledge sharing. All three sites—and several other social networking channels available today—can be used to build buzz and promote events and products. Many companies these days use social media as an avenue to directly interact with customers. Other organizations use it to share industry news and updates, supporting the industry at large and opening channels of conversation.
A Standard Practice?
A growing number of industry professionals believe the use of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn should be as important as traditional marketing and should be second nature in the 21st century. From manufacturers and distributors to building service contractors and cleaning service professionals, there is a way for all players in the cleaning industry to take advantage of this powerful―and a majority of the time free―marketing tool. “If you promote your business via print, Web, e-mail, trade shows, etc., why wouldn’t you expose your business in a venue that is virtually free? It’s now a standard piece of the marketing mix and provides another means of staying connected with customers and industry insiders,” said JoAnn Durette, vice president of marketing for Mats Inc.
Kevin Montejano, sales and marketing assistant at KBM Facility Solutions, agrees. “Social media can be a truly efficient and effective way to provide information and communicate with individuals as well as within a specific target group,” he said. “It allows our company to easily customize content and communicate to various groups with the information most important to that particular group. Linking various social media platforms drives interest in your company and when done well can drive traffic to a business.”
Durrette concurs with Montejano’s assessment. “Social media is important because it continues to grow and that can’t be ignored,” she said. “There are so many significant reasons to use social media. From a business standpoint, it offers real-time communication with customers and the opportunity for increasing brand loyalty. All of the sharing, liking, and interacting provide brands with credibility and brand awareness. Also, sharing links can help drive Web site traffic.”
There are myriad ways to leverage social media depending on your business and goals. It is vital that businesses have a strategy not only for specific social media channels, but for the practice overall. Take the time to develop an internal plan for interaction. For example, companies such as KBM view it as a way of educating as well as networking. “KBM’s strategy with regards to social media is two-fold,” said Montejano. “One part is to authenticate and provide overview knowledge of our company and the specialized facility maintenance solutions we provide. The other phase is to establish KBM as an educational resource to our client and employee base. This is done through posting links to educational information such as e-newsletters, white papers, and case studies.”
Other companies such as Mats Inc. take a different approach. “Our overall social marketing strategy is simply to interact with our customers and industry friends to expand and deepen relationships and to be a valued resource for helping their businesses grow,” said Durette.
Louise Taillon, director of training for Wood Wyant, a division of the Sani Marc Group, knows that not only is it important for a company to have a set strategy for social media, but that strategy needs to differ depending on the social network. “A company’s strategy for Facebook should be different than its strategy for Twitter or LinkedIn. Each type of social media has a different audience with different expectations. Some content can be shared on all forms of media, but you really need to look at having a strategy for each,” she said.
Interacting with clients and customers through social media can be fortuitous in a number of ways. “In addition to increasing our network, KBM has very successfully utilized our social media platforms to partner with clients to highlight philanthropic events,” said Montejano. “Social media gave us a tool to increase our bandwidth to successfully contribute to their event, coordinate and track efforts, and ultimately build a stronger partner relationship.”
Participation in social media has not only helped Mats Inc.’s sales, but it also has given their customers a feeling that they are part of the brand. “Our company’s most successful social media campaign to date involved Facebook and a contest for developing new colors for an existing flooring line,” said Durette. “The contest encouraged designers to use our previously developed online custom color design tool to create and submit their own original color to us. In addition to the considerable contest activity, we also had a surge in custom color flooring projects.”
For other users, the success stories are a bit more personal. “One of the best compliments that I received was when I attended a trade show and several people walked up to me and said ‘You’re @EnviroWeezy [Taillon’s Twitter handle]. I follow you! Please keep the great information coming―I really appreciate what you post’,” said Taillon. “In another instance, I was meeting with a potential customer when all of sudden she recognized my name from LinkedIn and commented on how much she appreciated my recent posts.”
Starting to Get Social
So how does a company get started on social media? Taillon, Montejano, and Durette all agree that the best way is to jump right in. “The important thing is to start! Depending on your specific business, my advice is to start with a social media platform that is focused on business-to-business relationships such as LinkedIn and Twitter,” said Taillon. “Get on LinkedIn and find groups where you can demonstrate your expertise, post informative articles, and make comments.”
As each platform has subtle nuances, Taillon offers different advice for getting started on Twitter versus LinkedIn. “The key to Twitter is finding the right people to follow and to follow you. It needs constant activity. You can’t rely on posting links only,” she said. “To be successful, you need to add comments to other posts and retweet information that would be relevant to the audience you want to follow you. Be prepared to tweet two to three times per day, including new posts and retweets.”
Montejano concurs that businesses should jump into the social media pool. “I would recommend to those not utilizing social media to get on board! The ability to brand your company and have another avenue to be recognized and legitimized is golden,” he said. “While social media alone rarely increases business directly, when utilized properly it can generate much more interest in your company.”
One point that Durette stresses is to not forget that social media, by definition, is all about interaction. “Listen to what people are saying and get a feel for the types of conversations, topics, and information. Find your own style of communication that fits with your brand message,” Durette advised. “Don’t send out lots of random messages. Interact in a genuine way, make a point to highlight useful articles and acknowledge insights, comments, and feedback. Liberally recognize and appreciate those who take the time to interact.”
Tools For Success
Companies and individuals using social media should realize that building a social following is a marathon, not a sprint. While ISSA’s Twitter account has more than 2,500 followers, that base didn’t appear overnight. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t receive 500 “likes” one week after creating a company Facebook page. Be sure to promote your social media ventures in more traditional marketing outlets such as print collateral and business cards. Increase your social media acumen by taking advantage of helpful tools such as the self-described “social media guide” Mashable.com and ISSA-TV videos like “Social Media 101” and “Social Media Best Practices.”
Plus, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all offer free guides that will help you create a business page and jump in to the social media pool head-first. Watch and interact with your peers in various channels to see what they’re doing right―and wrong―and hone your approach accordingly.
So go get out there and get social! Once you’re LinkedIn, you’ll definitely “like” it and be all a-Twitter with social media for your business!
About the Author.
Graeme Golucki is ISSA's digital strategy editor and can be reached at [email protected]; phone, 800-225-4772 (North America) and 847-982-0800.