Social Media Expert Weighs in on Best Practices for HVAC Businesses
March 19, 2021
If you knew that more than half (54%) of social browsers used social media to research products, would that change your business’ strategy to how you approach social media?
No matter the industry, a business or brand can gain numerous benefits when they’re active on social media. Not only are they staying top of mind among their current customers and local business community but they’re also increasing awareness of their business with new consumers, providing better customer service and furthering their reach and authority in the industry.
“What’s great about working with Rheem is that they’re already believers in the influence and impact of strategic and purposeful social media as a company, across divisions and especially for their customers,” says Gaelen Bell, senior vice president of content services at Motion, Rheem’s social media partner and this month’s vendor partner spotlight. “Case in point, when customers become Pro Partners, they receive hands-on support, social media content, training and publishing tools to ensure that engine is indeed running consistently and with purpose.”
We sat down with Bell to break down what she deems key considerations for HVAC businesses looking to start or strengthen their social media presence. Here’s what she recommends:
Explore the “Big Four” Through Your Audience’s Eyes
First, a little research out of the gate can go a long way. It’s best to familiarize yourself with the “Big Four:” Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. Each of these social media goliaths can support businesses and serve audiences differently.
Before you decide to start up your social media program or invest more heavily in your current program, it’s best practice to explore the current landscape through the eyes of your intended audiences, and what you find should influence your social media plans. For example, explore the Big Four as if:
- You are a community member seeking out active businesses in your area. What do you find?
- You are a homeowner seeking recommendations on service and trade professionals in your area. Where does that take you? Who or what businesses or private groups already exist?
- You’d like to compare HVAC shops and reviews in your area. What kind of presence does your competition have on social?
Build Your Social Media Around Your Business Goals and Objectives
Set your objectives by first looking at what you want to achieve through social media. Remember that social media plans are built to align with your brand and business goals. For example, if your business or marketing objectives include:
- Increasing Sales: Social media efforts need to support and fill the purchase funnel with informative and actionable content and promotions to keep you top of mind with customer base.
- New Product Launches: Social media efforts should support launch through awareness, education and demonstration.
- Increasing Website Visits: Social media should amplify and distribute content that drives qualified traffic.
- Increasing Customer Base: Paid social media efforts may be leveraged to build qualified audiences.
- Customer Retention Goals: Social media may have to serve as an extension of your customer service team.
Platforms with Purpose
As a HVAC business, there are plenty of avenues to take when you are first getting into the social scene and each platform can do something different for your business. Choosing social media channels that make the most sense for your business and marketing goals should be anchored in which ones allow you to build and tell the right story that best relates to what your audience will expect from you as a business and member of your local business community.
Facebook: As the foundation for many businesses, Facebook helps deliver relevant content to your largest audience. On this channel alone, your community should feel like they have an inside look at how you work, how you think and how you provide service as a trusted business. Posts should center on creative and thoughtful content that best connects your business to the community, any industry news and wins, as well as the services you provide. Content and copy should spark thoughts, comments and engagements.
Instagram: What happens on Instagram is anchored in arresting visuals. This channel can “show-and-tell” how you work, how you train and how you are committed to your employees and the community.
Twitter: Twitter is an ecosystem built for anything and everything. Once you determine if your audience is on this platform looking for HVAC insights and service, it can serve as a broadcast channel for your best work and shareable news.
LinkedIn: As the world’s largest B2B ecosystem, LinkedIn is home to some of the best industry minded discussions in cyberspace. If you choose to activate LinkedIn within your social media strategy, decide how best to position yourself within the B2B community and use it to highlight awards won or as a recruitment tool for talent and prospective partners.
Moving Parts in a Machine
Social media can be integral to your business but only if your content resonates and adds value to your audiences. Make your social media presence a positive extension of your knowledge; product availability; approachability; trust as a business and as HVAC professionals; and investment and participation in the local business community. By doing this, you should have an equally positive impact on your brand’s reputation, authority and trust in the customer’s mind and within the competitive marketplace.
Think of your social media activity and presence as a machine. Once you turn it on, it should never really be turned off. Investing in social means you have also invested in the time and energy it will take to:
Keep Content Going: Your content should be driven by the needs, concerns and interests of your community. Strive to find a balance of consistent publishing and proactive and responsive community management that helps serve audiences first while continuing to build trust and authority. Remember, it’s less about “posting” and more about creating a dialogue that cultivates, nurtures, spark responses and engagements, shares or even gives a nod to your audience who’s reading and absorbing it.
Have Two-Way Conversations: According to Sprout Social, 40% of consumers expect brands to respond within the first hour of reaching out on social media and 79% expect a response in the first 24 hours. In other words, customers usually expect a same-day response from brands on social media. Once you start a new page or business account, you should think of it as opening a new phone line—you’d answer any incoming calls or messages once it rings, okay, maybe on the second ring, and your social media response should have the same urgency, friendliness and professionalism.
Use Hashtags: Think of hashtags as a way to connect your post to a certain topic. From industry-specific hashtags like #HVAC to community-specific hashtags like #Toledo, these tags help place your business’ posts in subjects people are interested in, position you in conversations that are already happening and help new customers discover your business.
Don’t make them too long or too obscure—people won’t be searching for #SmithFamilyHVAC. Instead, the best place to start is the search bar in any social platform—just type “#” and a word relevant to your business and the platform will show you which hashtags people are using and how popular they are. Find a nice mix of mainstream hashtags and local hashtags, then consistently use them in your posts and watch those likes and comments grow. Hashtags are powerful across all social media platforms, but especially on your Twitter and Instagram posts. Try to use three to five hashtags every post that make sense for your HVAC business.
Manage Metrics: After you’ve started publishing a consistent stream of audience-first content on your social media platforms, it’s time to decide if your strategy is working. Most platforms provide insightful analytics—like page views, post engagements and the amount of followers—that can be used to determine if the objectives you set out to accomplish, like increasing website visits or your customer base, have increased or been fulfilled. Determine which analytics the platform provides correlate best with your objectives and keep an eye on the metrics over time to see if their increasing. If you’re not seeing a difference, it might be time to alter your approach or strategy.
Are you looking to grow your business’ social media presence? Become a Rheem Pro Partner where you’ll have access to social media resources and support, like social media strategy training and a fresh pipeline of content every month. If you are interested in learning more about Motion, visit www.agencyinmotion.com.