Yes, I’m talking about social media. But before you turn the page, I’m not writing to you, the individual. This is for you the owner, the manger, the salesperson, the installer, the entrepreneur—the businessperson. No matter how much you as an individual may despise it, the more you fight it on the professional side, the more you are just hurting your business and your career.
If you are involved in the flooring industry, especially at the retail and contractor levels, then you need to be involved in social media. In fact, even before the term social media came into our vernacular, the flooring industry was already deeply entrenched in a key aspect of this phenomenon—social networking. Think about it: Every sale you made, every job you got speced, every transaction was done via a conversation, a discussion with someone else.
Yes, most times it is in a business setting such as a store, but even then, as a professional you’re not simply selling a product, you’re selling a lifestyle, an experience, an emotion. And the only way in which to do that is by having a two-way discussion with the other person to better understand what it is she wants for her home or what the designer is seeking in a commercial setting.
Social media is simply an extension of these conversations. But it can also be so much more than that as businesses across the country—especially small businesses—are finding out they can actually make money by getting involved.
Small business owners are not only seeing the greatest results from social media marketing a survey of more than 3,300 people found over 65% of owners strongly agreed social media is important to their business, and nearly 90% said it increases their exposure. In addition, small businesses were twice as likely to find qualified leads than any other types of business.
Why is this important to you, the flooring professional? Research done by FinancesOnline.com found women—the key decision maker and customer for the flooring industry—including commercial in many cases—not only use social media more often than men, they use it in more ways. More importantly, more women use the top social media sites and they dominate the visual-type social websites, which are the fastest growing social networks today—and the most important to the flooring industry being that flooring is a fashion, visual product. The most popular at the moment, Pinterest, has 33% of U.S. women online accessing it while only 8% of men use it.
Here’s more: BusinessInsider.com reported social media is the top activity on the Internet, with Americans spending an average of 37 minutes per day, and more than half are women.
FinancesOnline noted women interact with brands more often and for a wider range of reasons, including showing support, accessing offers, staying current and commenting.
It concluded: “If you’re a marketer you should take these trends seriously to position your messaging.”
It also doesn’t have to be time consuming, as another report noted roughly 80% of small businesses that spend as little as six hours per week on social media marketing saw increased traffic.
Here’s the thing, as noted in stories in this issue on the subject, just like your business doesn’t cater to every single person, your business does not have to be on every single social media platform. But it does need to be on some—at the least the ones on which your customers and, more importantly, your future customers are spending their time.