We often hear from roofing contractors that are intimidated by social media or unsure how to operate in a virtual space that’s growing increasingly more important when it comes to lead generation, referrals, and overall business reputation. To be successful at it, contractors need to be vigilant and create or share content that not only engages audiences, but also sets them apart from the competition.

Here’s a closer look at some tried and true methods that can help grow your roofing company’s digital footprint and maximize your investment in social media. 

1. Develop a Plan

Social media can be very beneficial to your business when it’s executed correctly. Generating a plan that outlines your methods and goals for each social channel is a great way to get the wheels rolling. First, companies should determine the goals or milestones they want to achieve. Are you trying to gain more followers? Are you trying to bring more traffic to your website? Are you trying to provide customers with useful information in order to generate referrals?

Once you’ve come up with your social media goals, it’s time to generate a schedule of when you want to post to which channels. Keep in mind that once you come up with a schedule, you should stick to it for a set amount of time. If you’re not generating the results you’re looking for after that time frame is up, formulate a new plan and execute. Trial and error is a huge part of social media — you must find what works for you.

For instance, you may find over time that your customers aren’t engaging with your Wednesday morning posts, and that it might be more beneficial to switch those posts to late afternoon, when folks are getting off work and are likely checking their mobile devices and computers more often. You want to make sure that you’re managing your time effectively and using the channels that are going to generate the most exposure and engagement for your company.

2. Use Pictures and Videos to your Advantage

With apps like Periscope and Facebook Live video, roofing contractors can showcase their work on various social networks in real time. Highlight jobs you’re proud of, unique projects, new safety initiatives and the distinctive details that go into each and every roofing project you’ve completed. Show projects from start to finish to give your customers the inside track on the work that you’re doing. A customer might be more inclined to go with your roofing company than a competitor if they’re able to see the details on jobs you’ve done in the past.

Be sure to attach photos and/or videos to any blog posts. If you’re describing a particular job, include all of the unique aesthetic aspects that went into it. What better way to show it off than through the use of pictures and videos? Don’t be afraid to try new social channels. You might find that uncommon platforms like Pinterest and Instagram can help build your brand and showcase the work you’ve completed, while creating engagement with customers. You’ll never know until you try, so be flexible.

3. Update, Reuse, and Recycle

Roofing contractors eyeing a stronger social presence should update their content regularly. Create content that will inform and educate your followers. Actively seek out information that you think would be useful to your customers and put yourself in their shoes. What do they want to know or hear about? What questions do they have regarding the roofing cycle? Don’t forget to take time to ask your followers about the type of content they’re looking for, be it how-to tutorials, helpful tips, project profiles or new products you’re using. In addition to creating fresh, new content, take your old content and bring new to life to it. If the information provided is helpful and everlasting, use that to your advantage. Over time, methods change and information can become stale, but by actively repurposing old content, an updated version can be re-shared on social channels and generate new traffic. Many times, useful content is overlooked at the time of posting, so don’t be afraid to update that content and re-share on your social channels at a later date.   

4. Get Creative

Though it may be easier said than done, finding creative ways to share your content is a great method to encourage engagement for your customers. Generate conversation among your followers by asking questions, and when a customer responds, be sure to engage back in a timely fashion to show that you’re paying attention. Another creative way to share your content it to use unique hashtags and taglines for various days of the week. For example, you could play off the term “Transformation Tuesday” by showing your customers before and after photos of the projects you’ve completed.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and that definitely comes into play when dealing with social media. Get creative by integrating things like the weather, holidays, and even current pop culture with your content. For example, you might showcase a project you completed on a music hall or auditorium on Grammy night. Or perhaps post a picture of your team at an event during the holiday season, and accompany the photo with a question to your customers about how they are celebrating the season. There are endless possibilities to get creative on your social channels, and the more creative you are, the more likely that people will engage with your content.

5. Monitor your Competitors, Stay Updated and Informed

They say keep your friends close and your enemies closer, and that old line comes into play with social media. Your competitors are likely doing something that you’re not, or they might be doing some of the same things you’re doing, but better. Keep an eye out. By watching your competitors, you can generate a lot of useful content on topics that you may have not thought about before. It’s always good to see what others in your field are promoting and writing about because it will likely spark ideas of your own. Monitor the different methods and channels that your competitors are using. For instance, your company may not see the benefits to using a certain social platform, but your competitor may use that channel and generate a lot of engagement and exposure.

Technology is ever-changing, as is social media. Stay updated and informed on pressing social trends. As you’re setting aside time to research competitors, be sure to also incorporate research on new methods and developments to improve your social media presence. 

6. Promote Your Brand and Use CTA’s

Though the majority of the content you’re posting should be useful information for your followers, don’t forget that it’s ok to promote your brand every now and again. Be sure to incorporate these types of posts into your social media schedule. Remind your customers to visit your website, share your posts with their own followers, and follow your other social channels. Use posts that have call to actions (CTAs) to let your Facebook followers know that you’re active on Twitter, or your Twitter followers know that you’re active on LinkedIn. Also, make sure your information — address, phone number, email, etc. — is up to date on your social media channel profiles.

7. Use Hashtags (#), at Mentions (@) and Groups to Get Posts Noticed

Every social media platform has its own flavor and set of tools to help get your posts noticed and alert others when you have shared content that they may find interesting. Getting people to re-share, re-tweet, ‘like’ or ‘favorite’ your post(s) is critical to gaining exposure and developing your own reach. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook*, for example, all use hashtags and at-mentions. When you use a hashtag, your post will show in the feed with everything else collected under that hashtag. Try to identify popular hashtags that are active in your industry, like: #IRE2016, #Roofing #Roofer. Also, make sure you’re ‘tagging’ other accounts that you want to alert. For example: “Check out this article from @RoofContr” will send an alert to Roofing Contractor’s Twitter account and they may even re-tweet you to their followers.[*Note: When you type @[account name] for Facebook, it will automatically convert to highlight the title of the page/account you are tagging.]

8. Choose the Right Platform for Your Audience

There are so many platforms available that it might be best to pick one to start with and then expand from there. Twitter and Instagram are typically for short, snappy updates and can be easily managed from a mobile phone or tablet. If you want your crew to share job site photos, progress photos or product shots, Instagram is a good option. Facebook is more casual and personal. It might be the best place to reach out to potential customers, homeowners, partners and manufacturers.

LinkedIn tends to have a great business-to-business culture, which could be ideal for staying connected with interest groups, trade associations or other professional development opportunities like workshops, webinars and trade shows.

9. Consistency is Key

Your customers will learn to keep an eye out for your updates, and users like consistent content. Furthermore, you don’t want a potential customer to visit your social media profile and see that you haven’t updated since 2015. You’re choosing to define your company’s image online, so be sure to put your social media presence in the hands of someone you trust and plan to post consistently. Volume will come later. It’s far more effective to post once a week for four weeks than to post four times in one week and then not again for months at a time.

10. Don’t Forget to Keep the ‘Social’ in Social Media

Be proud of your new (or growing) social media presence. Once you’re comfortable with your content, schedule and consistency, bring your new social media into every conversation you can. Print it on your promotional materials, get an icon on your website with a link to your profile, add it to your business card and be sure to actively share, like and interact with content from other partners and organizations. Your next focus should be to spread awareness and keep that audience growing. Invite friends and family to like, follow or subscribe to your profile(s) for an early boost. Some platforms have benefits that open up after you reach certain audience milestones. For example, once you reach 25 fans on Facebook, you can choose a custom URL (address) like www.facebook.com/IKORoofing instead of the long number that is used to identify your page when you first sign up.

Brad Dicks is the social media marketing manager for IKO North America and a self-confessed lover of all things digital. With more than eight years of experience in digital and social media marketing communications, Brad has offered training, coaching and guidance on digital marketing strategy in the consumer goods, retail, tech and building goods sectors to help clients improve their reach and impact in the US and Canada. Follow IKO on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube today!