March and April are key periods for home buying, moving and DIY. Make sure you're ready to make the most of potential new business by using social media to build your reputation.
As any decorator knows, word of mouth and recommendations from happy customers after a job well done can lead to more clients, more work and repeat business. But creating the same effect on social media can be a challenge. Get it right and word of your great work can reach hundreds if not thousands of people, driving more recommendations, briefs and jobs than you can shake a paintbrush at.
Here are 5 ways to get you started on the road to making your online reputation as good as it is offline.
1. Establish a presence
If you don't already have a company page on social media - what are you waiting for? While websites are great for reaching customers who are searching through google, social media is where your reputation does the selling! Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are all good places to establish a presence, as well as local online forums that serve your community. Set up a profile using your business name (so as not to confuse your business with your personal page), and use the "About" section to introduce yourself and your company in a friendly, professional way.
2. Show off your work
Before you can do this, you need to ask your client's permission to put photographs of their property online. There have been cases in the past where confidential information was inadvertently captured in a decorator's photograph which led to privacy and confidentiality breaches, so always ensure you gain the owner's approval and ensure no personal items are captured. Try to take photos during the day to make the most of natural light, but don't worry if they're not magazine standard. Real-life images work best on social media as they look more achievable and credible than something from a magazine with high production costs and generous retouching.
3. Ask for endorsements
Check in with clients after the job is complete and ask if they could connect with you on social media and write a recommendation on your page. An endorsement on your social profile will not only be visible to prospective customers but will also appear in your client's newsfeed for their friends to see. (N.B. If they're only on Twitter, get them to @mention you in their tweet and re-tweet it to your followers).
4. Connect with your local market
Look out for people looking for advice on forums or local pages on social platforms. Search for groups on Facebook, Twitter, LindkedIn and Google for local page names. Groups are often set up and run by local communities to help refer and recommend help around specific subjects - from property upkeep and repairs, to clutter removal and second hand sales. Follow relevant groups and offer advice to any questions that are relevant. Just remember not to post unsolicited ads for yourself - social media should be a two-way conversation, so your interaction on these pages should offer advice and help in response to other's requests, not spam links to your website!
5. Be yourself
Leave the corporate language on your website. Social media is a dialogue and provides a way to connect with people more informally. Be considerate, friendly and helpful in your posts and responses as you would on the phone or face-to-face with a client. If you can, try to remember the people you correspond with to help you understand more about their needs and offer personalised solutions. Adding personal touches like addressing people by name, offering free advice, and even recommending other professionals in your network also go a long way to building a strong connection with prospective customers, meaning it?ll not just be your current clients who think of you first when asked for a decorator.