Most HVAC contractors are familiar with using social media to connect with customers in the hopes of generating sales. That’s a great start, but having familiarity with social media and not prowess can cause contractors to miss out on opportunities to grow their brand, and perhaps even lead to unintentional brand damage.
In addition to this, while contractors may well be using social media for marketing sales and such, the tool can also be used for much more than that.
Hiring, Networking, and More
The way a company handles its social media will send a message to potential employees about what it is like to work for them.
“When potential employees see that you’re not spamming on social media, that’s attractive to them,” said Chris Smith, CEO of All Contractor Marketing. “When you convey a brand image of being skilled craftsmen in the trade, that recruits employees as well.”
Social media offers a glimpse inside of a company, so the types of messaging an HVAC contractor puts out will impact not only customers but job seekers as well. Companies that share content such as videos demonstrating employees having fun in the workplace will do much to show a company identity to prospective hires.
Justin Jacobs, marketing coach for Hudson, Ink, said that having a company page on LinkedIn is especially valuable for attracting professional employees, especially in a time when everyone is competing for quality workers.
Social media platforms also offer chances for HVAC contractors to network and learn from one another. HVAC Hacks is a site where users can share HVAC-related photos (for learning or just for fun). Online forum boards (including but not limited to Reddit) often feature conversations of contractors and technicians discussing industry topics.
Platforms To Use
There’s a lot of social media platforms out there, and HVAC contractors will likely need to choose which to invest their time and money into.
“The key for social media marketing for HVAC contractors is to have a presence where the target market is,” said Smith. “Most of the 35+ demographic is heavy Facebook, Instagram, and TicTok users. We are seeing some home service activity on platforms such as Reddit, but a lot of these are heavy price shoppers.”
Jacobs also said that Facebook is the best pool for a contractor to work with, as the age skews older — meaning more home and business owners. Another advantage to Facebook is its longevity, as it tends to be more stable of a social media platform while other sites ride the waves of social media crazes.
“Reddit and Youtube are great places to actively answer questions and establish yourself as an expert with how-to articles, videos, and content,” Jacobs added. “But it’s hard to field questions and give advice that will be seen exclusively in your area leading to business. If you do these, make sure and link them to your other forms of social media and to your website so people in your service area will see it.”
Tiktok and Instagram can be used, but these platforms are primarily based around entertainment, meaning that even fewer people are looking for a contractor service while going on them. Contractors getting on these services can establish a fun company brand, but they should be cautious. Being a little too immature and unprofessional as a company on social media can damage a brand’s credibility or even offend the customers one is trying to acquire.
Perhaps the biggest pitfall that contractors make in their use of social media is using it too often to attempt directly closing sales. Social media sites use complex algorithms to serve relevant content to its users, which means that they will weed out posts that are too sales-oriented, which typically garner much less engagement.
“The key to any social media platform is to provide good, relevant content,” said Smith. “If you are just mass spam posting on social media, you will see a short-term spike in response and then a long-term death as the algorithms start to spam out all of your messages.”
The alternative to sales-oriented posts is developing content that users will find valuable, engaging with it for free, which leads to them trusting your company over time. The Better Business Bureau recommends that a company reach a potential customer at least four to five times with non-sales content for every one sales offer. Contractors that try too hard to sell find their advertising is competing with (and often defeated by) memes, hashtags, and funny videos.
“If the only time a homeowner hears from a contractor it’s a hard sales piece or an ad, the relationship quickly gets viewed as one-sided or even predatory,” said Jacobs. “The best use of social media platforms is to find ways to add value and perceived ‘friendship’ to the relationship with your base of former and hopeful customers.”
As an example, Smith talked about a company running an ad for $200 off service, without ever running supplementary sales content. Most likely, only severe price-checkers will be attracted to that sale. Most other people will see a company desperate for customers.
“A customer who has money to spend and wants a great job with good value will look for a true craftsman in the trade,” said Smith. “Someone who is the local expert. A true craftsman is never desperate for customers.”