There are now more than 2 billion monthly Facebook users according to data released by the company earlier this year. This means that it is getting harder and harder to get attention on Facebook.

Why are “likes” and online visibility so important? Many residential HVAC contractors have tracked service, maintenance agreements and replacement sales to posts they have put on Facebook. You will sell more when you have more likes.

So how do you increase your visibility and likes? Get people interested in your page. One contractor hosted a “Submit your favorite vacation picture” contest. The winner of the contest received a $50 gift card. The contest more than doubled the company’s likes and comments. Friends are referring friends and urging them to submit pictures. They’ve gotten some gorgeous pictures.

Why is this working? Because people love pictures. They spend time looking at them (all the pictures submitted for the contest are posted). Are you more attracted to a post with pictures and text or a post with just words? Pictures generate interest.

How do you choose the winner? Let your employees vote on the best picture. This eliminates any bias by your website administrator. Then you post the winning picture. This will generate more comments. People will either love or hate the winning picture, but it will create online buzz.

What do you do with your Facebook likes after the contest is over? Send everyone who submitted a picture a coupon for $25 off a service. It’s a thank you for taking the time to submit a picture. Many of those coupons will be redeemed. You could also have an offer on Facebook only for people who liked your page.

If it is too late for summer in your area, change the contest theme to “Back to school,” Halloween or other holidays. You can tailor the contest around any recognized time of year. It will increase likes and interest for your company’s page. How would you “like” that?

Time to cook

Another type of marketing you should consider is known as “meatball marketing.” It’s what you do when you’ve got to get cash in the door — fast. It’s what you do when the telephone isn’t ringing. It doesn’t come from months of planning or cost thousands of dollars.

The term was created by a marketing professional who would much rather take months to create a campaign. Most HVAC contractors don’t always have the luxury of time to create a marketing campaign. And even when you do create a marketing action plan for the year, you always have to watch the weather to make sure that the message you are sending is appropriate.

What do I mean? If you are promoting cooling system inspections and the weather turns cold as it recently did in Atlanta, that cooling message will be ignored. Who wants to turn on their air conditioning when they need heat in their home? Better to wait until it gets hotter to send out that marketing piece.

You have to act fast when the weather emergencies give you a gift: Cleaning up after a major storm means it’s time to cook up some meatballs. Get out there and let the world know you exist. For example, how many of your neighbors know what you do? How many companies in the industrial parks or streets where your offices are located know what you do?

Meatball marketing is being proactive rather than reactive. It is looking for opportunities. It is getting out from behind your desk and talking to people. Do it.

Copyright Ruth King. All rights reserved. Write to Ruth King at Profitability Revolution LLC, 1650 Oakbrook Drive, Suite 405, Norcross, GA 30093; email; call (770) 729-8000.