What do Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Eminem, Justin Bieber, and Katy Perry all have in common? Besides the obvious pop star connection, these are the top five of 10 people on Forbes magazine’s list of “Social Networking Superstars” (http://onforb.es/SuUUVr). Each of them has millions of followers on Twitter and Facebook, and each take a different approach as to how they communicate with their audience as well as leverage their social network power. This list may sound irrelevant to the HVAC industry, but as a contractor dabbling or delving in the social media arts, is it possible that your HVAC company could become a social media superstar?

Perhaps millions won’t be interested in HVAC, but the principles of pop star communication can help contractors further their reach in the social media realm. What lessons can you learn from the top 10 ranking members of social networking super stardom?

Balance Promotional and Personal

Although there is no exact formula for social media stardom, it is important that contractors remember to balance the promotional side of their business with the personal side. Reviewing the information Forbes provided about each social media personality, one of the trends that emerged showed that most of the top 10 use their Facebook account for promotional messages and their Twitter account for more personal sharing.

Granted, what contractors eat for lunch probably isn’t as interesting to folks as what Eminem is eating, but a personal touch could result in more “likes” and “followers.” That increased audience could also mean more business.

A star’s life naturally lends itself to an interesting social media presence. There isn’t an inherent reason someone would want to engage an HVAC contractor on social media like they would a pop star. Instead, contractors need to give customers a reason to follow them.

That is something that the HVAC contractor doesn’t have, but arguably could create. How they do it is the tricky part.

In this digital arena, specific companies don’t seem to do as well as specific people do in social networking. Perhaps it is time for your company to create a star. Choose a mascot, create a fictional character, or turn the boss into someone people care about. It is important to give customers someone to follow. Once they begin following, provide them with information that is useful, entertaining, and flows consistently.

Speak Their Language

Shakira is an international pop star who made the top 10 list as well. She uses her account to promote her work as well as her personal life. She often tweets in both English and Spanish to address her diverse audience base. Her approach may seem like a simple idea, but contractors choosing to post in multiple languages could extend and improve their social reach in certain regional areas.

Communication is not just about language. For many, communication has become most effective in the forms of photos and videos, especially for the younger generation. Use this concept to communicate not only in words, but with pictures and videos of happy customers, jobsites, install procedures, etc.

Not only does speaking the right language help contractors’ social reach, but widening the age of the audience might be a good idea as well. Instead of strictly engaging the bill-paying adults of a household, consider the interactions that take place with the teenagers of the household. Teenagers are often more interested in social media and engaging them in a conversation could lead to further engagement with their parents as well as greater brand recognition for the years to come. How many households could your company reach if students on Twitter asked you to help with their science report on the principles of heating or cooling? That is just one example.

Making your expertise available to both the buyers and the future buyers could be a game changer for your social media status. Don’t forget that Justin Bieber was a nobody kid on YouTube until the social media generation got hold of his videos and helped turn him into one of the most popular teen stars today.

Convince Yourself You’re a Star

Using a social media account to promote the latest equipment deal is great, but how many times a year do customers really need to interact with their HVAC contractor?

HVAC contractors have more to offer the general public than just equipment installation and maintenance. The public is looking for guidance on energy, air quality, insulation, green principles, efficiency, utility programs, and more. As HVAC professionals, contractors are the ones who understand these items and are often the best choice in providing advice on addressing whole home comfort. This knowledge could provide you with the opportunity to be of Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga caliber to your customers. Be confident that the skills and information you have to offer is valuable on a daily basis and then use that to push towards HVAC stardom. Social media networks will help you spread your superstar message.

Publication date: 10/8/2012