Home – New Forums Tech talk Help with social networking to attract a niche market

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  • #967067
    Karen Wardle
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    Hi everyone.

    I would like your tips, suggestions and recommendations on the best way to use social networking to attract a particular market.

    As many of you know I have a website that provides information for new and inexperienced business owners, to start, grow and manage their business. The majority of which is online.

    However I do offer a service to self employed tradespeople to help them with all aspects of their administration, staffing and growing their business. This is something that I did many years ago but am only just starting up again now. All of the work that I have done has come through word of mouth or referrals.

    I know how to target my niche using offline methods but I need help with the online.

    I would like your advice on how to effectively use social networking to attract my market – ie self employed tradespeople.

    I must point out that I am a non techie. I do not understand the most simple techniques at times. So if you are brave enough to reply to me I warn you that my answers may frustrate you when I need clarification of the most basic things.

    I do have linkedin. I have a blog on my site but as I have mentioned before I dont feel that it is a blog in the true sense of the word. I have only just registered a facebook account but that is all that I have done. I haven’t even set up a profile.

    Like Emroy I also looked at googles new Buzz but again I have only looked.

    I can see all you tech geniuses sitting there shaking your heads at me. But if you can set me straight and maybe provide me with not only the what to do but also the how to do it, I would be eternally grateful.

    I need a strategy and a way to tie it all in together. Also can I get your feedback on whether you think that this would work.

    Also it was suggested that I get involved with some forums specifically for tradies (thanks Brady!) but I haven’t had a lot of luck finding any decent ones.

    Thanks in advance, your help is appreciated!

    #1023135
    Astrid
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    Hi Karen

    Reading your posting, I had to think of a friend of mine who’s a tradie (stone restorations and cleaning). He’s never been that keen to use the net until he got his first iPhone recently ;-)
    Is there any data available on how many tradespeople are using the internet?

    Wouldn’t it be much easier (for a start) to get in contact with the associations to see if you can set up some talks where you can refer to your websites? A client of mine develops business management courses and I know that he gets his participants through all these master associations (plumbers, builders, etc….)

    just a few cents …

    #1023136
    Karen Wardle
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    HI Astrid

    Is there any data available on how many tradespeople are using the internet?

    I don’t have specific data. I do have feedback as well as primary data that I have collected offline in relation to online habits, if that makes sense.

    Wouldn’t it be much easier (for a start) to get in contact with the associations to see if you can set up some talks where you can refer to your websites?

    I agree that is a great idea and one that I haven’t yet gotten around to using. As I mentioned, this particular aspect of my business comes from word of mouth. I know how to find business that way. What I am hoping to do is to capture this market online.

    Essentially the situation that I have at the moment is that I have an online business and an offline business. I can see the potential to expand the offline and turn it into an online opportunity. But to do this I want to spread the word virally as well as via traditional word of mouth methods.

    I am not sure if I have explained that correctly, but I hope so :)

    #1023137
    King
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    Karen Wardle, post: 27353 wrote:
    word virally as well as via traditional word of mouth methods.

    On the viral side, what you need is something that people will find so useful/funny/or with perceived value that they will pass it to friends. This is incredibly hard to do and works in a very small percentage of attempts (like one in a million.)

    I think what you are meaning is to get people talking about your service on online social networks etc?

    I think the best way is via discussion in forums like these – imparting knowledge in pertinent threads. People will click through on your sig links.

    Also, do you have a blog? People with other blogs will link to yours, or mention in on their blogs, for the really good posts. Takes work, but is a proven method.

    People will also mention article writing, but I’m not a fan of that, best have the content on your on site.

    Talking of site – I’d suggest not using that site builder you use that repeats all your nav links at the bottom. Looks awfully cookie cutter style as well that many people do not trust.

    #1023138
    Chris Bates
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    Hey Karen,

    Get in touch with Brendan Gillen (excstatic) – he has just launched a “websites for tradies” product, you two might be able to work in cahoots a bit.

    Also, you might bug Matthew Keath for a comment or two on this thread, as he is probably our resident “social media” guru.

    I’ll probably come back and comment when I get some time – wife is dragging me to town now though.

    Good luck!

    Chris

    #1023139
    Karen Wardle
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    I think what you are meaning is to get people talking about your service on online social networks etc?

    Yep that is what I mean.

    I think the best way is via discussion in forums like these – imparting knowledge in pertinent threads. People will click through on your sig links.

    I have been doing this in a few forums – hard to find ones as good as FS though!

    Also, do you have a blog? People with other blogs will link to yours, or mention in on their blogs, for the really good posts. Takes work, but is a proven method.

    Yeh I kind of do. But it isn’t set up for others to comment on as yet. So it isn’t really a blog in the true sense (imo anyway)

    Talking of site – I’d suggest not using that site builder you use that repeats all your nav links at the bottom. Looks awfully cookie cutter style as well that many people do not trust.

    Sorry King, I did warn that I was not technical – can you clarify that for me? Do you mean on the ‘blog page’? If so then I am not sure that I can change that.

    I appreciate your feedback with this, much appreciated.

    Hey Chris – thanks for the tips. I’ll get onto that now.

    Cheers!

    #1023140
    peppie
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    Hi Karen

    Just a comment from a tradie from way back. Actually I did my time in the electrical industry mostly in factory work, but I got to know the mindset of the site tradesmen fairly well.

    Unless things have changed much I think you will find most tradies, and particularly self employed ones, will have top end mobile phones and during the day basically that is their “office”, most of the week. They only earn while they are out on the job so you will not find them in the office much searching the net. When they are it will be to do estimates, accounts and ordering etc..

    I really think you have to think first about where to find them and not what method you will use. In other words, don’t get caught up in the latest fad way everyone is telling you will get you leads. Why don’t you try something like an old fashioned survey (or even just TALK to the clients and contacts you do have) to find out where you need to go to find the tradies. If they are online I have a feeling they are not likely to be on LinkedIn, probably more like Twitter! (Short and quick.)

    As has been said here before,,, first do your research and then do more research. And by the way, I would be inclined to try articles, and go look for the trades mags to get them into because that is one way the tradies bone up on the latest.

    #1023141
    Karen Wardle
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    Hi Paul :)

    I typed up reply to this yesterday and then noticed today that it hadn’t appeared ?

    Have been meaning to contact you over the last week, so maybe we could chat about this tomorrow. If you would like to PM me I can give you the details.

    Cheers

    #1023142
    exstatic
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    Hey Karen,

    With some of the research we have done, we found that younger self employed tradies do actually go online.. but often it is only socially.

    Facebook is huge for them, they are able to chat to mates about their weekends out, share pics and then on site the next day, show other blokes on the site pictures from the weekend on their iPhone.

    While a facebook page would be great.. its a bit like a website, there is no point making one if no one knows about it.. or it has nothing to offer.

    So make sure you facebook page offers something, and is actualy interactive… maybe make it a FAQ for tradies..?

    What you really need is people talking about what it is you offer online, thats where there real juice is.. its almost like offline referrals but using social media for referrals..

    I cant even count how much work I have got from facebook by someone mentioning my services in someone elses status, and just by having that personal referral the client already trusts me and wants my services.

    I say involve yourself in social media, probably only facebook for this market, don’t be a hard sell.. just be a part of your market.. people use Facebook for ‘social’ activities and don’t want to be sold directly there.

    #1023143
    mtpocket
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    HI Karen!
    I am a tradie and mix with tradies most of the day.
    Most people I know in the business are computer illiterate. I am talking about the guys who actually perform the work. One level up is a different story, when they are big enough to have an office. I conciser myself lucky , because I type like Secretary and I like the net a lot. About 25% of my business comes from the net- serviceseeking.
    If you want to get to tradies directly I would say you have to print some brochures up , go to a local supplier -reece plumbing, middies electrical, ideal electrical – talk to a manager and set up a tradies breakfast on you. Just provide some hot dogs , buns the usual stuff they will cook it up and you just stand there and have some chat with them collect the contact info and give out your cards. These thing are quite common where I live and I am always happy to go check things out and grab smtg to eat.
    I surf the net , but not many tradies forums I like -to be honest none. I do not think tradies use net, specially not for socializing. As I am just thinking now I do not know personally anyone who is on facebook and working around me.
    none.
    Cheers Laz.

    #1023144
    Karen Wardle
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    Hi Brendan

    Thanks for the additional tips and thanks again for your help yesterday :)
    I will email you later on today about what we discussed, thanks again.

    Hey Laz

    Thanks for the input.

    Most people I know in the business are computer illiterate. I am talking about the guys who actually perform the work. One level up is a different story, when they are big enough to have an office. I conciser myself lucky , because I type like Secretary and I like the net a lot. About 25% of my business comes from the net- serviceseeking.

    That is exactly what I have found too.

    I should probably clarify here that I am able to get plenty of work offline and that is where my work has come from. Someone recently suggested to me that I might want to consider targeting tradies online. Their view was that maybe I am missing a potential market. To be honest, I didn’t think that I would be but as I hadn’t personally researched it myself I thought that I had better check it out in case I am missing an opportunity.

    With the replies that I have had here, and also several emails (thank you) I think that for the effort involved I may be better off, at this stage anyway, concentrating most of my efforts into the offline campaign. The content that I offer on my site is so that potential clients can get an idea of what it is that I do etc. I pretty much use it as a marketing tool. As many here would know, online marketing is NOT my thing.

    Laz, thanks for the breaksfast idea, I can see plenty of opportunites there.

    Most people I know in the business are computer illiterate. I am talking about the guys who actually perform the work. One level up is a different story, when they are big enough to have an office. I conciser myself lucky , because I type like Secretary and I like the net a lot. About 25% of my business comes from the net- serviceseeking.

    I actually offer two services to tradies. The second service is to the ‘one level up’ that you mention. The ones that want to grow their business and who hope to give up the tools themselves and leave it to a crew. At the moment this attributes to about 40% of my business and I want to increase this to 70-80%. I have only recently began offering this service so I am hoping that over time this will be achievable.

    Thanks to everyone who has phoned, emailed and commented here. Really appreciate your help.

    #1023145
    Undies
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    Hey Karen, so how did you go using the net to source tradies? I have a catering business and want to access the fresh fruit consuming public. Mark.

    #1023146
    iaindooley
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    Hi Julie,

    It’s an interesting question, and one I’m only just starting to get involved with myself.

    My thoughts so far are thus: it helps to think about what someone’s motivation would be for becoming your fan on Facebook, and what it means to them.

    What it means is that, when you update your page, they’ll know about. Simple as that. It’s glorified RSS, as is Twitter. You then have a responsibility to think about your audience and try and deliver information they’ll be interested in.

    Facebook is definitely a better place to focus for your market than Twitter, I think as Twitter is still a little bit in the domain of the technorati or those that spend a lot of their time working with computers.

    So the process, so far as I can evaluate it, is as simple as this: figure out how to supply your target market with some information or other value, then let them know that there’s more where that came from if they become a fan on Facebook, because that’s where you’ll be doing your notifications in future. I definitely think that there’s absolutely no chance that you’ll grow your fan base on Facebook FROM Facebook – you have to connect with your audience first and let them know they can find you on Facebook.

    The tricky part, of course, is in finding out what that “something” is – but it’s also useful to have defined the problem thusly because then it’s just a matter of getting creative and not being afraid to try, and more importantly not being afraid to FAIL. Also recognise that, at first, you may only get 3 or 4 takers, but the nature of Facebook and the “facebook effect” (and the reason it’s referred to as viral marketing) is that the time you put in early on to get those first few followers is more than compensated for as the campaign takes on a life of it’s own.

    Best of luck, and please don’t forget to let everyone know how you go and what strategies you found to be successful! I’d love to follow your progress.

    Cheers,
    Iain

    #1023147
    EckoDave
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    Hi Karen,

    I would say your hardest job using social networking will be attracting people who aren’t looking. Social networking is generally only beneficial in my belief to those niche’s who are web savvy already so you really need to meet them where they are at if they aren’t looking already.

    I would say that with this specific niche, just go old school with fliers and small business networks and use that to generate clients and word of mouth. Maybe there is a tradie network meeting you can do a presentation at?

    I would also say make sure you have a blog that teaches and offers value to the reader for those who do venture online.

    Hope that helps.

    Dave

    #1023148
    fredfarcle
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    I’ve come into this thread a bit late maybe but I’ve been in construction for many years over all sectors and I now make 75% of my income by handling estimating and contract admin. for commercial subcontractors and for a couple, their online presence as well.

    The reason I can do this is, they all HATE computers, want nothing to do with them beyond managing email and most do that badly. Generally, their happy to find someone they trust and handball the lot.

    Most can make a phone do anything except change a tyre, so if you’re not looking at targeting mobile, at least to get them interested, I think you could waste a lot of time and energy.

    I don’t think you can attract them online, if you can be successful with a few, face to face, or maybe other media and actually deliver a simple to use service they need, it will spread by word of mouth very quickly and will be used.

    Maybe this will change as younger more tech savy tradesmen enter the market.

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