Navigating the Digital Maze: Social Media Tips for Pro Painters

Do painting contractors really need to be on social media?

Facebook. YouTube. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. Houzz. LinkedIn. As a business owner in the second decade of the 21st century, you’re bombarded with the message: It’s time to get your business on social media, or get left behind. But where do you start? And which platforms are really worth your time and money?

Just one slice of the pie

First, a little perspective. In 2014, Sherwin-Williams conducted a survey of more than 1,700 homeowners to determine what drives the selection process when they hire a painting contractor. The survey showed that personal referrals and prior experience far outweigh online and social media methods during the search for a painting professional. More than half of respondents found a contractor through a referral from a family member or friend, while only 1 percent used social media.

So should painters do away with engaging on these sites completely?

“Absolutely not,” says Jeff Winter, Director of Marketing, Residential Repaint, Sherwin-Williams. “Rather, what these findings tell us is that digital marketing’s place in the painting contractor business is more strongly related to staying in touch with customers.

“Being active on social media will help customers keep you front of mind, so that they think of the relationship you’ve built when the time comes to hire a painter.”

A different way to connect

In March, paint pros from across the country weighed in on the subject in the PDCA Expo panel discussion, “Social Media: Is It Worth It?”

The instantaneous nature of social media marketing is what appeals to Rob Ramsden of Ramsden Painting.

For instance, when painting work ground to a halt during the record 2014 snowfalls in Boston, he got calls from some property managers to shovel roofs. After posting photos of his crews at work, they got booked for two weeks of shoveling work.

“We couldn’t have done that any other way than with an instant Facebook post,” Ramsden says.

Social media also enables you to develop relationships with people you’ve never met, said panel member Andrew Dwyer. So even though you’ve never done work for them, they can become so familiar with you that they will refer you to a friend.

“That’s the beauty of social media,” he says.

5 Ways to Engage

Jeff Winter of Sherwin-Williams shares some good ways that painting contractors can engage with their customers on social sites:

1. Blogs

WordPress and other blogging platforms are good channels for sharing your expertise, insights on painting trends, best practices, new product details and case studies. Proper keyword selection will help prospective clients find relevant posts.

2. Houzz

This is a great platform for sharing images of completed projects or split-screen, before-and-after pictures. Many of today’s prospective customers are searching Houzz for inspiration or professional recommendations.

3. Facebook

Engage with current clients by tagging them in a final project photo (with their permission), and connect with prospective clients by sharing timely painting tips.

4. Twitter

Twitter works well as a platform for fielding customer service inquiries. But note that this channel must be monitored closely because the expectation is for a quick response.

5. YouTube

Use this platform for gaining traction as a place to house how-to videos that demonstrate your knowledge and insights.