This is the fourth blog post in our interview series that investigates how different companies within the UK construction sector are using social media for their business. Karen joins me from Reed Harris, a specialist tile importer, to discuss how Twitter and blogging have helped them connect with architects, interior designers and other construction professionals from all over the UK. I personally met Karen on Twitter when she joined over a year ago and then had the pleasure of meeting her face to face at Ecobuild last year.
I am also a big fan of her blog which is full of useful design information and inspiration. If you would like to know more about their fabulous tiles then download the Reed Harris tile guide which gives an overview of the methods and materials used in their successful projects.
Hello I’m Karen Brimacombe, Business Development Manager at Reed Harris. We are a long established, independently owned tile business with branches in London and Reading. Over the years we have become the leading tile specialists, synonymous with offering expert advice, cutting edge design and quality products coupled with great customer service and real value for money. People are paramount to us; we really listen to our customers and our staff to try to establish their precise needs and requirements. I am responsible for all the online social networking at Reed Harris as well as customer service and HR. I also work alongside the sales team, mainly in our London showroom, where I get the opportunity to meet our customers and keep up to date with all the latest trends. There are only 2 of us in the Marketing department, myself and my colleague who designed our website, Facebook page and works on all aspects of design.
2. You were at Ecobuild last year, how did social media you help promote your presence?
In the build up to Ecobuild last year I used Twitter to make contact with our target audience using the #Ecobuild hashtag. This ensured that not only people who were following me could pick up my tweets, but that non followers saw them too. I even made contact with the person on the stand next door to ours before I met them in person at the event.
3. How has your blog helped you to connect with your target audience and showcase your expertise?
I’m not a very technical person, so I tend to keep the blog simple and to the point. So far this formula has proved very successful. People like good practical tips which help to make their lives easier, so that’s what I consider when planning each post. For example, my post on how to measure up for tiles, was perhaps one of my most successful, in terms of feedback from Interior Designers. One of them even used it on her own blog, which was quite a compliment.
4. What is your favourite part about Twitter?
All of it! One of my friends once said that they thought I was addicted to Twitter, of course I tried to deny it at the time but I think they might be right. I just love being able to chat and share ideas with so many interesting people.
5. You follow and communicate with interior designers and architects on Twitter. Has this lead to any business opportunities?
Life is full of opportunities, you just have to make the most of them and that’s what I’d say about Twitter. I’ve worked with some delightful people who I’ve met on Twitter and as a result our tiles appear in quite a few of their projects.
This picture shows a shower room, designed by Andrew Dunning of APD Interiors who I met through Twitter. His clever use of 3 shades of grey tiles from our ‘Life range’, gives a stunning result.
6. Have you got any advice for other product manufacturers still unsure about using social media?
You have absolutely nothing to lose by using social media. Facebook, Linked in or Twitter all have something to offer and best of all they are free. My preferred choice is Twitter, which is all about developing relationships. It’s important to be yourself and talk to people, don’t bombard them with tweets about your products and how wonderful you think they are. There is nothing more boring than a timeline full of product information. Don’t try and blatanly sell your products that will almost certainly turn people off. Engage with them, offer advice, share interesting information and most important of all – gain their trust!
A big thank you to Karen for agreeing to do this post and sharing a little insight into how valuable social media can be for any business. I completely agree with her final points that one of the main objective should be to build relationships and gain customer trust. Social networks are supposed to be ‘social’ because at the end of the day, people are still doing business with people and the evidence lies in the fact that some of these online conversations have turned into successful projects. Like Karen said, there’s nothing worse than seeing a corporate account that is just shouting “look at me” instead of “how can we help you!” If you want to find out any more information then contact Karen on Twitter or leave a comment for her below.