The Builders Merchants Federation recently discussed with us their thoughts on how to best tackle social media marketing, in a way that positively contributes to achieving membership business goals.
Christine Wall, Marketing and Communications Manager and Hannah Taylor, Apprentice Marketing Assistant at BMF kindly took the time to talk through their experience with implementing social media into a strategic marketing plan.
1) As a membership organisation, how does social media help to achieve business goals?
The main objective for us is to share enough valuable content and updates across our social platforms to engage our members and drive traffic to the website. When used with specific call to actions in mind, this increase in traffic should result in a specific goal completion – whether that is to sign up to a networking event or training course, request market data or download resources from our secure member area.
By taking a ‘multi-channel’ approach to our construction marketing, we aim to improve our online visibility by targeting different audience types across a range of platforms. We are aware that social media forms part of a much broader marketing scope for attracting both new members and nurturing existing ones, so it should be used alongside other engagement tactics.
2) How do you ensure social posting has more of a structure?
As well as including clear ‘Call to Actions’ on the majority of social posts delivered, we also ensure our social coverage remains consistent and structured by using apps such as ‘Hootsuite’ to schedule content well in advance. We know that members of all ages are very active across our social channels, so apps like Hootsuite enable us to schedule posts for visitors on both desktop and mobile platforms. We can target those who are out on the road by providing quicker forms of communication at certain points during the day, with tags and hashtags to prompt further engagement. Without using a tool that enables us to manage our platforms in one place, the structure of our social scheduling would be a lot harder to control.
3) What tactics can you recommend for those looking to improve their social media?
For those posts designed to bring social media users directly to your website, always provide them with a clear call to action and a link to the most appropriate landing page; this will ensure you make the journey as easy as possible for them.
Tagging or ‘hashtagging’ also helps to further oil the wheels of engagement, alongside visual media such as an engaging video or an enticing, high quality image.
Another tactic we recommend is to consider how your social media activity can help to directly support your members. So many of our members require our support, with branch relaunches for example, so for situations where there may not be capacity in a particular magazine, we offer our social media platform support as an alternative. A member needs to simply tag us within a post regarding a branch relaunch and we’ll make sure to retweet the message to our 6000 followers, to help boost visibility of their activity.
4) What obstacles have you come across with social media marketing?
I think with us the social world is constantly shifting, and it can be tricky to know where to invest our time and resource. In particular, we know that Instagram has taken off rapidly so we’ve recently been piloting that alongside our social media channels. Getting to grips with Instagram from a business perspective has been tricky, particularly when it comes to driving traffic directly to your website, due to the lack of linking opportunities.
Over the last few months, we’ve found Instagram beneficial for humanising our brand, rather than for driving website traffic. As an organisation we’ve used it to keep our members updated during key events such as the VADO Rally this year. We’ll continue to measure the success of the channel from a brand awareness perspective, by showcasing our passion and interest through key events throughout the year, to ascertain its long-term value to the BMF.
When scheduling posts across multiple social media channels at the same time it can be difficult to get the optimum image size for each channel. CANVA and other packages can help with this, but we are still looking for the perfect tool.
5) What type of posts would you recommend for engaging with members?
Consider scheduling posts that will help to educate your target audience, and address key member benefits for those who are yet to take the next step towards joining your organisation.
Quality blog content and video distribution, alongside politically-led blog posts obtain the highest readership for us.
It’s also key to consider your audience groups and where they browse online. We know event-led posts, such as the VADO Rally works best over Facebook, whereas news items and educational blog posts work well on LinkedIn. To our knowledge, builders merchants’ Branch Managers tend to use Facebook, whereas generally merchant and supplier Directors and Chief Executives are more active on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Tailoring your posts to those different audience groups, and working out what type of content will help their everyday job role, is the key to achieving great results.
6) What would you say is best to avoid on social media?
We’d always advise against leaving your social media planning to the last minute. While spontaneity is required to ensure your social media posting remains fresh and relevant, this needs to be structured to ensure your social accounts look professional and current.
Scheduling is generally easier on a PC and best done well in advance, which enables us to continue to grow traffic to our website and reduce any last-minute errors or typos from occurring.
7) For those asking how do you fit the time in for social media, what would you recommend?
As the BMF is such an active organisation we are never short of content for social media.
Once a week we schedule in the daily update posts as well as the longer-term items within our calendar, such as events and training which can be booked several months in advance. We also post relevant news as it breaks throughout the week to keep our social media followers updated.
Alongside this, we’ll then use Hootsuite to schedule educational-led content across our platforms. One tip we’ve learnt is that you don’t need to keep thinking of new content to create: a lot of it already exists on your website. We’ve managed to reassess what we have and repurpose a lot of content in publications into shorter, informative blog posts. This further extends the shelf-life of what we have and allows us to feed our social followers with a regular stream of relevant information.
As you’ll be driving social media traffic to your website, always make sure website pages perform well and are continuously updated, as your website will serve as the foundation for all marketing activity carried out.
It’s all about working smarter, not harder!
For more information on how your organisation could develop an effective social media strategy, do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 01908 671707.