ICS Magazine

Focus Your Niche With Social Media

December 17, 2009


For those not yet in the know, online social media is a new way by which people do business, and it is only getting bigger.

What is social media? Basically, it’s a place online, such as a website, blog, or forum, where people gather to interact. It used to be a playground for teens and college students, but now every age group is using social media in a big way.

You may say, “I have a website, isn’t that enough?” Not anymore. Most cleaning companies have a website. But to be part of the social media trend, you need to get in and do some online mingling.

The best part is, you can hone in on the exact clients you want. It rarely costs any money and it’s not hard. In fact, most cleaners who do online social marketing spend just a couple hours per week nurturing their online relationships.

David Gargan, owner of Ecoclean Carpet Solutions in Knoxville, Tenn., says, “I have friends in the cleaning business that are hesitant to start something like social media because they think it’s too much to keep up with. It’s not all that bad. Just a few posts a week is fine.” Gargan says his company books an average of 23 jobs per month from the Internet.

Although many cleaning business owners use social marketing in their personal life, they’re reluctant to use it for their business. Some are afraid to mix business with pleasure. By following a few key concepts, however, you can effectively use social media to gain clients without losing friends or coming off like an irritating salesman.

Why is Social Media So Effective?

When used right, social media is an online referral marketing system. You can have your clients and friends refer you online. Then basically allow people to get to know you. When your company is talked about, people see you and want to do business with you.

“In a month I’ve gained 15 clients from Facebook,” says Frank DiGiugno, owner of Digi Carpet Cleaning in New Jersey. “I’ve received calls from friends I’ve not seen in decades. Many have called us to have their carpets cleaned and now recommend us to their friends. I offer 10 percent off if they say they have seen us on Facebook.

“What makes it work for me is, every time I get a new ‘friend,’ I invite them to my business to become a fan. I feel Facebook is a win-win for any carpet cleaner,” he said.

Follow the Golden Rule

Avoid blatant, non-stop selling. That’s a big no-no. Sure, make a sales pitch on occasion. But most of what you do should revolve on helping the members of the community and getting to know them. People don’t go on social sites to be sold. Simply let it be known you’re there to help.

Bob Shepard of Lamanator Plus sells laminated and hardwood floor maintenance products and finds Facebook useful. “I post a Tip of the Day in regards to caring for hardwood and laminate flooring,” he said. “These tips usually prompt comments from other Facebook users.”

When asked what homeowners are looking for online, Shepard said, “Homeowners want to find a solution to their flooring issues. And because I offer advice, not hard selling, they feel more comfortable with me.”

OK, I'm There. Now What?

Think of it as a reality television show. Ever seen the show Cake Boss? It’s about a cake shop in New Jersey. This show has undoubtedly been great for their cake business. Everyone in New Jersey wants these guys to bake them a cake.

If your company was on show called Cleaning Boss, what would your show be about? Treat your online social marketing like a reality show. You could post about an unusual job you’ve done. Maybe post some before and after pictures. Talk about a new employee you’ve hired, maybe even write about things happening in your local community.

Here’s an idea: what about having a reality website blog for your cleaning business? You could post daily or weekly videos of what happens in your daily operations. Put some drama in it. This can easily be done with a blog website and cheap Flip Video camera purchased for less than $100.

Get Feedback

Ask for their thoughts about things from pre-vacuuming to, well…anything. Post something like this: “We currently vacuum for all of our clients before cleaning. But to avoid raising our prices, we’re thinking about cutting this out of our service. What do you think? Would you prefer to have a cleaning company vacuum for you if the service costs $10 more?” Get their feedback and let the community know you sincerely appreciate their comments.

Another good idea is to run a contest. You could ask your community to post a message about the worst thing they’ve ever spilled on their carpet. Offer a prize for the most outrageous spill and, of course, give ideas on how these spills can be removed. This involves your social community in your business.

It’s free marketing. You won’t regret the few hours you spend using this profitable tool. Just follow a few of these ideas and you’ll be on your way to social stardom with lots of raving fans of your business.