Market Your Company Using Local Social Networks
While it seems at times that the internet and smartphones have isolated people, making them less likely to interact with each other on a personal level, the fact is when it comes to major buying decisions, many people still seek out and rely on recommendations from their family, friends, and neighbors. So, how do these two things go together? In the past decade several websites have emerged to help people connect with their local communities in an effort to help them locate quality businesses to work with, and you should be taking advantage of these sites…NOW!
How They Work
Websites like Nextdoor.com and frontporchforum.com act as free, private social networks for local communities. To join these sites, people must put in their address, so that they can locate the appropriate neighborhood to connect the user. Once connected, users can begin interacting with their neighbors on a variety of topics including: garage sales; lost pets; crime; and yes, even suggestions and advice on home improvements and/or troubles they are having with systems in their homes.
How You Can Use Them To Win Customers
Let me say this up front, so there is no confusion: These sites are NOT selling sites. You will not be able to go on there and post your sales fliers or blatantly offer discounts on your services. The great part about this is you don’t need to do that with these sites. Here is what you can and should do:
Encourage your team members to join their local communities. Since these sites are free to join, this is a win-win situation for your team members and the company. Your team gets to connect with their neighbors and your company has someone in the community, who can share valuable information with potential customers.
Ask your team members to be the experts in their communities. Once they’ve joined, encourage them to actively participate in the conversations. For example, if one of their neighbors is having problems with humidity, have them share the blog from your website that explains what homeowners can do or have them share a video your company has produced explaining humidity issues and what can be done. Or if a neighbor is looking to buy a new air conditioner, have your team member share a checklist of items that will help them find a professional contractor. Do this for all of the services you offer: heating; cooling; plumbing; electrical; pest control; security; etc. And make sure your team members know exactly where they can find this valuable information, so it is easy for them to share it with their neighbors.
Do some follow up. Make sure your team members are sharing their activity about your company on the sites. For example, if they have been actively sharing information and tips with their neighbors about how to make sure their air conditioners make it through the long, hot summer; it may be worth the investment to do a direct mail campaign to that service area with an offer for pre-season check-ups and maintenance agreements.
Don’t Forget Community ListServs
While these local private social networks are a great way to show off your expertise in local communities, they may not be available in all areas. Nextdoor.com is a nationwide site, but not every community has a network set up. And frontporchforum.com is only available in Vermont, as well as some areas of New York and New Hampshire. So, for those areas that are not touched by a site like this, encourage your team members to participate in their community ListServs where available.
Again, ListServs are NOT a forum for selling, but a place to be seen as the expert in the community. You will want to do the same things on a ListServ as you would with one of the private social networks: share advice; blogs; videos; tips; and resources that will gently lead people to your company.
These types of sites won’t get you thousands of new leads and sales immediately, but they will help you position your company as leaders and experts in local communities. And after one neighbor selects your company, and you provide them with the professional, quality service they are expecting, they too will be singing your praises on the neighborhood forum, which will ultimately produce the leads you were after from day one.
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