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How to Make Facebook Work For Your Construction Business

Facebook can be a powerful sales, marketing, and communication tool for the construction contractor.

Fri November 20, 2015 - National Edition
Jeff Winke

At first blush, the idea that a construction contractor should have a Facebook page may seem ridiculous.

Isn’t Facebook the place for selfies, photos of drinking parties, vacation brags, photos of cute babies-puppies-kittens and everything else that has nothing to do with business and construction? That may have been true years ago, but Facebook has evolved and changed.

As of the third quarter 2015, there are 1.55 billion monthly active users — making Facebook the most popular social network platform worldwide. There are now more than 40 million small business pages and 41 percent of U.S. small businesses use Facebook. And all those numbers are growing. Facebook is solidly here.

Used smartly, Facebook can be a powerful sales, marketing, and communication tool for the construction contractor. However, a Facebook page is NOT a substitute or replacement for a company Web site.

The company Web site should explain and promote the company’s market expertise and experience that supports the contractor services offered. It can include company history, equipment lists, descriptions of current and past projects, profiles of key company management, and the contractor services provided. Quite simply, the company Web site is the go-to source for everything from learning about the company, what they do, how they can help, and why they may be the best choice to work with. And it’s the first place people turn to for looking up a phone number, email address, or the location of a company office or service center.

A construction company Facebook page has a different, distinct role from the company Web site. It can serve as the social glue that connects employees, customers, and prospects to the company. The impression can be positive, human and professional.

Think of the company Facebook page as being the evolutionary successor of the traditional printed-paper company newsletter. The printed newsletter, which was mailed and/or tucked into the paycheck envelope, and even the more current electronic or emailed version, was created to acknowledge and celebrate achievements, accomplishments and significant events. It documented and chronicled everything of importance, becoming a cumulative history of the company and its employees and customers.

A contractor Facebook page, like its predecessor newsletter, can make an employee feel appreciated by the company they work for and proud of the work being done. Customers will learn about the people they connect with and will feel better about the company they’ve hired. The personal can help solidify the business relationship.

In its analysis, San Francisco-based VerticalResponse, an online marketing tools firm, suggests an 80/20 rule for Facebook content being posted on a company page. Eighty percent of posts should be social and 20 percent can pertain to services, projects, and what the business can offer customers.

Here are suggestions for social content that can be posted:

• Employee milestones — marriages, births, graduations, retirements, promotions, and anniversary dates of employees (include the one-year anniversary of the new employee as well as the old timer’s 10, 15, 20-year anniversary).

• Accomplishments — include any industry awards received, workshops and special training received (including vendor/supplier training sessions), and any regional or national trade shows that employees were sent to. If employees are being sent to big show, such as World of Concrete, name the employees going and the products, systems, or services they are commissioned to check out and report back on.

• Community involvement — go ahead and brag about the Boy Scout leader, the Little League coach, the autism support group volunteer and the one guy who faithfully donates a pint of blood each month to the local blood bank.

• Share a tip — ask an employee to share three things they do to maintain a work/life balance. Describe their role in the company and their other commitments and how they are able to strike balance.

• Feature an employee profile every week — pick a machine operator, a project supervisor, a site model developer, a bookkeeper, etc. Ask them each what their job entails; what excites them about their work; and what recent completed task or accomplishment they are proud of.

• Ask an employee what motivates them to do well. If they can give an immediate answer, great. If they want a day or so to think about it, remind them that there is no right or expected answer. Start with an employee who is a deep thinker, so a strong example is established.

Here are suggestions for business content that can be posted:

• Project wins — announce the winning of a new project contract, when it will start, and who will be on the team

• Project milestones — if a phase of a project has been completed, there’s an opportunity to congratulate those involved and acknowledge any extra individual or work team effort — include photos of work being done and identifying everyone in the photo or relevant to the photo, even if not pictured (e.g., “Jim Smith is compacting the roadway after Bill Thompson had fine graded it.”).

• New equipment additions — it is a big deal if a new piece of equipment is added to the fleet and make sure to describe how the machine will enhance or expand capabilities.

• New employees — announce each new hire by describing their background and what they will be doing.

• Customer testimonials — if a customer is happy at the end of a project, ask them if you can say so on Facebook. It helps if they can comment on the workflow, productivity and communication during the project, as well as the final results.

• Work photos — post photos of employees working, whether they are operating a rough excavating machine, sitting at a desk monitoring progress with the company’s project management software system or inspecting and neatening up a utility trench. Each work photo provides an opportunity to brag about an employee while promoting a company service or capability.

A construction contractor Facebook page can be easy to create and maintain with tremendous benefits. There are no fees from Facebook to launch or maintain a page. Almost every employee carries a smart phone with a camera these days. Encourage them to use it, even if they take a quick selfie on a job site. The “texture” of the pages should reflect the employees and represent the personal, human side of the business, which after all is the reason why customers and providers connect.

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