Contractor Marketing in 2016? Instagram FTW!

Instagram has a reputation as a platform for pseudo-photographers to post their artsy pictures on a public forum, and while it may have started out that way, it has developed into something so much more. For contractors, photos are quite literally your life’s blood simply because they can show your potential clients what sort of work you do. This makes Instagram a phenomenally useful tool for getting your brand out there. The question is: how do you take a popular photography platform and turn it into a profitable marketing plan?

Step 1: Getting Started

First, set up an Instagram for Business account. Their blog and business community can be a great place to collect ideas to maximize your contractor marketing strategy on the site.

Most people set up their Instagram accounts to mirror their other social media accounts, simply because it makes it easier for fans and followers to keep track of them across the various platforms. If you already have other social media accounts for your contracting business, then stick with the same account name. If your account name is already taken (which would not be surprising, considering that there are 300 million active users on the site) try adding the word “Official” before or after your user name.

Step 2: HASHTAG!

You may bring a few views to your Instagram account with direct links, but the majority of your traffic is going to come from hashtags. Create a hashtag for your business name that you can include in all of your posts. This will enable you to keep track of your posts without having to be logged into your Instagram account, but don’t just rely on a single tag.

For a contracting account, you may wish to consider hashtags like:

  • #contracting
  • #remodeling
  • #custom
  • #construction
  • #beautiful
  • #finishedproduct

You can use other tags as well that describe your construction materials, if you use specialized materials like granite and marble, and hashtags for the locations where you are currently doing business.

Step 3: Know your Demographics

Instagram is a great tool, but it isn’t going to reach everyone. Marketing for contractors is targeted at homeowners, and while people are purchasing homes younger and younger, it’s going to leave out a variety of people who may be looking to purchase your services.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, for two reasons.

  1. Most Instagram users are between the ages of 18 and 34. Average age of the first time homeowner right now? You guessed it: 34.
  2. Instagram is becoming more and more mainstream, and many sites are projecting that like its social media predecessors, it will start to become more popular with older users as time progresses.

Right now, Instagram is the best place to market to young first-time home buyers. Many of these social media users are buying houses that need to be repaired or remodeled to be livable, and will often turn to Instagram and social media to find their contractors.

Now that we’ve got the basics down, it’s time to get into some more details about the meat and potatoes of your Instagram marketing plan: the photos.

Step 4: Shoot Well, but Shoot Square.

Don’t take crappy pictures with a cell phone camera and post them thinking that their grainy pixilation will bring in clients, because it won’t. High quality, high resolution pictures are the best way to go, so take a couple photography classes or splurge to hire a professional photographer.

Keep in mind, though, that Instagram doesn’t display rectangular pictures like your phone or computer might. All of the pictures displayed on the site are square, because that makes them more attractive to the eye.

Many newer digital cameras have an option to shoot square photos instead of rectangular ones. If you don’t have a camera with that option, you can use Instagram’s crop tool, but make sure that you’re shooting images that can be cropped without losing the impact of the photo.

There are also a variety of programs that you can download for your phone or computer that create the same sort of square effect without relying on Instagram’s built in features.

Step 5: Stay Active!

There is nothing worse than an inactive social media account when you’re trying to augment your marketing portfolio. If you decide to go the social media route for your contracting marketing, then invest either the time to maintain the account, or the money to hire someone to do it for you.

You don’t have to just post pictures of your finished or in progress remodeling projects either. Pick random pictures and add a caption that lets people know that you’re still there and still active.

You can also interact directly with your followers, by sending them messages, using @mention, responding to comments that they leave on your photos, or commenting on photos that your followers post.

Step 6: Use the Tools Provided

Instagram provides a ton of tools for even the most casual users so they can improve their photos, market their work, and interact with their followers. Some things to consider:

  • Filters: Instagram has a ton of filters that you can use to change the saturation, color, or brightness of your images. This isn’t something you want to use a lot, especially if you’re trying to show off your finished remodeling projects, but it can be a great tool to add a few artsy pictures to your feed now and then.
  • Videos: Instagram recently added a video feature that allows you to take and upload 15 second video clips to your account. This can be a great tool to create video-walkthroughs of your finished contracting projects, or to showcase custom features that pictures just wouldn’t do justice to.

These are just two of the things that you can do to really individualize your account, and that’s without even using any external tools like Photoshop.

Step 7: Be Human.

It’s easy to set up a social media account to be a face for your company, and for many companies that strategy works just fine. Small privately owned contracting companies, though, need to be a little more human than some of the faceless corporate giants, for one main reason:

People are inviting you into their homes.

Yes, you are there to get a job done, but they are still inviting you into their homes, often while they are staying there as well, and your clients like to know who they’re working with.

Suggestions:

  • Don’t just post pictures of your finished projects. Post in-progress photos and show your employees working on the projects.
  • Do a “Meet the Crew” type post, where you showcase one of your employees and have them answer a few basic questions about themselves and what they do. It doesn’t have to be anything particularly prying or personal, but it tends to set potential client’s minds at ease.
  • Don’t Stay Behind the Camera: Even if you’re the boss or the CEO, the clients want to see your face too! Hand off the camera every now and then and let someone take a picture of you!

Step 8: Sync.

Social media is an empire, and should be treated as such. Don’t look at each social media account as its own website; instead see them as pieces of a whole. For sites like Facebook and Instagram (since Facebook owns IG), you can easily sync the two and make sure that all of your updates match up across the two different sites.

Other sites like Twitter, though owned by different companies, still offer options to share your posts and updates through other social media websites.

Again, if you aren’t terribly tech savvy or simply don’t have the time to keep up with your social medial accounts, don’t neglect them. Hire someone to manage them for you, and it will end up paying for itself in the long run.

 

To close

Instagram isn’t just for hipsters and wanna-be photographers anymore. It’s one of the fastest growing social media platforms and could potentially surpass Facebook and Twitter in terms of social media marketing. Don’t neglect your Instagram account, especially for contractors and other businesses that rely so heavily on photography to convey what they do.