The Leery Lumberman’s Guide to Social Media

By / 8 months ago

Behind Your Back

In 2008, a General Manager of an independent LBM firm called me. He was under attack. “I need your help! Marketing keeps demanding we join The Facebook and Tweeter. I’ve blown them off for months, but they’re relentless.

“My instinct is to tell them to be quiet and get back to work, but that will be demotivating,” he trailed off. “I mean… how is The Facebook going to help me sell more 2×4’s?”

And there it was. That’s the question he wanted answered.

“Is that the right question?” I asked. “Your goal is to be perceived as the trusted experts with solutions for any project in your market, right? If so, the question may be, ‘Can Facebook and Twitter help you do that?’ ”

He was leery, skeptical. After we reviewed the pronunciations of Facebook and Twitter, I sent him a quick synopsis of the most popular social media platforms, how they worked, and what questions he should pose to Marketing.

I also researched LBM industry leaders. When in doubt— think like a 4th grader. “What are all the cool kids doing?”

I called my report The Leery Lumberman’s Guide to Social Media. We recently updated it. We completed research on what the top 100 LBM firms are doing online. Email me if you’d like the complete report—here are a few highlights.

  • Newsletters & Blogs: 22% of the Top 100 LBM firms have newsletters (like its paper forebears—it’s a digital letter sent to a specific group of people); 23% post blogs (published on a website and is searchable by Google). For a great example of both, Google Franklin Building Supply.
  • Linkedin: 86% of firms have a company profile on Linkedin. I was impressed by this. Nice job, you.
  • Facebook: 64% of firms use Facebook and have updated it in the last quarter. Apparently many a leery lumberman has caved to the marketing team.
  • Twitter: 40% use Twitter. The site known for 140 characters or less appears to be gaining traction. Many executives use Twitter as their primary news source. They can quickly review dozens of headlines in seconds.
  • Instagram: I threw up in my mouth when I learned only 8% of LBM firms use Instagram. Instagram is an easy way to capture, improve, and share photos. One of the biggest challenges consumers face—be it stay-at-home moms dreaming of new kitchens or purchasing managers learning interior millwork—is visualizing, and understanding something new. Instagram can do this immediately.
  • Google+: Nearly twice as many LBM firms use Google+ (14%) than Instagram. This is pure idiocy. At best, Google+ is bleeding out. It may already be dead.
  • YouTube: 27% have videos posted on YouTube. Expertise can be shared quickly with a brief video. With today’s streaming capabilities and a high-resolution camera in your pocket, this should be much higher.
  • Pinterest: 15% of LBM firms use Pinterest, an online version of your personal cork board. 85% of Pinterest visitors are women and 42% of online adult women use it according to marketing site, DMR. If women influence the decisions that drive your revenue, you’ll want to be here.
  • Houzz: Visitors can find design ideas, research local professionals, and purchase products. 16% of LBM firms have invested time here. By the end of 2017, I’m betting this number doubles.
  • SoundCloud: 0%. Nobody here yet. SoundCloud is like YouTube, except for audio. In this industry, we spend hours each week behind the wheel. Audio content can provide ideas, expertise, and solutions for prospects and clients during the daily commute. Who will be first?
  • Español: Only 3% have any web content in Spanish. Hispanics dominate the construction trades and are starting new businesses faster than any other demographic.
  • Online and Alone: Consider your own behavior when making a purchase. You begin by going online. And you want to be left alone. The companies that plan for this behavior and have meaningful content onlineare perceived as trusted experts.

If you want to see how the best do this, Google these three LBM companies: Hayward Lumber (CA), Drexel Building Supply (WI), and Kuiken Brothers (NJ).

There’s no shortage of lumbermen leery of social media. That’s OK. In times of uncertainty—be it with social media or anything else—step back and ask, “What am I missing here?” Be open to new ideas and listen to your team. Encourage them to build an intelligent business case.

Your goal is to be perceived as the trusted expert with immediate solutions for any project. Do that and the 2×4’s will sell themselves.

Bradley Hartmann

Bradley Hartmann is El Presidente at Red Angle, Inc. and the author of Behind Your Back. To learn more, contact him at bradley@behindyourbackthebook.com, or visit behindyourbackthebook.com