What Comes After Like?

Features - General Business

Not sure how to begin using social media to increase customer loyalty? Here’s some basic advice.

March 12, 2013
Virginia Buechel

In the last four years, the business world has been taken over by social media, and the trend doesn’t appear to be slowing. Savvy marketers now know they can reach their target audiences using social media venues.

Social media sites are similar to local hangouts, such as a neighborhood barbershop, local sports bar, coffee shop or the mall. You visit these places to spend time with people you like, discuss common interests and current events and share funny stories. Like these physical meeting places, social media sites allow users to connect with friends and family to share the latest updates about their lives. These sites also are a perfect place for businesses to connect with their customers.

The environment in a scrap yard is usually fast-paced, leaving little time to catch up with customers. Sites like Facebook allow yards to take time to connect with customers during and after work hours. This can help to cultivate customer loyalty. Customers can follow your scrap yard’s page to learn about changes in pricing, view pictures of the yard and watch videos of machinery in action. Content such as how-to videos and tips that help clients make more money on their scrap metal also can help to grow your business loyalty by showing your customers you are there to help them.

Scrap yards often talk with their customers face-to-face regularly, so there is already an existing personal connection. Social media sites can help scrap yard owners and operators deepen existing customer relationships.

First Things First

Social media sites can be intimidating to someone just beginning to establish a presence. For scrap yards and similar companies, I suggest starting with a Facebook page. As the largest social media site, it is most likely your customers will be using it.

As time goes on, you may feel it can be beneficial to have a Twitter or YouTube page. Twitter can be useful if your company produces a lot of news and you are looking to connect with other businesses. Through the scrap metal industry, it seems that there is more of a B2B (business to business) connection through Twitter compared with Facebook, which is more B2C (business to consumer) connection.

Creating and managing a Facebook page for your business can be overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to take more than 30 minutes per week. Some businesses get confused with the profile and page options that Facebook offers. Keep in mind that Facebook has established certain parameters for business fan pages. This information is available at www.facebook.com/page_guidelines.php.

For businesses that have not yet started a Facebook page, an employee must create the fan page through his or her personal profile and then can select other employees to administrate the page. Once the fan page is created, the administrator(s) can then use it as the company’s Facebook page.

Most people think the main goal of a business on Facebook is to be “liked.” While having numerous “likes” is impressive, the business benefits of social media extend beyond that. It’s comparable to giving 100 people your business card. While they all have your contact information, what they do with it is what matters most.

Think Like Your Customer

Many businesses make the mistake of selling themselves too much through social media. Basing your business’ social media interactions around your fans’ wants and interests is the most crucial part of running a successful social media site. Another mistake companies can make is posting too often on social sites, overcrowding followers’ news feeds, which can turn them away from the fan page. Determining when and how often to post are skills that will be acquired in time and through trial and error.

Think about who your general audience is. Usually, it is young to middle-aged blue-collared men. Their interests may include vehicles, hunting, sports and funny videos. You want to find good content (photos, videos, links, etc.) that your audience will find interesting and useful to them. You want to draw your fans into interacting with your business through your posts.

A number of scrap yards are already engaging with hundreds of customers and fans on their Facebook pages. Here are some examples of how scrap yards use their Facebook pages, starting with our own:

Rockaway Recycling, Rockaway, N.J. — Our company posts daily prices and tips and uses social media as a place to give exclusive specials. Hosting a few customer appreciation BBQs annually, we post special coupons on our page for fans to print out for these events. During the last few events, a growing number of the Facebook coupons were used, which we take to mean that more customers are viewing information through our Facebook page.

Albert Brothers Inc., Water- bury, Conn. — Not only does this company integrate some clever marketing into its posts, but it also makes scrap metal recycling fun and enjoyable for customers. It shows examples of scrap being taken apart and even some recent items that came into the shop. The company also does a good job of keeping fans informed on the company’s latest news.

All American Recycling, Joliet, Ill. — This company does a great job of using photos on its Facebook page, often posting pictures of odd items, such as scuba helmets, toys, lights and signs, that come through its facility. It also has a fun, ongoing brass zoo where it collects the animal statues that come through for scrap.

Basic Metals Inc., Mount Clemens, Mich. — The company’s Facebook page is active with the latest contest at its facility. Giveaways include TVs, sweatshirts, extra cash and more, and the winners are often announced on Facebook. Not only does this encourage fans of the business to participate, it also gives them a reason to share the photos with friends.

CMC Recycling, Orlando, Fla. — Often posting fun facts and figures about scrap metal recycling, the company keeps its audience informed of the latest industry happenings. This can create a deeper connection with the fans because they now have a reason to continue to return. It also uses its Facebook page as a good outlet for helpful recycling videos and other sources of information.

Posts with photos, videos and links generally get more interactions through social media sites, Facebook says. The higher interactions you have, the more likely you are to gain followers.

Timimg is Everything
Post when your audience is most likely see it and take advantage of scheduling options to simplify this task. A rule of thumb is to post at least three times per week. If you have a larger audience, you may want to post more often.

Gain an audience by offering specials to customers who visit your page, focusing on an audience you know is loyal. Soon you will be running a social media campaign that other yards can only dream about.

The author is public relations director at iScrap App and Rockaway Recycling and can be contacted at Virginia@iscrapapp.com.