Will Facebook marketing get results for my construction firm? It’s a question that you’ve probably considered, and possibly struggled with, at some point.
I recently bit the bullet and created a business page for Fraley Construction Marketing on Facebook. You can see it here.
I’m no stranger to Facebook. I built a company page in 2014, actively maintained it, and deleted it in 2015, primarily because I was disappointed in the reach and convinced that this was an informal platform where users had no interest in hearing about business.
The decision to come back was strategic, ongoing, and required me to reevaluate my position. My research and thought process will help those of you that are on the fence about Facebook to make a decision since we share a common industry and target audience.
Let me be clear that I still have reservations about Facebook. There is, however, no denying that they hold the title among social media platforms. A recent Pew Research Center study revealed that 68% of U.S. adults use Facebook.
Too Big to Ignore
Facebook has gotten to the point that it’s simply too big to ignore. In case you haven’t noticed, a global technological oligarchy has been forming. It includes Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple.
The trend is strong. Facebook’s user base has been expanding monthly as evidenced by the chart below.
Facebook not only continues to grow its user base, but is also creeping into more areas of our lives. From live video, to publishing news, to hosting custom articles, its quest to keep users logged in for longer periods of time is working.
One of the unwritten rules of traditional advertising is to go where the eyeballs are. That applies to social media marketing as well. Facebook has control of many eyeballs, that’s likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
The B2B vs. B2C Disconnect
I’ve said more than once that most construction firms will never sell a piece of equipment or land a contract through Facebook. I maintain that position. Why? Because Facebook is a very informal platform where people generally don’t want to hear about business. That’s a stumbling block for construction and other B2B firms.
It plays well to B2C firms that sell products like peanut butter to consumers. Pictures of cute kids and puppy dogs is an effective marketing strategy for them. Not so much if you’re trying to move a piece of heavy iron.
The counterargument to my B2B versus B2C position is that even though Facebook is geared toward individual users, as opposed to business-focused platforms like LinkedIn, most of those people work somewhere. Some are even decision-makers. It’s hard to dispute this.
Stop Drinking the Kool-Aid. What’s Your Objective?
My ongoing research indicated that the construction industry was well represented on Facebook. I struggled with why that was the case. My opinion is that the industry, much like the general public, has been drinking the Kool-Aid.
The Construction Marketing Association (CMA) has a Social Media webinar each Fall. Year after year, Facebook was among the top three platforms construction firms were using. The 2016 forecast, for example, had LinkedIn at the top with 94% and Facebook trailing close behind at 89%.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter why so many construction firms engage in Facebook marketing. What really counts is whether they’re getting a Return on Investment (ROI).
The decision to invest time and money into any social media platform should be based on hard objectives. What are you looking to accomplish and can it be done there? Period.
Are you there to build an online brand, engage with customers, direct inbound traffic to your website, or are you there because a marketing consultant that doesn’t understand your industry talked you into it because they had a vested interest?
The Old School is in Session
We’re all guilty of generalizing from time to time. One of the generalities I held was that the old school segment of the construction industry was not on Facebook.
Perhaps I should have known better. One of the ongoing jokes was that young people were fleeing Facebook for trendier new platforms like Snapchat to escape the watchful eyes of their parents whom had begun using the platform.
The truth is that people of all ages are well represented on Facebook. The chart below shows a healthy balance between most age group segments.
One of the things that really swayed me was the activity within construction-focused groups I belong to through my personal account. Let me give you some examples with hard numbers:
Historical Construction Equipment Association – 6,706 members
Historical Highway Heavy Association – 1,671 members
These groups are largely comprised of current and retired equipment operators. These aren’t ghost towns either; there is heavy engagement on a daily basis.
Based on the operators I’ve known over the years, I was surprised to see his kind of engagement. Most are admittedly not technology savvy and prefer hands-on activities.
The Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club (ACMOC), while not a group, has a page with a whopping 7,404 likes. It, too, has plenty of engagement.
You can see that the common thread here is antique construction equipment. Is it safe to say that if you appreciate old iron you might be a bit old school? Many in this group are, in fact, old school, but they still use Facebook. This is exactly why it’s dangerous to make assumptions without supporting data.
The Organic Reach Highway to Nowhere
One of the problems I have with Facebook is that the organic reach for a company page is rotten. In other words, when you post an update, you will only reach a small percentage of your audience.
This is by design. Facebook wants you to spend money on paid advertising. They facilitate that by setting up a stingy algorithm that determines which of your followers see your post.
We will continue to see social media platforms trying to monetize by playing games with reach. You have a choice: get in the game, or sit on the sideline.
Paid Advertising to Find Your Audience
The good news is that paid advertising is inexpensive on Facebook…for now. Assuming you already have a company page or decide to take the leap, it’s not a bad idea to spend some money to at least find the right audience. Let it be clear that I am NOT advocating for continuous paid advertising on Facebook.
One of the benefits of social media advertising is that you can target the exact demographic you’re looking to reach. One way is to boost a post. You can segment by gender, age, location, and interest. You might also create a specific ad to boost if you have the capabilities.
We’ve all gotten spoiled by the free access these social media platforms provide, but we must remember that these are businesses constantly looking to create new revenue streams.
Social media advertising allows us to target specific segments and measure the ROI in a way that traditional print advertising never could. That certainly helps to ease the pain when comes time to pay the piper.
Will Facebook Marketing Work for My Firm?
Now that we’ve laid out the pros and cons associated with Facebook, let’s revisit the original question: should my construction firm engage in Facebook marketing? It depends. That may seem like a cop out, but to give you a yes or no answer would be irresponsible.
The facts and opinions laid out in this article are only meant to support your decision and provide some ideas. The bottom line is that you as a firm must identify your objectives and evaluate the platform to make sure your specific audience is present and engaged.
You must also continue to measure your ROI and be prepared to pull the plug if you’re not meeting your objectives. Facebook is the king of the social media mountain for now, but that could change any day. Stay engaged.
Need help with social media marketing? Click here to learn more about Fraley Construction Marketing’s services.