When people hear the words marketing or branding, they instantly hear pound signs ringing in their ears and their profits being flushed down the drain. However, low cost marketing is just one click away, which can be easily factored into your day-to-day work.

Utilising social media as part of your marketing activity can be a cost effective and rewarding way to reach out to your customers. What you save in costs you need to invest in time, although if you’re smart with your time you can make social media work for you; planning is essential. Social media can work wonders for your business but consistency is key and maintaining your frequency of posts, as this will keep your engagement levels up and your followers entertained.

Why should I use social media?
When social media was in its infancy, many people didn’t see the need for it to promote their business. Fast forward to now and social media is at the top of any marketeer’s list. One benefit of using social media is that it allows you to build your brand and set yourself apart from your competitors. The biggest plus point for using social media is that it’s a great platform to drive traffic to your website. Successful activity will improve the amount of traffic referrals to your website. It’s important to know that search engines such as Google now look at social media to determine your website’s authority and ranking.

What am I going to post?
This is the most frequently asked question in relation to social media. Share your knowledge, your training, your work and your reviews. Online reviews are vital and platforms like Facebook allow your customers to leave testimonials. By encouraging customers to leave feedback this will establish your credibility and help you establish a name for your business. If you’re a localised business why not share regional news stories that might be of interest, such as flooding. What you share doesn’t always have to be about pest control.

Should I share stories about horrific infestations?
Ask yourself, is this really what your customer wants to see? Posting before and after photos are a great way to illustrate a success story and give your customers confidence in your ability to deal with a pest problem. Remember, your customers want to see these pests disappear.

I’m running dry on content and posts!
With all this increased posting you might be thinking where am I going to get more content from? You can use a free service called Google Alerts which sends emails direct to your account when a news article is posted online. All you need to do is spend some time and think about what keywords you want Google to send you alerts about. Keywords you might consider are pest, insect, and public health. Show off your knowledge and provide opinions on news articles in the press.

How creative shall I be?
Images and videos can really boost your engagement levels. We all know a picture can paint a thousand words. If you hunt online you can find some free online support tools to help you out.

Stock images can cost you the earth but free online resources, such as Pixaby, allow you access to thousands of images which are free to use. Just make sure that you read the small print.

If you want to stretch your creativity further try taking your own photographs. There are free online image editors such as Canva. You can use these editors to enhance photos and add text to really give your images some punch! There are also many tutorials on YouTube to help you take the perfect photograph using your smart phone.

Why won’t people engage with me?
Engagement basically means that someone has commented, liked or clicked on one of your posts. This is a positive measure that you should be striving for. You need to think about whom your target audience is and who is your typical customer. Your communication levels need to reflect who you are talking to. Don’t forget, not everyone is a professional pest controller. As you build on your engagement levels and followers you can access more data about who is connecting with you.

Many social media platforms allow you access to data about gender, age, location and much more. Use this to your advantage as this will help you target your key demographics. On Facebook this is called “Insights”. When you click on this tab you can see which of your posts reached the most people and which created the most engagement.

The most important thing is to get started, but start small and don’t overwhelm yourself. It’s unlikely to be an overnight sensation; it will take time to establish your company online. Try not to focus on the numbers of likes and followers; what you need to do is keep an eye on your engagement levels as these are the people who are interested in what you’re saying. You can have a million followers but if none of them are engaging with you, then what’s the point? Be realistic in your reach, growth and engagement.

I don’t have the time.
This is a very common problem, usually in smaller businesses. Social media is a 24/7, 365 day kind of deal; it never sleeps. This doesn’t mean that you have to keep an eye on it at all times. There are plenty of online social media management tools, like Hootsuite, which can help you manage your accounts from one platform. Many of these tools allow you to have free accounts up to a certain number of linked profiles, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. They allow you to schedule posts, on all social media platforms, all at the same time and see who’s interacting with your profiles online. Essentially you could plan and schedule posts for a whole week in a matter of minutes.

It may take a few attempts of mastering this art but once you have cracked the skill, social media should take you no time at all.

Just remember you’re not busting the bank and damaging your profit margins by injecting large sums of money, it’s managing it into your time. Then over the months you’ll begin to reap the rewards.

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