Joe Kowalski

ServiceMonster CEO
Blog posts by me
Effective Social Strategies for Service Businesses: (6) Case Studies

This is part 6 in a series on social media for service businesses.

The full series is:

1. Introduction

2. Concepts

3. Social Platforms Overview

4. 7 Social Strategies

5. Using Facebook

6. Case Studies

Here are a few good examples of how we and others, have used social media to accomplish a goal or capture attention to deliver value to the business.

Case Study - Getting Attention

In late 2012, ServiceMonster moved from a bare metal solution to a true virtual service. We adopted Microsoft Azure. That decision would haunt me for eight months. Four months in, I was in a state of panic. The technology was solid. It had to be the platform. But how to get Microsoft's attention? They had no real support, and the level of support that I needed went way beyond a flow chart, so I created a marketing plan.

It was simple. Use Twitter and talk about my issues tagging Microsoft and Azure team members in every post, but first I had to get someone to listen. I needed to find some of their evangelists. Evangelists are people who are forward-facing about a product or service, but can stand up to technical scrutiny. From there I would find and follow the engineers that were working on Azure. My goal was to obtain email relations with someone that would listen. I figured it would take about 30 days.

I was totally wrong. In 14 days I was talking with an evangelist regularly. I was invited to Microsoft and had a personal eight-hour tour through the Microsoft campus. I talked to their top brass representing the Azure platform. It was pretty cool. I even blogged about it.

It really didn't help. Four months later I switch to Amazon. The day we switched, ServiceMonster was at peace again, and I got the first night’s sleep I had in a very long time.

The whole experience really opened my eyes to how effective social media could be in so many more ways than as a very effective lead generator.

Case Study - Gary Hite

In July of 2016, Gary Hite, a carpet cleaner in Temecula, California, published a video of a tile job. A few weeks later, he had over 12 million views. A month later, a separate company rented the rights to the video and created another 12 million views. We scooped the story as it was happening.

The main points are:

1. Have good stock video.

2. Learn how to produce original compelling content.

3. Do step one and two a lot.

4. Hope that a video gets picked up on an OCD subreddit.

I’m actually not joking. Be a student. Read the blog post. Watch the video. Gary didn’t know it would go viral, but he knows enough to put together some elements in his video that created interest and captured attention. That video has generated work for cleaners all over the United States, and Gary has taken that opportunity to expand several areas of his business.

Case Study - #entrejoe

On August 8th the marketing team and I decided to turn the Joe brand up to 11. We had not yet fully embraced the business persona of ServiceMonster. One mechanism we implemented was a daily entrepreneurial Facebook post, containing relevant content based on issues and hurdles I run into on a daily basis. I call it the Facebook long form. They are usually no more than a few paragraphs long but will often be longer than the fold. After a few weeks of posting, I started receiving encouragement to continue (love that). I even had requests to begin compiling these posts into a mini Art of War style publication. But this isn't 3000 BC. What did I do? I went back and tagged all of my relevant posts. I needed a hashtag that no one was using. Something that would create a brand. We often trade on 'Joe' and my focus is entrepreneurs, so #entrejoe was born. How can you provide the same type of value to your prospects and clients?

Social Media
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Effective Social Strategies for Service Businesses: (5) Using Facebook

This is part 5 in a series on social media for service businesses.

The full series is:

1. Introduction

2. Concepts

3. Social Platforms Overview

4. 7 Social Strategies

5. Using Facebook

6. Case Studies

Business Pages

STOP INVITING ANYONE AND EVERYONE TO LIKE YOUR PAGE! Seriously. It messes with the insights Facebook can give you. It also makes Facebook think you are a national company instead of a local service. Yes, you can target campaigns using geolocation, but it messes up some of the cooler features. Build your wall. Keep your likes relevant to your clients and prospects. Stop inviting cleaning friends and vendors. This can really wreak havoc if you hire a third-party to manage your Facebook advertising. They will make assumptions which will be incorrect, like that your page supports 35 to 55-year-old males, nationwide, who own a service business. Oh wait, that’s my demographic.

Make your Facebook Page beautiful. If your logo is still out of 90s clipart from MS Office, it might be time for an update. Learn the difference between 72 DPI, 150 DPI, and 300 DPI (dots per inch) and why that's important to a Facebook Page and mobile technology.

Take some time to build your cover image. That's your billboard. Make it compelling. Ideally your profile picture will be your logo. Only change it for the most extreme circumstances. Don't make your alias’ Page profile picture your company's logo. Maybe try a different, more amplified version of yourself.

Make sure your Page is filled out and complete. Make sure there's a link to your website. Make sure your phone number is right. Share relevant content, post original content, run ads.

Facebook Pages give you some really cool tools in the Insights section to study the effectiveness of your content (not to mention you run all of your ads from your business Page).

Business Persona

If you’re looking to build a Warrior strategy, it is essential to have a personal alias page for your business. Use your real name and image. Don’t try to give your persona the business name or clever variation. Facebook will eventually close your account until you identify yourself and correct it (don’t ask me how I know).

Join local Facebook groups. Local business groups can be a good source as well. Look for community influencers with a strong Facebook presence and discover where they hang out, online. Send friend requests to people who have liked your Page, and especially ones that are already your clients. Be friends with them! Invest in their lives. Make witty comments on their posts you find entertaining. Share. It’s amazing how fast customers change from clients to individuals when you see their kid hit that home run.

Create a group (or twelve). Assuming you’re the constant student and after you have some attention on both your business and personal pages, you will start to identify additional ways to capture attention. Groups are a great way to communicate to a handful of people. Currently you can add a friend to a group, even without them accepting an invite. By default, they will get a notification whenever there is a post in that group. It’s a powerful feature and one I think we will lose long-term. Be careful with it. Some don’t appreciate being added to a group willy-nilly (sorry guys). The most obvious group for a service provider to create is a private group dedicated to your clients. You have to keep the content relevant to maintain attention and engagement though, so make sure your kung fu is strong.

Facebook Ads

Creating ads for Facebook can have some challenges if you’re just getting started. Start with a goal in mind. Do you want more likes or to drive traffic to your site? When using a picture, smiling faces are always the best performers. Facebook will reject your ad for a handful of things. You can’t run an ad with an image that has too much text. The numbers are changing all the time. Use Facebook’s image text check tool to be sure.

When running ads, be sure to narrow your focus as much as possible. You can target groups of users based on their location, interests, and age. You can even target users who have liked a Page of your competitors. The narrower your focus, the better your results.

Facebook ads are so inexpensive that you can run a few ads at the same time to see which one is more effective. Just like organic engagement, the more users interact with your content, the better it will perform and the lower it will cost.

Facebook has an entire online course for learning how to use Facebook ads.

Facebook Pixel

Use Facebook pixel to track traffic on your site. A pixel is a tiny bit of code you add to your web pages which will tell Facebook which Facebook users visited your site, and which page(s) they visited. You can use this for retargeting, or to figure out cost per conversion. Retargeting allows you to create a Facebook ad targeting people who have already visited your site. That can be very powerful when used correctly: You send a special offer targeting people who went to your webform and didn’t complete it the first time. You could even chain them together by giving them a better offer each time they visit.

Engagement

Facebook Page likes matter, but only for establishing a baseline of creditability. For services providers, a few hundred likes and a handful of good reviews is all you really need to accomplish that. What is more important than likes is engagement. When users like, share, and comment on your posts, ads, and boosts, they flag Facebook that the content is relevant. Facebook will then display your content to more feeds. Engagement is the real metric to attention, not likes. Facebook will display the engagement of each post on your business Page insights.

Conversions

OK. You have your business Page and business persona all ready to go. How do you get from there to a never-ending fountain of flowing leads? The process of capturing attention and turning that into a sale is called conversion. First, you capture attention. Then you offer value. Then you throw out an ‘ask.’ Perhaps the ‘ask’ invites them to fill out a webform. They complete the form and you now have a solid lead. Just be sure the transfer from your ad to the web page is cohesive or the user may get lost. As this series is about social marketing, my responsibility is to help you get people to the webform. From there you will need a sales pipeline and lead capture system, like oh, I don’t know, perhaps ServiceMonster...

Remember the PULL? The more engagement you get, the more Facebook will feed your content to our audience. Deliver content that has value and they will follow you. If all of your content is about you, your effectiveness will be minimal and [insert eye roll].

If you’re using Facebook Pixel with your webform and success page, then you will know what your conversion rates from Facebook actually are.

Continue on to part 6 in our series on social media for service businesses to read about a few good examples of how we and others have used social media to accomplish a goal or capture attention to deliver value to the business.

Social Media
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Effective Social Strategies for Service Businesses: (4) 7 Social Strategies

This is part 4 in a series on social media for service businesses.

The full series is:

1. Introduction

2. Concepts

3. Social Platforms Overview

4. 7 Social Strategies

5. Using Facebook

6. Case Studies

STRATEGY: Bad

Having a bad social strategy is worse than having no strategy. I have seen business pages with missing or incorrect information. I have seen pages created for a business by the system where it becomes very difficult to claim ownership of them. I also see links to the owners' personal, public profile, which they DO NOT use for business. They will, more often than I can believe, commit one or more of the five deadly sins.

1. Political content

2. Religious content

3. Sexually charged content

4. Drug-related content

5. Personal attacks

Now these are general guidelines and can be bent if you understand you’re alienating a portion of your prospects. I always advise businesses and associations to steer clear of this type of content.

STRATEGY: None

You have nothing. Nada. Zero. This is kind of spooky for someone looking for your profile (and they will).

STRATEGY: Some

You have a Facebook Page and there is some information. Perhaps there is a link to your webpage and the three before and after pics you posted the day you started the business Page. Perhaps you tried a postcard-like campaign with little to no results or got discouraged when it became hard to entertain your Page likes without buying a boost from Facebook.

STRATEGY: Business Level 1

Your page is complete and accurate. It’s easy to call you or jump to your webpage. You make relevant posts at least a few times a month but how many before and after’s can you really do? You might have a handful of reviews and a few hundred likes on your page. You might have even tried a few boosts and got a handful of calls. Most business owners who think they do Facebook well live here.

STRATEGY: Business Level 2

Business Level 1 plus super consistent posts and boosts. Most of the content is shared from other sources with the occasional ad, picture, or video. When done well, the business can become a new authority in the local community. They either pay a third party or use a program like Hootsuite to manage posts. They have lots of reviews and plenty of likes on their page. They have some engagement on their boosted posts and are consistently getting jobs. These results will be similar to EDDM postcard campaigns in terms of response. The better your targeting, your content, and native attention, the lower your cost per client.

STRATEGY: Business Level 3

Business Level 2 plus amazing compelling original content crated by a personality in the business. Looking through the timeline of a Level 3 business Page tells a story and draws the user in. The story introduces them to the people, goes behind the scenes with friends and/or family, and shares their importance to the community. The strategy will also couple the website’s blog and newsletter content.

STRATEGY: Warrior

In order to build a warrior level social strategy, you need to triple down on your own personality. You know you're headed true north when you're your own biggest fan.

People will buy from people over businesses every time. To get the most out of your social strategy, your brand must have a face. You cannot participate in groups with a business Page. You cannot create a group with a business Page. You cannot like and comment on personal posts from your business Page. Your business Page can’t make a text-only post and expect to gain any attention. You can accomplish all of that, and more, with a business persona.

You end up with a Business Level 3 Facebook Page AND a personal profile you use ‘only’ for business. That’s not to say you don’t post personal stuff. You need to be personal if you want your audience to get to know you. Just stay away from the five deadly sins, share lots of your business content, and engage with your clients and prospects regularly, as a person.

Continue on to part 5 in our series on social media for service businesses.

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Effective Social Strategies for Service Businesses: (3) Social Platforms Overview

This is part 3 in a series on social media for service businesses.

The full series is:

1. Introduction

2. Concepts

3. Social Platforms Overview

4. 7 Social Strategies

5. Using Facebook

6. Case Studies

Pokémon Go

So it seems like the Pokémon Go media frenzy has finally died down, although there are still millions of players. Do you understand what just happened? Are you familiar with how it influenced business traffic? From an outsider, it may seem like a very silly young Millennial game, but as a student of technology and social media, I saw it a little differently.The importance of augmented reality (AR) has not yet been fully realized. Think about this. In 10 years, your vehicle windshield will double as a computer monitor. Obviously you wouldn't want to use it as a movie screen, but how about digital readouts of things that are happening in front of your car? A neighborhood kid could kick a ball into the street and your windshield will draw a highlighted graphic around the ball and alert you to its presence. In 20 years, we may have contact lenses that can do the same thing. I will never forget someone's name again. I’ll be able to pull up their social media profiles before I even extend my hand!Always be a student. Pay attention. If you find yourself scoffing at something which draws millions upon millions of users, check yourself. Your lack of understanding doesn't change the outcome. Look for opportunity in even the most unlikely of places. Plenty of businesses had a big boom when they found their bike shop was Pokémon central.

YouTube

YouTube is now the second most widely used search engine in the world, next to Google, which means Google (who purchased YouTube in 2005 for $1.65 billion) is both the first and second most widely used search engine in the world. YouTube content can be a big player in your SEO strategy. Part of any complete social strategy should include a healthy amount of video. Be sure to post that content to a business YouTube channel and tag it correctly. Consistency and value are the two winning factors to developing an audience. Be an authority in all things [insert what your passion is for your business].

Twitter

Twitter's primary purpose has evolved over time, from the leading PULL authority to an open chat site with links to everyone’s totally amazing blog. By following people and topics you are interested in, you'll be fed news and information in those areas. Its tagging and communication systems are extremely open, but its 140-character limit keeps conversations focused on jabs. You can yell at a celebrity, and sometimes, just sometimes, they will yell back. Twitter itself has not had a single day of profitability. Monetization on Twitter is clumsy, slow, and extremely hard for service providers. Have a presence to understand it and respond, should someone tag you in a post, but if you’re looking for big wins and a complete level of understanding of social, spend your time somewhere else.

LinkedIn

Still the only professional network (have you heard about Facebook Workplace?). LinkedIn was created by the father of social media and PayPal partner, Reid Hoffman. The platform is as boring as the professional environment suggests. Typically, the posters are using automated software to post articles they have written, or ones they feel are professional. There is a pay-to-play professional subscription that has an interesting sales funnel feature. This can be an effective tool for business-to-business service providers. Microsoft purchased them for $26 billion dollars, which suggests to me they are trying to lock the corporate professions into a single Microsoft 365 platform.

Facebook

Facebook has nearly as many eyes as television and it’s still growing. Millennials (18-35) spend more time on Facebook than watching TV. The marketing and targeting engine is phenomenal. When done right, there are opportunities all over the place, but it takes a little bit of cash and a whole lot of work. Facebook is the best bet for service professionals and the focus of the strategies I’ve outlined in this series.

Instagram

Now owned by Facebook ($1 billion!), Instagram is a platform where people express themselves through images and short video. If it's not beautiful, you shouldn't post it. There are lots of 20-year-old life coaches, but service providers can use hashtags to bring in a substantial amount of leads if the market supports it (Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, you get the idea). Pro Tip: #dogsofseattle. Instagram turned users, and Snapchat, on their heads when they introduced Instagram Stories recently. A simple change like that has an amazing ripple effect and can turn into a tidal wave of potential.

Snapchat

Think text or Facebook Messenger on steroids. I'm actually super excited about this one. While the platform is too new and the population to skewed towards 20-year-olds, the capabilities to interact with other people are pretty slick. I can have a conversation with my wife while in a store and super seamlessly send her short videos and pictures. I'm excited to try this with business coaching. Using Snapchat for lead generation is unlikely at this point but keep an eye on this one, and understand it.

Reddit

Dubbed ‘the front page of the internet,’ Reddit's ability to draw crowds to individual content is staggering. Reddit users joke that if you found an article on Facebook, you're at least two days behind the curve. No monetization platform. Viral videos and posts are completely by chance. The main reason the Gary Hite video went viral was because it landed on an OCD subreddit and picked up two million views in less than four days.

Continue on to part 4 in our series on social media for service businesses.

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Effective Social Strategies for Service Businesses: (2) Concepts

This is part 2 in a series on social media for service businesses.

The full series is:

1. Introduction

2. Concepts

3. Social Platforms Overview

4. 7 Social Strategies

5. Using Facebook

6. Case Studies

Channels

I like to think of all of your media outlets as channels. We have a blog channel, a newsletter channel, a Facebook channel, a Facebook persona channel, a Twitter channel, an Instagram channel, an Instagram stories channel, a LinkedIn channel, bulletin board channels, and direct mail channels (I’m sure I missed a few). Having many different options of distribution allows you to deliver a single piece of content in multiple ways. But it’s the content that’s the hard part.

Attention

If you’re going to put this all together, you need to understand that you’re an attention broker. Your job is to capture the attention of your potential market with a GIVE. Give away content that helps them in some way. Do this regularly and they will follow you. The more they engage with you and your message, the more they will see your messages organically. Then, every once in a while, post an ASK. Run an ad. Ask them to fill out a form. Ask them to buy. All of the advertising rules still apply. Present value. Give a call to action. Create a sense of urgency, but it’s the attention you really want. If they’re spending their time with you, they’re essentially a client already, they just haven’t purchased yet. Once you have their attention, you can direct it anywhere you like.

Content

Content is king. Consistent, relevant content is the key to turning social marketing into a serious growth engine. “What have you done for me lately” is the theme of the social internet. Content has a shelf life of about 24 hours. You can reuse quality content, but be careful. Don’t use past posts to fill the gap. Use them to drive value.

There are several different types of content you can use to draw attention.

• Share

Sharing content from other sites is a great way to get off the ground without having to invest too much in initial creativity. You would have to filter information you post, as you want your audience to rely on you to provide relevant, quality content to their feeds. Be discerning.

• Videos

Videos rule. Videos have the highest attention and lowest cost. Shoot quality video. Learn Adobe Premier. Always use good lighting and learn what drives engagement. Be innovative. Try lots of stuff and find a groove. Post videos on both Facebook and YouTube. They are video enemies. Don’t post a video on YouTube and link it to Facebook. If you’re concerned about consolidating your views, you’re going to have to let that go. It’s much more valuable to have your custom content available natively on those platforms.

• Memes

Memes are popular, easy to share, and allow you to deliver a great one-liner. For cleaning companies, use the same rules as postcards. Pets and kids with a short message is gold. ServiceMonster creates memes and shares them on Facebook so you can use them on your page. Search #stealthismeme on Facebook to grab some.

• Text Post

Text posts can exist only in the world of a personal page or business persona. No one cares when Microsoft or Apple give philosophical insight, but when Gates or Jobs say it, you take notice.

• Blog Link

Regular blog content will help your SEO and get your audience to connect with your business a little deeper than a 50-word Facebook post. There is a lot of information and advice about running a decent blog, but creating the content is why we care about it from a social marketing point of view. It’s original custom content to share, plain and simple.

• Ad

Ads, ads, let me count the ways. In Facebook alone the ad types are amazing. You can create ads to get likes on your page. You can create ads to make the phone ring. You can create ads to drive traffic to a website. You can create ads to boost a post on a business Page. The list goes on. Facebook has videos and information on all of this stuff. Use it, as it’s changing all the time. Stay sharp when you see a new content type or delivery style. Look into it. Take Facebook carousel ads. Facebook underpriced them to see if the users would accept them. Take advantage of those types of opportunities.

Hashtags

You will often hear reporters saying things like “trending on Twitter.” We base those numbers on conversations which include a common tag in the post. Let’s look at the following post: [Today I’m headed to #theexperience2016]. The hashtag #theexperience2016 is used to express an event that users can click on, and see all the other posts which use the hashtag #theexperience2016. We use a number of hashtags on different platforms such as #servicemonster, #stealthismeme, and #entrejoe. Search those hashtags on any social network and you should pull up content we have posted under those hashtags. Anyone can use them. Instagram and Twitter use them best, but Facebook is catching up.

Volatile Content

So Snapchat is ‘new’ according to the media, again. It’s actually not that new, but it’s starting to gain traction now that their daily active users surpass Twitter. Ouch. Here’s the thing about Snapchat. It serves volatile content. That is to say, the content you post there will be deleted shortly after the first view. If you post on you general ‘wall,’ it’s gone in 24 hours. It creates a safe environment to make silliness comfortable, but that’s the point. It also creates a sense of urgency.

Instagram recently introduced Instagram Stories which is also volatile content. Picture and short videos posted to your story will be destroyed in 24 hours. That’s good news for service providers. There are lots of creative ways I can see that working for you.

PUSH v. PULL

Understanding how people consume information with today’s internet is critical. In 2000 (only five years after the birth of the internet itself) if you wanted to find something, you used a search engine and searched for it. Chances are pretty good, if you’re reading this, you still consume the internet in much the same way. Understand that social isn’t a tool people use. It’s the way a large number of people consume content.

Advertising hasn’t changed that much since… well, ever. Sure, over the years the delivery methods changed. From wanted posters on a tree, to newspaper, mail, radio, television. Each one of those advertising tools is what the marketing world considers PUSH advertising. A business pushes an ad hoping to intersect with that perfect point where need meets attention. Social has completely changed the game. Now users PULL content to them. By liking, reading, watching, commenting, and subscribing to topics and people of interest, the social internet feeds users with content and ads they care about. It’s a huge marketing shift and one that benefits both the users and the business owners who can leverage it.

Gear

Get good gear. A GoPro is $200 and takes great video. The DJI Osmo is an amazing video camera with a built in gimbal, a 35mm 4K lens, and runs around $600. Get a lavalier or two as well. Lavaliers are the little mics that clip to your shirt collar. I would suggest the RØDE smartLav+. In addition, get a good DSLR camera with depth of field. In fact, you should start building a media kit.

Take a look at Adobe Creative Cloud. It’s the entire Adobe suite for $50/month. Then learn Adobe Premier. There are a TON of YouTube videos on these tools and they’re not as intimidating as they may seem.

Continue on to part 3 in our series on social media for service businesses.

Social Media
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