THE MAGAZINE FOR PROFESSIONALS

#DeleteFacebook & 2018 Facebook lead generation

by Aaron Hockel

First, Elon Musk announced on Twitter he deleted the Facebook pages for both Tesla and SpaceX. Then came Pep Boys and Will Ferrell. Next it was Playboy announcing their Facebook page was no more. They left behind 25 million fans. These announcements all came under the #DeleteFacebook movement.

#DeleteFacebook trended globally on Twitter in late March. The movement marked the culmination of the social network’s bad press around the 2016 election and growing concerns of how it protected users’ privacy. Months of negative press for selling political ads to Russian-linked organizations had built a groundswell of anti-Facebook sentiment. The data breach impacting 87 million users of Facebook by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica was the final straw, and #DeleteFacebook was born.

Perfect timing for the start of the busy spring painting season in most of the United States. Seeing #DeleteFacebook lead the nightly news must have caused panic for painters relying heavily on Facebook marketing. Think about the questions racing through their minds:

 Are my potential customers deleting Facebook? If so, will my 2018 business suffer because of it? What should I do?

ARE THE MASSES DELETING FACEBOOK?

Mark Zuckerberg has appeared before Congress to testify about Facebook’s internet privacy policies. Thousands of tweets have been sent about the evils of Facebook. Nightly news stories have run about deleting Facebook to keep your information safe. There is even a good shot Facebook won’t exist by the time this article is published.

Apologies to the Facebook haters; that last sentence was hyperbole. While some high-profile players have dropped out, thus far, the #DeleteFacebook movement may not have made much of a dent. Prior to the movement, Facebook’s Newsroom claimed 213,000,000 active users. After the movement began, Creative Strategies did a study of 1,000 Facebook users to learn what they now think of the social network. Among other findings, they found that 17% deleted their Facebook app from their phone, 11% deleted from other devices, and only 9% deleted their account altogether, as is reported in the article US Consumers Want More Transparency from Facebook, published on tech.pinions.com. Assuming that 9% holds true for the rest of the user population, Facebook still has a massive audience.

So despite the uproar about deleting Facebook, the truth is, the majority of users simply haven’t. That’s because Facebook is heavily entrenched in how people use the internet. Extending well beyond posting pictures and funny videos, it is also used to sign in to other websites and mobile apps, making quitting not as simple as just clicking ‘delete.’

So paint contractors who are heavily invested in Facebook marketing can breathe a sigh of relief. It still represents a tremendous marketing opportunity.

FACEBOOK MARKETING STRATEGIES FOR PAINTERS

While #DeleteFacebook is not going to reset your Facebook marketing strategy, change is afoot at the social giant. Prior to the Cambridge Analytica breach, Facebook announced it was making changes to its newsfeed algorithm. The goal was showing more content from friends and people in your social network and showing less content from brands and businesses (including your painting company).

Based on this recent change, every post from your Facebook business page—and every post of a great project—will be seen by fewer people. This change will have a bigger impact on painters, as of right now, than the fallout from the #DeleteFacebook movement.

No, this does not mean organic lead generation on Facebook is dead. This just means painters need to change their approach and look at other channels on Facebook to generate leads.

THE POWER OF FACEBOOK GROUPS

The best way to generate free leads on Facebook in 2018 is through its groups. There are millions of groups on the site and they represent a massive opportunity for painters. The power is in painters asking their social network for recommendations. Why ask two neighbors if they know a painter when you can ask 200, or even 2,000, with a single post on Facebook? Better yet, recommendations include personal feedback, contact information, and a direct link to a company’s Facebook page and reviews.

This is a huge trend among millennials, who are often more comfortable asking their social network for a referral than asking a neighbor face to face. The process is extremely simple. Users open the mobile app, click into a group, and type ‘Can anyone recommend a house painter?’ Other users then recommend painters by commenting their names and tagging their Facebook pages. This is already happening daily in every market in the country.

As painters get tagged on the post, immediate social proof and trust is generated. Imagine your painting business getting recommended on this type of post. Then seven other users ‘like’ that recommendation. Eight people have just referred your painting business. This can all happen in five to 10 minutes.

This type of activity is the dream, but it’s not always reality. What if your business is not recommended by other users? Or if it is recommended eight times, what are the chances the original poster calls?

This is where painters need to be their own advocates.

JOINING FACEBOOK GROUPS

To capitalize on these recommendation requests inside groups, painters need to be members. This requires finding and joining groups using your personal Facebook page. To find your first group, type your location into the search bar. If your results do not automatically include groups, use the filters at the top of the page.

In many areas, this returns hundreds or thousands of different groups, but not all are created equal. Here’s what to look for when reviewing your group search results:

  1. Look for groups with forum, friends or moms in the title
  2. Target groups with 1,000+ members
  3. Target groups with 10+ posts per day
  4. Avoid: yard sale, topic specific, networking groups

Which groups are the best? Large, highly active mom groups are a hotbed for contractor recommendation requests. After that, large community forum and neighborhood groups are great places to start. Try identifying and joining 10 groups to start.

GENERATING FACEBOOK GROUP LEADS

Joining 10 Facebook groups alone will not make your phone ring. Painters still need to be their own advocates.

Once you join the groups, popular group posts will appear in your newsfeed. Remember, Facebook will be emphasizing posts from our friends, not businesses and brands. You can also go directly to a group and scroll through recent posts. And yes, you should recommend your painting business by tagging it in a comment. This is a totally appropriate message:

“Hi Jane Doe – I am the owner of XYZ Painting. I would be happy to provide a free quote for your painting project. You can reach us at 800-500-6000 or send us a Facebook message.”

This is a simple and effective introduction to a local member of the community actively looking for a painter. What’s even better, is other people can come behind your comment and endorse it with likes, comments, or additional recommendations.

MAXIMIZING FACEBOOK GROUP SUCCESS

This is not the least-time-intensive marketing strategy, but it is extremely grassroots and entirely free. Try checking key groups two or three times per day. It takes less than two minutes to open them and scan the recent posts. Ask employees who are using Facebook to join a few groups and keep their eyes open for recommendation requests.

Facebook recommendation requests for painters follow the same seasonality as your market; requests will spike in the spring. Since this is the same time painters ramp up, it is also the most important time to be monitoring groups.

When a painter is recommended, it will show a quick link to their page and star rating based on reviews. To prepare for this, make sure you are actively posting to your page. Try for one or two times per week. Focus on adding one or two reviews per month, as well. This will send users to an active page with recent positive reviews when your painting business is recommended.

LONG-TERM FACEBOOK MARKETING OUTLOOK

Yes, Facebook has been undergoing radical changes in the past year. Like any other marketing strategy, tweaks and changes are required. No, that does not mean painters should abandon it. It is still the world’s largest social network and there are still plenty of opportunities to generate free, high-quality painting leads using Facebook groups

______________________________________________________________________________________

Aaron Hockel is the VP of Digital Marketing at AltaVista Strategic Partners, an agency that specializes in marketing commercial and residential painting businesses. He also leads online marketing workshops at the PDCA Expo and is a regular guest on their paintED podcast series. Aaron can be reached at aaron@altavistasp.com

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