Social Media for the Modern Arborist

So what does “social media for the modern arborist” mean? I am here to tell you how to use social media to your advantage, how to not be scared of it and how to embrace it.

I’m sure you are thinking you don’t have time for social media, you don’t know where to start or you are not tech-savvy enough to figure it out – and don’t worry, it can be free! Unlike traditional marketing, social media is inexpensive, interactive, and engaging, less time consuming and measurable.

Social media is perfect for the small- to-medium-sized business. It allows you to be the face of your business – to interact with your potential customers and continue to grow those relationships. There is something unique about the DIY (do-ityourself) approach to social media – you are able to get in front of your customers easily and effectively without having to pay or hire someone.

Consumers truly want to support the local businesses and economy around them. According to Fox News’ Linda McMahon, “Small businesses create two out of three net new jobs in the private sector, and about half of America’s workforce either works for or owns a small business.” Too often, people think they need to take the same approach to small businesses as they would large businesses. You do not need to pay $500-plus in search-engine-optimization (SEO) campaigns or $1,000-plus Google Ads word campaigns; you have a community right in front of you eager to get to know you. Large companies or corporations are continually trying to have the “mom & pop feel” – companies like Wendy’s are starting Twitter wars with McDonald’s to ensure they are more relatable to the average consumer.

Your clients are looking to work with someone they can relate to, someone they can speak to and trust. By using social media you can bring your own personality to the forefront. Show customers how much you enjoy your work – showcase work you have finished, show them a picture of your dog that sits with you every night when you write up estimates, share your Christmas card or family vacation picture. By personalizing the experience for the consumer, you are bringing value to the sale.

Get personal. Open yourself up to your clients by using personal photos. Here, the author takes a selfie of himself taking a picture. Photos courtesy of the author, unless otherwise noted.

They want to relate to you – but they don’t want you bombarding them with emails or direct mail. With social media, they have the option to follow you or engage with you. People appreciate having control over their interactions.

Social media also allows you to create a reputation and awareness of your company. You can include your customers in your content, making them feel like insiders. By using social media for reviews and referrals, you are allowing customers to voice their opinions and share with their community what a great experience they had.

Let your professionalism show through with on-the-job photos.

OK, so I’ve sold you on social media, but you still have the question of how? Well, sign up! If you have not already signed up for Facebook, do it now. Go to www.Facebook.com and create a page. Stop arguing that Facebook is a distraction and you don’t have time for it. It is time to show Facebook some love. This is the place where you can professionally stake your claim and demonstrate your expertise on and off the job site. The best thing to do is to start posting and do some trial and error. Now remember, it is the internet, so everyone can see what you are saying. Keep that in mind – don’t talk about religion, politics or money, just as when you are at a fancy dinner party!

Show your clients things they might not normally get to see – such as the view from up high looking down.

What makes this fancy dinner party even better is you can do it all from your cell phone. No, you do not need to go home and open your computer. No, you do not need to wait until you have internet. You can take your photo, upload your photo, caption your photo and post your photo all from your cell phone. No excuses, people! If you want to spend lunch one day a week creating posts, you can do them all at once and schedule them to post on specific days. Social media has the flexibility to allow you to manage it however you would like. With your cell phone, you have unlimited capabilities; you can be documenting, creating, selling, entertaining, researching, publishing, computing and communicating all day. Your cell phone is the single-most effective tool to connecting you on social media – you can check in with the world wherever you are!

Here are some of my tips for keeping your posts engaging.

Sweet satisfaction: Ask your clients to share photos and write reviews. Just a quick “Do you mind leaving us a review? Maybe post a picture!” goes a long way.

Pets, kids and veterans: Don’t forget the human element. Post about things that matter the most to you (and your customers); these are three topics that are close to my heart that I always like to include in my posts.

Alerts: Be sure to advise your customers of upcoming weather and/or emergency work requests. No need to push the sale too much – they will appreciate the heads up and think of you when the time comes.

Share proud moments: Recently certified? Getting married? Win an award? Tell everyone. Share the corresponding article or write a blog post. Tell them what’s going on.

Interact with your audience: Be sure you are answering their questions and messages, even if it is just to tell them you will get back to them or to ask them to call you. Never leave a message unanswered.

Pets, kids and veterans: Don’t forget the human element. Post about things that matter the most to you (and your customers).

No arguing: If a customer leaves a bad review or you disagree with a comment, message them privately or contact them directly. You may address the issue publicly, but be cautious of your response. Now get posting. I’ll be watching!

Hans Joseph Tielmann, III, CTSP, is a New Jersey Licensed Tree Expert with Pine Valley Tree Service, a family-owned and -operated, 10-year TCIA member company based in Gillette, New Jersey. Tielmann is also the owner of Bad Media, LLC, where he helps small businesses with their online presence and social media programming.

This article was based on his presentation on the same subject at TCI EXPO 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. To listen to an audio recording of that presentation, go to this page in the digital version of this issue of TCI Magazine online, under the Publications tab at www.tcia.org, and click here.

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