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When it comes to Facebook, numbers are everything. Currently, the social media platform has 1.5 billion active users. More than 40 million of the users are pages that now belong to small businesses. Though these numbers are certainly eye-catching to small business owners, what hits even harder is what applies to them the most: the return made from marketing through Facebook.
Dan Levy, vice president of small business at Facebook, was quoted in a recent article in Fortune magazine on the recent strides businesses have made in Facebook marketing. He stated, “I think [small business owners] are realizing … Facebook is not just a social media marketing channel, it’s a real mainstream marketing solution."
Though it’s still tough to say if these companies are investing in personnel and incorporating long-term social media strategies, some companies are getting the hang of it and sticking around for the long haul.
Morgan Miller Plumbing Company discovered their own mainstream marketing capabilities five years ago. The company specializes in residential and commercial services for the entire Kansas City metropolitan area, and beyond. Since 2012, Morgan Miller Plumbing has increased their revenue from $1.7 million to almost $2.7 million in 2015. The company is adamant that much of this success is due to social media and community networking.
The company decided to dive right in. Initially, they had a lot of questions and concerns. But, they realized with having an open mind to the current trends of social media, willingness to learn and tenacity, they could achieve hard numbered results — not to mention have fun (fun, yes, you read correctly) doing it.
Social media has been key to drawing in the right people for Morgan Miller. The company is now hiring most of its technicians through Facebook advertising, something that has been gaining them a lot of attention. They were recently featured on Facebook Business as a marketing success story, and even selected by Facebook to visit the headquarters, in Palo Alto, Calif., as part of their involvement with the Small Business Council.
Jeff Morgan, owner and president of Morgan Miller, and Tosha Everhart, marketing director at Morgan Miller, have been the two voices behind an effective marketing strategy. Prior to Everhart’s hiring, Morgan was just starting to see the social media business world light up, and he knew he wanted to be involved.
“I wanted to attract the 20- to 35-year-olds who I knew were playing online — these are the same people who will be running the world when they’re 45, who will already know who to call for their plumbing service,” Morgan said.
Just four years ago, Morgan was getting his haircut by the woman who has been cutting his hair for many years — Everhart’s mother. When Morgan mentioned he needed help with marketing, Ms. Everhart pinched him in the arm and told him to hire her daughter, who was attending school for marketing. Morgan and Everhart turned out to be a match made in business heaven.
“Although I knew Tosha, and she knew me, we never spent any time together. Over lunch, we realized we had a lot in common, even though our ages are quite spread a part. We became instant friends. I knew if I could talk her into coming aboard, she could help me get the company to the level that no one was at yet,” Morgan said. “It’s worked out pretty marvelously so far.”
Like with most companies trying out new strategies, some things worked, while others didn’t. For Morgan Miller, no social media tactic was off limits, but they were invested in what stuck with them.
“It sounds bad, but we simply started playing on the Internet. We looked at what other companies were doing — what worked and what didn’t,” Everhart said. “And then we began the leg work. We posted things that didn’t get any traction at first. We kept trying and didn’t give up. It took a lot of tenacity.”
What Morgan Miller realized is that what works the most in their posting is what’s unconventional, authentic and fun, something that mirrors their small, tight-knit team. Meaning, a company doesn’t have to be selling to gain the exposure they need. Though they do have to be decent plumbers with knowledge and expertise, telling a very human story is what appeals to the masses, no matter the line of work, the team at Morgan Miller realized. Morgan Miller’s most popular posts are pictures, believe it or not. Dogs, humor, and interesting tidbits fare well with their target demographic.
“It’s the real life stuff that people are into. It’s a picture of Jeff at a networking event being a silly weirdo. It’s a group photo of our workers in their fresh, new uniforms. That’s the stuff that really works for us,” Everhart said.
Some of Morgan Miller’s other back-pocket content strategies are to post only once or twice a day, to make those posts really count, and to be light and fluid.
“Work doesn’t have to be stiff. Make it human; be human,” Morgan said. “Stick with posting and be consistent.”
Morgan Miller gauges job searchers similarly to their target market audiences — in ways that show who they really are and what they stand for as company. This, Everhart and Morgan say is all about transparency.
“Be transparent about who your company is in order to weed out those who are not automatically going to be a good fit. The transparency carries — externally, internally, on social media and across the board,” Everhart said. “There’s nothing worse than pretending to be some company on a certain channel, and then people get to know you, and you’re nothing like who you say you are in other places.”
One of the hot topics on every company’s mind is: how should I use social media to hire new people? LinkedIn, of course, has been the leader on this front for some time. But, can one use Facebook also? Yes, Morgan Miller would argue, as the last four or five people they’ve hired have come to them through this light. The reason being is that those interested have found Morgan Miller through Facebook, and not vice versa.
“We didn’t even really foresee our Facebook at first as something that would help with hiring. But then when people started working for us, they confessed to us that it was our Facebook presence that drew them in. They are interested in how we invest in our communities and families, and in a sense, have become one unit,” Everhart said.
Morgan Miller, like many companies, has realized that those who are doing the best aren’t just doing one thing. They’re not just doing Facebook. Morgan Miller is also connected with LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Yelp. Though some platforms work better than others, it’s crucial, Everhart says, to keep them up-to-date.
“We try to make sure all platforms are up-to-date. We want to make sure the widgets on our website add up. If our last post was from 2005, what does that say? But we’ve identified the ones that really work — for us, especially Facebook, LinkedIn and Yelp — and maximize on them,” Everhart said.
Morgan Miller has also been able to connect better on social media with their peers now more than ever before. They take this interaction pretty seriously and weigh it heavily. They are connected with over 300 businesses, and keep track of those businesses’ posts and engage with them. The interaction is then reciprocated in a way that is true to human nature and being social.
“Let’s say you put up something special, a really groovy post. All of a sudden all those people you have been following and engaging on their posts will see your cool post and turn around and engage with you,” Morgan said. “It’s a natural, human chain of events.”
Morgan Miller has connected with other contractors because of their successful social media strategy. For example, Josh Nelson, founder and CEO of Plumbing & HVAC SEO, recently reached out to Morgan Miller and featured them in one of their podcasts. Plumbing & HVAC SEO has been working with plumbing and HVAC companies for the past six years, and was interested in learning what worked for Morgan Miller so that they could adjust the social marketing strategies of their clients.
Nelson says he chose Morgan Miller for the character of their company and the roles they play in their communities.
“They place an emphasis on the character of the company and really paint a good picture of the subtler qualities of their business environment — company outings, community service projects, etc. By really humanizing their business they are able to almost effortlessly draw in a quality pool of enthusiastic plumbers,” Nelson said. “As for Tosha and Jeff themselves, it’s clear that they both have a warm, outgoing nature that really appeals to people in their community. They seem to keep the big picture in mind, and don’t merely focus on themselves, which is an energy that thrives on social platforms.”
Morgan Miller belongs to 16 different organizations, including National Association of the Remodeler Industry of Kansas City (NARI), property management organizations, as well as women-based organizations. Interestingly enough, none of the organizations they’re involved with has anything to do with plumbing. The company for the most part tries to be where the rest of the industry is not. This is not to say that they haven’t connected with their peers over social media and are above sharing advice. Morgan Miller is more interested in Chamber of Commerce groups and community based projects, and which ones to join is a decision made by employees. Allowing key employees to participate in organizations that they are passionate about is something that Morgan says benefits all parties.
Face-to-face interaction with customers, team members and entire communities is still just as valuable as social media interaction. You can’t have one without out the other, the Morgan Miller team argues. This is why they spend so much time building their presence wherever they go — virtually as well as physically. It’s no secret that subliminal marketing does not work, however, if people already “like” you, when it comes time for those people to turn to a company’s services, they will know where to go. And, the relationship will not seem forced, rather, it will make business more of an organic process.
“We try not to cram our services down people’s throats. We don’t want to do business that way. We want people to feel comfortable with us. We have taken the approach of ‘get to know us before you need us,'” Everhart said.
Morgan and Everhart are vocal about remaining fresh and relevant in the way they present themselves as a company. This means shedding some of the more dated ideology that can keep a company locked in place.
“My hope for this industry is for people to open up, loosen up and not be so guarded. Of course, always protect your brand. Absolutely. But it’s okay to let some of us weird, young kids put some crazy ideas into your business and shake things up a little bit. See what it does,” Everhart said.
Morgan vaguely remembers explaining his initial hunger for social media and getting laughed at for it.
“People laughed at me; I almost cried. They thought it was a dumb game, and I thought, ‘you know what I’m going to play,’” Morgan explained. “I didn’t know if it would work. Heck, I didn’t know if Facebook was going to be around in the future. All I know still is what ever is coming our way, we’re ready for it, because we’re already in the game.”
Morgan’s attitude along with Everhart’s and the rest of the team at Morgan Miller seems to be, “Let them laugh. Laughter is good medicine for social media.”
“There’s no turning back on social media. It keeps changing, so luckily it’s not too late to start. I’m always learning,” Morgan said. “It’s never been easier to find a customer, and it’s never been easier for them to find you in the history of humankind.”
Check Morgan Miller out at www.morganmillerplumbing.com and on Facebook to see what the big hubbub is about.