Social Media Can Be a Friend to Security Pros

Despite being a cost-effective marketing tool for most any business, social media has yet to make much of a splash among installing security contractors. That could soon change, however, as social networking becomes ever more popular. Find out how you can benefit from engaging in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more.

Post Info That Entices Clients

hen it comes to posting content on your Facebook page, the goal should not be to push products and services; rather, security companies should try to engage in conversation around topics that interest their target audience, according to Plant. “Create a blog on your Web site and write compelling and useful content that will be interesting to your client base,” he says. “Then you can direct them back to your Web site and share relevant news that’s industry specific.”

Nashville, Tenn.-based ADS Security Marketing Manger Kristin Milner agrees with Plant and says her company posts information that will help her customers live safer lives. “It’s always been really important to us that our voice is not super sales-y,” she says. “We’ve paid a lot of attention to communicating with our customers and opening up conversation to really get a lot of engagement going on. We share everything from safety tips to local crime that’s going on in their area.”

To connect more with customers, many companies post behind-the-scenes type images on their Facebook pages. For example, SDA Security uploads photos of antique security equipment that dates back to 1930. Because 70% of its fans are women between the ages of 25 to 55, Vivint posts fun, lighthearted pictures that promote the Vivint Gives Back community service project.

Additionally, since social media is about getting involved in the conversation, posting intriguing questions and polls is a great way to show the customer you care about their needs, according to Plant. “If all you talk about is yourself, nobody is going to want to really talk to you,” he says. “Ask your followers about themselves. What do they care about? What are they thinking about? You can start a conversation that way.”

Another way to engage with customers is by sharing links from other sources, such as newspapers and trade publications, if it is relative to the content you are already posting, explains Melissa Courville of DICE Corp., who also serves as the social media chair for the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA). “It gives some kudos to those people,” she says. “It also builds on your presence all the more.”<p>Vivint Senior Digital Marketing Director Chad Solis (standing) and Social Media Manager Ian Bell review statistics to gauge the success of their social media efforts.</p>

The amount of postings per day ranged with each company interviewed. Some post one to three items a week on Facebook; others post three to five times a day. However, all insist that the last thing any business wants to do is inundate users with post after post. “We want to have enough posts that we can keep engagement high and people interested, but not so much that they feel overwhelmed,” says Vivint Social Media Manager Ian Bell.

Of course, Facebook isn’t for everybody — just ask Eric Yunag, president and CEO of Dakota Security Systems in Sioux Falls, S.D. He maintains that while Facebook is beneficial for some firms, the social networking site won’t do much to boost his business. Instead, Dakota Security opted to market via another medium — Twitter.

Putting Your Best Tweet Forward

For the uninitiated, Twitter is a social media platform that allows users to send brief messages — or tweets — of up to 140 characters. The idea of promoting your brand in such brief bursts might seem intimidating, if not impractical, to many marketers. But for Yunag, the conciseness of the messaging is what drew him to Twitter.

“The efficiency and speed in which you can deliver messages to relevant followers prompted us to start tweeting,” he says. “Our tweets link back to our Web site that has blog content and articles. For us, it’s really a concise precursor to a larger content.”

Additionally, it is beneficial to post relevant news reports from reputable sources to help attract a strong fan base. Milner employs Google Alerts to receive E-mail notifications of news stories that are filtered based on keywords. When she spots something to share, Milner sends out a link to the story on ADS Security’s Twitter account. Tailoring content to meet the needs of your Twitter following is also useful. With 60% of followers on Twitter being men ages 20-40, Vivint posts technology-related articles to reach the demographic.

With such a limited amount of space to convey a clear message, one of the advantages of Twitter is that it allows you to show your personality, according to Ben Branham, customer service and marketing coordinator of Charlotte, N.C.-based Sonitrol of the Carolinas. Branham maintains that his company does not tweet many promotional deals, and says that customers are often wary of electronic security contractors that do.

“Don’t always have deals present because people will shy away from that,” he says. “I try to be quick to the point and throw a little personality into my tweets. You get a much higher response rate.”

Mike Jagger, president of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based Provident Security, has a similar approach to Branham, and it’s one that works. Through their tweets, both Sonitrol of the Carolinas and Provident Security have gained new business.

“Twitter allows you to build trust and a track record with people,” Jagger says. “So, when the time comes and they do need security or they’re in a position to refer someone they know in the security business, they can choose us.”

One thing that makes Jagger unique in his tweeting is that he’s not afraid to speak his mind even if it is controversial. While that might terrify other industry professionals, Jagger’s frank tweets have helped him gain exposure on mainstream media — at no cost to the company.

“We don’t have a PR person and we’ve never had a PR person,” Jagger explains. “It didn’t cost us anything but time for that exposure, and a lot of it was a result of Twitter because that’s where the journalists are, looking for information.”

Bonus Online Material: Over-Tweeting Is a No-No

So just how many times a day should a security firm tweet? Some say three to five times a day, wh
ile others send out more than 50 tweets a day. However, social media managers should be mindful not to bombard followers with massive amounts of postings.

“I don’t agree when someone says you should tweet 18 times a day,” Courville says. “As a security professional, people don’t want to know what you’re doing every minute unless there is something huge going on.”

To make sure his company isn’t flooding his followers with superfluous tweets, Branham uses online tools to help him determine when he should send out his messages.

“You have to time your tweets precisely,” Branham stresses. “I use a free program called SocialBro to do that. The software analyzes your top 100 followers and tells you the best time to tweet. I also use another program called TweetReach to see how far my tweets have gone.”

And while companies don’t want to over tweet, they definitely don’t want to create an account and have it lay dormant.

“A mistake that most security firms make is they set up a Twitter account and they let it sit there for weeks on end without a tweet,” Plant says. “If I’m a potential follower and you ask me to follow you, I’m going to be looking at how often you’re tweeting and if the tweets are relevant. If not, then I’m not going to follow you.”

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