One of the things I love about my business, and the Social Networking I do, is the people and companies I have the privilege of meeting. Sometimes it’s even how I meet them that makes the story even more fascinating. For example, how I met Santiago Strasser (@santistrasser), Marketing Manager for Standard Heating & Air Conditioning.
We were finally heading into some warmer Spring weather a few weeks ago, and decided to turn the AC on in our house. We noticed after a few hours that something wasn’t right, and after an inspection by a different heating and air company, it was determined our AC needed repair or replacement. Due diligence was done, and appointments were set, to accommodate my husband and myself both being here. This worked into the schedules for two companies, but not the third, Standard Heating and Air Conditioning. The morning of the other two appointments I did an early Tweet simply stating how “bummed I was that @StandardHeating could not get out before the next week.” The weather people were now predicting 90’s that following week.
A couple of hours later, I had a first happen to me with regard to Social Networking…the phone rang, and Mike (Salesman – Standard Heating and Air Conditioning) made a comment about my early morning tweet, and inquired how he could help! Needless to say, I was VERY impressed! Their Marketing Manager, Santiago, picked up on my tweet, and was able to match it with their schedule, and contacted Mike with all of the information! We were able to find a new time for an appointment the following afternoon. (Note: We ended up going with Standard Heating and Air Conditioning, as we were very impressed with their entire process, and products.)
Standard Heating and Air Conditioning has been in business since 1930, serving the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. In that time they have obviously learned how to communicate well with their customers thru their sales force as well as their teams of installers and repair specialists. For them to thrive and successfully grow, they have adapted with the times, increased their knowledge, and listened to their customers…and now via Social Media.
1. How long has Standard Heating & Air Conditioning been doing Social Networking?
The concept of “Social Networking” has been always critical for Standard Heating since the beginnings of the company, back in the 30s. We take the approach of providing excellent service to reach a wider network of individuals that trust each other, therefore, recommending Standard Heating to their circle of influence. Our marketing dollars are best spent in delivering a great customer experience.
Social media plays a role in developing stronger ties in an industry in which a third of homeowners who call for heating and cooling service don’t even remember the name of the company they’ve used last time (Decision analyst http://www.decisionanalyst.com/Downloads/FAQ0113.pdf). We recognize that a “like” or a “follow” from a customer in social media could represent a good proxy for the first step in permission marketing (defined by Seth Godin), relationship development, and customer retention.
Standard Heating & Air Conditioning jumped into Social Media on July, 2012, after taking the time to understand Social Media’s role in the world, analyzing how customers are using it, and deciding on what made sense for us. We created a plan of action specific enough to provide direction and vague enough to provide the necessary flexibly to learn and adapt on-the-go.
2. Is your business using other Social Media sites besides Facebook & Twitter? If yes, which one(s)?
Standard Heating & Air Conditioning actively uses Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. We do have a Google+ profile, but the sole purpose is SEO (Search Engine Optimization). LinkedIn is mainly used for recruiting. Facebook is the core of relevant content sharing, while Twitter is used for more real-time, topic-related conversations. An added benefit of using these four social media sites is that we are able to listen to what people are saying about our business and jumping into the conversation on real time.
3. Do you like one Social Media venue best? If yes, why?
These days, Facebook seems to be the hub for social media activity for us. Even though there are zillions of social media sites, the people at Facebook seem to be taking the right steps to integrate other platforms with theirs. In addition, we firmly believe that there is a higher percentage of homeowner population that spends time on this site and engages with local businesses. For that reason, we spend most of our emotional resources on Facebook.
4. Do you post daily?
We do not post daily. In fact, we try to consistently post once a week on average (minimum 0, maximum 3 times). Among our many considerations, we think a Heating and Cooling contractor cannot be the source of your news, the hub for inspirational quotes, the commentator on unrelated current events, etc. We restrain ourselves to comment and be part of what we are expert at (our domain): Heating and Cooling. With this in mind, the Standard Heating brand would love to own the space of heating and cooling in your mind, without aiming to be the brand of your life (like Apple, BMW, etc.).
5. What is your favorite thing about Social Networking?
My favorite thing of Social Networking is the emphasis on people, and true relationships. I think the high adoption rate of Social Media had to do with and unmet need that is now being powered by technology. This culture has found a way for meaningful social interactions (online), allowing people to genuinely get to know others in a safe/low-risk environment (behind a screen).
When it comes to companies, Brands occupy similar spaces in our brains like people do. Although it’s hard for us to admit it, we have relationships with Brands as we do with people. We use Brands to gain social value, feel good about ourselves, or find peace of mind.
For Standard Heating & Air Conditioning, being able to respond in real-time to prospects asking for referrals on social media is a great way to portray our high willingness to serve all Twin Cities homeowners. Positive behavior shows pre-disposition and willingness to work when, for example, you are listening to the conversations that go around your particular industry and intervene by adding value. Lastly, being responsive even before engaging in a transaction provides a positive customer experience cuing that you will respond as fast for any other issues or service requests.
6. What do you think is the biggest benefit of Social Networking?
Social Networking provides a socially accepted way to genuinely interact with people that are looking for more information, or could benefit from getting in touch with you. If the results of those interactions portray our to-be-trusted Brand, then we’ve gained the biggest benefit of Social Networking.
7. How do you measure Social Networking, & explain:
ROI – Return on Investment
At the end of the day, all our Marketing activities are measured against ROI (Return-on-Investment). This ensures long-term sustainability of marketing programs. However, we realized that business/results today don’t show the complete picture of how well spent are the marketing dollars. For Social Media, we use an 80/20 ratio in which we assume that the results today represent only 80% of total results.
ROR – Return on Relationship
As part of our Strategy, our focus lies in satisfying customers’ needs throughout their lifetime. With this in mind, we realize that ROR (Return-on-Relationship), defined as the value that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations and sharing, is what we are building the company upon.
8. What is the best moment you’ve had on a Social Networking site?
Meeting the Social Networking Nanny, of course! Actually, what is really encouraging is to get positive feedback that the company is using social media the right way (#socialmediausedright); this implies that there are many companies which are not using social media right.
9. What is your best piece of advice to other businesses about Social Networking?
“In celebration of our first year using social media, we want to thank The Social Networking Nanny for giving us a voice in a world of many opinions, but few expert ones.” Santiago Strasser (@santistrasser), Marketing Manager for Standard Heating & Air Conditioning
Facebook: Standard Heating
The Nanny Nine brought to you by the Social Networking Nanny