Darren Slaughter, CEO of DarrenSlaughter.com and Slaughter Media, has spent 20 years in advertising and marketing, focusing on the home improvement industry. He specializes in helping companies capitalize on the power of company websites and social media, and can also be found on Twitter. Slaughter explains why Twitter delivers better results than Facebook for field service marketing.

You wrote recently about how companies shouldn’t refer web traffic to their Facebook page. For those companies who already have Facebook pages, what is the best way use them to boost sales?

I know very few companies that are driving new business off their Facebook fan pages. I want to go after people that are ready to buy, and Facebook hasn’t shown me they have people with cold hard cash ready to do something with it. From a pure conversion standpoint I don’t know of any contractor that is having pure success from Facebook from an ROI standpoint.

If somebody says how did you hear about me, they say I heard about you online, but most contractors won’t drill down how exactly they were found. It may have been your company website that they found first, or a yard sign, or they saw one of your work trucks. People will typically give you the last place they looked for you, not the place they found out about you. Absolutely have a fan page, make sure you have something on Facebook that gets updated, but if you’re going to drive someone to a page, make it your own page, make it a page you control.

You’re definitely in the mix with social media. What types of social networks do you find most useful in order to increase sales?

I’m a big Twitter user. I like Twitter more than I like Facebook, although most of my tweets will get posted on my Facebook page because you have to be where people are. With Twitter it’s real time, it gets me in front of people have an issue at that particular point in time. It allows me to engage quickly. People have immediacy on twitter that they don’t have on other social networks. Basically I’ll use Twitter as my social media home base and push everything out to other networks like Facebook, YouTube, if YouTube’s a social network. It’s kind of a social network slash search engine slash video warehouse. Google+ will be interesting to see if it has a chance to dethrone Facebook, but that will probably take a couple years to see what happens there.

What are the biggest mistakes businesses make when it comes to social media?

I think that especially you see it on Twitter. You can’t sell. You can’t close new business in 140 characters. Not to say you can’t promote and market. You have to be smart about it. You have to develop an authority on something, answer people’s questions without demanding reciprocity.

You have to say Mrs. Jones, ‘Without standing in your basement, here’s what you can do to fix this problem.” Over time, people seek you out for your opinion. Say Mrs. Jones is in Australia and you are in Michigan. You have no idea who’s in Mrs. Jones social graph; she might be friends with your next-door neighbor. Getting online, being a good person, helping people out, the return if you put in 20 min a day and somehow some stay being a good guy or good girl developing a good prospect out of that can be huge. What’s your cost for social media, cost for being a person? Return is pretty huge based on dollars and cents, along with good standing and good karma, doing something for the community base.

Besides marketing your site online with a company website and through social media, what traditional (non-web) marketing tactics do you find to be most useful?

I don’t do a lot of branding. You can do a hundred times more branding with social media and your website than stuff you do offline. I like to do things where you spend one dollar and it comes back dressed up as two dollars. I like direct mail, yard signs, proximity-mailing, things you can do relatively cheap. The problem with yellow page ads is it’s a completely different animal, in terms of what you have to do to set up ad than for other types of advertising.

I think canvassing still works. There’s lots of grassroots stuff you can do. I stay away from television and I stay away from radio. I want hyper buyers, people who are ready to do business. I like home shows. Somebody kills a Saturday afternoon they’re walking thru a home show, they’re at least thinking about what you do. Radio and TV, you’re hitting a completely disinterested person. You have to oversell that person to get them to buy. I like when they go and look for what you do. When they find good quality content on your website.

Be sure to check out the first part of our conversation, where Darren Slaughter explains how your company’s website can drive leads.

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