The Impact of Social Media in Building a Brand From Scratch

By: Brian Schutt  |  February 21, 2011

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As we’ve talked about previously, one of the greatest business challenges we’ve faced within any commodity business, including the Indianapolis HVAC market, is trying to build a memorable brand experience, when customers mostly just compare price.  Within HVAC, larger competitors offer ads and marketing speak that are virtually indistinguishable from one another, next to blue and red logos, with a “technician” who more closely resembles a JC Penney casual wear model than the guy who shows up at your door.  Other industries have their own nuances, but the general feel is the same.

Within the effort to stand out from the crowd, we decided to jump on board in the use of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to engage with potential customers.  First of all, none of our competitors are using these mediums.  Secondly, it gives us a unique opportunity to interact with and hear from potential customers in our area.

It’s this second area we want to focus on.  Within social media, Twitter specifically, we have found great opportunity to build relationships with homeowners in the Indianapolis area.  Rather than just using it as a medium to pump out advertising messages, Twitter has enabled us to have real interaction with actual customers, allowing us to solve actual problems.  Some of the things we’ve been able to do:

Answer specific HVAC related questions

– Give tips to save money

– Have conversations about home maintenance

– Give special deals to Twitter followers

– Talk about many non HVAC related topics

Enhance our offline relationships

It’s been important for our brand for many reasons, but foremost is that Twitter has allowed us to hear the unvarnished opinions of customers and non customers alike.  Building a meaningful brand, like building any relationship, should involve a lot more listening than talking.  We started to use Twitter as a way to distribute our message, but we’ll continue to use it, and focus more energy and time toward it, because it keeps us ahead of our competition.

If you’re interested, you can join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.

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