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Social Media and the efforts to self-promote

For those of you who know me, I’ve used this web site as my primary source of work since I took up dry stone walling as a professional. My background in web design and web marketing was a big help when I started. Building a web site to showcase my work and enable clients to find me on Google and other search engines was one of the first things I did.

Since then I’ve dabbled in various social media to greater or lesser success to market myself. For a small business like me, spending on advertising is a non-starter. Social media is mostly free to use and has been great for getting my business promoted.

Here are my thoughts on the applications that I currently use:

Facebook (www.facebook.com/StoneInspired.DrystoneWalling) – I’ve had a business-page on FB for a few years, using it as a blog which I update with images and chat pretty much every day. I’ve slowly grown the number of people who have liked my page and it’s great to know that more than 2300 people from around the world see my posts on a regular basis. I have likers from countries as diverse as Romania, Japan, Brazil, Canada, the USA and France as well as the UK and Ireland.

Facebook also has given me access to other dry stone wallers and stone masons from around the world. I’ve made some good friends through FB and have traveled to Ontario and Vermont on the back of meeting people online. FB has also introduced me to a couple of wallers and landscapers who I occasionally work with on projects in Scotland.

But what its not so good at is generating work enquiries. I know that by regularly making comments and uploading images to social media, my Google ranking is helped, and this is key for ensuring my web site is found in natural searches. But direct enquiries through Facebook are harder to come by. In fact the only work enquiry that has directly come though FB was a client in the USA.

Up to now I have only paid for advertising on FB for a week. It didn’t generate any leads and cost me about £3 a day. FB keep asking me if I’d like to promote my page. I’m very dubious about the return this will give – for £13 a day, I’ll get in the region of 100 new likes per day for my FB page, or 75 clicks on the web site. 7 days of doing this for both sites will cost £180! Not cheap.

FB is bad at restricting the numbers of people who see posts such as this. New content that I post on this web site is linked to my FB page, but I’ve noticed that very few people see the posts. I understand that FB is a business, and they want me to pay to maximise their services. I just don’t want to pay! It’s too much for not much return.

I’ve also been reading with some concern recently about third parties being given more access to user’s data. It’s something that every FB user has allowed as part of their account but who sees our details is a bit of an unknown.

However, FB is such a ubiquitous tool and is so embedded in our lives now, it’s hard to see where to go instead. The ease of adding content via a smartphone app is a big plus for me.

Pinterest (uk.pinterest.com/stone_inspired) I’ve dabbled in Pinterest for a couple of years, and have heard that it’s the current big thing in social media. Personally, I still need to find out what it does! I do know that I need to upload more images of my work, and can tag them with my web site address. Again it’s the search engine ranking it’s helping.

But, how do you build an audience and as ever, will it lead to work enquiries?!

Instagram (instagram.com/stoneinspired_drystone_walling) I have the instagram app on my phone, and I’ve been a bit more proactive lately in uploading images that I take. I’ve also been trying to find and follow other landscapers – I’m interested in seeing what others are building. But like with Pinterest, I’m not sure how to go about generating work leads. Any thoughts?

Twitter – I have a twitter account that is linked to my FB business page, which it updates. But apart from that, I never use it. Does it have a use?

4 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Ronnie Murphy
    January 21, 2015 at 2:22 pm #

    Hi Jason,
    I too am in the process of getting to grips with SEO and promoting my website. I agree with you on the Facebook issue, it will be interesting to see what they are really doing with user profile details.
    Regarding Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter along with Youtube and Google +, the more you use these for blogging, linking and uploading photo`s the higher your website will rank, It is time consuming though.
    Anyway best of luck with your work.

    Kind regards

    Ronnie

  2. Robert Y-Lee
    January 2, 2016 at 2:54 pm #

    Hey Jason, I found your facebook site some time ago and share a few pics of your work now and then that impresses me. I love your work and as a fellow mason I appreciate your skills. Sadly I doubt my feeble effects at promoting you will get you any work. My friends will however see your work and a few are masons but I doubt any of the non masons would have the money to hire you. Besides I live in the US. At best it would give some of my mason and masonry contractor friends some ideas on work they could do for themselves or potential customers. But I have not seem much dry stacked stone work in the US, a bit here and there but I have never been hired to do any. Good luck tho and peace.

    • Jason Hoffman
      January 2, 2016 at 4:45 pm #

      Hi Robert, thanks for sharing my work. You’d be surprised at how much dry stone work there is the USA. You just need to know where to look. Although I don’t know them personally, there are a couple in S Carolina called Jose and Maria Melendez who do some great work – they are on FB.

      If you are interested in learning how to do it, particularly in a landscaping job, there are some organisations that you can contact who offer training. Try the Stone Trust in Vermont or the Dry Stone Conservancy in Kentucky. If you can get to Canada, Dry stone Canada offer courses too.

      • Robert Y-Lee
        January 2, 2016 at 5:24 pm #

        Thanks for the tips Jason. I found Joses FB page 🙂 No sure I have time for any training, the company I work for stays busier than I prefer. I am also an Open Source programmer and hardly have time for that any more. Coding requires alot of time and it is not something I can do after work. I am exhausted then so I usually get up early 3am and code some before work. But anyway a workshop may be nice but a good book would benefit me as much as anything. Besides I have over 30 years experience as a mason and if Caliber the company I work for got a job like that they would just put a few of us on it and tell us and expect us to do it, experience doing it or not. We would figure it out on the site. Maybe our first job would be a bit awkward and amateurish but such is life. Some of our jobs are masonry for landscaping but none so far have been dry stacking stone. I once did a dry stacking stone flower bed thing but that was for myself. I liked the way it look but I no longer live there. Hopefully it is still standing. Take it easy with your back problems and all. My back hurts alot also and sometimes you just need time off work to let it heal. Peace.

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