Getting Started with Social Media

Dec. 12, 2014
Four ways to build a strong foundation for success

In one of my recent blog posts on I suggested that the vast majority of security dealers have no business even considering diving into social media. Before you do a double take, don’t get me wrong — social media should absolutely be a part of your overall marketing program.

But if you want your efforts to bear fruit, you first need to lay the proper foundation. Here’s how:

1. Get Your Website Squared Away: Sure, you have a website — who doesn’t these days? You can also technically have a car, but if it is out of gas or stuck in the middle of nowhere with a dead battery, it is not doing you much good. If hardly anyone visits your website and you are not converting much (if any) of the little traffic that does show up into sales opportunities, it doesn’t make sense to put effort and resources into social media. The same holds true if you are getting a lot of traffic but few conversions — perhaps even more so.

Think of your website as “home base,” and your social media venues (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) as “embassies.” The idea is to create initial engagements at the outposts, but then continue the conversation and engagement on your website. Your goal is to convince your social media visitors to join the party at your house, where you have complete control over the conversation.

2. Content is King: The key to an effective website is not to “sell, sell, sell,” but to be a valued resource. Even if your overriding goal is to generate high-quality leads (which of course it is), the key is to first be seen as a trusted expert. So the first crucial step toward social media success is to begin filling your website with good, solid content — a strategy often referred to as “reputation marketing” or “personal branding.”

The focal point of this content should be a blog, where you can share information that is valuable to target prospects. For instance, what do you know about local crime patterns? The applications for the latest video surveillance technology? The insurance and tax advantages of a home security system? Write on these topics, with a focus on the key phrases that your prospects are likely to use when searching online for this type of information. And be sure to allow your visitors to make comments and ask questions. Effective social media efforts make communication a two-way street. Engagement is the key.

Additional content such as booklets (“How to Safeguard Your Home and Family”), checklists (“How to Select an IP CCTV System”), whitepapers and videos all contribute to positioning you as a leading security expert, establishing credibility and trust and driving traffic — and high-quality leads — to your website.

Another bonus: Good, objective information is generally ranked much higher by the search engines than purely promotional content.

3. Create a Newsletter: An e-newsletter is an essential part of a social media mix. It never ceases to amaze me how many dealers have hundreds (if not thousands) of clients, but make virtually no effort to stay in touch with them. The result? A lot of lost business opportunities and a negative impact on customer retention. Remember, it is much easier to sell to someone you are already doing business with than to find a brand new customer. And each of your customers is a bridge to many new prospects.

If you have good content on your site and are seen as a credible information resource, many site visitors that come to you through your social media “embassies” will also subscribe to your newsletter, allowing you to continue the dialog.

4. Have a Plan: Once you load up your website with valuable content, the next step of course is to start driving traffic. Now is the time to create a social media plan.

Your social media plan should include specific goals, objectives, strategies and tactics. You also need to understand how social media fits into your overall marketing strategy in terms of message, audience and content. Without a plan to guide your day-to-day activity, your social media program will flounder and become just another waste of time and source of frustration that doesn’t produce tangible results.

Be sure your plan includes what will be done, when it will be done, and who is responsible for getting it done. And don’t forget to measure your results along the way.

More Tips for Social Media Success

• Identify and Understand Your Target. While in real estate the mantra is “location, location, location,” in successful social media marketing it’s “targeting, targeting, targeting.” This is important in terms of both media (which social media outlets you use) and message (what you talk about and how you talk about it). For example, if your focus is on residential security, then Facebook is a good option. If you are after more commercial business, LinkedIn is a better way to go. The same holds true of course for your message. Tailor your content to the interests of your target(s) and keep it strictly informational. Overt promotion in social media — such as “click here for a free security system” — will get you nowhere fast.

• Have a Call to Action. This is where your efforts at adding solid content to your website will start to pay off. Be sure to include links to the content back on your website. Using a URL shortener (e.g.,,, will make your links cleaner, give you more characters for your Tweets and provide tracking statistics.

• Make a Commitment. It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day firefights and let important efforts like social media fall through the cracks. But if you want to have your efforts pay off, it is crucial that you keep your content fresh and your audience coming back for more. Even if it is only a single blog post a week, or a tweet a day to keep followers engaged, block out some time to focus on your social media campaign.

Greg Rankin is the president of, a resource for security company business owners, marketers and sales professionals.