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HPM April 2013

WWW.HPMMAG.COM Got a story? Ring us on 01732 748041 or e-mail twood@unity-media.com BUSINESSFEATURE Social networking boom gathers pace We all want access to fast, reliable information, which is why the rise in use of social media platforms has grown so steadily. For installers, there’s never been a better time to take advantage of what is quickly becoming the ‘go to’ source of information, according to Ian Kenny, marketing manager at plumbers’ merchant Graham... Historically, relationships between the merchant and installer customer were forged over the counter. With the advent of new technologies over the years, the mobile phone and e-mail to name just a couple, this focus has shifted according to how our attitudes to interaction have changed. As a result, the recent move towards a more ‘digital age’ should be embraced in the same way and can in fact help provide the advice or information required in a more timely manner. To appeal to this growing need, merchants and professionals alike should tap into the benefits that being part of an online community offers. These days, installers are always on the go – it has now become second nature to quickly pick up a smart phone or tablet to access the information required. Installers can not only keep up-to-date with the latest industry news but also see what is happening in their local merchant branch. At Graham, these changes have already been addressed with Channel Graham, our online news portal, as well as our Twitter (left image) and Facebook (right) accounts. By providing a joined up means of social interaction, these platforms are proving to be incredibly popular when it comes to giving something back to installers – whether they are looking for more information on legislation, industry news, product developments or handy installation tips, these channels provide everything required. Providing an additional means of communication and support for installers, social media channels can be tailored to offer quite specific information for varying audiences. While many will be looking to simply ascertain what products are available, many will also turn to their local merchant as a source of industry expertise. Blogs and news portals, for example, are a great way of gaining such information. Used by the merchant to display an overview of what’s going on in the industry, the installer can gain valuable insight into some of the more technical aspects of their day to day jobs. Offering simple to follow ‘how to’ videos, which can be especially useful as new and improved products come to the market alongside details of training courses available – particularly in light of the recent developments with the Green Deal, installers can turn to such platforms at their own leisure. Supporting this, dedicated Facebook and Twitter accounts also allow for two-way interaction whereby the installer can discuss hot topics directly with the merchant. Updated regularly, often with links to the very latest industry updates that could affect the way in which the installer is able to run their business, these platforms are the quickest means of keeping professionals up-to-date with changes and developments as they happen. Social networking platforms are not designed to replace the trusted and let’s face it – still very much required, over the counter interaction between the installer and merchant. However, what is does provide is an additional layer of support and added value service. When it comes to social media, installers who may have perhaps dismissed it in the past could potentially be missing out on a wealth of educational content. Those installers who are taking advantage of social media, are making sure they are ahead of the game by gaining access to additional industry information, offers and promotions as well as installation hints and tips. To get the most from what social media can offer, installers should check in on the merchant’s social media channels as part of their daily routine, just as they would regularly visit the merchant to pick up the parts they need for their next project. To experience the various social media platforms, visit: www.channelgraham.co.uk, or www.facebook.com/GrahamPlumbersMerchant. or follow us @Graham_Merchant 24 APRIL 2013 HEATING & PLUMBING MONTHLY enquiry number 120


HPM April 2013
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