Tile, Twitter and Facebook: Open for Business
 
May 29th, 2012

By William & Patti Feldman

If you haven’t launched your social media image, here’s an easy way to start.

Social media platforms – most notably Twitter and Facebook – are potent marketing tools for more and more businesses, small and large. They offer a direct way to boost your company’s image and sales among customers and provide an easy way for customers to express their needs, insights, and opinions about what you offer. If you are not yet taking advantage of both opportunities to show and grow your business, now is certainly a good time to make your social media debut.

It’s hard to say what percentage of business owners use Twitter and Facebook -published surveys vary wildly from one third or less of all businesses to two thirds or more. Whatever the true numbers today, they are likely to be higher tomorrow.

Twitter is a platform for sending followers short easily digestible messages to people you may not know, with interactions proceeding along the lines of a ‘public’ group conversation. The message can be complete “as is” or can include a link to your Facebook account, your company website, or to a photo-sharing social media site (such as Pinterest). You also have the ability to send private direct messages to any follower.

Facebook, the number one social marketing medium for business, is a platform for longer form, more detailed postings, including photos. You can also include links on any of your Facebook postings.

To maximize the benefits of social networking to develop positive awareness of your business and to drive traffic to your website, use both platforms because they have different strengths.

Tweets deliver fast facts and ask and answer short questions. Your tweets should, by and large, aim to educate, entertain, converse with or otherwise engage followers, all with the ultimate goals of keeping customers happy and converting new followers into customers. Tweets can carry links that move readers on to more detailed information on your website or on Facebook.

While you may take on these tasks yourself, keep in mind that they really should be daily tasks and do take some time each day or even a few times a day. You may want to assign someone in your office to handle social media or hire a service that provides attention to your Twitter and Facebook accounts throughout the day. Just make sure you know the passwords to log-in.

Getting started on Twitter is easier than getting started on Facebook. It is also easier to tend daily.

Twitter Basics

Your Twitter username should be your company name, if reasonably short, or a recognizable or easy-to-remember abbreviation of it.

Getting your first followers on Twitter should be fairly easy. Right from your Twitter account, you can search  – they can be people and businesses you already know who have email. On the left of the screen is “Who to follow,” which gives you the opportunity to “find friends” by searching your Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail & Messenger, and AOL contacts by a person’s full name or username and asking them to follow you. Once they do, you can follow them back. And so it goes. And grows.

You can also search for new followers by clicking on “Browse Categories” – currently about 25 – which include overall several hundred suggestions of public personalities and private businesses with whom you may want to interact. Once you get started with “following” and “followers,” you drill down and browse among their “following” and “followers,” and keep expanding your reach. In addition, as you use Twitter, it becomes “smart” and starts to “recognize” the type of follower you want and offers you a listing of possible people or companies to follow every time you log on.

Every Twitter account comes with space for a 160-character bio and an identifying thumbnail image (either a company logo, photo, or product shot – some dealers use a colorful geometric tile face). Use the bio to tell visitors who you are, what you sell or offer, and/or why they should follow you.

You can tweet anything that fits into 140 characters (spaces included) but it should be relevant, readable information without wasteful fluff. (Also consider occasionally retweeting wise words or interesting links from some of your followers.) Keep in mind that letters and numbers used to create links count in the overall character tally so you will want to use a free URL shortening service such as bitly.com or tinyurl.com. URL shorteners convert long addresses to shorter ones, leaving more for your message.

Opinion among social media gurus about how often to tweet a marketing message varies widely. Some experts suggest that one pointed sales pitch per every 4, 6 or 8 tweets is acceptable, but from what we’ve seen on Twitter many tile dealers ignore that unwritten rule entirely, making every other or even every tweet a sales pitch, a promotion, or other clear call to action.

Finding the fine line can be tricky. On the one hand, if a person is following many Twitter accounts, including yours, their incoming tweets will accrue so fast that unless you tweet frequently you may miss out on reaching them with any one marketing or sales tweet. But on the other hand, if you tweet marketing and sales messages too often, you risk annoying – and then losing – your followers.

Everyone agrees, however, that it is important to respond, quickly and politely, to any tweets that include questions or, especially, complaints with positive responses. Resolving complaints promptly and publicly is good business.

Incorporate hashtags (#s) which, used directly in front of a keyword becomes a search tool and helps your tweets on those topics show up in Twitter Search. For example, #tile #backsplash, #countertops and #ceramic increase the chances of someone you do not know who is searching for one of those terms with the hashtag in front of it to find you and view your tweet or tweets on the topic.

Facebook Basics

You will want to create a welcoming Facebook Page (your business’s public profile) where customers and others can interact with you and from which interested visitors can link directly to your company website. From your experience with customers in your stores and from customer service phone calls, you know what customers, in general, want to know. Facebook is an easy way to deliver that information.

After you create your Page, invite your employees, friends, and customers to visit and “Like” your Page (achieved simply by a click on the LIKE icon). A Facebook Page with at least 25 LIKEs also provides the account administrator with demographic information and statistics about traffic to the site. As soon as you have 25 LIKES, you shorten and customize your Facebook username.

When a visitor to your Facebook page clicks “like” the first time, that person in essence becomes a subscriber to your updates (unless or until he or she un-subscribes). By liking your site, that person endorses your company to all his or her Facebook friends, potentially growing your social media network in many directions.

Facebook is a great place to show off recent projects, introduce contests, offer special promotions or discounts, post photos of new or long term employees, and mention participation in local sports and community-based projects.

To help build your followers and fans, be sure to include your Twitter and Facebook Page URLs on all your marketing materials.

Some Ideas to Get Started on Both Platforms

Here are representative tweets and Facebook postings that tile dealers have posted recently, some with links:

  • ask your tiling questions here
  • what’s new
  • special discounts on products and services
  • “gone green? we offer eco-friendly products
  • photos of new van, truck, or staff outside place of business or at a community street fair
  • photos of store displays and in-store layouts
  • Check out this fabulous before and after bathroom remodel
  • pros and cons of DIY remodeling
  • Great selection, service, and professional planning at all our locations
  • “we’re hiring”…send resumes to: (list email)
  • what can we do to better serve your tiling needs?
  • Find showroom
  • Can’t decide what color to paint walls? Why not tile them instead?
  • Visit us at LOCATION for huge selection of tiles at great prices
  • Introduction of new member of design team
  • NAME announces new technical sales rep
  • NAME introduces new collection
  • Bathroom of the day
  • Bathroom with attitude
  • Backsplashes with pizzazz
  • DIY Tip of the Day
  • Who wouldn’t want to relax in the gorgeous bath? Our tile couldn’t have found a more elegant home
  • Special Today – 20% off entire online purchase for orders placed before 3pm -
  • Cyber Monday 20% off all mosaics today
  • June 23rd Sale -  celebrating 23 years of serving you – 20% off floor tiles

Other Twitter and Facebook topics could include: tiling design trends; tools to use for a bathroom/kitchen tiling job; how to determine how many tiles are needed to tile a proposed space; differences between wall and floor tiles; differences between ceramic and porcelain tiles; indoors versus outdoor tile; how to grout a tile floor; and how to clean heavily smudged tile.

More and more business postings on Twitter and Facebook also include links to Pinterest. Pinterest (www.pinterest.com) is a social photo sharing website – a visual bulletin board – that allows users to create and manage image collections. You can use it to “pin” images of your new, most popular, or trendiest tiles and finished installations, for both direct viewing on your Pinterest site and for sharing on Twitter and Facebook. (About 80% of Pinterest users are women, with home decor among the most popular subjects.) Visitors can “re-pin” images to their own collections or “like” photos. You can have separate boards for different subjects. By monitoring your own Pinterest account, you can see which “board” earns the most pins and the most “likes.”

Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest are among the sites popular now – emphasis on now, as in today. More are certain to develop but in the meantime, these are good places to add to your traditional marketing mix.


LATICRETE Technical Design Manuals now Available as eBooks
 
May 21st, 2012

LATICRETE has developed a library of LATICRETE Technical Design Manuals which are now available as eBooks for the iPad from the online Apple iBook store, for the Kindle on the Amazon website… and, for the Nook® on the Barnes & Noble online Nook Book store, as well.  According to Henry B. Rothberg, LATICRETE Senior Vice President, Training, “It’s all about innovation. LATICRETE is committed to innovation with regards to tile and stone installation materials, methods and  technologies. Innovation in services and support for the design and construction communities. Progressive architects & designers, distributors and tile contractors continue to appreciate and take advantage of the rapid access of information via eBooks on tablet devices such as the iPad, Nook and Kindle.” The LATICRETE Technical Manuals currently available as eBooks include Animal Health and Wellness Facilities Technical Design Manual; Industrial Tile and Paver Applications Technical Design Manual; Mass Transit Ceramic Tile and Stone Technical Design Manual; Medical, Educational and Hospitality Facilities; Tiled Steam Room and Steam Shower Technical Design Manual and Tiled Swimming Pools, Fountains and Spas Technical Design Manual. All are available wirelessly to users’ tablets for just $.99 apiece, or for free viA www.laticrete.com/manuals. The process of downloading LATICRETE Technical Design Manuals is a quick and simple procedure, that takes even a neophyte eBook user only a few moments. “LATICRETE recognized and quickly addressed the potential of offering technical eBooks, and today we now provide a library of not only tile & stone installation technical design manuals but also, specifications, drawings and product catalogs,” continued Rothberg. “Clearly, Bill Gate’s prophecy of ‘Information At Your Fingertips’ has arrived!”

www.laticrete.com


Crossville Brings Large Format Tile Panels to the U.S. Market
 
May 21st, 2012

Crossville Inc. is launching “Laminam by Crossville,” a full line of lean profile, large format porcelain products. This important new offering comes through an exclusive distribution agreement with Italian manufacturer Laminam, a division of Systems Group. Under the agreement, Crossville is the sole source for Laminam’s innovative large unit porcelain panel products throughout the U.S. The distribution agreement is effective immediately, with product availability anticipated in early June. “This is a landmark agreement and another example of Crossville’s commitment to meeting the needs of the U.S. market,” states Crossville President John Smith. “We recognized the growing demand for very large format, thinner, so we searched the globe to source the best products that would appeal to the American aesthetic and match the Crossville quality standard.”

Laminam by Crossville products, each selected expressly for the U.S. market, are suited for interior wall installations and may be used on an array of surfaces. The initial offering of 3mm thick fiberglass reinforced porcelain panels will be available in over 50 items. As Smith explains, the extremely lean profile of these reinforced panels result in durability, versatility and unparalleled technical performance. “These products are game changers,” Smith continues. “The colors and styles of Laminam by Crossvile are right for the American market. These thin but extremely durable large panels are very simple to work with and install and will invite innovative field applications. Architects and interior designers should really have fun exercising their creativity in new and unique ways.”

LaminambyCrossville.com.


Walking the Show Floor at Coverings with Tile of Spain
 
May 11th, 2012

 

Tile of Spain, the international brand representing 200 ceramic tile manufacturers belonging to the Spanish Ceramic Tile Manufacturer’s Association (ASCER), offered a number of new introductions including:

  • TAU’s new S3 Technical Ceramic Wall, is a system where any technology can be seamlessly hidden behind a beautifully tiled wall. The Technical Ceramic Wall is a vertical extension of a removable floor behind which all wiring and fittings for domestic appliances, devices and electrical equipment is concealed.

 

  • APAVISA showcased Archconcept, a new indoor/outdoor ceramic collection that provides new volumes to vertical surfaces, including hexagons with volume in its core and square panels with raised and folded corners.  The tiles are created with stone, metal and cement finishes that have revolutionized traditional porcelain finishes.

 

  • APARICI introduced its Neutral series, available in eight colors featuring several different relief patterns, and its Jungle collection, tiles that imitate a mosaic of different types of wood.

 

Foster and Clark Real Estate
CTDA - Online Education
CTDA - Membership