Just as building codes and product technologies constantly change, so is how customers hunt for home builders and remodelers. Word of mouth, of course, remains a top influencer (92% of consumers surveyed in a recent Nielsen survey said recommendations from friends and family always trump other forms of advertising). 

But how and where these conversations occur are what we can’t afford to ignore. According to the 2015 Houzz & Home survey, tools like mobile and social technologies have exponentially flattened and expanded consumer access to professionals as homeowners look online for their next hire. 

To maintain a connected and competitive edge, a strong and solid presence on social media is imperative not only to succeed, but to survive.  Below are some tips about how to most effectively make social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Houzz work to grow your brand and business—without working overtime: 

--Go where your customers are. Yes, social media platform options abound. But instead of getting overwhelmed, get smart. Focus your energies on building a strong presence on two to three platforms that best connect you with your target. 

Houzz, for example, is a must for builders targeting homeowners with an average household income of $125,000 and it draws lots of traffic (25 million unique users each month). Looking to connect with Millennials exploring homeownership? A recent study conducted by GlobalWebIndex reported that 51% of them are active on Facebook, and 26% are active on Twitter. 

If the Baby Boomer generation is a top priority, however, Facebook should be a part of your plan, as well. 

--Be smart about how you spend your time—and get help. How much time should you allocate to social media? According to the 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 66 percent of marketers developed leads just by allocating six hours to social media each week. If that feels beyond your bandwidth, don’t give up – get help. Tap a social media savvy staff member to manage your accounts or hire a consultant; they can set up your accounts, provide guidance for best practices— even organize and execute a strategy tailored to your businesses needs.   

Automation tools like Hootsuite make social media and content management exponentially easier, allowing you to not only schedule posts in advance, but measure their performance to demonstrate ROI. Automation (your posts), however, is only one side of the conversation—pay close attention to your channels and respond quickly to build engagement and identify potential leads.

--Maximize engagement. Social media engagement is all about crafting rich, robust content for your potential clients to interact with—to peruse, to like, to share, to comment. 

At its bread and butter, you’re providing information about your company and services offered. The key to truly engage your target is to identify moments in your everyday life that tell your brand story, from a behind-the-scenes snap of a stunning kitchen mid-build (and the tidy worksite), to testimonials or quotes from satisfied customers. Engage with current clients on social media, and you immediately provide them with a platform to sing your praises when your work is done. Sharing posts from industry leaders or information about a newly-launched product demonstrates to your followers that you’re at the forefront of design and technology. 

How often should you post? While there is no magic formula, here’s a good rule of thumb for your practice: Increase frequency, increase likelihood for success. Regardless of your business’ bandwidth, posting once or twice a week should be a manageable task. 

--Spend smartly.
Advertising on social media allows you to be incredibly targeted about the eyeballs you get on your ads and the traffic you drive to your website—in 2014,  AdAge reported 75% of small and medium-sized businesses advertise on social media, allocating 21% or more of their advertising budget to the cause. Before you cut the check, understand how the ROI differs from platform to platform, and the role your organic reach plays (the higher your level of organic engagement, the more effective your paid efforts will be). Houzz tends to have the greatest traction with organic participation versus paid, and paid efforts on Twitter are best spent to support local campaigns. When done right, advertising on social media can significantly enhance engagement and reach but it’s important to maximize organic efforts first. 

Simply put, social media—like many things in life—isn’t worth doing if it isn’t done right. The secret to maximizing these tools and practices is to align them with your business goals so you spend more time on prospects, not process.

Want to strengthen your sales and marketing prowess? Check out NKBA University’s full sales and marketing online course offering—many available on-demand 24/7—at nkba.org/courses.