THE WHOLESALER - SEPTEMBER 2013: Making Social Media Work for You and Your Business

Posted by Scott Williams on March 31, 2014 0 Comments

Making social media work for you and your business

Showroom specialist

Does your showroom, store or company have a Social Media program? If your answer is no, BUZZT! So sorry, that is an incorrect answer for the year 2013. Thus you did not win the year’s supply of Rice-A-Roni or Turtle Wax — but maybe next time. So why is no an incorrect answer for this day and age? Why should you take the advice on Social Media I am about to give?

Valid questions, Man, you guys are always so good. I suppose you could find dozens of articles written on Social Media. You could even find some that have been in this publication written by experts that know way more on the subject then I do. That being said, here is why I think should you take my advice on the subject. The main difference between me and many other Social Media experts is that I apply what I know in a practical working application every day doing exactly what you do — selling plumbing fixtures. My number one job as a Showroom Manager is to oversee and promote the sales of plumbing fixtures. To aid in that endeavor, I have made it my job to know a few things about Social Media. I suppose just enough to make me dangerous.

Maybe you think Social Media is some sort of trend that will pass. Social Media isn’t a fad; it’s a proven fundamental shift in the way we communicate. So let’s start with some quick and easy facts and figures about social media. Over 50% of the world’s population is under 30 years old. People who are under the age of 30 are labeled Generation Y or Millennials, and 96% of these Gen-Y or Millennials have joined a social network. Every week Facebook tops Google for weekly traffic in the U.S., and Social Media has overtaken pornography as the #1 activity on the Web.

In the different mediums, how many years would it take you to reach 50 million users? Radio it would take 38 years, television it would take 13 years, the internet four years, and via iPod three years. Facebook, however, has added over 200 million users in less than a year. If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s third largest behind China and India, just ahead of the U.S. The fastest-growing segment on Facebook is 55- to 65-year-old females. YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine. There are over 200,000 blogs on the Web. One-quarter of search results for the World’s top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content, and 34% of bloggers post opinion about products and brands.

Did you know that 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations? Only 14% of consumers trust advertisements. It has been proven that only 18% of traditional TV campaigns generate a positive ROI (Return On Investment). It is a fact that 90% of people skip ads via their DVR. Heck, I know I do — unless it is a really good commercial, like the one where the kid talks about taping a cheetah to his grandma’s back to make her faster.

So where do you suppose I might have found all this information? If you guessed through some sort of Social Media, then DING! DING! DING! We have a winner! You might just get that Turtle Wax after all. The facts and figures on all of this information can also be found in a book titled Socialnomics written by Erik Qualman. If you don't already know it, word of mouth has become world of mouth.

In today’s world, you not only have to be connecting with your costumers on one front, you have to reach them on multiple fronts. Our company has been active in Social Media for some time. When we first started, I delegated the responsibility off to my staff. We did things like deal of the day to move overstock and old displays. From time to time, we would repost stories from other pages within our industry. Then one day it occurred to me at how annoyed and disinterested I was seeing the dumb stuff we were doing. Not to mention, if I was annoyed and uninterested in what we were doing, I could only imagine how the 100 fans we had at the time felt. That is when I took full control over our social media. I decided it needed to have a voice, it needed to have a personality and one that was consistent. So in the fall of 2011, Waterhouse started a weekly Facebook series called Unique Bathroom Friday. It was a weekly post where we showcased unique and interesting bathrooms. For better or for worse I interjected my humor and my personality into the posts. I also have a love for design and I wanted that to come through. The other important factor is I did not want it to be a hard sell. I felt it needed to be casual and keep people interested and entertained.

At around the same time I started Unique Bathroom Friday, one of my bosses also threw in a challenge. He wanted to see if I could reach 300 likes by the end of that same year. Being it was already fall I took that challenge head on and did exactly what you would expect — I sent a like request for Waterhouse to every friend I had on Facebook. Of my 1,200-plus friends at the time, I got about only 100 of them to bite.

Shortly after that is when the magic began to happen and our numbers started climbing. My idea was working and not just though my friends. Unique Bathroom Friday was getting unique likes and was being shared. People were commenting and interacting with us. We started to see a real following star to grow. So I added a second series — Awesome Kitchen Tuesday — and the same happened. Since then, we have gained close to 1,600 likes (averaging about a 100 likes a month). Not bad for a single branch location in Perrysburg, Ohio. I also am flattered by some other things that have followed. Kohler started doing Flashback Friday. I have seen Faucet Friday, Throwback Thursday and many other weekly series appear. Some people might be bothered, but if it helps our industry or one of my peers, I am all for it. That is unless, of course, you are within my market. Then it’s a whole different story...

The real surprising part we found is that we have followers all over the world. The top four countries we have followers from, in order, are the U.S., Egypt, Tunisia and India. So you are probably wondering the same thing my bosses were: “Are we ever going to sell to the people in Egypt or Tunisia”? The answer is probably not, but what it has done is raised Waterhouse in the world’s search engines. Waterhouse comes up within the first page of most searches and within the top five listings. We have achieved these results without paying a dime for search engine optimization. So are we only on Facebook? No, Waterhouse has its own YouTube channel. We are on Twitter, Pinterest, Houzz, Flickr, Blogger, Instagram, Google Plus and Linkedin. If you do not know what each of these are, you need to make it your mission to learn. If you are not part of each of these, then I think you are truly missing out on an inexpensive way to reach people.

Let me end with this little true story. Axor, prior to the world premier launch of its newest faucet series by Philippe Starck — appropriately named Starck Organic — ran a teaser campaign on Facebook titled Head + Heart. Waterhouse followed the campaign closely and reposted Axor’s information and created original post on the product. After the campaign ended, I was contacted by a student who was finishing her bachelor thesis on the Axor Starck Organic Teaser- Campaign. Here is part of what she wrote:

“Concerning the Teaser-Campaign of Axor Starck Organic on Facebook during the period of June, 12th 2012 and September, 18th 2012. While evaluating the posts we found out, that with your contributions you were considered to be one of the greatest influencers of the campaign.”

I was stunned and truly honored. Waterhouse, an independent single-branch store in Perrysburg, Ohio, was considered to be one of the greatest influences in the world. I hope you take from this what I learned. It does not matter the size of your company, and you don’t have to have a PHD is Social Media. You just have to get out there and start being social! Oh, and make sure you have fun doing it!

Dion Wilson, Manager of Waterhouse Bath & Kitchen Studio and interior designer, has worked in the kitchen and bath industry as a showroom specialist for the last two decades. Under his direction, Waterhouse has garnered national attention. He is considered one of the industry’s leading Social Media experts. Wilson can be reached at 125 E. Indiana Ave, Perrysburg, OH, 43551; phone (419) 874.3519 fax (419) 874.9529; e-mail; or website; Facebook or on Twitter @dion1701.

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