Marketing plays an important role in any company because it helps get the word out to your customers about what your business has to offer. However, recent decades have seen the rise of a crucial new marketing outlet: social media. Pool and spa companies have embraced it primarily because of its tremendous value. Used wisely, it can reach people more effectively for the money and time invested than traditional marketing.
We talked to three pool and spa professionals, one from each sector (build, retail and service) of our industry, about how they use social media as a marketing tool for their successful businesses: Danny Wang with Danny Wang Design, Michael Krause with First Response Pool Service and Cristina Nikolov with Richard's Total Backyard Solutions. All three provided us with ideas that could improve your own marketing.
WHAT SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS DO YOU USE AND WHY?
DANNY: "I started using Instagram in 2018. I didn't follow a bunch of people at first, I just posted a lot of before and after content once a day, and my page saw tremendous growth because of it. After seeing that success on Instagram, I started using TikTok to edit videos to post on Instagram, and during the editing process, TikTok also took off. Honestly, I was making random posts for almost a year or two before anything really took off. I think the key to my success was consistency."
MICHAEL: "I started using social media as soon as I started my company in 2022 so that I could get myself out there more. I use Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn to network with other pool professionals, and then TikTok to make fun, lighthearted videos. Initially, I was using the platforms to try and acquire more customers and build up my customer base. For example, I'd post stock images with a caption somewhere along the lines of, 'Call today for a free quote.' The amount of calls that were coming in just weren't adding up to what I was putting into the ads, so I stopped trying to gain new customers that way."
CRISTINA: "Our top three are Facebook, Instagram and YouTube; we've dabbled a bit in Twitter, Pinterest and TikTok, among other things, but they aren't our primary channels. We only use LinkedIn to showcase our company. If someone searches for us there, they'll see posts of our team and internal awards, as well as job opportunities."
WHAT ARE YOUR COMPANY GOALS ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
DANNY: "Good content. As long as your content is good, none of the other stuff matters. Sometimes I get good feedback and sometimes I don't, and then from there, I have to analyze why a post did either good or bad. However, sometimes a post will randomly go viral, it's just out of my hands. Too many people put emphasis on hitting a certain number of likes and comments rather than good, quality content. If you put effort into consistent content, don't worry too much about the numbers."
MICHAEL: "We're trying to network with other professionals and give a visual insight into what types of service our company offers. We're not trying to gain followers and become some sort of social media influencer. There have been a few different videos I've posted where people have asked what I'm using for this or that. I'm not afraid to give out my secrets. I think the more our industry works together and spreads valuable information, the more we can grow as a whole."
CRISTINA: "Followers will always be our number one goal because a large audience is invaluable and benefits us in so many ways. We want to be consistently posting every week. Facebook will give you an algorithm, which informs you of when your audience is online, so we'll try to post around those active-status times a few times a week."
DOES YOUR COMPANY HAVE A TEAM DEVOTED TO SOCIAL MEDIA? IS IT IN-HOUSE?
DANNY: "Typically, it's just me who handles social media for my company. When people have questions, either in the comments section of a post or in my direct messages, I try to answer them in a timely manner, so it helps if I personally post whatever it is they're inquiring about so that I'm knowledgeable in my response. But as grow, I've had to hire videographers to help me get more pictures and videos, but I still am the one posting those pictures and videos at the end of the day."
MICHAEL: "Same here, from editing videos, to taking photos, to coming up with clever captions, I'm the only one behind the post. I love being creative; it kind of takes away from the stress of everyday work. Typically, I post to social media once I'm home and done with work for the day, but sometimes I'll be taking some pictures or video clips on my phone, and I'll get a really great idea, so I'll take a break in my truck for a few minutes to edit and post immediately while it's fresh in my mind."
CRISTINA: "We have an in-house marketing team that focuses on our digital campaigns: Facebook ads, Google ads and different website compliances, but we do work a little bit with a third- party marketing team, too. For social media, me and one other woman post to our channels. Between us, we plan out our content and posting
HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHAT TO POST? WHAT'S THE PROCESS LIKE?
DANNY: "I really like doing the before and after posts, but I think nowadays, followers like to see the face behind the brand, too. I also think people like to be educated. What I continuously ask myself is, 'How can I provide value to the people who follow me?' If you're just posting pretty pictures with no context, first of all, that market is already saturated, and second of all, you're not teaching your audience anything new. Providing both context and value is really what helps drive up engagement."
MICHAEL: "One of my favorite things to post as a service technician is a green-to-clean process. If I get a call that somebody's pool is green, I like to do videos of getting it back on track and making the pool water sparkle again. When I take photos for social media, it's typically when the surrounding scenery of the pool is looking particularly appealing. When I take videos, it's more of an idea that pops up, maybe from a song, and I just roll with it. For example, one day I was putting in a pump, and I thought it would be really cool to see the process in slow motion, so I shot a video in slow motion and posted it."
CRISTINA: "I think posts that tug on our audience's emotions are what perform the best, but when I post a carousel of professional drone photos from a project, those also get a ton of positive engagement. I always post for holidays and company events, too. For example, every year for Halloween, we do an employee costume contest, and our social media audience is actually who judges and picks the winner. It's just another fun, easy way to boost your engagement. As far as stories are concerned, I typically don't post to them too much because I'd rather go live and give people real-time behind the scenes footage versus more scheduled content."
WHAT IS YOUR BRANDING/ AESTHETIC ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
DANNY: "When I started posting to Instagram, I tried to post all the pretty aesthetic pictures, and it didn't help my page grow at all. It wasn't until I started posting the before and after content that it took off, and those types of posts make my page look like a mess. But it's this type of real content that I think people gravitate towards nowadays. Authenticity performs so much better than curated content. I also get quite a few sponsorship offers now, which can help with my branding, but I have to make sure I only sponsor companies that my company aligns with."
MICHAEL: "I like to keep my social media channels as genuine as I can. I don't like to post cookie cutter pictures; I like to take photos and videos of everyday situations, while also trying to make my content as engaging and entertaining as possible. I try to keep it professional, but also lighthearted. If someone who is thinking about working in the industry comes across my page, I want them to see that service technicians work hard, but that we also have a lot of fun."
CRISTINA: "We want our pages to come off luxurious, but still accessible. We don't want a consumer to feel like we're out of their price range based off of posting a very expensive project, so we also promote affordable payment options along with our high-quality products and services. We want everyone to feel welcome and confident that their money has worth."
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU FACED ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
DANNY: "To be honest, to get a lot of comments, you kind of have to post really controversial stuff. That's just the way society is now. Sometimes, I'll post a million dollar pool on my page, and there will be a bunch of haters in the comments, which is to be expected. The controversial post drives up engagement, always. Also, you have to try and entice people to engage. You can do this by asking a question such as, 'What do you think,' or 'What would you do differently," and then people will typically leave a comment in response to your caption."
MICHAEL: "Personally, I haven't had any bad comments on social media, but that's definitely something you have to watch out for. I've had to delete a friend's comment before because they made an inside joke that nobody else would've understood and could've mistaken as inappropriate if I had left it up. I definitely try to comment on applicable posts as much as I can, but I try to stay away from arguments and controversial content. I also don't follow too many people; only the brands I like to use or industry professionals I've actually met in person."
CRISTINA: "A challenge we faced early on was that our business hours weren't always aligned with when our audience was online and interacting with us. We now have a web chat program that's connected to our social media messages so that the common questions customers ask will be answered immediately, in hopes that getting the conversation rolling after hours will help us gain and retain more customers."
HOW HAS SOCIAL MEDIA AS A MARKETING TOOL HELPED YOUR BUSINESS?
DANNY: "Social media can market your product or company worldwide for free instantaneously."
MICHAEL: "Social media has really leveled up my company, especially when it comes to networking."
CRISTINA: "Social media advertising is comparable to TV, newspaper and print ads, if not more relevant in today's day and age. It's just a digital version of print advertising. You have a chance to organically get in front of your audience at an affordable price. It's just a great way to quickly share content and connect with your audience."