A new study from Ironmongery Direct has revealed that 85% of tradespeople do not know how to effectively use social media to attract new business. Carpenters and joiners are among the least likely to get new business from social media, with only one in three saying it helps them attract work.

New research conducted by The Leadership Factor on behalf of Ironmongery Direct, the UK’s largest supplier of specialist ironmongery, has explored how trade businesses currently use social media, and how many are currently missing out on its benefits. To help joiners make the most of this vital resource, IronmongeryDirect has worked with experts to outline some key tips for using social media effectively.

Almost half (47%) of tradespeople say that having a social media presence helps them get more work, with Facebook being the main platform (22%). This is for several reasons, including the ability to build stronger client relationships (15%), get ahead of competitors (15%), and interact with community groups (22%). 

Such is the power of social media, one in six (16%) tradespeople believe it is now just as important – if not moreso – than traditional word of mouth. Because of this, 45% now actively advertise on at least one social platform, and more than one in 10 (12%) use social media as their only form of marketing. 

However, despite recognising its importance, the vast majority of tradespeople say they are not using social media effectively. Nearly nine in ten (85%) do not know how to get the most out of it, with plumbers the least likely to maximise its potential (90%). Joiners are the most social-savvy of all the trades, yet 79% still do not know how best to use their channels to help their business. 

While social media helps all trades bring in more work, builders are the most likely to attract new customers with it. Two thirds (66%) of builders say their social channels help bring in business, followed by bricklayers (53%) and landscapers (51%). Plasterers are the least likely to see an increase in work (25%). 

The trades most likely to get more work by using social media are: 

  • Builders – 66% 
  • Bricklayers – 53% 
  • Landscapers – 51% 
  • Painter/decorators – 46% 
  • Electricians – 45% 
  • Plumbers – 45% 
  • Building surveyors – 37% 
  • Carpenters – 33% 
  • Joiners – 33% 
  • Plasterers – 25% 

One business that has directly seen the benefits of social media is The Brighton Loft Co, a loft conversion company in East Sussex. Gilles Buxton, director, says: “When the pandemic hit this year, we started sharing our projects on social media, and since we’ve started doing that, we’ve seen an increase in business and enquiries.

“In 2019, we had 40 enquiries, but we’ve already had 72 this year – so we are already up +80% YoY, which is fantastic news.”

On average, female tradespeople dedicate the most time to social media promotion, with over half (51%) pursuing leads online, compared to just 41% of men. They are also more likely to ask customers to leave reviews online (28% as opposed to 23%), and such digital feedback is growing in significance.

Over 20 million business reviews are posted on Google every day, and they can have a huge impact on a company’s performance. A recent study found that businesses with positive scores on review sites can earn up to +58% more revenue. 

Overall, a quarter (25%) of trade businesses ask for reviews, and a similar amount (26%) believe that positive comments can directly lead to more custom. However, more than a fifth (21%) of tradespeople worry about receiving negative reviews and the impact that might have. 

Charlie Carlton, head of digital at Ironmongery Direct, says: “Whether you’re a start-up looking to increase brand awareness, or a larger firm trying to expand, most trade businesses can benefit from being on social media, so it’s definitely worth creating accounts if you don’t already have some.  

“For those who already have social channels, our research has shown that the majority aren’t currently getting the most out of them. However, it doesn’t take that much time or effort to create a basic profile that can start to pick up work.” 

For expert advice on how to get the most out of social media for a trade business, visit Tips Using Social