Are you weary of cookie-cutter content and impersonal posts that are plaguing your social media experience? Do you feel like the lighting industry is lagging behind in effectively harnessing social media's full potential? Yeah, I am too. So heading into 2024, let's rethink our approach, identify our end goals, and shake things up a bit to tap into the enormous potential of this digital platform. As an additional challenge : DM me or comment below and tag an account who is doing a great job with their social media content so we can all #beinspired.
Thank you to Lights America for sponsoring this episode of Lighting with Lisa!
Hello and welcome fellow lighting nerds and friends to Lighting with Lisa, the lighting industries podcast sponsored this week by Lights America. Thank you so much, lights America, for sponsoring Lighting with Lisa and supporting this project, and I will have more on Lights America coming up in the episode. So housekeeping at the top, as always. If you have feedback on an episode, a comment about an episode, what is wrong with you, Lisa, about an episode? If you want to sponsor an episode, if you want to appear on an episode, anything having to do with this podcast, please email me, lisa, at lightingwithlisacom. I can't wait to hear from you. Last week's episode about holiday gifting was totally inspired by a listener email, so please send your suggestions, comments my way. I really appreciate it and thank you. On Facebook, there's two groups associated with the podcast and the lighting industry. The one is the fixture finder group. Another is the residential lighting industry job board. You can find both of those groups on Facebook. The links are in the show notes if you want to go to them directly, and they're just great tools to have in your pocket as a member of the lighting industry. So please do participate in those as needed. So I'm starting this week with a complaint. That's right. This is not complain town. I'm a moderator in another Facebook group, totally unrelated to the lighting industry, and the number one rule violation in that Facebook group is we are not the complaints department. So I just started to say I'm breaking our own rules, but it's not the rules of this podcast particularly. But we do try to not complain around here. We try to discuss potential problems and highlight possible solutions. Complaints is not the way to go. But I did want to start the episode with a kind of gentle complaint for all of us in the lighting industry, and I mean this in the nicest way. And I would also like to fully disclose that the complaint I'm about to lodge I am equally as guilty of as everybody else listening. Okay, so you ready. I'm sure the episode title has given this away, but I cannot stand the social media in our industry by and large. I think about it all the time and I look. I follow many showrooms, I follow many manufacturers, I follow many sales agents. I follow all of your businesses one way or another across the various lighting with Lisa or pace lighting or my own personal life, my own, my, whatever my account is. I follow many of you and there are like 1% maybe of us that produce any sort of content that I personally want to engage with, and I'm the target audience for a lot of this content, whether it's as a showroom owner or a homeowner of a certain age in income, like. I'm the target for so much of this content and most of it I could care less about. And I'm again shining this light, not on just outward into the industry, I'm shining. There's a bright spotlight hanging over my head right now. I am equally as guilty of not having a great social media strategy as anybody else. Now I'm speaking in very broad strokes. Of course it is a podcast and I want this to be engaging content for everyone. There are definitely people and ideas and concepts that are executed very well. Not everything is a disaster, of course, but it just has occurred to me over and over that we're generally terrible at this in our industry and I follow because I like podcast, because of all the things I'm interested in creatively. I follow several just like true content creators on the internet. They're not all amazing all the time, but you can kind of see how they've like honed this skill in this brand generally built around like their personalities and who they are and they're able to leverage that usually very organically into businesses. Now, I'm not saying I understand a brick and mortar business or a fixture manufacturer or sales agent. I understand these things are not the same, but I definitely see where their content is engaging and gets a bunch of comments and whatever and likes and reshares and I can't tell you how many people I follow now because somebody like shared their Instagram story on their own account. Like it's just kind of amazing to me but I never see anything in our industry pop up that way and I'm pretty connected, like I was just saying, like this is something I'm very interested in and engaged in. You would think I would see organically more content related to the business that I own and am involved in every day, but I really don't and it's really remarkable to me and it makes me realize that we're all kind of doing a terrible job with this. Again, there are definite highlights. I'm not saying that there aren't like great moments. I've seen really some smart content that I thought was really really well done. It is absolutely out there. I just am painting with a big brushstroke here and identifying. That is a general rule. We're just not doing great with this and as far as most of our audience today, I don't know that that's like a horrible thing. That said, the boomers and, you know, the people in their 60s and 50s and 70s, like these people, are actually far more engaged in social media than you might actually give them credit for. A lot of the like homeowners that have purchased or are still looking to purchase, like their forever home, where they're going to retire to, where the grandkids are going to come visit, like these people that are great potential customers of ours, are actually more engaged on social media than you might think. So there's that, and then there's also the up and coming millennials and whatever is behind Millennial Gen Z. Anyway, we have all read the news stories about how these people are going to be slower to home ownership for a whole variety of reasons, and I think that is very true. That said, this is still the time in their development and careers that that we, as people that eventually want to have a relationship with these customers, we should really be building our foundations with them now, because it does seem apparent to me that these kinds of shoppers in the future are going to build strong identity with a brand and want to shop with that brand when they are at that point in their lives. Like, think of all, if you follow any Instagram or TikTok influencers at all, think of all the random merch drops that these people are doing right now and all of the people that are buying this merch and wearing it out. And it's really amazing and this isn't something that ever existed before. And the only reason people are buying a $50 sweatshirt with somebody's logo on it is because they feel so connected to that brand. And again, a brick and mortar business Like you don't see anybody running around really with like a Best Buy sweatshirt on, unless they're going to work. So I'm not saying like this is something we should be doing, like, like getting logo apparel. The point I'm trying to make is that there is so much opportunity to create a relationship with your audience via social media and I don't think most of us do a good job at that. So when I was making my notes for this podcast, the very first question I wrote after seeing like yet another kind of uninspiring social media post, was what's your social media strategy and do you even have one? And that's where I think most of us have really missed the mark, like I think most of us, by and large, do not have a social media strategy for a whole variety of reasons. Right, like it is a fun quirk, I think, of our industry that so many of us are doing so many different things in our businesses. Like I love it. I feel like I get a whole variety of experience in a day. I can go from working in the warehouse to selling light fixtures, to doing administrative work. Like I love it. My day is full of variety. But that variety means I'm probably not great at developing a solid social media strategy and, honestly, many of the companies or firms you could hire to develop a social media strategy, I have to tell you most of them aren't great at it either. Our businesses are unique and special and lighting showrooms and everything we provide in a lighting showroom is not something like easily transcribable to somebody outside of the industry, and that's always kind of been a problem in our industry, like in any number of things. Like everything that goes on in a lighting showroom is so distinct, I would say, from what happens in many other businesses. Now, never owned an appliance showroom, never owned a plumbing showroom, I've only been like a customer of those places. So I'm sure there is like similarity there, but there's no other retailer that I engage with that has kind of like the distinct level of like product and decorative and technical and problem solving that a lighting showroom does, and that's part of the reason why I love it and why people that get engaged in the industry love it, because, again, nothing is ever the same day after day, and that's great as a job, like it doesn't get boring, there's always something new going on and I love that. But that is also something that's really hard to distill down and communicate to a potential audience and we by and large in our industry have just done a really terrible job of having a great social media strategy and using that tool effectively. Like we just don't, and it's sort of disappointing and I think it's a real to get to the positive part of this, it's a real opportunity for us going into 2024 to really think about this. Like really take a minute in the last month of the year, the last weeks of the year, and think about what you're really doing on social media and is it really impactful the way you want it to be? Because for many of us it's not. It's not at all what works for a boutique home and home and lifestyle kind of business the decor industry and our lighting is not going to have, like we're not going to be able to do the same things as what works for, say, like fast fashion there's. Those are like impulse purchases and unless you're like specifically marketing, like the impulse, like buying area of your business like at my store we have all these like hostess gifts and holiday gifts and a little small pick me up items. So maybe the tools that someone might use like for a fast fashion business, you could also use to promote those brands, but like the core of our business it's just a different kind of marketing and I don't think any of us are really thinking about that. I don't think we're thinking about what the end game of putting posting on social media is. Is it, do you want more website traffic? Do you want more feet in the door? What, like? What is your purpose of posting on social media? Is it doing it because for some reason you think you have to, because you own a business, or what like that? Do you know the answer to that question? I, for a long time, haven't known the answer to that question at all. Truly, have it, and I'm in a sort of a shame to admit it. I know better. But what is your end game with your social media strategy and are you focusing on that? Are you focusing on feet in the door? Are you focusing on people re sharing your posts and potentially like having a viral moment? Are you focusing on driving people to a website? Are you focusing on trying to get people to purchase and engage with a certain products that you offer? Like, what are you doing? What's your strategy? A cuss, for most of us there isn't one and we're just like throwing things up there and kind of just crossing our fingers like, well, that didn't take too much time, maybe it works, maybe it doesn't, but it was a minimum of effort, so whatever. But like I'm telling you, it comes cross is a minimum of effort and I think even that minimum of effort is wasted time and money. Like at that point I would say, maybe don't do it, let's come up with something else. Or spend that 10 minutes you are spending on, you know, getting that post up and scheduled to doing something else, or thinking about Really what your big picture of your social media strategy is, as opposed to just like you know, this seems okay, let me do it All right. So I'm gonna pause right here for a little sponsor break. Thanks so much to lights america for sponsoring this episode of lighting with lisa. I really appreciate lights america so much. I'm gonna be. I don't want to forget. So I want to get the offer out at the top of the ad that lights america has a special offer for listeners of lighting with lisa. If your current lights america customer, you can take advantage of a free banner ad or email blast for your website. With all of the holiday sales going on right now, this might be the perfect time to get to get something out. Be thoughtful about it. But it might be the perfect time to get something out to your customer base. If you're a wholesaler listening to this podcast and your new lights america new to lights america, you can get a 15% discount on your setup fees of a premium or data 52 service. So that's the offer from lights america To the listeners of lighting with lisa. Please do take them up on that if you want to know a little bit more about lights america. They support the lighting industry. They're the leading data provider for fans, lighting and home decor. They have more than 250 brands with data source directly from the manufacturers themselves. It's a whole catalog and dealer tools platform. There are exclusive tools like the 3d interactive 3d and augmented reality tool that you can only get Through lights america for a variety of brands. No going off your website to somebody else's website. It's going to be right on your lighting showrooms website. Interactive 3d view in my room capability it's an amazing feature that lights america has. There's pro tools. That's where a customer that has a discount can log in and again all on your website. They log in with their credentials. They see their discounted price on online so they can shop online on their own time and no, if products they're selecting are going to fit into their budget. It's an amazing tool. Lights america is dependable data resource. The platform is built for what we do in lighting showrooms. If you're a sales agent, you can get a free website with lights america. There's a program just for that. If you're a manufacturer and you're not already working with lights america, you really should be. I rarely even go off of my lights america powered website to look at other things because of the tools and filters that are available right there. For me and my team it really is amazing. So if you haven't already get a free demo of your lights america services. Go over to lights americacom and submit your request. Remember to sell them that you came from lighting with Lisa so they can take advantage of all the discounts. It's really truly been a great partner for me and the lighting with Lisa podcast. So thank you so much to lights america for sponsoring this episode. All right, so back to my social media media strategy talk, or lack thereof. So what I think? So randomly, the? This topic came to my mind because about I guess by the time this goes out it will have been about two weeks ago we posted kind of a one-off picture of our showroom. I mean, it was a great picture but I just didn't even think anything of it with kind of a basic caption and it had a really great moment of lots of engagement. It was amazing and the more I thought about it, the more I thought what that photo in that caption was conveying was our brand, and I don't think we do enough of that at my business and I guarantee you probably don't do enough of it at yours at conveying what your brand is and what your particular service or area of expertise or your unique value proposition. Are you communicating with that. Are you a light fixture manufacturer that is communicating appropriately to your customers and end users what your unique value is? Are you a ceiling fan manufacturer? Are you a electrical device manufacturer? Are you really solidifying with your customer base what makes your product special and different or your sales tools special and different? Are you really communicating what is unique about your business or are you just throwing some pictures up Lighting showrooms? What is special about your lighting showroom? There could be any number of things, but I bet most of them revolve around your staff and you know, what I don't see a lot of on social media is amazing staff members of lighting showrooms sharing their expertise or tips or ideas. That's really where this like lighting with Lisa, consumer facing program came from. By the way, there's more content on that coming very soon, but it is that's why I sort of created that. As a part of you know, I need to express to people that might be interested in my business. I need to make our business a approachable to them and be give them a reason to understand. You know why they want to come and experience my store. What value is? Are we adding like? What can? What additional impact am I going to make on their home and their life and their project by them coming to work with me and my business. So I just think we, by and large, do a really poor job of communicating. What is truly special about our businesses and the content I find myself engaging in with the most when it comes to the lighting and fan industry, is absolutely the content that features a person, and it doesn't always have to feature a person, but maybe you have some great content about a staff member or project or before and after, and then you have more of a here's a showroom picture or whatever, but there's just a need to create that connection with the people viewing this content. Have you, are you show, you know like? For me I'm thinking about are you, am I showcasing my staff and their accomplishments? Am I showing the jobs that we've completed successfully and then tagging in the appropriate designers, builders, architects, whomever was involved with the project that has a social media presence. I can tell you what interior designers by and large have a great social media presence with their clients and if you have any way to work with a designer and then cross post your social media content, that has been some of the most engaging stuff we've done and because everyone loves to see a little before and after, everyone loves a little sneak peek into somebody else's home and the choices they made, and we all like to take inspiration from those things. So are you really leveraging those opportunities or are you just kind of letting them go by? And most designers it's not like they want anything out of it other than to get be given credit and for you to be clear when you're tagging them that this was their project and their design and make sure it's really easy for customers to not only find you and reach you but to reach that designer. And it's been, it's been great every time. We've been able to do that and sadly we just we don't do it enough. Stop using stock photos. That's it. I said it. I know manufacturers spend a lot of money on their photography and some of it is really great. Not going to lie, some of it is great. It's not all great people, I'm sorry to say. It just isn't. It's just not. And the photos tend to have a catalog quality about them and that's fine for a catalog. I don't think it is the thing that's going to draw people into your business. It's just a stock photo of a living room setup or a dining room setup and a bathroom setup, and there's nothing particularly drawing in about it. There's nothing that makes you want to share that to your story on Instagram. There's just the stock photos, aren't it, people? I'm sorry to say that. I know there's a lot of manufacturers that are maybe not happy with me that I just said that because of all the time and resources they spend on this and I'm not saying there isn't a place for it. Here's a great place for that. Stock photos I love when I'm clicking through my website in the images of a product you get the standard, you know, kind of whatever backed up view of it. I love it when there's an interactive 3D model. I love it when there's an up close shot on a glass or a metal arm or whatever other detail and I love it when there's an application shot of that fixture in a room. I think that's a very, very helpful in selling product. I really do. So. That's where those products and images work well Great, let's keep them coming for that. But they're not. That just doesn't apply. It doesn't translate. I think is what I'm trying to say to social media. Everything that is kind of taken with this catalog. I just really reads on social media like a catalog and most of the time the captions aren't engaging and they're just very salesy. And I just scroll right by and this is like for some businesses I truly love and adore, but the social media is just, you know, very meh. So I just really think we need to either find creative uses for manufacturer photos here's an idea right off the top of my head. Here's in a manufacturer photo that's not too bad. I happen to have that same piece in my store. I take a picture of that piece in the store on display. Maybe there's a little second clip, video clip of a salesperson talking about that and there's a whole carousel where you can see the piece on display, an up close shot and then an application shot of it installed. Great, that's a perfect use of a stock photo. But other than that, I just don't, or things like that, ideas like that, just throwing that up on your social media with a comment I just it's not, it's not doing it, we're not doing the thing. So, and also, as I said at the top of this episode, that I'm as guilty of this as everyone else's you can scroll back through all my social media and point out all the times where I have made these exact mistakes. But it's in that, looking back on what has been successful for us and what actually generates traction for us, as opposed to things that just like die when we put them out there into the world that's where this whole topic is coming from. So, yes, I'm just as bad at this as everyone else has been, and that's why I'm trying to get this word out to get us all thinking a bit more. So some of them like. One of the things that has caught me off guard in the best possible way is I have a new hire working. She actually starts full time you know when this episode airs, but she has been instrumental for us in revamping and reenergizing our social media strategy. There's going to be, I think, much more to come in the future from her, but the whole point of social media, to some degree, is for us to generate a connection to our business. So I had a customer come in the other day who stopped in my door and said, hey, I saw you on TikTok and I was like, oh well, do you follow us? And they said, no, you just popped up in my TikTok feed and I, like just wanted to cheer but I was like, oh, that's great, thanks, you know, just made me very excited. Now, that's just one person who stopped to say that, probably because they saw me in my office, but like that's the idea, right, that's the reason to spend time creating this content is so that somebody comes into your store, they recognize the faces of the people working there and you just have this friendly relationship right off the bat. And I just thought that was. I mean, they didn't even follow us and they got served our content on TikTok. I mean it really just made my day and also again really got me thinking about how wrong I have done this off and on over the years and how kind of wrong in general I think our industry does it. And here's a tip If engaging on social media is not your thing as the business owner or manager which is fine there's all kinds of reasons to not be engaged on social media. It is not always the healthiest, most fun, safest space, so there's not really a good reason to do it for every person out there. But if you know that, if you know that's not your thing, if you know you're not going to ever want to deal with the social media engagement. You need to find somebody who does enjoy it and will take ownership of this strategy, of this part of your business. Somebody who does follow the trends and can see what gets positive reactions, somebody that's going to take a critical look at what you've done and say, yes, this works. No, this doesn't, and they're really going to put thought and energy behind what works for your particular space. Now, I think, by and large because what we do in lighting showrooms can be so difficult to communicate I think, by and large, this person should be on your staff. I don't think it should be a hired hand. I think it should be, potentially, maybe a younger person on your staff who has grown up with social media and who is very engaged in it personally, I think that's where you're going to get your best ideas from An advertising partner. I'm not saying they're terrible at it, but all the ones I've ever talked to, all the ones that I ever see working on this, everything just comes across as so generic and boilerplate. And then, where is that getting you Like again? Are you just posting on social media because you feel like you should post on it, or is the social media actually the sales funnel for you. That it needs to be, because that's why we do it right. This isn't to just throw things against the wall and everybody to have a good time. We want to use this tool as a sales funnel for something Feet in the door shopping online. What's the thing that you want to drive with your social media? Maybe you're a brick and mortar retailer, but what you want to use your social media for is for your online shopping. Great, that's not a bad strategy. What are you doing with your social media to actually make that happen? Or you're like I really don't care about selling online with dropship fees, with this, with freight and things that can go small parcel, things that have to go freight line. It's too much of a headache. I'm never going to make decent amount of money at it. I'm out of the online sales not happening. I want to bring people in my store. Throwing up a stock photo from manufacturer X. Is that going to bring people into your store? Or is it going to be great, engaging content with members of your staff or videos of your showroom or taking a picture of your warehouse Like I don't know? Whatever is unique about your business and this is what I adore about our industry. We are all unique. I love that lighting showrooms have so many little quirks, largely a part of like how that business came to be. Did you come to be because of an electrician? Did you come to be because of an electrical supply house? Did you come to be because of some sort of decor background? Did you come to be just from lighting or as an offshoot of working with a builder? How did you come to be? Because that really probably has a lot to say about the unique value of your business and the things that you understand and can truly help your customers with. And I think that is really like the magic, the secret sauce of what we do and if we want to use social media tools to grow our businesses, to benefit our businesses, that secret sauce, that unique value, is really what we need to focus on in delivering our social media content. I you know, again, it's going to be different from everyone. I'm always going to suggest a mix of different kinds of content and to some degree, you need to do that to see what like peaks, like look at your analytics and see like what okay, that popped to the top, why was there something special about that? Or you know we've done a dozen or so of these kinds of posts and they never get any engagement and you really want to be looking for organic engagement. Is it just your staff members liking the photos and that's it, and nobody outside of them Like? It's great to have your staff go and like your photos, but if it's only them, you're really not doing anything Right. Like you're like, I mean, your staff already works for you. You don't need them to go. Like your content, is it something that your staff even thinks is good enough to share across their own social media? Do they? Are they so proud of the business they work for and the brand they represent that they want to reshare the content you're putting out there because they think it's fun and want to put it in front of their audience? I do so many questions. There's just I think what I'm getting at here as we wrap up this episode is that I genuinely believe there is so much possibility here. There's so much potential to create brand connection and awareness and to really showcase what you're special at, but I think for so so many of us, we just don't even. We just don't even. We just throw up a picture of a light fixture or a fan or a room and call it day, and that's not it. That's just not it. That's not going to be something that truly benefits your business and truly helps it grow, and I think part of the reason I'm so focused on this is that the world continues to revolve around our online lives as much as our in-person lives. The pandemic really accelerated this and it doesn't appear to me to be changing anytime soon. Just think about that in your own life. Yes, we are definitely more engaged in person than we used to be, but we're also still very much engaged in our online, virtual, digital worlds and that's not going away so fine. It also indicates to me that we really need to be focusing more for our businesses on that digital presence, on that social media personality, and really taking time and consideration to develop it and grow it and make that social media platform a reflection of who we are as a business and what we are trying to do for our customers and clients. All right, thank you so much. Please send me your feedback, lisa, at lightingwithlisacom, if you want to sponsor, if you want to appear on an episode. And thank you so much to Lights America for sponsoring this episode. I appreciate you and I appreciate all the sponsors of Lighting with Lisa Until next time. Everyone take care.