So, here we are. Bypest has arrived in the digital era with a bang! In recent months we’ve been working on our search profile, setting up a Twitter account and, of course, adding this blog to our site.
We’ve had a website since we started trading, and achieved solid search rankings for our target terms such as ‘Pest Control London’. But now we’ve recognised that we need to take things to the next level – not just to stay in the search-engine race, but also to give our customers the chance to interact with us in new ways.
Brave new world
We have to admit to feeling a little bit daunted by the whole digital marketing landscape. It seems like there are so many different elements that go into the mix. And it’s obvious that they all have to work together, not just in isolation. That’s why we’re taking things relatively steadily, aiming to build up our blog and Twitter before we move on to other channels such as Facebook.
As a London business serving local consumers and businesses, one of our key concerns is our Google Maps listing. Now that Google has decided to make its ‘place pages’ much more prominent in local searches, we need to make sure we’re appearing when people look for us. Most of our business comes in via telephone calls, so getting a prominent Maps listing is a key part of generating new business via the search channel.
Right now, the problem is that it’s so difficult to get a handle on what different users in different areas of London are seeing in terms of their search results. On top of that, it seems that SEO experts haven’t quite worked out what websites really have to do in order to optimise for Google Maps! Watch this space as we grapple with this problem and share some of the things we discover.
Late to the party?
In terms of social-media content, it’s clear that we’re not the first to the party. But we’re not the last either – a large number of pest-control companies have yet to add any sort of dynamic, interactive or regularly updated content to their blogs. It seems that many sole traders in our industry have already taken the plunge, and we’ve already hooked up with quite a few pest control experts from around the world on Twitter. It’s great to hear what they’ve got to say about pest control – and we’re looking forward to seeing how they approach the challenge of building a loyal following too.
Why is it a challenge? Essentially because pest control is one of those things that you don’t really think about until you need it. But when you need it, you really do need it! Unlike ‘fun’ brands like McDonald’s or Pepsi, we’re not really selling a product that people fall in love with – sad but true! So our main aim is to make as many friends as we can through social media, while putting ourselves in prime position to be the pest-control company that Londoners call first when they have a problem with pests.
Lessons from the leader
One model for social-media success in our sector is industry leader Rentokil. When they first started using Twitter, they were accused of ‘follow spam’ – following loads of people on Twitter, who then became confused about why Rentokil was following them. This was largely because of the negative associations of pests – as we’ve said, pest control is something you don’t really want to think about until the time when you really need it.
Of course, people didn’t have to follow Rentokil back, so they wouldn’t have a load of stuff about rats and mice in their feed unless they wanted it. But the outcry forced Rentokil to write a blog post called ‘Why is @Rentokil following me?’ in which they explained the thinking behind their approach.
Unfortunately, the tone of that post didn’t really help matters. As the furore intensified, Rentokil became a case study in how NOT to do social media – as documented in this Econsultancy article.
Nearly one year on, Rentokil has sorted itself out and now has an enviable blog featuring interesting pest-control stories from around the world, as well as 915 followers for its Twitter account (at the time of writing). They’ve even been covered again in Econsultancy, this time in a much more positive light – see the article here.
For our money, Rentokil is a great example of how to offer interesting, engaging content while promoting a service that people aren’t necessarily thinking about day in, day out. We’re hoping we can learn a lot of valuable lessons from them.
Into the future
What does the future hold for Bypest in social media? At this stage, we really don’t know. We’ve got some things we’d like to achieve, but we’re open to seeing where digital channels take us too. Although we waited a while to get involved, we’re hoping that we’re in a good position to learn from what others have done. It’s an exciting time!