A newly developed digital tool is helping tradespeople to unleash the marketing power of social media. Professional Builder’s Lee Jones talks to the developers of the Foreman App.
Most builders would now recognise the opportunities that social media can bring in promoting their business to a much wider audience. At the same time there is now a plethora of platforms with which to engage. Add to that the time it takes to regularly update a company website, and it can become just another time-consuming task.
Created by Brad Monks and Ian Hannaford as an extension to their existing web design service, the Foreman App has ambitions to liberate more of a tradesman’s precious working hours so they can devote it to showcasing their skills and services through social media.
“We already had a number of tradespeople who were clients of ours and that’s really where the idea came from,” explains Brad. “Through the Foreman App a site-based builder can post on multiple platforms simultaneously without having to log into each individually. If they’ve got a job they’re particularly proud of, or a testimonial from a satisfied client, that can then immediately be shared across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, saving huge amounts of time in terms of compiling separate posts, and significantly increasing a builder’s engagement with existing and potential clients.”
The Foreman user simply writes the content for the post, takes photos or shoots videos and that is then syndicated across all of the social media sites linked to the app. Where Foreman stands apart from what is already available, however, is that it can at the same time share that content on the tradesman’s website, whilst the user is able to select which individual social media sites they want to post on.
“Every social media provider has different requirements in terms of word count, image number or video content and much of the labour involved in building the app has been dedicated to resolving those issues,” reveals Ian Hannaford, “but the Foreman App end user is ultimately oblivious to those intricacies. The technology behind it is essentially an API (Application Programming Interface) and, whilst the back end is a complex beast, and has required huge amounts of hard work on our part, the app has been specifically designed to be as easy to use as possible. Basically, if you can type and take a picture you can use it, and engage with more channels than you did previously in the process.”
“It’s beneficial to the builder, of course, but the social media giants were happy to engage with us because they recognise that its users will no longer have to prioritise what platforms they use. We’ve started with the big three – Facebook Twitter and Instagram – but have plans to extend to Google My Business, LinkedIn, TikTok and Tumblr, and it’s very straightforward to link those sites to the App. Future updates will also allow other people to create posts on the App as drafts which can then be reviewed and approved.”
The extent to which the Foreman App can transform the marketing output of a small builder is graphically illustrated by the experience of one of Brad and Ian’s early clients. “Matt Dawber of MBD Carpentry is a real craftsman, and some of his work is phenomenal, but he was only posting on social media five or six times a year. Despite being a self-confessed technophobe, he now considers Foreman to be part of his daily routine, and indispensable when he finishes a job.”
It is a view that Matt himself endorses: “I’d post on Facebook sometimes but not very often,” recalls the Sussex-base chippie, “but Foreman made it dead easy. I post almost every day now and it takes minutes rather than hours. I’ve already had two new jobs come from seeing my posts on Facebook, and we’re averaging two extra enquiries a week, so Foreman has already paid for itself for a few years ahead!”
HD Builders equally found that they were comfortable using the app: “We aren’t great with tech but lots of our business is done from online recommendation so we like the way an app on our phones does everything for us. To be able to take a picture whilst on site, and get it up online in seconds, saves us loads of time.”
A website design and build service, in conjunction with the app, makes Brad and Ian’s proposition a one-stop digital shop for tradespeople who are looking to maximise their online presence. The Foreman App is available to download from Apple Store or Google Play, and is available on a one month contract that can be cancelled at any time, with a 14-day free trial also available.
For further information on the Foreman App visit https://getforeman.com/