Emily Videtto, vice-president of shingles and new product development, and Alyssa Hall, director of marketing communications, together host the Facebook page "Style My House" as a way to reach female heads of household for roofing manufacturer GAF, North America's largest roofing manufacturer.

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The company, founded in 1886, is a traditional B2B organization and sells roofing to distributors. In addition to traditional channels and email, GAF maintains a robust presence on LinkedIn, a corporate Facebook page, and a company Twitter feed.

I invited Alyssa and Emily to Marketing Smarts to talk about GAF's success using its "Style My House" Facebook page, as well as its Pinterest presence, intended to reach women—the consumers who very often select roofing materials for the home nowadays.

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:

Traditional, B2B companies can find their audiences on social media (03:45): "[Alyssa]: Even though we're 129 years old, the company's really focused on being innovative and making sure that we're current or ahead of the curve, and social media fits right into that. We have our corporate GAF page, which we've grown over the last four years up to over 230,000 fans now, which are mainly our professional base, like contractors, builders, people in the building industry, and we've really used it to share messaging around everything from promotions we're running and public relations efforts to discussions in the industry—really more of a message board and an organic place for professionals to come and share thoughts on the industry. It's been extremely successful. We actually have more people now as our audience there than all of the roofing trades combined."

Have conversations: Don't forget the "social" in " social media" (04:45): "We try to put out posts that trigger conversation, asking a question or sharing information or educating or entertaining. We really try to foster a conversation there and have people come to our site as a place to have a conversation.... There are segments of our audience that definitely are more on LinkedIn, but like anything you're doing in marketing, part of it is trial and error and seeing where your primary audience is. With our primary audience being contractors, we have found...that they're most responsive now on Facebook, but we definitely have a large LinkedIn presence and we find more success there with architects or some of the commercial contractors or larger companies that we work with."

Getting B2B buyers to talk shop on Facebook comes down to sharing the right content (05:57): "The trick is all in the content. Again, that's also somewhat trial and error in finding out what's going to engage them. Sometimes it's an image that we put upon on a holiday. Like our Memorial Day posts go crazy. We've gotten tens of thousands of shares for those. Sometimes, it's just about 'what's your favorite pair of boots to wear when you're on the roof?' It's just finding out what triggers there are. We've actually done some pretty extensive research to find out which topics have trended best with them over time. It's an audience that's very into being patriotic, very into work ethic. So we try and weave these pieces into our messaging and our content, and that's where we've been able to really find what's most successful to have them go from looking at their friends' baby pictures to coming over and talking more about roofing."

Don't focus so narrowly on buyers that you ignore your audience (08:00): "We've seen an incredible shift in the role of the female head of household in home improvements, and that's happened over the last 10 years: 91% of the time, the female head of household is the primary decision maker on what goes up on the roof, which is an incredible shift. As you can imagine, that means that we need to engage her in different ways. So there are mediums like Pinterest that we're involved in, and we know 75% of Pinterest users are females. And what's that focused on? It's focused on pictures, style, color, and we know from a lot of different statistics and research that she is very acutely focused in on that and the overall style of her home, and not just on a roof. So for us, it was about changing the conversation from just a primary roofing focus to engage her on her overall house—of which the roof, of course, makes up a significant portion—and engage her on that house portfolio, which then in turn makes us an expert on roofing and style and the overall home."

To learn more, visit GAF.com or follow the company on Twitter: @gafroofing. You can also check out the company's Style My House page on Facebook, hosted by Alyssa and Emily.

Alyssa, Emily and I talked about much more, including how GAF conducted audience research to see which posts get the most engagement—positive or negative—and where their online conversations have the most traction, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

This episode brought to you by CallidusCloud.


Special thanks to production sponsor Candidio, an efficient, affordable video production platform allowing marketers and communicators to collaborate and curate video content, with help from a team of professional, on-demand video editors for the finishing touches. Check them out!

Show opener music credit: Noam Weinstein.

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