How Asphalt Companies Can Leverage Social Media
Throughout its area of operation in Connecticut and New York, American Pavement Specialists has established a reputation for its clean, shiny, bright red trucks. The family-owned asphalt paving company offers paving, milling, reclamation and grading services, mostly for commercial and DOT clients, as well as area municipalities.
Based in Danbury, Connecticut, American Pavement Specialists was founded in 1993 by Bill Jr. and Colleen Stanley.
“Even when my father had one truck, he made sure it was kept clean,” said Matthew Stanley, the youngest of the couple’s four sons, all of whom are now foreman on American Pavement’s crews.
“The type of care we take in our fleet is hard to ignore,” Matthew said. “Paving trucks aren’t supposed to be cleaner than sports cars going down the road or have tire shine dripping off them at the asphalt plant. It’s that wow factor.”
A few years ago, Matthew and his brothers began expanding the company’s picture-perfect image by effectively leveraging the power of social media. Here, he shares the company’s strategy and lessons learned in the process of growing a global online following.
American Pavements lays an average of 80,000 tons of asphalt per year.
Can you give us a brief bit of background on American Pavements?
Asphalt paving is in our blood. When my father made the tough decision to go on his own, he had a set of hand tools, a small truck and a roller my grandfather gave him. He didn’t have any employees. His first job was a small driveway. Using a pick to pull the old driveway out, he threw the old asphalt on the truck hauled it away. Picked up the asphalt, dumped it, shoveled it, raked it and rolled it, all by himself. Then picked up his check.
Fast forward 26 years later, through years of happy repeat customers, constant reinvested growth and an eager desire to be the best, American has distinguished itself as an industry leader.
What is your marketing strategy in a nutshell?
In a nutshell, our marketing strategy has always been our image backed by our performance. This may not sound like a marketing strategy to many people, but the way we maintain our trucks and equipment is hard to ignore. Each one of our trucks is waxed/polished weekly, tires shined, you name it. Along with our trucks, our equipment is maintained at the highest level.
Our goal is when a potential customer sees us on the road or a contractor sees us in the field their first thought is either, “Who are those guys?” or “Those guys must be good!” It’s our mission to deliver on those expectations and gain referrals. Our quality fleet reflects our quality work. When you do that, you create a reputation that sticks out from others. One that’s worth keeping an eye out for on the road, one that’s worth supporting, worth following on social media, and worth being a customer one day.
How has social media expanded your ability to illustrate this message to a broader audience?
Social media has been fuel to that fire. Our reach started with contractors across the country and now spans the world. We receive messages from people from Australia, Brazil, UK, Germany, France and Russia to name a few letting us know they love what we do and the way we do things. It’s very gratifying and awesome motivation to constantly improve and push the envelope in an industry we love.
Many asphalt paving companies have embraced the ability to market on social media. For those that haven’t…how might they be missing out by not engaging on social media?
Once our social media following started to grow, not only were we able to showcase our work and build on our word-of-mouth reputation, but we were also able to create some leverage within our market. Not only against competition, but also with the manufacturers of the machines we run daily, equipment dealers and the asphalt plants we buy mix from (even when working with plants we don’t normally buy from). Oftentimes, the plant operators are familiar with us already because of our presence on social media.
Historically, the biggest companies doing the most numbers get the best service. In some cases this is still true.
When an equipment dealer or asphalt plant realizes our influence, we think it incentivizes top quality service, just like a popular blogger might get special service at a restaurant or hotel. Our relationships have improved through social media, and we’re optimistic they will continue to grow. We want our opinion and our influence to matter.
We’ve been able to create a number of relationships we wouldn’t have been able to develop without social media.
In my experience, even FEWER asphalt producers (versus paving companies) are on social media. What, if anything, could those companies gain by engaging on social media?
It’s tough to say, since markets are so different from region to region. Regardless of the local market, I do think there’s an opportunity for asphalt plants to support the contractors who buy their product. Staying engaged and showing they care goes a long way. We have some reps from asphalt plants we buy from often that follow our page. They’re able to stay engaged with us and our jobs without physically being there.
Have you found any benefits related to attracting new crew members using social media?
We are just starting to experiment with attracting young talent from social media. We actually posted job offerings for the first time and received lots of promising responses. Some local, some even looking to relocate. It’s definitely something we see as another avenue when it comes to the recruiting process but we are not sold on it just yet. We have a slow turn over rate within our company and take pride in the fact that we have several employees that have been with us for 25+ years.
What channels do you use, and why?
I believe there are two important factors to be successful on any social media platform. First, understanding your audience, and second (and most important), being authentic. We can proudly say we have a strong presence on almost all social media platforms. (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, even TikTok).
Instagram has been our most popular platform, with a growing audience of almost 15,000 followers and more than 100,000 engagements per week. With Instagram and on our Youtube channel, we like to get creative. That’s where we post all of our fun videography to capture that 18-to-35-year-old audience that we believe holds a strong impact on the future of the construction industry. We post all types of content: flashy red trucks and seamless paving jobs are what draw the most attention.
It seems that the audience on Facebook is a bit older, so I keep it more official. In addition to posting our clean, pretty fleet out in the field every day, I like to share photos of our completed job sites, testimonials, and things like that.
Do you have any tips on generating content for social channels? Do you incentivize crew members to take photos? Do you have a shared Google Drive for them to upload to, or do they text them to you? Or is it one person capturing all the content?
To attract a following and gain some ground in the social media world, you 100 percent have to be authentic with what you post. No more boring posts of a crew standing around in their brand new safety vests and hard hats. Know what your company stands for and try your best to relay that message through your content. I love to portray our hardworking-whatever-it-takes attitude. It’s what I feel our followers latch on to: the hustle.
Although I love when my guys send pictures from the job site, one special thing about our account is multiple people have access to it. My three brothers, who are also foremen in the field, also have access to the account. So, if I’m paving a parking lot 30 miles away from the other crew, my brother could be with the milling crew that day on a town road and posting from there. That way our followers get to see all sorts of job sites in different locations. It keeps them engaged, and engagement is important.
What are your top 3 tips for companies just getting started on social media?
Get active. Make it a point to post every day. Whether its progress from the job or even just a thought you had, share it!
Post content with purpose. Whether you’re on there to gain work, build relationships, attract new employees, or just gain exposure, do it with a purpose.
Follow other people in your industry. Engage with them.
What are your top tips for companies who have started their pages, but haven’t seen growth/realized the benefits of social yet?
Promote the places you’re working at. I personally love when we do a plaza or a restaurant. I make sure to get their sign/business location in my pictures with their fresh new parking lot. They tend to share it themselves.
Create giveaways/contests–maybe for a company shirt, hat, decals, etc. Get your followers engaged and sharing your posts.
Collaborate with others who do have a following.
Be patient. Don’t get caught up in the follower counts, the amount of likes, or the comments. Persistence is everything on social. We’ve been consistently posting content for 6 or 7 years. The following will come.