Jen Silver had sworn off social media.
She hadn't used it for nearly a year and a half before rejoining Facebook earlier this year in February. Then as the calendar turned to March, she decided she’d try and network.
"I sent out 400 friend requests to CEOs, business owners and real estate brokers—anybody that I thought networking with, in the Salt Lake area would make sense," said Silver, the president of Roofing Utah, Inc. "By the end of March, I had 2,000 friends . . . and it just continued to grow from there.
With that, she began discussing who she was, what she stood for and that led to discussing her business.
"I ended up branding myself," she said. "There’s a lot of people who really want to know—especially in construction—who they’re buying from. So when customers can get behind who the owner is and what the owner stands for, I think it creates that same persona for the company.
"I think that I’ve done a really good job of portraying who I am as far as my authenticity, my desire to contribute . . . what we are up to as a company as far as giving back," continued Silver, who said Roofing Utah gave 5% of its April sales to the Autism Council of Utah. "And people like that."
Silver has been interviewed by various outlets, featured on podcasts and was a panelist at the 2021 International Roofing Expo (IRE), which took place Aug. 10-12 in Las Vegas. She joined Certified Contractors Network President Scott Siegal, Stan’s Roofing and Siding President/Senior Project Consultant Kevin Bumstead, Certified Contractors Network Owner John Martindale and Brothers Services Company EVP Dave MacLean in a session entitled “Growing Your Roofing Business with Another Product Line—Expanding into Windows & Siding, etc.”
She credits these appearances for surges in leads—and her social media presence for Roofing Utah being voted one of the 19 best roofing companies in Salt Lake City despite only being in business for less than two years.
"When I started my company in December 2019 I hadn't really thought about branding," Silver said.
There were enough challenges on the horizon—the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and starting 2021 with a loss of $150,000 due to unrecoverable accounts receivable.
"Being a brand-new business, that is really challenging and pretty difficult to recover from," Silver said, "trying to figure out what was going to be the most efficient way to brand [my company] while having no capital."
After consulting with her employees, "we ultimately figured that it made the most sense to leverage social media."
"Honestly, I don’t know that branding myself was initially my strategy," Silver admitted.
"I didn’t realize that what I was doing was going to create a personal brand and I went into it with the mindset that I was networking," she added.
One of the things that differentiated Roofing Utah from other roofing companies is that it is female-owned and operated.
"I started my own business—I underestimated the anomaly that it was a solely woman-owned and operated roofing company, coupled with me being a single mom—and so that in itself kind of branded me and it just grew from there," Silver said. "I went along with it because I realized that it was going to be the quickest most effective way to drive business results."
Silver said she wasn't sure if her business would have survived had she not taken to social media. To her, the return on investment can't just be expressed by a number.
"Honestly, the biggest result is that that we’re in business and we are kicking ass," she said. "I know that if we hadn't taken to social media or if I hadn't branded myself the way that I did, I don’t know that we would’ve made it through some of the challenges that we faced. I’m 100% sure that there’s been a huge return on investment."
Silver said she averages three to four leads per week from Facebook and organic leads increased by nearly 800% in a recent 60-day period, "which I know is a direct result of the interviews, podcasts, etc. and the backlinks that are generated from those postings.”
Facebook has been the most successful platform for Silver. Instagram, on the other hand, hasn't. She is working on leveraging that platform as well, as its core audience—Millennials—will be future home buyers.
"For me, Facebook has probably been the best avenue for branding myself initially," she said. "Facebook allows for more personal interaction. Instagram is more about views [rather than conversation]" and selling products directly.
LinkedIn, like Facebook, is a better place to build and establish relationships, Silver said.
"I think LinkedIn does a lot as far as giving me access to accomplish some of the industry-changing things that I am hoping to contribute,” Silver said, “and generate my reputation and validity among my peers.”
She considered being recognized by IRE attendees as a "huge compliment."
"I was surprised how many people at IRE knew who I was," Silver said. "That was a huge compliment and I am really grateful for what social media—whether it’s my LinkedIn or whether it’s Facebook—has done."
There are more speaking engagements on her schedule and Silver said she'll also be doing product testing for a major manufacturer, which she is "really excited" about.
Here is some advice from Silver for anyone looking to leverage social media.
- Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there: It feels weird at first doing videos, or sending friend requests to strangers, but you have to start somewhere;
- Videos, videos, videos: Whether it's on your story or your timeline, people want to watch and not read;
- Create educational videos: For example, what to do after a major storm, how to look up a contractor's license, or even what to look for when choosing a contractor for any home improvement project—then post them in community forums to reach even more of the masses;
- Back-links are very important and can increase your Google authority very quickly. Always ask to have a backlink when doing any interviews, collaborations, or publications that have a website;
- Engage: Post often and respond to all comments on your posts. The more comments on a post, the more it is featured in others' news feeds, even those that you may not interact with regularly.
"There have been a lot of opportunities that have opened up for me both me personally and professionally,” Silver said, “along with [a shift] in how I’m viewed, who I am in the industry and what I represent for roofing contractors in Utah and perhaps nationally as well. I think that the majority of that has all come in a combination of my social media channels."