Loanhead plumber joins the ranks of Instagram influencers
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Plumbing may not be the first industry that comes to mind for Instagram fame, however, his feed has attracted nearly 8,000 followers and continues to rise rapidly. With product placement requests from firms that want him to promote their products coming thick and fast.
Ryan, who is unique as a plumbing influencer in Scotland and is one of only a handful in the UK, began as an apprentice after leaving Beeslack High School in Penicuik.
He is the fourth generation of plumbers in his family, currently working for his father’s firm, GD Mills Plumbing and Heating, and first created his Instagram account just three years ago.
Since then, he has created 532 posts ranging from how-to videos, tool talks, project explanations and product recommendations which have brought him to the attention of big sector names such as Wilo, Connex Banninger and Rothenberger.
Between jobs, and sitting in his van for a well-earned break, Ryan explained how his rise to influencer status began. He said: “When I left school, my father handed me a bag of tools and told me I was starting tomorrow. I completed my apprenticeship in three and a half years and have worked with my dad ever since.
“My posts, which were simply showing what I was up to on a day-to-day basis, started to attract the attention of other engineers and manufacturers.
“It soon made sense to me that to grow on social media you need to cover most platforms out there. I have a Facebook page but that’s used mainly for promoting the business rather than me and the business. Instagram works best for me and I find myself on it daily.
“Recently I’ve moved over to LinkedIn and TikTok which I’m feeling a bit old for to be honest. I’ll soon get the hang of it though.
“I’m very fortunate that tool, fittings and workwear companies along with many others are happy to send me products to try and use. All allowing themselves to be promoted while promoting me at the same time.”
He added: “I’ve been taken to Germany on several occasions which has been superb. Especially the trip to Oktoberfest a few years ago with Wilo.
"It can be a hard balance though while carrying out your normal work but also creating content at the same time.”
According to industry body the Scotland and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF), the engaging tech-smart young innovator is showing other professionals in the sector how they can raise their profile and boost their income by engaging with social media audiences.
Fiona Hodgson, chief executive of SNIPEF, said: “Ryan is showing a different and appealing way for plumbing professionals to benefit from having an online following. Influencers are viewed by their followers as trustworthy experts in their field, and they can effectively impact their audience’s purchasing decisions.
“Influencer marketing has grown from $1.7 billion in 2016 to a projected $15 billion this year, demonstrating reaching people this way is here to stay.
“Plumbing firms having at a minimum a social media page, can work to develop partnerships. It is another way of being recognised for their expertise and demonstrates that further work can be gained through it.”
Ryan added: “It is just me and my dad in the firm, and I sometimes find myself replacing boilers that he installed 30 years ago.
"However, it can be a lonely place at times and I very much enjoy the chance to engage with other engineers, exchange tips and learn from their experiences. Social media enables me to have that opportunity.
“I hope my son will become the fifth generation in the family to go into the industry and I wonder what changes and challenges he will have to encounter in his career.”