Edinburgh plumber turned Instagram influencer embraces power of social media

Ryan Mills

AN Edinburgh plumber has attracted almost 8,000 followers on social media video sharing platform Instagram, where he has become an active influencer.

Ryan Mills (34) posts videos of his work, which includes fitting and repairing boilers, and has grown his following to the extent that product placement requests from firms that want him to promote their products are said to be coming ‘thick and fast’.

According to industry body the Scotland and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF), the innovator is showing other professionals in the sector how they can raise their profile and boost their income by engaging with social media audiences.

Ryan began his career as an apprentice after leaving school. He is the fourth generation of plumbers in his family and he currently works for his father’s firm, GD Mills Plumbing and Heating.

Since creating his Instagram account three years ago, he has uploaded more than 530 posts ranging from how-to videos, tool talks, project explanations and product recommendations which have brought him to the attention of big names such as Wilo, Connex Banninger and Rothenberger.

Ryan 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.

“Twitter was my introduction, six years ago, to the potential and the opportunities of social media. Using the hashtag Vaillant, for instance, got me credits to use against items such as workwear. 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.”

Ryan said Instagram is the most successful account, with a potential advertising reach of 1.16 billion users.

“I’m very fortunate that tool, fittings and workwear companies along with many others are happy to send me products to try and use,” he added. “All allowing themselves to be promoted while promoting me at the same time.

“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.”

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.”