Our recent research the Construction Media Index demonstrates that social media is an established part of the business landscape.
Social media is a great leveller and in my recent articles for AIS Interiors Insight and Construction News I present the case for building profile through social media. In the past the small or medium sized business could never hope to compete with the larger organisation with its extensive marketing resources. But that has all changed.
A series of informative blog articles, some useful postings on a discussion group or some informative Tweets can get extensive coverage regardless of the size of organisation. In fact the smaller organisation has an advantage over its larger competitor because it has a shorter decision making processes and can respond quickly.
In case you are not convinced that social media is important, here are some statistics from our research:
- Twitter – in 2011 38% of companies had a policy saying staff could not use Twitter at work, in 2013 that has fallen to just 8%.
- Social networks – 60% of construction professionals use them for help with work, mostly to network or keep informed about industry news.
- Online video – these are watched by more than half of architects and main contractors.
All of these channels are easy to use and low cost.
As an example of how effective these channels are, one of my comments about the Construction Media Index research findings was tweeted at a recent seminar presentation I gave. By the end of the seminar I had been contacted by a leading industry journal asking for more information. Social media is not just about direct contact with your customers, it’s about indirect contact via the press.
Tips for using social media
Social networking, like any other form of communication, is not just about talking but listening. By following clients on Twitter you can build a better understanding of their likes and dislikes. And following key influencers can also tell you about business opportunities. An architect might well tweet that they have just won a project.
Discussion groups can also give an indication of trends. By following designers’ discussions you can get an understanding of issues they are finding challenging, perhaps pointing to an opportunity for you. Or use the discussion group to ask questions about decision makers’ needs
Always aim to provide useful information. Content is king. Put out informative articles which will help people and in time it will lead to referrals. Word of warning, don’t include overt sales material it will just turn people away.
Consider doing short pieces to camera and posting them on YouTube, this is rapidly growing in popularity as a means of communicating and is ideal for demonstrating a skill or showing off a project.
What about the future?
Our research is pointing at some trends. There seems to be a blurring between the different forms of communication. Online journals, news alerts, blogs and information websites are merging in people’s perceptions, as the way information is delivered evolves. For example, with the growth in the use of twitter, there is now a preference for links where further information can be downloaded. We are also increasingly relying on others to summarise news for us rather than reading it in detail.
There seems to be a low awareness of particular Apps, but these are widely used and I would expect them to become more influential in the future, possibly working as a means of sifting information for people. An increasing problem is information overload.
Already a third of industry decision makers are using QR codes, and more than double that number for main contractors. As companies realise the potential of the QR code to offer more information this usage can only increase, either as we know it today or in whatever format that supersedes it.
Read the full article for AIS Interiors Insights: Profile Building Through Social Media
Read my article for SpecifiedBy: The Use of Social Media in Construction
Find out more about The Construction Media Index, an independent, impartial and comprehensive report detailing the communication channels available for promoting to the construction sector.