By Brooke Barr, Editorial & Media Liaison
A third of all businesses in the building, construction, architecture and design industries are not on social media
Social media is new for most companies and business leaders in the construction industry. It is sometimes a difficult concept to grasp when terms such as micromedia, lifestreams and niche networks are embedded in understanding it. However, it is increasingly seen as a ‘must do’ for all sales and marketing strategies.
Unlike other industries, the take up of social media channels in the construction world has been relatively slow. In addition, it seems of the companies that are participating there are two distinct strategies – the timidly dipped toe into a tweet every now and again, or an ambitious approach pursuing videos, podcasts, and daily tweets.
In a recent survey conducted by Infolink.com.au, they revealed that the construction industry does recognise the importance of social media. In fact, the survey showed 72 per cent of businesses know having a strategy for social media is important.
Chris Mottershead, Account Manager at Infolink.com.au said, “Businesses understand that social media is an integral part of building their brand, but they are not sure what to do with it or how to engage and converse with their target audiences.”
The construction industry typically conducts business either face-to-face or over the phone. It serves the right purpose for an industry that requires visuals and has many tactile elements. However, this does not necessarily mean that the social media world is out of reach.
“It’s a great platform to position your business with regard to new product ranges or services,” said Chris.
We live in the information-on-demand age, where a personal tablet or iPhone allows us to get information at the touch of a finger. It’s crucial for businesses to position themselves as thought leaders in their area of expertise, to be talking about the latest developments and not just about their own products.
The survey by Infolink.com.au also revealed that 36 per cent of businesses are not sure how to use social media to engage their market.
Chris has identified two noticeable groups, “There are those that are passionate about their products, are experts, embrace blogs to create debate and position themselves as thought leaders, and the other group – the luddites – who are not very open to the online world, but will get something live but not really know what to do with it.”
“It’s going to be great to see what innovations come out of this space and how it evolves. When we have this same conversation a year from now, it will be fascinating to see the changes in attitudes and behaviours in the construction industry.”
So how big is the gap between this evolving technology and our day-to-day marketing and sales campaigns? Interactions within the social media realm need to be incorporated into everyday business. Mark Parker, CEO at Smart Social Media, tells us,
“Social media is quite fundamental, it should certainly be a core part of your overall marketing and sales mix. If not, your businesses will be behind the eight ball.”
“Buyer behaviour is changing and you need to get your head around that. It’s no longer just about controlled content, it’s about where you can get word-of-mouth out and getting honest opinions.”
There are many different social media platforms. Is a blog or a wiki the way to go? Should it be live chat or forums? Should my business message change for this media?
Mark Parker’s advice is to, “Humanise your social media. Give your corporate message a human look and feel, create authenticity.”
“The best place to start is to look at who you want to communicate with, define your typical customer, and look at their familiarity with technology and where you are likely to find them.”
It is also important not to ‘over think’ the interaction. Mark suggests you:
“start somewhere, and start small”
“Start a blog. It’s a controlled environment with a low frequency publishing program, maybe once a month to begin with. If you build confidence over time in this core channel then it will continually deliver benefits – it builds you a really strong platform whilst also ticking boxes around search content and key word optimisation.”
The best ways to utilise social media in the construction world are, in my opinion, still to be unearthed. However, by being involved you will find new and exciting ways to build your business brand, communicate to your target audience, and increase client loyalty.
The final word is from Randi Zuckerberg (former marketing director of Facebook and sister of the CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg), who suggests we use social media as a platform for customer service. “If you can only do one thing with your social media efforts, do this,” says Zuckerberg.
Chris Mottershead from Infolink.com.au – www.infolink.com.au
Mark Parker from Smart Social Media - www.smartsocialmedia.com.au
Randi Zuckerberg article in full – www.leadingcompany.com.au