As social media continues to change, so too does the way it affects the A/E industry. Stay in touch with the times or get left behind.
Architecture, engineering, planning, and environmental consulting firms appear to be embracing social media, with 96 percent of respondents to Zweig Group’s 2016 Marketing Survey of A/E/P & Environmental Consulting Firms reporting they use some sort of social media for marketing/business development purposes. That figure was only 26 percent in 2008.
Social media can help your A/E firm be more successful – in fact 45 percent of firms surveyed by Zweig Group received inquiries from social media marketing. Of the 45 percent, 79 percent received three or more projects from those inquires. Just a couple years ago I used to say, “You probably can’t get a project off Facebook, but it’s important to use social media for exposure/brand building/etc.” Now, I’d actually say you can get a project off social media!
Here is a brief summary of basic guidelines – developed in part by Zweig Group marketing intern Sanjay Jenkins – to keep in mind in today’s modern social media world.
- Post regularly.
- Maintain a consistent voice on each platform.
- Link to your social media profiles on your websites. Mention them in any press materials.
- Use the strengths of each platform and do not share the same thing in the same way at the same time.
- Use good images and photography.
- Respond as quickly as possible.
- Space and plan. There are a lot of tweets on Twitter and it’s easy for your 140-character message to get lost in the feed. Space out your tweets, post often, but don’t spam. For best results, create and schedule posts in advance. It is generally not a good idea to come into the office and say, “What should we post today?”
- Stay relevant, add value. Think about what your customers need and tailor your posts to satisfy those needs. No one wants to see 10 posts of your holiday party (unless it’s REALLY good).
- Hashtag. It may seem childish at times but hashtags increase the number of impressions your tweet receives. Keep hashtags relevant, too. Don’t know which hashtags to use? Use a hashtag search program (there are many free tools online) to find which hashtags have been used most with certain keywords. Hashtags allow you to reach out to a wide audience (#business is a very general term) but they can also help with targeting niches.
- Retweet! You should not always be posting your own stuff. You should be following people/organizations relevant to your industry and business and they will most likely post content that can add value to your own followers. Hit the retweet button! For more punch, quote the tweet and add your own spin on the content.
- Follow, follow, follow. Search for hashtags, follow followers of associations/organizations/people who are in your industry or community.
- Communication is a two-way street. The best part about Twitter is how easily it lets you engage with other people. See a neat post? Put down a relevant comment. Respond and converse!
- Use 11 or more hashtags on every post. This has to be the first tip because it is the one that rarely gets used. There have been numerous case studies that have shown that the posts with the best engagement all have 11 or more relevant hashtags. Instagram will also show you which hashtags have been used the most.
- Post beautiful photos and videos. Instagram and the AEC industry are a natural fit, as people working in this industry are creating and working in the built and natural environment. You should have plenty of content to post to your page.
- Hashtags are useless if no one is searching for them. Don’t use your own firm’s hashtag by itself (unless it has value already).
- Use Stories or go live. Interact with your audience in real time. Show them your world through your eyes. Live streams disappear at the end of each session so make sure to record important things in some other way if you want to redistribute later!
- Post different types of content. A long line of blog posts might be good for SEO but it will be boring for anyone scrolling through your Facebook page. Mix blog posts from your website with videos, photos, audio content, etc. Upload videos separately to Facebook rather than posting the link to YouTube so it will be easier for people to watch.
- Share relevant content. Facebook is one of the easiest places to share content created by others that is relevant to your own audience. It’s a natural part of using Facebook and people are more receptive to it.
- Create insanely targeted ads. If you haven’t used Facebook’s ad platform yet, you need to.
- SlideShare and extended content. LinkedIn’s SlideShare platform is a great resource to display presentations as well as learn about other relevant topics. LinkedIn is a good place to post longer, more involved articles.
- Use LinkedIn sponsored ads. Sponsored updates provide a better way to put your content in front of your desired audience.
- Offer expertise in discussion groups. The goal of this type of marketing is to establish thought leadership so when it comes time to work with someone, the reader will remember that your company knows how to address their particular pain point.
Zweig Group recently published an AEC Industry Social Media Guide. Email email@example.com if you’re interested in receiving this full-length complementary publication.
Christina Zweig is Zweig Group’s director of marketing. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.