How are the top 15 construction companies using social media?

Read our 2015 update of this post here.

One of the top questions when embarking on a social media marketing strategy is “Where are my prospects and customers hanging out?”. I originally wanted to focus on very niche markets, pick a handful of companies and analyse their profiles in order to then report on how they are embracing and utilising social media channels to enhance brand perception, improve customer service, educate and engage with the rest of the construction market.

I then found a very useful bit of data ‘Top 100 construction companies 2009’ published on The Construction Index website. What a great idea to analyse their presence on social media channels I thought! After all, these companies have turnover that runs into millions and in some cases billions so it would be worthwhile to check out how they are approaching and embracing social media as part of their marketing mix.

Firstly, I didn’t analyse all 100 construction companies, I just picked the top 15 (It would take too long to do all 100) and viewed their profiles on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. I also then went on to study their websites to see if they had social media links on their homepages, analytics installed (as you know I love analytics) and finally an RSS feed or e-mail feed.

Analysis:

Twitter – Do they have a presence? Are they Tweeting? Are they engaging? I based engagement on the ratio of outgoing tweets to incoming (mentions) tweets.

LinkedIn – Do they have a company profile? Have they setup any groups?

Facebook – Do they have a fan/like page? How many fans/likes do they have?

Website Links – Do the websites have clear visible links to their social media profiles?

Analytics – Do they have the ability to measure the success of their marketing intiatives and their social media activities?

Outbound Feeds – Do they include RSS or E-Mail feeds for people to subscribe to?

Findings (presented in table at the end):

7 out of 15 top construction companies are on Twitter
3 out of the 7 on Twitter are actually Tweeting
None of the top 15 construction companies are engaging with followers
12 out of 15 top construction companies have a LinkedIn company page
6 out of the 12 on LinkedIn have set up groups to join
14 out of 15 top construction companies have a presence on Facebook
3 out of the 14 on Facebook have more than 10 fans/like.
2 out of 15 companies have placed links on their company websites to a social media profile
1 out of the top construction 15 companies has no presence on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook (not that I could find anyway)

Twitter Analysis:

Out of the top 15 construction companies based on turnover in 2009 only 7 are present on Twitter, of which 4 have of those companies have only registered the Twitter ID and nothing more. The other 3 companies (Amey UK, Skanska UK and Mitie) are using Twitter to only broadcast news and cannot see any form of engagement with their followers. An example is the recent tweet by Skanska UK informing followers that they came 2nd in the Sunday Times Best Green Companies 2010 awards. I replied back to the tweet asking if they knew when the results would be published to which I got no reply. It is important to note that Bovis Lend Lease are using Twitter for internal communications only and have protected their tweets which shows another way of using Twitter for communications. Sometimes, it is best to get communications correct on the inside before targeting the outside. It also gives all employees a chance to get used to the Twitter platform and work their way around should they ever utilise Twitter for inbound marketing.

Bottom line, none of the top 15 construction companies are using Twitter to engage (creating conversations) with their followers. Merely using it to broadcast news.

LinkedIn Analysis:

Moving onto LinkedIn I found that out of the top 15 construction companies, 12 had a company profile page of which 6 had gone onto creating sub-groups for employees and other networks to join. Balfour Beatty has the highest number of groups and have created individual groups based on individual interests and business sectors which I find very encouraging.

Bottom line, LinkedIn seems to be where all the top construction companies are putting most of their activity. I just think with a little bit more creativity they could create more groups to engage with more professionals, gather customer or project feedback, service development and create discussions on industry topics.

Facebook Analysis:

As for Facebook, 14 out of 15 companies have a Facebook fan/like page. Laing O Rourke have the highest number of fans/likes (44). The downside to all the companies Facebook Fan/Like pages is that there is nothing more than a company profile from Wikipedia. Where are the videos? Links to case studies? The photo’s of recent projects? News stories of projects won? What about some environmental stories/topics to show their GREEN credentials? In the case of Laing O Rourke, they seem to be doing nothing to those 44 fans who like their company. It seems as though the top 15 construction companies have just created a Facebook fan/like page and again do nothing more with it and providing anything of value to its community.

Bottom line, Facebook just seems like a ‘do it and forget about it’ type activity. They have failed to realise that Facebook is a useful tool to publish less-informal news, videos and topics which may not be appropriate for the main website. C’mon….build some personality into your brands!

Website Analysis:

We move onto their websites. Out of the top 15 construction companies in 2009, only 2 companies have links on their homepage to their social media profiles. Amey UK have a tiny Twitter icon on their homepage but what about the links to their Facebook and LinkedIn profiles? Skanska does not have any icons or links to their Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn pages yet they are using Twitter for broadcasting so why not encourage more followings on Twitter for latest news and jobs? The one company which stood out for me was Mitie. They have links on their homepage to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and also include an RSS button and they are BIG icons too.Happy Days. I then clicked on the  Facebook icon on the Mitie homepage and I was taken to a Facebook page for employees only! Darn, just when it was getting good. I then went onto find discussions taking place on their Facebook page. The discussions were about problems employees were  having with their wages, payments and tax being too high. I mean c’mon. Where is your social media policy guys? If I was looking at a vacancy at Mitie I would think again about applying….I might not get paid. The question here is where is the moderator?

Bottom line, the issue here is ‘integration’. It comes across like each social media platform is treated like its own individual campaign. They show no signs of integrating Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn with their main business website. No moderation is taking place and I just hope these companies have a reputation management strategy in place. Doubt it. The consistency of messages across all platforms needs to build the personality of the brand. These companies turnover billions! A little personality wouldn’t go a miss…..would it?

Analytics Analysis:

Moving onto my favourite topic, Analytics. 11 out of 15 companies have Google Analytics installed on their site which I find encouraging but the question is whether they are actually using it to make a) better business decisions and b) better marketing decisions. Surprisingly, I could not find the Google Analytics script on the Skanska site which indicates that the performance of their website and understanding how people find them is not important to them. I suppose a big brand like Skanska are already well known within the construction industry but I personally would want to know how I can best serve visitors to my website right?

Outbound Feeds Analysis:

7 out of the top 15 construction companies (Carillion, Morgan Sindall, Kier, Sir Robert McAlpine, Interserve, Amey UK and Mitie) have an RSS feed on their website for the latest news published by each company. I was also surprised to find most of them have an option to subscribe to the latest news about the company, what I would like to know is what value over and above what news is already published on their websites are the subscribers receiving. I might just go and subscribe to a few.

Summary:

So to summarise, it is encouraging to see that the top 15 construction companies are making an effort and progressing with social media. I personally think that the brands could just do a little more and go a little further by engaging with a wider, younger and innovative audience through the use of Facebook and Twitter and adding value for their online communities. Current state seems like ‘we must do it because everyone else is doing it’ type attitude with very little strategy implementation or integration with other business objectives.  Simple rules have been missed such as the implementation of social media policies in the case of Mitie and their Facebook discussions. The moderation of these channels seems non-existent. These are all big companies  and they all talk about CSR policies, brand characteristics, how they give back to the community, how green they are and how they look after their people. Erm…..come on then…..show me!

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on why engagement might be a problem for some of these companies and why they don’t seem to be marketing-led. Is it a fear of social media? Change? Adapting to new technologies in which case is it to do with education? Do they realise that it is not a ‘set and forget’ type activity? Social media is a process, a strategy and it has objectives. Are you seeing any value here?

Here is a table showing the full analysis:

 

Social Media Analysis of Top 15 UK Construction Companies

Social Media Analysis of Top 15 UK Construction Companies

 

To find out more information on creating an effective social media strategy for your construction business, download our eBook here.

 

About Pauley Creative

Pauley Creative is the digital marketing agency for the construction industry. We create, build and manage brand awareness and lead generation strategies for building product manufacturers within the construction industry. You can follow us on Twitter here - click here.

26 Responses to “How are the top 15 construction companies using social media?”

  1. Sonya Anaya

    Twitter for internal use is ingenious! Now if only we could get our sales guys to use it.. it would be perfect to update them and let them know what marketing collateral is available to them and other departmental messages.

    It was a pleasure to meet you today. This was another fine blog post. Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Will Mann

    Interesting analysis Pritesh.

    I don’t think there are many social media pioneers among construction companies, as EEPaul would probably testify, and I suspect that much of what you detail above is ‘tokenism’ – companies joining social media networks because they feel they should be seen to be doing something, rather than because they understand how it could be of value to the business.

    But I would like to be proved wrong.

    Reply
  3. Nick Pauley

    Firstly, thank you for your kind words Sonya. It was great to meet you too.

    Secondly, thanks for your comments Will. It is a case of ‘tokenism’ and most will have adopted a ‘set and forget’ type attitude. Activity seems to be on the quiet side as no clear strategy or objectives have been defined.

    I also wrote another post for the top 15 house builders and seems like the same story here bar one house builder by the name of Miller Homes. They really have put some effort into their social media strategy and you can see the difference when just going that extra mile.

    Reply
  4. Mike

    Perhaps they are allready so large and well known that they have no need to”interact” with the wider audience on Twitter and FB I wouldnt imagine that Twitter or FB would be populated by their average customers. Twitter seems to be mainly for “techy” types and office bound people and facebook would appear to be populated by a younger more sociallly based clientelle.

    Reply
  5. Gilad Kremer

    Hello Mike,
    This is a great analysis of an industry not reach in use of social Media (oppose to the wireless industry for instance). Very interesting!

    Reply
  6. Emma Young

    I think we need to consider where construction companies marketing strategy is these days. What is their priority, what budget do they have, how lean is their marketing team now? Does their priority lie in getting new work or working on a social media strategy? Is social media an ideal that has had to be put on hold in a market where it has little affect on the real issue which is competition between contractors for jobs? Is there marketing mediums that are far more effective in current market conditions? Just a thought …

    Reply
    • Nick Pauley

      Hi Emma, thanks for taking the time to comment. You make some really good points and ‘outcomes’ is absolutely what needs attention and by that I mean what is the business objective right now… I believe the approach to consider right now is an integration of media channels – no one channel should be solely relied upon. A social media strategy should form part of a broader sales and marketing strategy. Each company’s marketing need is different and each media channel will need to justify it’s allocated budget in order to remain within an effective strategy. However to ignore Social Media out of hand, with so many opportunities to develop relationships with councils, architects, surveyors and main contractors who are currently active on Twitter, for example, would surely be a mistake.

      Reply
  7. Peter L Masters MCIM

    Good point from Emma Young, but these are the UK’s top construction companies not SME’s, shouldn’t the likes of Balfour Beatty and Carillion et al be leading the way and looking to the future? To me, the priority should be perfecting cost effective ways of not only getting work, but also communicating to the outside world. In 10 years or so when the TV has gone the way of Yellow Pages, I’m sure we will all applaud those Construction pioneers that had both the resources and wherewithall to have Facebooked and Twittered first.

    Reply
  8. Pritesh Patel

    Thanks for your comments here Peter and Emma and some valid points you both raise.

    Emma – To your question ‘Does their priority lie in getting new work or working on a social media strategy?’ It’s not one or the other…it should be ‘how can we use social media to get us new work’ or ‘how can we utilise social media to communicate and collaborate online with those who could potentially generate work for us’. Marketers must change the way they think, businesses must adapt to change.

    Those who, like Peter states, start now, laying the foundations today, with the long term in mind and use social media to educate and inspire the younger generation about construction, their brand, their ethos will be able to communicate much more effectively in 10 years time.

    There is no one way to use social media, it is there for you to use it how you want, the problem is, the top construction companies have no objectives in mind, no strategy, no goals, no integration and therefore will attract discussions that social media is a fad. Try telling that to a future Balfour Beatty Project Manager who grew up communicating on Facebook and Twitter but no…your business communicates by email and phone.

    Are any construction companies and marketing staff in particular actually looking at what they do today and thinking to themselves….”Is what I do today, right here right now, still going to be the way I do things in 5, 10 years time?”

    Your other question ‘Is there marketing mediums that are far more effective in current market conditions?’ Answer to that is probably yes, but would it not be even more effective if you integrated all the medium so they all worked just that little but harder for you? (As Nick already stated above)

    Peter – Spot on.

    Thanks

    Reply
  9. Timothy Greenwood

    Very interesting article but not that isnt so suprising. The construction industry is always a little slow in repsonding to change and the new media is no different.

    Reply
  10. Darren Cooper

    Great article, well contributed by all.
    We are going to try the social networks for our business interests, will it be successful and catch on…

    Twitter us @interspaceBuild Darren Cooper

    Reply
  11. Paul Munford

    Nice article! I was wondering why it was so difficult to find contractors on Twitter – now I know!

    I guess that many jobs are still won through personal contacts rather than marketing campaigns – after all, most contractors don’t sell to the public.

    I reckon that ‘most contractors’ forget that their clients are ‘public’ as well, and it is never a bad idea to raise your profile and build your brand.

    @CadSetterOut

    Reply
  12. Rhian T

    I have just come across this article and found it very interesting. Following on from this I am in the process of adopting your analysis method and I am doing the same for the top 20 architectural practices in the UK. One question I had though – how do you know if a company has adopted Google Analytics?
    Rhian

    Reply
  13. Pritesh Patel

    Hi Rhian

    Thanks for your comments and would be more than happy to view your analysis.

    There are a number of ways to view if a company has Google Analytics installed on their site. The simplest way is to view the source code of the website and then do a ‘find’ for the word ‘ga.js’.

    If you find ‘ga.js’ within the code then there is a Google Analytics profile for that website.

    Alternatively, you can also use Firefox browser and download a plugin which automatically detects if the site is using Google Analytics or not and displays a Analytics icon in the address bar if it is.

    Hope that helps.

    Reply
    • David Revis

      Just wanted to let you know that your method isn’t foolproof as MITIE does use google analytics. Maybe it was human error?

      Reply
      • Pritesh Patel

        Hi David

        It may well have been a human error. However, the Analytics side of things is just a small aspect in relation to the overall objective which was to understand if and how some of the larger construction companies are using social media.

        Thanks for your comment David.

        Pritesh

        Reply
  14. David Gray

    Hi there,

    Quite interesting stuff. However, I think that these probably weren’t the best companies for doing this sort of analysis on, because, as others have also said, they are so large they don’t need to tweet to the public at large to win business, which should be the point of doing it. For example, one (obviously stupid) conclusion of the above analysis could be: don’t exploit social media to its full potential and your company could make billions too!

    I think it would be interesting to do a similar study on small/start up companies where their customer base is more towards the public and where there income, and livelihood could heavily depend upon their social media output. A longer term study of how companies panned out over 5 years that did or didn’t use social media would be interesting.

    Reply
  15. MD

    Hi there,

    Does anybody know a good benchmark of how much should be the marketing and communication budget of a construction and facilities company please?

    What is the % compared to sales?

    thanks a lot
    MD

    Reply
    • Pritesh Patel

      Hi

      There is no rule of thumb or benchmark. Every business is unique.

      What is it that you wan to achieve? How big is your market? What do you want in return? What resources do you have?

      Reply
  16. MD

    Thanks Pritesh,

    We want to build brand image as group, our market is worldwide but specaillly focused in 4 countries in construction, facilities, PPP, energy, etc…
    We would like to generate more leads.
    Best,
    MD

    Reply
  17. Riyazi

    Very interesting – thanks for the analysis.

    It would be even more interesting to see a new analysis for 2011 and compare results against the above. It would show how much more companies engaging. I would suspect it would be very high.

    Reply
    • Ayaan Mohamud

      Thanks for your comment Riyazi. We have been thinking about doing an updated analysis but not sure that things would have dramatically changed. Maybe we will wait another 6 months and do it in the new year.

      Reply
  18. Debbie Lee

    Hello!

    I work for Tamdown – a civil engineering / remediation / design and build / shell and core building company (excuse the list – we do a lot!)

    We’ve actively engaged with Facebook over the last year or so and have seen some positive outcomes, particularly from our sub-contractors! Just wanted to post this so that if any companies are thinking of creating a page but arent sure about it, they can read this and see that it works! Its nice to give a personality to the business to the outside as well which Facebook really helps with. It takes a lot of planning and dedication to really get the results but we feel its been worth it.

    Good luck!

    Debbie

    http://www.facebook.com/TamdownGroup

    Reply

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