How the Top UK Construction Companies are Using Social Media Marketing in 2014

Read our 2015 update of this post here.

In June 2010 and 2011 we carried out an analysis of how the top 15 construction companies in the UK were using social media to connect with their audience online.

Although some growth in the use of social media and its execution were obvious between 2010 and 2011 many of the key players in construction were still to fully engage with their online audience. Some of those were yet to occupy any kind of presence online outside of their website. Whilst a critical aspect of marketing for any business is a well designed website, when used in isolation a website does not allow the customer to engage [with the company] in the way that they [the savvy online audience] are fast becoming accustomed.

Note: This year, when doing the groundwork for our research, we found some conflicting evidence relating to which companies actually comprise the top 15.  Our list in 2014 comprises the top construction companies that make up the top 15 on both The Construction Index (Free to view) and CN100 (Needs a login).

Although criteria for rankings on both of the top construction company indexes appear to be broadly the same (both rank by turnover), Skanska, Mace and Willmott Dixon made an appearance in CN100’s top 15 but not the Construction Index list.

BAM Construct UK, whilst appearing in the Construction Index’s top 7 was found much further down the rankings in the CN100 research at number 17, with BAM Nuttall being featured separately at number 22. Although there is inconsistency between the two pieces of data (it is not immediately clear why), in terms of who ranked where, the two pieces of data combined comprise around twenty companies.

To save confusion, this year, we have decided to analyse these top 20 UK construction companies instead of a specific top 15 and to list them in alphabetical order and not by turnover.

The top 15 CN100 Construction Companies (2013 figures)

Construction news CN100

CN100 list

 

The Construction Index Top 15 Construction Companies (2013 figures)

Construction Index Top 100

The Construction Index List

 

The Final List as Analysed by Pauley Creative

Top Contractors Using Social Media Analysis

Top Contractors Social Analysis 2014 – Correct at Time of Writing

Nearly two years have passed since we last undertook any research into the social marketing efforts of the UK’s Top Construction Companies. With social media moving so quickly and ‘SoMe’ marketing becoming more and more influential, we are anticipating some convincing trends towards more digitally integrated and customer-focused social strategies.

Customer needs (rather than company needs) should now be informing the marketing strategies of construction businesses. And what do your customers want? Well, they want to engage in real-time with you (where possible), they want to ‘see’ you as they go about their online daily lives and they want to know that their friends, colleagues, peers or competition recommend you.

They are figuring out, over varying periods of time (according to each customer’s individual decision making process) if they can trust you. If your customers or competitors trust you, when they have a need for what your business provides, it’s a sure-fire way to ensure they have you clearly on their radar.

Previous analysis of the top construction companies threw up some surprising insights about a lack of presence and the minimal engagement they have with their audiences. Where there had been attempts to talk to customers, this had been promotion rather than value-led, something that is now thought to be a cardinal sin in social media. Remember, social media is always about trust; asking your customers to buy from you is a futile exercise if you haven’t clearly demonstrated value to them, as well as a high level of expertise and credibility in your sector.

The Construction Index, with which we can make a direct comparison to last year, has changed somewhat since 2011 with notable fallers including Babcock, Costain and Skanska no longer featuring in the list. Laing O’Rouke UK fell from three down to 8, whilst Interserve moved up from number 8 to 4 and Kier Group [Inc. May Gurney] from 6 to number 3. New entries included ISG at 11, Amey uk [Inc. Enterprise] at 13, Galliford Try at 9 and Wates at number 12.

Categories Analysed

The key platforms investigated were the same for each company and have been listed below:

  1. Twitter – Do they have a presence and are they tweeting? Are they engaging?
  2. LinkedIn – Do they have a company profile? Have they set up any groups?
  3. Facebook – Do they have a company page? How many people ‘like’ it? Are they posting unique information not available on their website?
  4. Website Links – Do their websites have clear and visible links to their social media profiles?
  5. Analytics – Do they have analytics installed to measure traffic generated from social channels?
  6. Google+ – Do they have a presence, are they posting regularly and are they interacting?

Characteristics Analysed

The key social behaviours, characteristics and measures investigated were the same for each company and have been listed below:

  • Presence = The company have filled in their contact details and the page includes their logo
  • Posts = We consider a company to be posting if they have posted at least 1 post in their feed in the last month
  • Engagement = The ratio of outgoing tweets/mentions/comments to incoming tweets/mentions/comments
  • Groups = Any and all groups on LinkedIn whether open or closed
  • Social Media Links = Those that we could locate relatively easily on their site, not those buried deep in their content
  • Analytics = This was established via the Google Analytics code found in their page source data

Findings

  • 95% of the top construction companies are on Twitter.
  • 90% on Twitter are actually Tweeting (posting updates).
  • 55% of construction companies are starting to engage with followers.
  • 90% of top construction companies have a LinkedIn company page.
  • 45% of the top construction companies have set up groups for others to join on LinkedIn.
  • 65% of the top construction companies have a Facebook page.
  • 30% of the top construction companies are actually posting updates on Facebook
  • 55% of the top 20 companies have placed links on their company websites which links to their social media profiles.
  • 95% of the top 20 construction companies have analytics installed on their website.

Social Media Analysis of the UK’s top Construction Companies

Twitter Analysis

2011’s analysis revealed that 13 of the top 15 construction companies (87%) had a Twitter presence, compared to 7 (47%) in 2010. In 2013, all but one of the companies were found to have a Twitter account, showing an encouraging trend toward companies embracing the Twitter network.

Securing your company profile on Twitter and setting up an account that customers can follow is an important step, but what’s most encouraging is this year, all but one (Galliford Try) of the companies with a presence on Twitter are using their account and tweeting. Keller Group is yet to set up a Twitter account.

Unfortunately, of these construction companies on Twitter only 58% are actually using Twitter to update their followers on the latest company and industry news. This data indicates that although these main constractors had more of a presence on Twitter this year, the top guns are in fact less engaged with their audience than they were 2 years before (69% in 2011).

This is a surprising finding in some ways as we would expect to see progress towards engagement. However, as opportunities to engage on Twitter have evolved, so have opportunities to engage elsewhere online – new social media platforms have appeared (as the famous Conversation Prism from Brian Solis reveals) – new tools have become available and the internet is full of conflicting opinions on where we should be placing our efforts and how we should be doing it. The social media landscape can be an overwhelming place and oftentimes efforts become diluted in one or more areas.

A notable improvement in engagement (defined here as “a balance between broadcasting and sharing news and replying to follower mentions”) comes from Balfour Beatty who have occupied the number 1 spot in The Construction Index in each of the three years we have been analysing the marketing of the top construction companies (and across both CN100’s data and The Construction Index’s data).

It’s worth pointing out here what they appear to be doing right; not only posting good news (contracts won etc.), celebrating charity efforts (Corporate Social Responsibility), engaging directly in answering customer/prospect questions (Engaging), re-tweeting interesting news and information (Delivering relevancy), advertising for vacancies and talking to applicants (Recruitment – suggesting growth?) and tweeting team photos (Team building).

They’ve also highlighted, in specific tweets, their efforts on eco and ethical issues such as sustainability and gender equality, topics that are both important and current in construction today and issues that influencers and customers alike are increasingly interested in. Everything that Balfour Beatty is doing on Twitter suggests  to their audience that they are leading the way in construction.

Balfour Beatty Tweets

Balfour Beatty tweets are engaging and interesting

 

Carillion, although present and active on Twitter show some subtle but critical differences in their approach to tweeting. Due to the nature of their business they do refer to current topics like sustainability, they also tweet about their charity activities and celebrate their wins. The critical success factor with Balfour Beatty in contrast to Carillion however is that they engage with their audience.

Carillion go to Twitter to post ‘at’ their audience. This difference alone can give the customer a very different ‘feel’ for the company. If you think about tweeting in the same way as a conversation you might have in person- it feels good to speak knowing someone is listening. Twitter is not an advertising or lecture platform.

 

Carillion PLC Tweets

Carillion Tweets – a bit self-interested?

 

Similar trends can be seen from Morgan Sindall, BAM Construction, BAM Nuttall, Galliford Try, Keller Group and Vinci UK who are yet to use Twitter as a tool to communicate effectively with their target audience.

Re-tweeting

Retweeting should make up a percentage of your daily activity on Twitter, after all there’s a lot of valuable information available via other tweeters. Re-tweeting is also a form of flattery and will make you friends, not to mention it’s role as a time-saver when original content or research isn’t possible.

However, our research to date has found that some of the top construction companies may be over-using this function. Re-tweeting can, if used excessively, appear lazy and does not highlight the business as an expert in your industry, only as a good internet researcher.

Sure, there is a skill in selecting relevant re-tweets but ensure you are also creating and promoting your own unique content through technical and informative blogs, infographics, video and other useful and shareable web objects.

An example, perhaps, of an over-use of re-tweets – Morgan Sindall (Group):

Morgan Sindall Group Twitter

Morgan Sindall Group Loving the Retweets…

 

Notable improvements in engagement can been seen from Interserve – engagement with their followers has improved dramatically over the past two years. Their use of mentions, hashtags, replies and value-laden content mean that they would make our list of the biggest improvers.

Mitie, on the other hand seem to be focusing more on their social media efforts as there’s an obvious change in the way they are using Twitter. Looking at the Mitie Twitter (@weareMitie) timeline, there are a number of tweets which are replies to direct mentions (handling complaints and general good customer service), promoting there people and their services and retweeting other people’s content.

This is a great example of how to use Twitter as a social platform. Usage that will ultimately help to build trust, authenticity and increase their follower base. It’s good to see.

It’s interesting at this point to note that Mitie also have a powerful Twitter presence from their CEO. Ruby McGregor-Smith (@RubyMS). At the time of writing, Ruby’s Twitter profile reads:

“Chief Executive MITIE Group PLC ,Senior Independent Director of PageGroup PLC, trustee of BITC,non -exec of DCMS.Passionate about growing MITIE.”

Ruby is extremely active on social media and her strong presence and passion as a CEO in a male-oriented industry has gained much interest. Along with relevant updates about MITIE’s successes and lots of social interaction, Ruby’s updates (and news about her from third parties) also cover current issues such as diversity and business strategy, plus she also highlights the need for “harnessing young talent” amongst other social, political and corporate issues she is passionate about.

It seems that having an upfront, commanding, knowledgeable CEO (male or female) at the helm of your businesses social media marketing efforts can have a massive impact on the success of your businesses social media results. Ruby creates the all-important ‘shareability factor’. More and more, audiences like to follow these inspiring individuals championing your brand – Is your businesses leader socially active?

Mitie Twitter

We are Mitie at Twitter – @weareMitie

As you can see from the findings table, the other 3 companies who are indicated as ‘engaging’ (showing a clear increase in replies, retweets and conversations over the last few months – a balance between broadcasting and sharing news and replying to follower mentions) on Twitter are BAM Construct UK, Kier Group and Laing O’Rourke.

From our analysis it’s clear that Twitter use within the construction Industry has grown dramatically. Since 2010, tweeting amongst the top construction companies has increased from 20% to 90% of companies by 2014. This is backed up by the 2103 Social Media study by The Construction Media Index, blogged recently by Chris Ashworth on Darren Lester’s SpecifiedBy Blog.

Engagement has shown the biggest improvement. In 2010, a lack of ‘best practice’ knowledge on how to use Twitter most effectively and the slightly more limited use of the platform meant that companies weren’t engaging as effectively with their audience as they can now.

Not a single company passed our quality of engagement criteria in 2010 [See Characteristics list at the top of the post]. This year over half (55%) of companies are thriving on the platform. In order for construction companies to benefit from the value that Twitter offers for the industry, we hope to see a considerable rise in this figure over the coming years.

LinkedIn Analysis

In our analysis, we found 87% of construction companies had a company profile page on LinkedIn (exceptions being Keller and Interserve). By social media standards the use of Linkedin is as a somewhat ‘Serious’ or ‘Grown-up’ or ‘Professional’ platform for many companies and we can see trends in the popularity of the platform from the very beginning of our research in 2010.

In fact there is roughly the same number (90%) of top construction companies using the platform now as there were in 2010 (87%). Unfortunately, like other social platforms, simply having a LinkedIn profile doesn’t always indicate an effective LinkedIn strategy. Much of the perceived value that professionals get from LinkedIn comes from the job-seeking aspect, less so the networking, expertise and discussion (profile building) aspect.

Often the presence of a business page on LinkedIn appears to only show that they exist and merely ‘existing’ online is unlikely to help you achieve your business or marketing goals – again the key is having a strategy from the outset and the subsequent opportunities for engaging.

The value of LinkedIn for the construction industry is in the groups. LinkedIn groups, host an environment in which you can bring your customers and industry peers together. Groups can assist you with your research- you can survey your community to inform your social media strategy and you can pose questions and respond to group members on areas in which your business specialises.

LinkedIn groups are not a place to sell; They are a tool for building relationships, researching, for learning, for teaching and for referring and being referred. Yes, this aspect of marketing is difficult to measure but it is important not to neglect it. As mentioned by our previous update post (open) groups can also “help with reputation management, especially to rebuild trust after negative news or PR, encourage project collaboration and improve customer service.”

MITIE are using open groups in LinkedIn to some effect and they are gaining some interaction and engagement within it. In fact, it seems that MITIE themselves are already aware of the potential for growth on LinkedIn. Using LinkedIn to ask questions can lead to some valuable feedback regarding where you should next take your construction marketing strategy.

Internal Company Engagement by MITIE

 

Mitie LinkedIn

We are Mitie at LinkedIn too!

 

The Mitie LinkedIn strategy shows that through the posting of higher and higher value content and having richer/more fruitful conversations with their audience is definitely the way to growing a valuable LinkedIn community.

Across the personal profiles of CEO’s on LinkedIn, Nicholas Pollard (Balfour Beatty) deserves a mention – he stands out with a strong personal profile on the platform. Nicholas’s profile is complete, he has a professional photograph and his accomplishments reflect a very good image for Balfour Beatty – it’s important to be seen as approachable on social platforms even if you are the CEO.

An Effective Personal LinkedIn Profile from Nicholas Pollard at Balfour Beatty:

 

CEO Balfour Beatty - Nicholas Pollard - Linkedin Profile

Nicholas Pollard – Sporting a cool Linkedin profile.

 

Strong profiles such as Nicholas’s and that of Ruby McGregor-Smith on Twitter suggest that these CEOs are ‘leading from the front’ in terms of Social Media and PR, a tactic often seen amongst the biggest UK consumer brands (eg. Richard Branson for Virgin or Richard Reed of Innocent Drinks).  What isn’t clear at the moment is why the majority of players in the construction industry are not following examples set by these enormously successful companies.

Leading from the front appears to be a formula that can be applied effectively to most industries and we are not sure why construction should be any exception. On the whole, could this be an explanation for the apparent lag in social media engagement within the industry?

Facebook Analysis

This year unlike previous years, some 35% of companies do not have a Facebook profile at all. This is quite a considerable drop from 2011 when all of the top 15 had a presence. It is perhaps worth differentiating those with a ‘presence’ and those with a solid profile. A trend that is repeated in our research this year is the number of companies not opting to set up an official Facebook page but instead opting for a Wikipedia ‘holding page’.

Companies such as Kier Group, Galliford Try, Keller Group Plc and Wates have a ‘presence’ but do not possess a formal business page and therefore no opportunities to engage with their audience. Using a Facebook ‘holding page’ in this way does not allow for updates, photos, links and conversation.

The drop in Facebook take-up amongst the construction industry suggests perhaps that those using the site back in 2011 were becoming frustrated and disillusioned by their attempts to make it worthwhile for their business. An exploration of the actual causes of this trend may make for some interesting future research – what this space 🙂

There are 6 companies posting Facebook updates (Balfour Beatty, Interserve, Morgan Sindall, BAM Construction/Nuttall and ISG). Balfour Beatty have increased the amount they were posting as of 2010/2011 where they were posting at random with one or two updates every few months- they are now posting more regularly although much of this is still self promotion and perhaps lacking in any real value for Facebook users interested in their company.

It does however indicate very well that they are experiencing continuing success and growth. They manage to achieve a very reasonable amount of likes, comments and levels of engagement on their posts, more than any of the other top construction companies. BAM Nuttall, although not engaging effectively is showing some increases in their numbers of likes, unfortunately ‘likes’ is not necessarily a definitive measure of success.

A worrying finding in our Facebook research was the content found on a claimed Willmott Dixon Group Facebook page – we found a similar attack had been made on a Bellway Homes FB page in our research a couple of years ago on House builders using social media. A stream of passionate complaints about the quality of the company’s service (and even their business ethics) make for a cringe-worthy and brand-damaging read.

 

Facebook page

Willmott Dixon Group Facebook page – abuse!

 

A big company such as Willmott Dixon may have many arms of their business and therefore many marketing departments within them, however, if anywhere across the internet your brand is implicated in this way, you need to bring in a fast and effective damage limitation strategy.

There are two things that could have occurred here;

  1. The page has been set up and forgotten about;
  2. The page was set up by an angry customer and the company are unable to get access to remove the comments (a call into Facebook will normally resolve ‘Page’ ownership issues).

If the situation is related to the latter, it is critical that new visitors to this site are able to observe communication between the company and the owner of the Facebook page, to see that a resolution has been reached or is being discussed and the customer’s issues are being resolved. See Mitie’s use of Twitter for exactly this kind of customer service response and reputation management.

Businesses receive complaints and bad press (either internally or, because of the rise of social media, online) at one time or another (no business is perfect) but how these are managed publicly on social platforms will determine how devastating these complaints will prove to your brand. In fact, dealing with these complaints effectively and transparently might actually improve the perception of your brand. A well thought through ‘Social policy’ is essential for your business.

Google+

Popularity of the Google+ platform has grown significantly over the past two years and it is worth highlighting here how BAM Construct UK operates on Google+ with a fairly significant presence on the site.

 

BAM Construct Google+ account

BAM Construct Google+ account

 

The longevity of the value of Google+ will become more apparent over the next year or so, however it is good to see some construction companies like BAM Construct UK, MITIE, Balfour Beatty, ISG and Interserve remaining ahead of the curve and attempting to build their brand presence across the internet on current social sites. As with all new developments in business (and marketing particularly) there is always a risk that efforts in a relatively untested area might not be fruitful, so this trend of testing is encouraging.

Google+, whilst also offering an update feed similar to that of Twitter, also offers something quite different; Twitter’s function as a news report platform, a recruitment tool and a method of engaging audiences publicly is also found on Google+, however it is possible through having a presence on Google+, to engage audiences in richer dialogues and networking opportunities between a more targeted niche.

Its video-calling element also adds a convenient voice communication element to the platform, bringing a collaborative and far more intimate feel to the platform than Twitter can offer through the use of mentions and tweets.

The ability to attractively share Youtube activity also means that if you are considering a Google+ strategy, video creation and sharing could be well facilitated by Google+. The effective and consistent use of You Tube and Google+ in your content strategy might also provide a good boost to your search rankings.

Providing the popularity of Google+ grows and adapts to user trends over time, the desire and willingness of social media users to interact with companies in this way will also grow. We would advise construction companies to ensure they are active on Google+, to begin measuring the outcome of their efforts using analytics and to keep tabs on the value of the site over the coming year. A platform to watch.

Website – Social Sharing & Integration Analysis

Out of the top construction companies we reviewed, 55% have links to their social platform accounts on their company websites, a fairly notable rise on previous years. Balfour Beatty features them at the bottom of their homepage and also includes a link to their YouTube channel that has a total of 5 uploads. It seems a shame that with such great social push (on their Twitter account in particular), that they should place their social media buttons so far down their page – why hide the access? They are not the only ones.

The opportunity to view, share or like should be immediately available to the visitor to the website. Having to scroll down the page lessens the chance of the user making the decision to take any of these actions. In contrast Interserve have their social media buttons placed intuitively in the top right hand corner of across their website and include a good mix of ‘traditional’ social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, You Tube and a good video channel on Vimeo.

 

Interserve Videos on Vimeo

Interserve Videos on Vimeo

 

Some of the companies offer no opportunities on their website to engage with their social profiles and, in some cases this may well be because the company are not active on the sites eg. Vinci UK, Galliford Try, Keller Group.

Mitie have well-placed social media buttons that take the user straight through to a well utilised and designed page on LinkedIn. As per their strategy two years ago, their Facebook page is a community for employees of Mitie “past, present and future”. It seems a little odd to have this page as a link on their website as from an outsiders point of view it’s Possible that those clicking the link would be hoping to engage with the company as an influencer, customer or prospect. An opportunity to engage with them could be being missed here.

Despite MITIE’s slightly confusing approach to Facebook marketing, their embrace of all things social media is highlighted on their website where they openly discuss their social media objectives and policy. The company actively encourage visitors to their website to engage with them:

“Here at MITIE we are big fans of social media and the potential it has to help us communicate with all our stakeholders. Why, well our customers, employees and other influencers are already on there and it’s a fantastic place to engage and talk with them. So please explore our different social media channels and the social bar at the bottom of this site and let us know what you think. If you would like to discuss social media at MITIE, join us online or use our enquiries form.”

This is a brilliant strategy because it facilitates a number of worthy marketing goals for MITIE. More and more customers want to see transparency (sustainability/corporate responsibility is another such area) and the page also highlights the company as ethical, ‘open’ and engaging; they have nothing to hide and they want to talk to their customers whichever way their customers would like to speak to them. The page is also attractive and the content written in an engaging manner with links to social sites that are both intuitive and functional – it’s backed up by a well crafted social media policy too [PDF].

 

Mitie's Social Media Policy page - Lovely.

This is Mitie’s Social Media Policy page

 

Website – Analytics Analysis

95% (all bar one) of the companies we reviewed have the capability to measure their online efforts via the use of analytics. Only Vinci UK do not appear to be doing so. It appears that analytics has remained a priority for these companies as similar results were found in 2011 when all websites were found to have Google Analytics code installed.

The information that is available to us in order to analyse a company’s use of analytics using face-value research is quite limited – we are only able to understand IF they could be using it, but not how – with a few exceptions. It would be easy to make the assumption via the longitudinal results (over the past few years) that very few of the companies are using analytics to it’s greatest potential.

The same mistakes are being made in many areas and it is difficult to believe that many of the companies are reaping any measurable results from their social media activity. Either that or they are measuring the wrong thing – as mentioned before topline numbers of ‘followers’ and ‘likes’ are not necessarily a good indication of success.

A lack of opportunity for the social media user to engage with some the companies or benefit from any high-value material or interaction that might aid their decision-making process is apparent. Where these opportunities are not followed through, it is an indication that their analytics reports (if they have any) may be pointing toward a less than fruitful social media strategy – A useful corporate social strategy snapshot infographic here by the way.

Knowing where your leads have come from, the profile of your average customer, when and how they come to buy from you and where they come from are all aspects of data that can help with the evolution of your construction marketing strategy. It is essential (if you aren’t already), to fully get to grips with how analytics can better aid your social marketing decisions.

 

Measuring Google Analytics Social traffic

Is Social Media Marketing Creating Quality traffic?

 

Having access to a trained and trusted analytics expert or data geek within your company, you’ll be able to to translate visitor behaviours and actions. The results can then inform the creation of more effective content, better website design and usability, more effective email campaigns, better targeted online advertising and clearer engagement strategies.

Summary

The results of our research into how the top UK construction companies are using social media marketing platforms has produced some mixed results. It can certainly be said that companies are responding to the move to integrate their marketing approaches.

Most now have profiles on the key sites. However, whilst some are executing fantastic online strategies compared to 2010 and 2011, others are yet to make a convincing move into the social media space. Here are our 7 key components to making Social Media Marketing stick for your construction company:

1. Commit to it

It is difficult to establish good cause as to why some companies are yet to engage in social media (a lack of dedicated marketing departments and commitment from strategic decision makers perhaps), however it is important that those companies make a decision on whether they choose to use social media or not. In 2014, having a half-completed, out-dated profile or posting poorly-thought-through social media content is more detrimental than having no presence at all.

Just like a shoddy magazine advert or mistake-ridden brochure, a poorly set up social site can do more harm for your brand and your company than good. Prospects will associate the quality of your marketing with the quality of the service or products you provide and can navigate away from you over to your competitor’s page at the click of a button. If you are going to ‘do’ social media in 2014, commit to it.

2. You’re in it for the long-haul

Some of the top construction companies have clearly grown without the need for social media and it would be remiss to believe that social media marketing is a marketing ‘Silver Buillet’.

However, a solid social strategy is one that you should consider developing if and when you have the time and resources to do so. The concern should be that your competitors are building relationships right now, they are influencing your customers right now, and maybe in 1, 2, 3 years time those competitors will be reaping the rewards.

In fact, some of those companies are already reaping the benefits of a good strategy implemented and developed from 2 years ago, so the trend should already be clear to see. The companies executing the best social media strategies are pro-active and not re-active in their approach to their social construction marketing.

3. Know Your Strategy

Some of the construction businesses are still posting content that appears to be ad-hoc and lacking any real direction. Within your marketing strategy, you should define a dedicated social plan. And, that plan should fully integrate with the rest of your marketing efforts.

Your plan will consist of who will be responsible, what you will post, when you will post, where you will post your content and who your content will be targeted towards. It should also give you clear guidelines as to how often and what the boundaries for content are. Having clearly defined goals will give you a lot more clarity about your daily use of the social sites and how these can be linked with your website and other marketing tactics – there is a great post on Creating a social media strategy for B2B audiences by Rene Power on the SmartInsights blog.

The time investment of developing and knowing your strategy inside out will ensure you suffer far less confusion about what you should be doing day to day and you will also have peace of mind that what you are doing is a time investment not a drain on resources – that is if your are measuring the activity accordingly – see #5.

4. Remain Open-minded

Remember, social media is not just a lead generation and brand exposure tool; it can assist you with a number of business objectives within and outside of marketing too and it can dramatically lower overhead costs and simplify processes. One such example is recruitment, historically a costly process in terms of both time and money.

By using social media to recruit individuals you effectively have access to a free, high-traffic advertising board that highlights to the general public and your target audiences that you are experiencing growth and how you are investing in your human resources in order to provide better products and services. A good tactic if you’re looking to attract social and web savvy professionals.

5. Measure (and Act)

Almost all of the top construction companies have recognised the need for measuring their online marketing efforts – that is clear from the presence of analytics on their sites. The question that these companies now need to be asking themselves is: am I getting the most out of these analytics?.

What is the data telling us? (What is it we are doing badly? what are we doing well?); where are our opportunities for improvement and growth? Where we are investing money in adverts, are these working for us? Having an analytics expert within your company will give you a clear understanding of what affects your bottom line and how you can capitalise on it, as well as help you understand where you could be wasting time, energy, money and other resources.

6. Allocate More Time

The implementation of a social media time management plan can ease the fear that you could be wasting time and other resources on a badly managed social media strategy. It’s important not underestimate the importance of social media time management.

How you divide up your social media activities will dictate the length of time it takes to complete your daily social plan, what types of updates and content you post, when you post and ultimately, the effectiveness of the outcome. It is not a part time exercise and should be taken seriously if you’re ever hoping to have success in this area – there is no excuse really for a lack of resource from the top construction companies.

7. Get the right people involved

Getting social media marketing right is difficult, let’s be clear about that. Engagement itself isn’t always an obviously tangible measure. Interactions require the right person to be respectful, professional and often technical. They need emotional intelligence and they need impressive social skills [would you believe]. They need to understand when to take conversations offline and when to step back.

This skill will also manifest itself differently in a business to business industry compared to a business to consumer industry – although some b2b business personalities are starting to shine though – ensure that the person you entrust or hire to undertake your social media activity possesses the experience that is most relevant to your construction business.

Positioning a CEO/Director/another passionate senior team member as an authority and face of your brand as MITIE have done very successfully is also a fantastic way to generate interest around your company.

And finally

The issues relating to poor social media take-up in the top companies, on the whole, are likely to reflect much of what was suggested in 2011; primarily a “lack of education and support from the exec team who fail to take any notice of it, fear of the transparency of social media, lack of resources or being overwhelmed at the number of available networks and platforms”.

Is it time now that construction companies overcome the fear that was once associated with social media? If you’re still not convinced, here’s another good post worth checking out titled; Four reasons why you need a Social Media Strategy for your Construction Company by Su Butcher on the Building Centre’s Specifinder blog.

Whether it’s the fear of investing resources or of communicating business information so openly. Simply having a social media plan in place can provide you with the basis (and the peace of mind) to expand your marketing efforts and bring your company to the bleeding edge of business online.

Why do you think some construction companies are so far ahead of the social media trends and others are yet to even have a presence?

Do you think it’s a matter of time before the others catch up or do you believe that it is still possible to do business effectively and competitively without the use of social media? Are some areas of Social Media now redundant for the construction industry or are we still lacking education on these platforms?

Be great to hear your thoughts and continue the conversation…

Here’s the list again:

Top Contractors Social Analysis 2014

Top Contractors Social Analysis 2014 – Correct at Time of Writing

 

* Pauley Creative Top Construction Companies include (separately) the recently acquired businesses of Kier Group (May Gurney) and Amey UK (Enterprise)

For more guidance on creating an effective social media strategy for your construction business, download our eBook here.

About Nick Pauley

is the founder and managing director of Pauley Creative. Aside from managing the strategic direction of Pauley Creative, Nick is primarily involved in the early planning and marketing direction of each of Pauley Creative’s fabulous clients. Follow Nick on Twitter click here.

20 Responses to “How the Top UK Construction Companies are Using Social Media Marketing in 2014”

  1. Steve Barnes

    This is incredibly insightful. Very interested to learn more about your companies services. I will be in touch. Steve

    Reply
    • Nick Pauley

      Thanks Steve for the feedback, look forward to hearing from you when you’re ready.

      Reply
  2. Darren Lester

    Excellent research and article Nick.

    The big thing I’ve took away from this is the shocking lack of blogs!

    The fact only 3 have a blog, of which 2 are regularly active is a worrying statistic. It’s all too easy to have a presence on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, without really putting much effort into it. Blogging is by far the most valuable of any social media strategy but also takes some actual effort. Without it, what do these companies have to contribute to Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn, apart from promoting their services?

    Don’t think any of them should be praised for sending a few tweets, need to do much more.

    Reply
  3. Catherine Towns

    Really interesting piece. However, I do feel that the analysis doesn’t always provide the full picture. For Carillion in particular the review doesn’t take into account the sterling work of @JamieCarillion and @DawnCarillion who are tasked with responding to mentions or replies to @CarillionPlc. Carillion has opted to take a more personal approach and therefore the majority are responded to by a ‘real person’, to provide the best possible customer care.

    I’m also surprised to see that the critique of Carillion’s feed doesn’t take into account that much of Carillion’s Twitter feed provides links to original content that is developed for http://www.stnlive.info – a sustainability portal that brings together independent opinion and best practice from right across the industry, with regular contributions from journalists, environmental bodies and government – all of whom are proud to be associated with the site and of course credited with regular mentions and links.

    Reply
  4. Charlotte Cassedanne

    Agree with Catherine. It’s interesting to see how contractors have embraced social media in last two years.

    Darren, you’ll be pleased to hear that BAM does blog! We have weekly blog posts on our sustainability microsite about industry hot topics http://sustainability.bam.co.uk/insights , and our Chief Exec, Graham Cash, blogs for Building Magazine, as does Andrew Pryke, Director of BAM Design.

    We also have more than 40 Facebook pages for our sites and engage regularly on them with local communities, something your analytics may not have taken into account.

    Reply
  5. Mukesh Parmar

    Paul,

    Interesting article. Well done!

    As mentioned by my colleague, Charlotte, at BAM we have created our Sites Facebook app on our main Facebook page which is filtered by regions as we have over 40 Facebook pages for our sites. This has been highly successful with regular engagement with various stakeholders, in particular the local community. See link: https://www.facebook.com/BAMConstructUK/app_180642075346218.

    We were shortlisted for the Construction Marketing Awards for this initiative. Have a look at our case study which appeared in B2B Marketing magazine which I am quoted in. See link: http://www.b2bmarketing.net/knowledgebank/social-media-marketing/case-studies/case-study-bam-construct-turns-facebook

    We are also on Pinterest as this wasn’t a category you analysed, However, I believe that we all build amazing buildings, we should share the photos to the world of the quality of the architecture by creating different Boards on PInterest: See link: http://www.pinterest.com/bamconstructuk/

    I totally agree that more contractors need to do more blogging and it is our job as Marketers to generate good quality content. Its good to see companies like BAM (with our sustainability microsite http://sustainability.bam.co.uk/) and Carillion with their STN initiative regularly blogging and generating engaging content.

    The challenge for 2014 for construction marketers is more blogging please, engage with your audiences on your social media channels and make sure your websites are responsive!

    Reply
  6. Leonie Thomas

    Hi Nick

    Great piece of work. I am really enjoying how social media is making the built environment sector more approachable and even, dare I say it, sexy.

    As Mukesh says above, we work in a sector which consistently incredible infrastructure, be it buildings, public realm or civils, and being able to share this with people outside of the sector is really special.

    Nick – will you be replicating your approach for architects and engineers? 🙂

    Reply
    • Nick Pauley

      Hi Leonie,

      Thanks for your comments. I agree the construction industry is awesome and where it’s due (and if I can find it without looking too hard) I’ll always give credit.

      My issue with some contractors and social integration is that the efforts of the marketing teams are often less than right up front ie. on the home page of the plc for instance with more than just the usual teeny weeny social icons to drive awareness.

      BAM and Carillion are clearly using the channels well but are they being supported top down? Like say Mitie are?

      Reply
  7. Tom Price

    Nick,

    This article has been extrememly helpful to me. I am currenlty carrying out research into the role of phatic technologies in project delivery. Phatic technologies being systems that establish and maintain the possibility of social interactions; their purpose is not with information exchange, but with building and supporting relationships.
    I am investigating how they are currently utilized in construction projects and their impact on social capital.The majority of these social media technologies are phatic in nature. My thesis is that these technologies allow a connectionn to be maintained between project stakeholders in order to facilitate further communication.

    Would you be available/interested in answering some addtional questions on this topic?

    Reply
  8. Su Butcher

    Hi Nick,
    Its like wading through treacle isn’t it?

    You know what I’d like to see, an analysis of top contractors’ social media policies.
    If you want to see contractors really being proactive about social media, they need to be doing it with their employees. The only way they’ll get any traction is via the human faces of their organisation, and that means empowering them to use social platforms for the benefit of the company (and yes, for career development too).

    In the coming few years as recruiting gets harder and we all get busier, the contractors who enable employees to use social tools in their work will be the ones who get results, and the ones who are able to recruit and retain the best talent.

    Reply
  9. Jon

    Really interesting article this, and a lot of help. As a company, we try to encourage businesses to encourage employees to share content.

    It’s unusual nowadays to find companies who don’t have a pretty well oiled social media “machine”, however the employees really are key. We’ve got a number of construction firms who are surprisingly ahead of the curve on this, and in a non “sexy” media vertical like construction, it can stand companies out.

    Reply

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