For the past few years, we’ve carried out an analysis of how the top main contractors in the UK are using social media to connect with their target audience.
This post will recap on our research from 2014, using the same construction companies reviewed in our previous post in order to analyse their progression (or digression) from the world of social today.
The biggest takeaway from 2014’s post was that despite construction companies starting to engage with more online strategies, there was still a large gap between those that were far ahead with social media and those that were yet to obtain any form of social presence.
Whilst companies were showing a positive step towards social media integration, these mixed results demonstrated that there was still room for construction companies to further embrace online platforms.
So now, in June 2015, how much growth has there been in social media marketing for construction companies? Has this gap begun to close? Are more contractors beginning to fully engage with their target audience?
Social Media Analysis by Pauley Creative
[Green boxes highlight change since 2014]
Above is our updated social analysis for 2015 of the top construction companies [as indicated by CN100 and the Construction Index].
Similarly to previous years, the key platforms investigated were:
Twitter: Do they have a presence? Are they tweeting? Engaging?
Linkedin: Do they have a company profile/set up any groups?
Facebook: Do they have a company page, likes, unique info separate from their website?
Website Links: Do they have clear and visible links to social media profiles on their website?
Analytics: Do they have analytics installed to measure traffic generated from social channels?
Google+: Do they have a presence, post regularly, interacting?
Blog: Do they have one and are they posting regularly/ communicating?
This year, we have added in the use of Pinterest and Instagram due to their recent surge in popularity. As video is a serious contender for content we will also be investigating Youtube; do construction companies have a presence across these platforms and how effective is their approach?
Key social behaviours, characteristics and measures investigated:
Presence: Filled in contact details and page includes their logo
Posts: Atleast 1 post in the last month
Engagement: Ratio of outgoing to ingoing tweets/mentions/comments
Groups: Groups whether open or closed on Linkedin
Social media links: Could be found easily on site
Analytics: GA code found in their page source data
Video: Created recently and being viewed/promoted
Top 2015 Findings:
• 70% of construction companies are starting to engage with followers compared to 55% in 2014.
• 60% of the top construction companies have set up groups for others to join on Linkedin compared to 45% in 2014.
• 50% of the top construction companies have an official Facebook page; 65% had a Facebook page in 2014.
• Despite the drop, 80% of those still with a Facebook page are posting updates.
• 90% of the construction companies have placed links on their company websites which link to their social media profiles; this was just 55% in 2014.
• Despite 85% of construction companies having a presence on Google+, none of these are using it to interact with their audience. Moreover, only 30% are actually posting on this.
• 95% of construction companies are on Youtube and 70% are regularly posting video content.
The use of Twitter in business is not only crucial to identify customer needs but also for engaging with potential prospects, from investors and suppliers to end users and future employees. Ultimately, it is a great way of building trust.
Despite both 2014 and 2015’s analysis showing that the amount of companies present and tweeting has remained the same (90%), the level of engagement has changed for the better.
Whilst only 55% were engaging with their followers a year ago (this includes direct conversations, acquiring positive mentions and retweets), our findings show that 70% are now beginning to reap the benefits of Twitter.
However, defining the term ‘engagement’ proves tricky, and what qualifies as engagement for some construction companies will not be the same for others.
Scrolling down a business’ twitter feed and finding retweet after retweet is not always an ideal form of communication; this behaviour may demonstrate to others that your marketing strategy is fairly lazy and in fact, you don’t actually want to engage that much at all.
Twitter should not be used as a broadcasting tool and taking a ‘me me me’ approach does not lend itself well as an effective social strategy.
Read more on what defines ‘online engagement’ here.
Whilst Morgan Sindall Group last year were noted for their excessive retweeting, and although this is still fairly excessive, this year they have started to directly reply to their followers and thank them for mentions…
A few more of the above actions by Morgan Sindall will allow their audience to value them as a personable company, who are willing to do that little bit extra in order to show their appreciation.
BAM Nuttall, on the other hand, have a Twitter feed stacked full of retweets with no other form of interaction:
Rather than responding to positive comments, they are also retweeting others’ responses rather than voicing their own; by doing this they are dismissing opportunities to engage and join in with conversations.
By using a social research tool called Followerwonk, we can dig deeper into these behavioural patterns used across Twitter; levels of engagement are represented in graph formats, which allows us to understand exactly how construction companies like BAM Nuttall are interacting…
The graph here speaks for itself, with 72% of BAM Nuttall’s interaction consisting of retweets, in comparison to contact tweets consisting of a mere 3.5%.
Despite this, atleast BAM Nuttall are still listening and responding to mentions through retweets; directly replying to their followers would just enable them to improve their communication even further.
In contrast, this is how Amey UK are engaging on Twitter…
The above graph displays how the retweets highlighted in yellow are healthily balanced with Amey UK’s contact tweets and non-contact tweets. Rather than just recycling past information and updates, they are reinforcing their presence through independent tweets and direct conversations with followers.
However, the previous graph showing Amey UK’s tweeting ratio demonstrates that they post the majority of their tweets during the typical working hours of 9-5, with the most being at the start of their working day. In comparison, the graph below shows that Amey’ followers are tweeting through into the evening; this indicates an opportunity for further engagement.
Do these hour-by-hour tweets replicate the social dilemma of an ‘always on’ world? What is more, does Amey UK’s activity indicate the hours of a PR agency?
It is also worth noting that last year, Balfour Beatty were mentioned for their notable improvement in engagement, and claimed the no.1 spot for their charity efforts and interaction with customers. Interestingly, Followerwonk now shows that over half of their social strategy consists of retweets.
Balfour Beatty’s behaviour falls in line with their recent content activity, which will be discussed in our blog section.
Mace are also starting to feel like an advertising or lecture platform; there are very small levels of direct interaction across their page and where they are tweeting to their audience, these are all centred around their company rather than other industry news or helpful blog posts.
This behaviour indicates that corporate companies may not be finding any real value on Twitter and are resorting to broadcasting on the platform instead.
Meanwhile, whilst large construction companies like Balfour Beatty have reduced their levels of social interaction, other construction companies, such as Carillion, have shown a vast improvement so far in 2015.
They are no longer posting ‘at’ their audience and are now asking open questions, congratulating others and sharing helpful links on topical issues that aren’t directly related to their own success stories.
As a result of these efforts, Carillion seem to be gaining huge recognition for their work over Twitter; the following mentions show how they have started to create a friendlier feel across the platform…
Laing O’Rourke have also shown improvements in engagement, through sharing updates on graduate employment, promoting their work in sustainability schools, uploading project images and sharing links to news updates within the build sector.
Despite a few companies struggling with the balance between promoting and engaging, it is great to see how engagement has improved; construction companies are gradually becoming aware of how to use Twitter more effectively and are seeing the benefits it offers to the world of business. In the next year, will we see Galliford Try start to tweet, and Keller Group gain an official Twitter page? Our recent stats reflect a step away from self-promotion and a step towards value-led communication, so we’ll see whether this continues in the following year.
Continuing to grow in popularity since the very start of our research in 2010 is LinkedIn.
Since our last review back in January 2014, Interserve have built a LinkedIn company page that is streaming with company updates, leaving Keller Group the sole company yet to engage on this platform.
What has increased considerably is the amount of groups created over Linkedin, which has increased from 45% to 60%. Carillion and Morgan Sindall have also started to embrace this aspect of the networking platform.
The above group, which is open to join, is currently discussing the use of solar panels. From this Morgan Sindall are creating research opportunities through engaging and building relationships with group members; posing questions amongst themselves allows Morgan Sindall to learn even more about their sector.
This is a good sign that construction companies are beginning to realise the benefits of LinkedIn for guiding their social strategy and engaging with both customers and industry peers alike.
Showcase pages are also worth a mention here, which are currently used by Carillion, BAM Nuttall, Kier Group, Willmott Dixon and Balfour Beatty. This feature has been designed for businesses to promote a particular product or service that their company provides, enabling them to generate conversations surrounding a specific topic. All of these are then linked back to their centralised company profile.
Show case pages are a great way of creating campaigns or events, or even forming help centres and product training; they allow construction companies to gain even more exposure across LinkedIn.
Carillion Advice Services:
Carillion have segmented their LinkedIn profiles by creating an ‘Advice Services’ showcase page. This keeps people specifically up to date on HR activity and is actively used to welcome new members of staff and to promote further vacancies.
BAM Nuttall Regeneration sector:
BAM Nuttall have created a showcase page based on the regeneration sector. This enables them to demonstrate recent projects and form conversations surrounding these. They’re also using this showcase page to encourage brochure downloads and promote their other social platforms, integrating a range of social strategies in order to maximise brand awareness.
As much as this social platform is difficult to measure, it is vital not to neglect it; the increase in construction companies creating groups and showcase pages across LinkedIn demonstrates a growing awareness for the social platform, and the potential growth through further engagement, interaction, and valuable feedback.
Facebook has continued to drop since 2010, where all of the top construction companies had a presence. This dropped to 65% in 2014 and has continued to drop to 50% in 2015. It is important to note here just as we did in our last post that this accounts for companies not opting to set up official Facebook pages; surprisingly, a high percentage of companies are now using Wikipedia ‘holding pages’. Even Laing O’Rourke and Morgan Sindall Group, who had an official Facebook page last year, have now also opted for these wiki pages.
So what are the causes for this trend? We can only speculate that with so many opportunities to engage elsewhere and with the growing popularity of other networks and visual platforms, construction businesses’ are no longer taking the time or effort to engage on Facebook.
In addition, whilst last year we saw Willmott Dixon and Bellway Homes get attacked, this year in Facebook search an open page entitled ‘Shame on you Skanska’ has gained 156 likes so far. The below screenshots display just a small fraction of the damaging comments users are posting…
It is important for Skanska UK to remove these comments, or prove to new visitors that they have attempted to resolve such issues. Dealing with these complaints would even help to further improve their brand perception. But as long as other companies move away from Facebook and settle for ‘wiki’ type pages, such as Laing O’Rourke and Morgan Sindall, more brand-damaging voices will be heard across this social media platform.
Mitie, on the other hand, have a great presence across Facebook; they regularly share upcoming events, video content, interesting facts, case studies and staff updates.
Despite 85% of construction companies now on Google+ in comparison to 50% in 2014, less than half are yet to share a single post. And out of the 6 that are sharing, including Kier Group, Mitie Group and Willmott Dixon, how many are actually engaging?
At Pauley Creative, we see engagement as a two-way conversation, and so we have marked engagement based on general conversations around shared blog posts. In this case, not one construction company has conquered the platform as an engagement tool just yet.
However BAM construct UK, similarly to 2014, still seem to be maintaining a steady presence across Google+, using it to update their followers in a similar way to Twitter, with news updates, upcoming events and blog post links.
Disappointingly for ISG Plc, who are regularly posting to their Google+ account, many of their posts direct their followers to a page that cannot be found…
ISG’s broken links demonstrate the precautions that need to be taken with using programs such as Hootsuite for scheduling posts to multiple platforms; links can get broken along the way and so this needs monitoring on a regular basis.
Construction companies could, and perhaps should, be using Google+ as a research tool as this is a platform which will be used by prospects. Moreover, if you have set up your Google+ account, Google will display a column along the right hand side of the search results page that links through to maps, opening times, contact details and address details. This will ease the process of potential prospects finding your company information.
See an example of Amey Plc’s company information below, formulated from their Google+ account:
To learn more about Google+ and the advantages of using Google Hangouts, read our new post here.
And now we move onto our first newbie, Pinterest.
Despite the figures looking small on this, with around 30% currently present on Pinterest, the platform is still fairly new in comparison to others and we are certain these statistics will follow an upward trend over the next few years.
Visual platforms are aspirational, and are therefore ideal for architects. Pinterest is simple, intuitive and aesthetically pleasing. It is a great way for architects to share design concepts and pin others that they find interesting; if your company is on Pinterest sharing building projects or product installations, there is the possibility that architects will click on the link to your website which will guide them towards making a positive impression about your services. Not only architects but contractors and homeowners will also benefit from visual representations of projects, products, infographics and even surveys.
Out of all the construction companies that do have a Pinterest account, it is promising to see that all of these are regularly pinning. What is more, despite BAM Construct UK being fairly new to the platform, they already have 410 followers.
As you can see, BAM have neatly segmented each project under different folders containing related pins, making it easier for users to browse their images and select the area of most interest. Their folders not only display project designs but also demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, charity events and include ‘behind the scenes’ at BAM, helping to link friendly faces with their brand.
It is also great to see BAM Construct integrating a ‘Pinterest’ follow button on their website, although they are yet to begin promoting this platform across Twitter.
Mean while ISG Plc have embraced the platform by creating a hashtag campaign entitled #Pinoftheday across Twitter to gain more exposure and brand awareness:
With Pinterest now launching analytics for business accounts, will it be long before ‘Pin it’ buttons start to appear across more construction websites?
Moreover, with the talk of ‘buy buttons’ being integrated into the site, this could potentially become the next biggest e-commerce platform within the next few years, particularly as 70% of Pinterest users are already using it for shopping inspiration and research.
We will be keeping a close eye on this in the upcoming months to review its success across the industry.
Instagram is another fairly new social platform to construction marketing and the majority of top construction companies have yet to engage with the platform. Around 20% have an Instagram account, including Kier Group, Morgan Sindall Group and Willmott Dixon. Out of these, Carillion Plc are the only company yet to post any images to their account.
Despite Instagram appearing to be the least popular social platform across our research so far, there is definitely potential here to engage and convert prospects into leads.
Working similarly to Pinterest, Instagram allows you to display products, events, projects and other elements of your daily working environment across your profile. Although Willmott Dixon have only just begun to engage on Instagram, we can start to gain an idea of how construction companies are applying this platform to their social strategy.
Willmott Dixon have shared images of different projects and included popular hashtags in each, such as ‘zerocarbon’ and ‘sustainability’. This ensures that not only are they promoting their company values on their page, but such hashtags will also appear across other sites under these search terms, broadening their reach.
Proof of how well Instagram can do in construction is demonstrated outside of the UK; Balfour Beatty use Instagram in America as well as Laing O’Rourke in Australia, whilst Skanska have a whopping 1545 fans in the USA.
The video-calling element used at Skanska USA also creates a more intimate feel and allows followers to gain further insight into their brand.
RIBA have also taken to the platform, implementing the use of hashtags along with inspirational photographs of projects and designs.
Architects and engineers are all tech savvy and are constantly searching for new platforms to engage upon, and with the growing usage of photo sharing on mobiles, this is a platform to look out for.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on whether our top construction companies adapt to this type of social sharing.
It’s positive to see that all of the top contractors are using Youtube and the majority are regularly posting video content regularly. However, Galliford Try and Morgan Sindall Group have not posted in a while, whilst Amey surprisingly, last posted a video over three years ago. This seems a shame when their presence over Twitter and LinkedIn is so strong.
One construction company that are using Youtube well are Mace Group. On their homepage, rather than simply showing recent activity or uploads, they present the visitor with an introductory video into their company background. This means that even before clicking elsewhere, you are immediately presented with a great insight into the company’s values and goals in a pleasant, digestible format.
Rather than just viewing their videos in a randomly assorted list, they have also segmented these into playlists, including ‘Mace projects’, ‘Mace Worldwide’, ‘Timelapse’ and ‘Mace Foundation’.
Mace Worldwide enables you to gain an insight into the company’s international impact whilst the ‘Timelapse videos’ are an impressive and engaging way of showing how a project has progressed from start to finish; this is done by speeding up the length of the recording. Every construction company should be implementing timelapse videos into their social strategy; not only is it a visually appealing way of showing project developments but it can also be shared and integrated across other social platforms, such as Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.
Meanwhile, Willmott Dixon have used their Youtube channel for recruitment opportunities. Their video on ‘Tips for a successful career’ gives general advice that can be applied to all career paths, showing their willingness to educate rather than self-promote. Their ‘career case studies’ then give a more specific insight from employees into different roles at Willmott Dixon, sharing their experiences and offering advice.
Youtube is an international sensation that does not limit its reach to just the UK; it reaches countries across the globe meaning that exposure potential for your construction business is endless. Video content is a great way to capture attention and as a result, can lead to high traffic volumes. Seeing as Google owns Youtube, it can also influence your search rankings as your page grows in popularity. Videos are easy to share on a range of platforms online and because of this, if used correctly, Youtube definitely is a platform to be implementing into your social media strategy.
Our research found that 22% of companies in 2015 own a blog, which does seem very low, although only 17% had a company blog in 2014. This gradual rise means that construction companies are slowly starting to gain an understanding for the effectiveness of blogging, with 80% who own a blog updating it on a regular basis.
One interesting finding to note is that Balfour Beatty have taken a back seat with their blog; whilst they were posting regularly in 2014, their last blog was posted on 19th November last year. This suggests that their lack of interaction over Twitter and excessive retweeting is due to a lack of fresh new content to share.
Changes like this can often be down to a change of personel, agencies or marketing strategies. Balfour Beatty have recently made changes to their management team and have welcomed a new Chief Executive, Leo Quinn, as of January 2015. These type of changes in corporate companies can easily affect marketing strategies further down the line, and ultimately, the time allocated for blogging. We’ll see how this progresses.
Meanwhile Interserve Construction do have a separate sustainability blog, but this is found under ‘talk with us’ at the very bottom right hand corner, compared to other companies who place their blog clearly along the top navigation.
Kier Group have been particularly busy this year and their new blog section looks pleasing to the eye and is managed efficiently. They have also provided clear links to other blog posts that may be of interest to their readers and have categorised these under relevant topics.
It is also great to see them incorporating a mix of text, images and video within their blog posts in order to engage their readers.
What is more, the integration of hashtag campaigns such as #KIERHEROES within their blog posts has encouraged shares across Twitter, which in turn has promoted their company values and supported their recruitment process…
The marketing efforts used from these construction companies, by incorporating blogs into their social strategy, will ultimately contribute to them reaching their business objectives. Blogging highlights technical expertise, demonstrates industry leadership, updates readers on upcoming legislations and regulations, provides answers and, as demonstrated by Kier, drives marketing campaigns. Crucially, blogging drives your social strategy; without content you’ll struggle to find anything interesting to say; it also allows your construction business to convert leads at a lower cost.
Sharing and Integration Analysis
Out of the top construction companies reviewed, 90% now have social buttons on their company websites; this was a mere 55% in 2014.
This rise is due to companies such as Vinci Construction, Willmott Dixon, Morgan Sindall, Kier Group and ISG all having links placed on their website profile this year.
Interestingly, despite Keller Group not being active on social media, their ‘media contacts’ list contains Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Linkedin buttons which do not guide you to an official page, but enable the user to share Keller Group’s media contacts across their chosen platform.
Could this mean that they are on the verge of employing social media into their marketing strategy?
Further research allows us to discover that out of the 16 companies who do have social media buttons, only 4 of these – Kier Group, Carillion, Mitie and Wates, have placed their follow links across the top of their website or along the side. The ability to follow your company across social media should be immediately available to the visitor, and having follow links at the top or side of the page, as well as at the bottom, will give the user more opportunity to engage with you online.
Mitie below have created social media buttons that appear static across the left hand side of their website, meaning that wherever a visitor scrolls, the opportunity to share and follow is made simple and easy. If they decide to visit the blog section and read an interesting article for example, the chance of them clicking to follow and then share the page is high in comparison to companies who have not enabled a similar feature.
Our research also shows a positive trend towards other main contractors embracing social media marketing.
This is primarily due to more engagement over Twitter, more follow buttons on company websites, more Linkedin pages, groups and Google+ accounts.
Whilst it is interesting to see how Facebook is no longer viewed as a necessity, this may be due to construction companies experimenting with other social platforms elsewhere such as Pinterest and Instagram; this shows a willingness to find new ways of engaging and providing value. It is also great to see that all the main contractors in our research are now using Google analytics as a measuring tool.
It can only be assumed that a few top contractors are still hesitant to embrace social media marketing due to…
• A lack of education and support – it can be difficult to find the time to learn about which platforms are beneficial and for what purposes, which means that social media marketing is often pushed aside within a corporate company’s busy schedule.
• A fear of sharing technical information- it’s all very well proving your technical expertise to a target audience, but If a home-owner reads an incorrect technical tweet about a product installation on your profile, and causes harm to themselves or others, this could destroy your company’s brand and reputation. The fear of being incorrect or misinterpreted by others often, for some companies, outweighs the benefits of sharing in the first place.
• Feeling overwhelmed at the amount of available platforms – with so many social media platforms out there, all constantly evolving and developing their sites simultaneously, where do you even begin? Some construction companies feel so overwhelmed with the prospect of social media marketing that they choose to not engage with it at all.
To tackle these issues and to ensure that your construction company remains ahead of the game, firstly think about what you want social to help achieve for your business.
Research your audience and find out where they choose to engage online; what do they expect to find on these social media platforms and how can your business specifically contribute to their needs?
Remember that regardless of what we have written about each social platform, your research will enable you to choose a select few that best contribute towards your personal business goals.
It is always better to focus on less social platforms and implement these well, rather than be present on all platforms but come across negatively to your audience.
And before delving into social media marketing, always be clear on your strategy and ensure your entire team is aware of your targets; assign roles to different team members in order to ensure that you remain committed to whichever social platforms you choose to engage on. This will also ensure that technical information is assigned to the most experienced individuals in order to reduce the chance of mistakes being made.
After a strategy has been agreed upon, measure your progress on each platform on a quarterly basis; review where you need to improve and refine your strategy accordingly.
We would love to hear your thoughts on our research so please leave a comment below and if you enjoyed the read, please share the post with your followers!
To find out more on this topic and how to implement social media into your marketing strategy, download our Construction Marketer’s Guide to Social Media.