How social is your construction company?

To start off with, a definition for ‘social’ is needed. Social can be described as ‘interaction’, with each other or the environment around us – either voluntarily or involuntarily. People enjoy engaging with others and like to feel included. This is why we form communities. So you might be asking why this is relevant for construction marketers and B2B companies. The answer is that social media is simply another platform through which we can interact with others and become more ‘social’. The aim of this post is to find out what makes a company more social than another.

I like Scott Gould’s definition of social media; he describes it as ‘trackable word of mouth’. This really captures the essence of social media, which essentially comprises of various online conversations taking place on a public platform. Positive word of mouth is known to be one of the most powerful marketing tools because people trust peer recommendations more than advertisements. So being able to track and measure this online word of mouth must be one of the greatest opportunities that social media has to offer us. If this is the case, why are so many businesses not embracing it and even worse, blocking it from their offices completely?!

Allowing employees to use social media

Many employees are banned from using social media at work which seems ridiculous to me. Managers are afraid of losing control and worry that employees will use social media as a time wasting tool. But to be honest everyone needs a mental break from work, so conversing on social media sites is not so different from surfing the web, checking personal emails or taking regular coffee/tea breaks. Managers need to realise that employees are powerful assets because they know your products and services inside out, therefore making them perfect brand advocates. Every individual has different people and companies in their social network, giving you access to a new set of business prospects. If utilised properly, smart companies can harness this marketing opportunity and encourage employees to use social media for lead generation. However, a strategy needs to be in place so that the brand reputation is upheld and time is spent purposefully and productively.

Letting employees share how great it is to work for your company can also be good for business and serves as positive reputation management. Social networking tools allow employees to create an ‘expertise profile’ for themselves where they can demonstrate their knowledge on a number of topics. These profiles can be used to answer questions or solve problems that you might have in-house or to solve other company’s issues and thereby prove your skills. A simple tweet or blog post could receive several replies with useful advice and information – for free. Some employees might be really passionate about social networking and instead of stifling them, use their knowledge and passion to ask for advice about what they have learned about existing or new sites that could improve the company’s social media presence.

Essentially I think trust is the key. If managers can trust employees to answer the phone, write emails and represent their company at events, then why can’t they trust them to do the same on social networking sites? Besides, what kind of a message would you be sending to clients, who you encourage to spend time and money on social media, if you block usage for employees? Does this not reinforce the notion that those networking sites are time wasting tools that have no place in business, which is obviously not the case!

Being transparent

The new digital technologies allow for more business transparency which could be a reason that some constructions companies are not fully embracing social platforms. By putting your brand/company online and writing blogs, tweets, status updates or comments, you are opening up room for external critique and scrutiny of your company and its values. You can no longer hide behind written mission statements and promises of corporate social responsibility- you actually have to act on them and prove to your prospects that you are not ‘all talk and no action’.  The availability of videos and being able to distribute them easily on social networking sites, allows companies to share what they are doing and give people an insight into their company and the people that work for you –thereby humanising your business and putting faces to names.

Here is an infographic I found that illustrates how social media can be used by the different company departments.


Embracing change

Being social is essentially not just a communication method but instead it is a deep-rooted behaviour. We are programmed to connect with others and feel like we are part of a group, a community, a network. Companies need to understand and accept the changes that digital technologies have provided. The essence of wanting to interact is still the same; it is just on a greater scale and visible to millions across the globe. The problem is that many corporate cultures are resistant to change. But change is inevitable and therefore companies need to either adapt or get left behind. Communicating through social media is not a marketing campaign; it is an on-going business commitment.

A new measure should be explored, namely ROE (return on engagement). Are you getting anything in return for your online conversations? Does your engagement with others lead to business prospects? Are you providing value to your online connections/followers/prospects? If yes, then continue doing so on the various platforms that are appropriate for your company. But make sure you are not constantly talking about yourself and your services. You know what it is like to have a face-to-face conversation with someone who only talks about themselves – it is exhausting isn’t it! Well the same rules apply online; be creative, be engaging and most importantly be relevant!

Now for the tricky part, how social is your company and what will you do to become more sociable? Do you think being social might be hurting your business, would you prefer less access to information, less visibility online, less interaction? Do you think the construction industry can do without Social Media in any form?

Please let us know your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment below. Personally I love a good debate…

About Stuart Dinnie

Stuart has worked in the world of digital marketing for over 15 years. With his measured and planned approach, he has delivered robust digital strategies for construction companies to achieve real business growth. He now heads up the team at Pauley Creative as Managing Director and is leading his team & clients towards digital marketing excellence. He’s worked with over 100 construction clients; helping them on their digital transformation journey, providing sustainable strategies that return year on year incremental growth, delivering award-winning websites and adding value from board level to marketing assistant.

7 Responses to “How social is your construction company?”

  1. Ryan

    Another interesting and informative post Nick.

    It would be great to get a survey going so construction related organisations could see just how ‘social’ they are similar to your previous study!? Could also be used to compare themselves to competitors.


  2. Daniel Maddocks

    A good debate? That’s exactly what I’ve been searching for online. My two main interests are social media and construction. I use social media for different purposes and I’ve spent the last 4 years studying the construction industry. What better topic to research for my dissertation than social media in construction?

    I think the industry can make use of social media, they just need to engage in it professionally. Take Tarmac for example, one of the first construction related companys to embrace the use of social media. They write articles, share photographs, post videos and advertise vacancies through different networks. They don’t force information upon people in these networks, as social media works best on an opt-in basis.

    The company I work for banned the use of social media by its employees during working hours. They have, however, started to allow it to be used during break times. They have not yet embraced social media for corporate reasons but when I think of all of the internal news articles that have been written over the years, I think, what a great blog that would make!

    This issue really interests and I have also started to blog on it. But don’t worry, I’m not here to plaster my links all over the place…I’m here to help generate discussion.

    Great post by the way!

  3. Kirstie Colledge

    Hi guys – I can’t help but slightly disagree with this one. Sorry.

    There is a bit of a hole in the post and the infographic when it comes to the industry in question, the construction industry.

    An industry made up of large numbers of Construction Operatives mainly working on-site for contractors – not considered in your post or graphic – The question is: how much of the industry do they make up?

    Do you not think it unwise to encourage clients to let employees of all levels loose on the social networks in the ‘hope’ that the individual will manage the employer’s reputation? Have you been onto YouTube and Facebook and seen some of the disasters posted by the powerful (but forgotten) masses?

    A construction contractor is far more likely to get wind of much more impactful, negative spins on social media (job running late, prohibition orders, health and safety breaches, company faces prosecutions/fines…etc….).

    You mention Social Networks ‘if used properly’ – well there’s your problem, how can the Contractors govern this ‘proper’ use?

    As someone with a lot of experience in working with a number of UK construction companies at contractor level, I would always encourage caution.

    Social Media Marketing should remain with an experienced marketer as part of an overall strategy or, where that’s not available, responsibility should be handed to an efficient outside resource.

    I think it naive to assume that the construction industry should implement a ‘one size fits all’ approach to Social Media Marketing. Many digital marketing techniques still need proving to this industry and to its senior management.

    Let us not be accused of encouraging an ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ style approach, which I see every day in other industries when it comes to adopting social media and social media marketing practices.

    I think we should all be interested to hear what construction contractors think?

    Thanks again guys…


    • Nick Pauley

      Great points from Kirstie. Taking up your initial point, there are around 500,000 self-employed operatives alone (not counting those directly employed) working up and down the country on various sites for contractors of all shapes and sizes.

      They don’t fall under any brand or company jurisdiction and any influence over company culture probably stops after the initial site safety briefing.

      Can we ask them to tow the corporate line on Social networks? Of course not, be foolish to think we could.

      Can we ask them not to use Social Media to air their views good or bad? No, again. That would be dictatorial and very difficult to pull off.

      Can we help and advise on monitoring brand, site and contractor name mentions across all forms of digital content? Now that’s a YES.

      The point is we can’t stop people from using social networks, the uptake with the general public has been quicker than that of both Radio and TV, but we all can, and should (and do), advise construction businesses on how to monitor the social spaces and engage when and where necessary.

      You only have to read our post on “How are the Top 15 House Builders using social media?” or “Why you need to register your company name on Twitter” to see the effects of Social Media being completely ignored.

      So, yes, tread carefully if you’re cautious but don’t take your companies online reputation for granted…

  4. Home Heating

    Thank you amazing blog, do you have twitter, facebook or something similar where i can follow your blog

    Sandro Heckler


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