Some construction professionals still view social media as a waste of time and cannot see the benefits it can have to their business. Sure, social media takes up a significant amount of time and effort but what marketing doesn’t? How much time do you spend in meetings discussing how to raise your brand awareness, how to plan and execute the next product launch, where to place your next ad and how much of your budget will be allocated to all these different activities? Hours? Days? Even weeks?!
Social media is simply another channel that can help communicate, listen, engage, react and educate your target audience. Time is only wasted on social media if you have not developed a solid social media strategy and set clear objectives. If you are scared your employees will waste time online instead of using it to productively grow your online community and build up your reputation – then do not blame the technology, blame the internal education and culture. Inspired and motivated employees will gladly take up the job to use social media to promote and strengthen your brand online. This quote from Mitch Joel explains the point I am making:
“We’re always quick to blame the technology and not the people. I always argue that those who are not wasting their time on YouTube (because a company has blocked it) have probably figured out something else to do to waste their time (hint: they’re not happy and energized to be doing their jobs … it’s not YouTube).”
For most construction marketers, the most daunting thing about social media is how and where to start. There are so many platforms, so many tools and it can take valuable time to investigate what is best for the business. My suggested approach is, organise yourself. In order to effectively utilize social media, it is important to recognize how you can use social media to help the business in some shape or form (i.e increase revenue? lower costs? increase satisfaction? brand awareness?). If you can answer this one question, it will be much easier to begin and not waste valuable time with an ineffective social media strategy.
- What are you using social media for – personal or professional reasons? Will you be setting up a company account or an individual one that will represent your business?
- What are your social media objectives? What are you hoping to achieve? Is it to engage and participate with your audience, receive industry news, ask and answer questions, increase lead generation, drive traffic to your website or all of the above? Is it to lower your PR costs as you will spend a bit more time blogging news stories?
- Who is going to be responsible for what? Is there only going to be one person controlling the company social media accounts or is it a team? What policies are in place to stop abuse and processing negative comments?
- How are you going to measure your social media efforts? How will you know when you are successful?
Once you have figured out your objectives, you can approach social media in a way that sets out to achieve them. If research is your goal you’ll want to find blogs, podcasts and news sites that provide quality information and subscribe to their RSS feeds. If networking is your focus you’ll want to build a community of people from your target audience. If you’re a product manufacturer find the architects and specifiers that are active on social networking sites like Twitter and LinkedIn and connect with them. Ask them how they specify products, what information they need to make an informed decision and provide content that helps them learn about your products and why they should use them. If you’re driven by sales & marketing, you’ll want to concentrate on getting your brand and products out there, perhaps by creating product installation videos, blogging about industry news and regulations and starting discussions or answering questions on social networking sites.
There are tools available that help you manage the time you spend on social media activities. Here are a few: follower wonk to find your audience, Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to manage your profiles and set up streams on key words and RSS to keep up to date with blog posts, articles, reports.
Below is a diagram that illustrates different stages of social media maturity according to time spent on different activities. What stage are you on?
Yes, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites can reduce some people’s productivity, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re avoiding these sites to avoid temptation, you are missing out on important conversations and networking opportunities that can help grow your business. Your competitors might already be online and you do not want to be left behind.
“Interaction is important to create communities of loyal consumers, but translating that into key objectives that drive your marketing and product development is how you use social media to add value to your bottom line. Social media is about understanding what your customers want.”
In the same way that you sometimes spend hours in unproductive meetings or taking long smoke breaks, social media can either be used to waste time or to make a significant contribution to marketing your construction company.
The key is managing your time wisely because at the end of the day social media is only a tool and the way it is used is defined by the person using it. Get a good grasp on why you’re using it, develop a strategy to keep you focused and utilise the available tools to help maximize your effort.
If you require any help formulating a social media strategy or would like any training (for you or your team) on how to best use social media, then please do gives us a call on 01908 671 707.