How a building product manufacturer is using social media for their business

Welcome to our first guest blog post where we take a deeper look into how product manufacturers within the construction industry are using social media. First up in this series is Playrite, who manufacture artificial surfaces and synthetic grass for sports facilities, playgrounds and leisure surfaces. They have an active presence on Twitter, Facebook and regularly update their company blog.

I initially heard about Playrite and their products through Twitter and since then have shared many interesting conversations on Twitter. In October we had the pleasure of actually meeting their marketing manager, Lorna Duncanson in person when she attended our Digital Marketing Seminar. Meeting online friends offline is one of my favourite things! I will now happily hand you over to Lorna to give you a short introduction to Playrite, what they do, how they use social media and what positive results it has had on their business.

UPDATE (16/05/2012) Marketing manager Lorna Duncanson is running 5k for race for life in July so please donate here.

An Introduction to Playrite

I’m Lorna Duncanson the marketing manager for Playrite who manufacture artificial sports, playground and leisure surfaces. Our products appear in tennis clubs, schools, leisure centres and gardens all over the UK, Europe and across the Globe. We have been established for 20 years now and are the only UK manufacturer to produce woven, tufted and needle punch surfaces giving us a huge insight into the industry. As marketing manager I am responsible for all the marketing decisions; I look after the website, manage all social media accounts, create new literature, raise brand awareness… (the list goes on). It’s just me in the department currently, but I do get a lot of support from our sales team and area managers.

Why do you use social media and Twitter in particular?

When I started at Playrite social media was one of the first things I wanted to get involved with, mainly because it’s a great way of communicating with customers (and competitors) and the only real cost, essentially, is time. In January 2011 I started the Playrite Blog, which is updated every week without fail. Twitter and Facebook are great traffic drivers to our blog (and website) and also keep our followers up-to-date with recent case studies and other Playrite news.

Twitter is an excellent tool for keeping the rest of the Playrite team updated with the latest industry news. At Playrite, we consider ourselves to be experts in our industry and so it’s important to keep up to date with what is going on. Twitter helps us to do this as well as gaining insight into how architects communicate, what information they like, and how they like to receive it. In the future, we aim to get more of our sales representatives tweeting and answering questions live online. Together we have a huge amount of knowledge and expertise that we want to share with our followers.

How did Twitter help promote Playrite at the recent FSB exhibition in Cologne?

Cologne was such a whirlwind – 10 months of planning for essentially a 3 day exhibition! Twitter really helped us to communicate with everyone back home and in Germany, allowed us to create a lot of buzz about our stand and let everyone know where we were and when events would be happening. Right from the beginning I uploaded sneak previews of our stand and blogged directly from the Koeln messe whilst in Cologne. This drove a huge amount of traffic to the site where we uploaded images, videos, and I wrote a blog post every day for the 5 days we were in Germany from my personal blog. All of this was linked through Twitter, and during those 5 days my blog received almost 300 hits, with the Thursday (Playrite’s 20th Birthday) receiving close to 100 hits. Not bad for one day’s work!

Using the Twitter search functionality for “FSB” and “FSB Cologne” also helped me to identify who else would be there, find new followers and meet new contacts as well as raising awareness of Playrite’s presence at the exhibition.

How do you manage your time on social media?

Currently, I am the only person who tweets for @PlayriteSurface although our Northern sales representative also tweets under his own account @Playrite_North. Currently I just manage my time as best I can and find that the ‘quality rather than quantity’ rule applies with Twitter, if I’ve got nothing interesting to say then it’s okay not to say anything at all, although I will be investigating into Hootsuite and Tweetdeck after learning more about these dashboard tools at the Pauley Creative Event in Manchester.

Have you managed to develop relationships online which you took offline, with Architects in particular?

In terms of meeting architects, I would say that as of yet we haven’t managed to take a relationship offline, but we have managed to reach many people that we wouldn’t have been able to communicate with if it wasn’t for Twitter. In terms of customers, we have managed to get quite a few enquiries from Twitter directly and take these relationships offline. Most importantly, Twitter has helped us to strengthen relationships with existing customers, especially those outside of the UK. It also gives a feeling of authority to Playrite, and often our customers want to get involved with case studies and online projects because they know their company will also get promoted through our social media activities.

Through Twitter we have also met up with some great individuals at companies such as Pauley Creative, and arranged tweet-ups at events such as FSB, PlayFair and The Education Show. Having a strong Twitter presence does help your company get noticed and remembered. Proof of this came with the number of people who visited our stand at FSB in Germany saying, “Hello, I follow Playrite on Twitter!”

You recently published a Specification Guide for Architects/Specifiers, how did Twitter help you raise awareness of this publication?

First and foremost, it was an article on Twitter that gave me the idea to produce the guide! Su Butcher wrote an article on her blog focusing on an alternative strategy to the usual sales push. This gave me the idea of producing a document that contained helpful information detailing what architects should consider when specifying synthetic grass, as well as some information on who Playrite are, what we do, some recent projects we’ve worked on and how to get in touch. Also, I liked the idea of providing useful information for free – something that Pauley Creative inspired me to do with their downloadable E Book: “The Construction Marketer’s Guide to Social Media.”

Our specification guide was designed as a PDF, although we have also posted a few copies out and included them in our literature folders when meeting Architects. Twitter helped us to share this information and our followers re-tweeted the link and extended Playrite’s reach. We also got some really positive feedback from the document that lead us to create a further PDF on the different types of cricket surfaces available, which again was shared on Twitter. The “Information for Architects” guide also helped us to promote our online RIBA accredited CPD that went live around the same time. This proved that within the business world, Twitter is an excellent way of communicating with a large audience.

Have you got any advice for other manufacturers who are still unsure of social media?

I think the key to social media is to always remember that you are communicating directly with the World Wide Web. That includes your current and prospective customers, your competitors, your colleagues and your bosses. This can be seen as a negative thing, but as long as it’s kept professional I personally like the idea of promoting a more transparent and approachable company.

My advice is that if you have the time to spare, and you’ve got something interesting to say, then I would recommend you just go for it! Twitter has proved more successful for Playrite than I ever thought possible. It is easy to use (once you get your head around it), helps you network without having to leave your desk, extends your reach, and you discover insightful information often way before anyone else does.


Thank you to Lorna and her team for giving us some great insights into how social media can be used by product manufacturers within the construction industry. I especially liked her points about becoming a more ‘transparent and approachable company’ because I think that is a key point. Social media gives customers and prospects the opportunity to connect and engage with companies in a more personable way. As you saw from Lorna’s experience at the trade show, many of the visitors to their stand were already aware of Playrite and what they do because they followed them on Twitter. This is a step towards raising brand awareness and building relationships with your audience so when they are ready to purchase, your products are top of mind.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and if you have any questions for Lorna or would like to add anything please do so in the comments section below.

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.

11 Responses to “How a building product manufacturer is using social media for their business”

  1. Su Butcher

    Hi Ayaan, Hi Lorna,
    Its great that the article on an alternative to pull marketing was helpful and inspired your recent Specification Guide. Now that you’ve made a useful guide for architects that will help them specify synthetic grass, and in a format that is easy for you to share, you should find others sharing it around as well, encouraging more specifiers to consider your products when they are looking for help with synthetic grass. Useful information is more likely to be retained and shared, and putting it online makes this easy.
    Great article, and thanks for the mention.

  2. Ayaan Mohamud

    Hi Su, thanks for the comment. Giving away useful and valuable content is a key part of inbound marketing. It helps position a manufacturer as an expert in their field and gives them the opportunity to show their technical expertise. Sharing it online increases your online visibility and exposes your company to new prospects as you can see from Lorna’s comments. I hope the points raised in the article have been useful for other product manufacturers who might feel more encouraged to use social media now.

  3. Lorna Duncanson

    I really hope that other manufacturers get on board with the whole social marketing revolution! Being an expert in our field is exactly what Playrite wants to achieve – but this does involve going out of your way to be helpful and informative, but this is definitely worth the extra effort. So many individuals and businesses are willing to publish free useful information nowadays it seems right to give something back.

  4. Helen Johnstone

    Enjoyed reading your blog. I have just set up our company blog ( and am just getting to grips with our new company twitter account (@CompetitiveA). Your blog inspired me to keep momentum and ensure we built a schedule of interesting and useful content to blog and tweet about, no point in having an online presence and not using it!

  5. Lorna Duncanson

    Hi Helen, glad to hear how you’ve been inspired. Couldn’t agree more about using your online presence to get the most out of it!

  6. Ayaan Mohamud

    Morning Helen, thanks for the comment. Happy to hear that you have started a company blog and Twitter account, looking forward to reading/following both! An editorial calendar is a brilliant way of planning ahead to make sure you know what you are writing about, who is going to do the writing and also when content will be published. Best advice is to keep researching to find out what information your audience is looking for and to produce content on a regular basis. Results don’t come over night but are definitely worth it in the end! If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me/us.

  7. Philip Corrigan

    Hey guys,

    we recently attended an event where we decided to go one step more than ‘live’ tweeting and actually showcased those tweets on a screen at our stand. Visitors seemed to love the approach and the possibility of having a tangible effect on our stand (by tweeting a special hashtag we setup for the event). see here for the image!

  8. Lorna Duncanson

    Hi Philip,

    That sounds like a great idea – what an excellent way to get visitors more involved with your twitter profile by showing it live! Did your followers increase as a result?

  9. Ayaan Mohamud

    Agree with Lorna, that is a great idea Philip! I have seen more and more people using this approach and it seems to have a positive response. Both of the recent Fresh Thinking events I have attended (hosted by Jobsite) had massive screens in both the seminar room and in the reception area where teas and coffees were served. This enabled people to connect with other ‘tweeters’ in the room who were at the event and also increased the reach of the event hashtag as more were encouraged to post updates, even if at first it was just to see their face on the screen 🙂

    Would also be interested in what results this had for you and will you be doing more of this in future?

  10. Philip Corrigan

    Hey all,

    Apologies for the delay in getting back to your questions.

    I found that the results of the above idea were more internally resounding than anything, raising the awareness of social media and its importance among my UK colleagues to our marketing objectives going forward.

    In terms of future social media objectives, I really want to create local for local connections, putting our UK employees at the forefront of our UK digital marketing activities. So in terms of content and in an attempt to put it in context and making it as rich as possible to the UK market, I’ve just setup a UK blog ( and a UK Twitter profile (@PhilipsLightUK). The blog will be improved dramatically in the terms of functionality soon but it is a good place to start.

    I’ve found that persuading my colleagues to my ideas to be the highest barrier. Despite all that is being said in the news about the importance of social media and all the advice coming from marketing experts and leaders, many are still cautious and doubtful of its relevancy, especially in B2B. Therefore it is necessary to get backing from senior staff. That is my advice on where to start.

    As I said I have just began this journey here with my UK colleagues so if you want to see how we get on why not follow us.



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