Twitter. Facebook. LinkedIn. Instagram. You've probably heard these words before. Social media has been one of the hottest topics among marketing professionals for several years now. They're all doing it – posting their latest blogs in LinkedIn groups, tweeting about their lunch, spamming their Facebook feed with marketing tips. "And that's all well and good for them," you think to yourself, "they're in the digital space. But I’m an architect. I build stuff in the real world. My clients don't have time to stuff around on social media. So all this advice doesn't apply to me."
What if I told you that 82% of consumers are more likely to trust a company if their CEO or senior leadership use social media? (Leo Odden, TopRank Marketing) Or that 81% of the Inc. 500 (the fastest growing companies in the US) are using LinkedIn? (Relevanza). Or that 95% of small businesses found blogging to be an effective marketing tool, second only to email marketing? (E-Strategy Trends)
And it's not just the young'uns. According to State of Search, the fastest growing segment of social media users is people aged 45-54. 55% of respondents in this age group now have a profile on at least one social media network.
You shouldn't view social media as some crazy fad – instead, think of it as a tool that gathers an audience of your target market together in one place so you can chat to them about what you do.
As an architect, you've got to be a part of this discussion, and that means getting on to social media.
Where to begin with your architecture social media?
OK, so I've beaten you over the head with all these statistics, and you've grudgingly accepted it's time to give social media a try. What next?
It can be overwhelming figuring out where to begin, and every guru and expert has different advice. I'm about to throw mine on the pot. My advice is to start small, experiment, and create your strategy as you understand the platform.
First, you need to choose a platform. Start with one social media platform, and add others later if you want to expand your reach or try something different. Which platform to choose depends on what you're comfortable using, and what would be best for your product and audience. Don't stress too much about this choice – as any social media platform can be successful if you learn how to use it strategically. Just choose one that appeals to you. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Facebook is the most popular social media platform in the world, and is extremely easy to use. From your Facebook business page, you can send updates, poll readers and publish links, as well as like and follow others.
- LinkedIn is the best social media platform for business to business. On LinkedIn you can form connections with other business owners and talk about your industry in groups (like a discussion forum, but much more awesome).
- Twitter is a microblogging platform where you share short, sharp updates of 140 characters or less. It is particularly effective if you work in marketing or technology space.
- Youtube is for sharing videos. If you can come up with regular video content, it is THE place to be.
- Google+ is the "new kid on the social media block" but because it's Google's own platform, it has a heavy weighting in search engine results. A lot of business people are starting to use this platform.
- Tumblr is a blogging platform that favours visual heavy posts with few words, and makes it easy to “reblog” and share posts made by others. It could be a great platform for architects wanting to experiment with blogging.
- Instagram and Pinterest are platforms for sharing and chatting about images. Users are more commonly women and businesses successfully using these platforms are more commonly product driven. However, as an architect, your product is primarily visual, so these could be a great space for you.
Choose one platform, set up a profile, and let's get started!
Social Media Updates for Architects
Now that you've got your first social media profile set up, it's time to start updating your social media. But what do you say and how often should you say it.
Here are some of the things you can do with your social media profile:
- Link to interesting posts you read in the media about your industry, or to things business owners should know.
- Link to your own blog posts about the industry.
- Ask questions about what your audience is having trouble with. What are they looking for in an architect? Social media can be an excellent tool for conducting market research.
- Give out short and snappy daily or weekly tips.
- Share links and thoughts on new, innovative and visually stunning architecture projects from around the world.
- Talk about something funny that happened in the office today.
- Talk about a common problem your clients experience and how to solve it.
- Bust a myth about your industry.
- Use #hashtags to join conversations with other people in your industry.
- Reply to consumer questions, or join in discussions on other profiles.
- Start a conversation with influencers in your industry.
As to how often you should post, this depends on the platform you're using and how often people want to hear from you. Remembering that on all social media platforms, your updates aren't going to be seen by everybody, I'd recommend the following frequencies:
- Facebook: between 3-5 times per week.
- Twitter: between 1-5 times per day.
- Google+: between 2-5 times per week.
- Youtube: 1-4 times per month.
- Tumblr: 2-10 times per week.
- LinkedIn: status updates 1-4 times per week, and appearing in discussions 1-5 times per week.
- Instagram + Pinterest: 1-10 uploads per week.
Here at WorkflowMax, we love Buffer – it's a clever app that connects all your social media accounts into one system and allows you to write updates for the week. So instead of logging on to your social media site every time you want to update, you can create all your updates in advance (say, on a Monday morning) and schedule them to appear throughout the week. Genius!
As you gain fans and followers, you'll find you'll also receive social media messages and people talking on your profiles. You'll also need to schedule in some time to respond to these messages.
Networking on Social Media for Architects
Networking is the art of chatting to other business owners and forming a web of contacts throughout the business world. The concept of networking is simple: the more people you know, and the more people who know you, the more likely you are to receive referrals directly from your contacts. While traditional business networking is done face-to-face, networking online via social media is quickly catching up in terms of effective ROI.
How do you use social media for networking?
- Find five "influencers" (people with lots of status and followers) in your industry and follow them. Make it your mission to get to know these people better and make them part of your network.
- Join 3-5 groups or discussion forums connected to your social media platform (such as groups on Facebook or LinkedIn, or #hashtag conversations on Twitter) and start actively participating.
- Make around 20% of all your updates sharing something someone else has created. Make sure you include their details so they can see you sharing their stuff.
- Approach companies that have synergies with your own through their social media platforms - perhaps project managers, contractors or mortgage brokers - and ask to connect.
Tips to get the best ROI on your Social Media
So you're tweeting away, updating your Facebook and uploading silly photos on Instagram. Now that you've got the hang of it, how can you make your updates more effective?
- Research common #hashtags in your industry and try to use a least one hashtag in most posts.
- Ask questions, and encourage followers to interact with you.
- Ask friends, family and colleagues to like your social media pages.
- Follow and connect with influencers in your industry.
- Reply promptly to anyone who comments on your updates or sends you a message.
- Include your social media links on your website, your business card and in your email signature. Encourage clients to signup to your updates to stay informed.
- Provide useful tips and content your followers are interested in.
- Give a link-back to your website so potential customers can find out more.
- Follow, like and fan other people and businesses you're interested in. In the beginning, this is the best way to grow your audience.
- When you post about someone else, link their social media platform in your post so they can see your link and respond.
Like most other forms of marketing, social media is a long-term strategy. You can't just tweet for a week to 7 followers and expect dramatic results. Give social media a solid 6-9 months of attention before you decide if it's worthwhile or not. Remember, social media is a useful – and relatively cost-effective – form of marketing and trust building for professional service firms. You just have to approach it with the right attitude.
How are you using social media in your professional service firm?
Photos courtesy of Weburbanist.