Without doubt, some organisations working within the construction industry are still viewing social media platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) as simply a tool for the “marketing people” – at best as a way of keeping up with what’s happening within the sector and firing off marketing messages into the ether, at worst a time-consuming fad.
But rest assured, social media is here to stay and is likely to become the premium source of information gathering and two way communication between a company and its markets, over the next few years.
So how are construction firm using these sites….constructively?
• Corporate social responsibility
A buzz phrase, yet no less an extremely important focus for construction firms. On the whole, all of your projects will impact on a number of people – locals, environmentalists and politicians for example. By maintaining a regular blog, updating everyone involved on the progress of the project and its potential impact and opening the lines of communication (including the social media sites), all information is there to be seen and you will be viewed as open and honest – an excellent quality for a brand. Resistance is likely to be less and you can probably expect to spend less time answering enquiries if the information is already out there and easily accessible.
• Information gathering
The great thing about social media is that it isn’t just making sure the firm’s marketing message gets out there. You can also gather opinions and suggestions very quickly, straight from the horse’s mouth. By monitoring blogs, forums and social media posts, you can find out exactly what is being said about your firm or your projects, correctly or incorrectly. This is a great opportunity to promote the truth, allay any fears, clarify a situation and generally build relationships with your target audience and the public in general – especially useful during a crisis management situation or even just when building up your brand reputation.
Social media affords a fast, extensive method of communicating a message much more quickly and cost-effectively than any other marketing tactic. For example, if you manage to secure a large commercial client with a household name, simply by sending out a post with that information, your followers are likely to send it to their interested followers and so on – the message carries itself virally. In addition, make no bones about it – most press journalists and editors now follow social media posts very carefully and use some of them as content for their publication. If your news is of interest either locally or nationally, you can find out the name of the relevant person and make sure they know about it by notifying them on social media, without the need for you to prepare a press release or hire a PR agent.
From this, it should be evident that social media is not just a marketing tool but is being used by construction companies worldwide as an effective management intelligence and communication tool. Make sure you incorporate it into your marketing plan.