By Brian M. Fraley
Building a meaningful presence on social media has more in common with masonry than you might expect. Multiple steps must be followed to achieve success. The good news is that imperfection won’t cause a structural collapse or any other dire consequences.
Venturing into social media as an AEC or masonry firm is a serious endeavor; time is money. Understand that each platform has its own best practices, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach. This article will provide a solid foundation for those looking to get started on social media.
Define Your Objectives
You can save yourself a great deal of time and frustration by determining why you want to establish a social media presence. If your interest is based only on following the herd, don’t bother. You’ll end up like many other firms…a vacant storefront. Valid reasons to move forward might include building an online brand, interacting with customers and prospects, or generating inbound leads. Don’t invest any time until you sit down with the key players on your team to determine whether you really have the time, budget and perseverance to succeed in this modern medium known as social media marketing.
Find Your Audience
Once you’ve decided to proceed, determining where your target audience spends time is critical. You should be there and only there. Don’t feel compelled to join every platform. And don’t make the assumption that your industry is on Facebook just because it is the most popular platform. Take the rifle approach. It’s far better to create an active presence on one to three platforms than it is to have a weak presence on five or six. Consider collecting the names of your top 20 prospects, for example, and search the different platforms to see where they’re active. This small investment of time now will ensure that you’re not hollering into an echo chamber for the next six months.
Craft a Strategy
Social media for business isn’t about rigging up a profile and posting haphazardly; you need a strategy with measurable results. Define your objectives, the tactics you will deploy, the metrics that will determine success, and a plan to monitor your results.
There are many tactical questions to consider, including:
- How frequently will you post?
- What type of content will you share?
- How will you engage with followers?
- What is your brand’s voice and personality?
- Will you use images, text or both?
- How will you handle complaints and trolls?
Build a Solid Profile
Aesthetics are important in the structures you design or build. A social media profile is no different. You want people to visit and decide to stick around. Your two main elements are graphics and words. Your header graphic should be unique, attractive and indicative of your business. Make sure it’s consistent with the branding of your other internet properties, including other social profiles, your website and your eNewsletter. Your profile photo should be a company logo. It’s also critical for the verbal description of your firm to be clear, descriptive and reflective of your firm’s unique value proposition.
Cross-Promote to Fuel Growth
One of the greatest mistakes AEC firms make is neglecting to cross-promote on their websites and other social platforms. You will experience churn in your following, so it’s important to keep building. Link your social profiles to your website and your email signature, for starters. It’s also good practice to occasionally encourage followers to connect with you on your other platforms. This sounds elementary, but you would be surprised how many AEC firms don’t do it.
Measure Your Results
The masonry industry is no stranger to measurement, so make sure to carry the practice to social media. Social media platforms provide analytics so you can see how you’re performing over time. Don’t make the mistake of comparing your results to companies unlike your own; a niche market like masonry will produce humble results. Your greatest focus should be on the quality and relevance of your followers. The good news is that with a small following, you can get to know the followers that matter.
Design and build your social media presence as you would a wall or a building: block by block. You will achieve success with slow and focused consistency. This is not a one-time project. Consider it part of the diversification of your marketing strategy. Social media can be an incredibly powerful tool when used properly.
About the author:
Brian M. Fraley is the owner and chief strategist for Fraley Construction Marketing, a marketing communications consultancy with a unique focus and understanding of the construction industry. He has served this niche market for more than 20 years. Brian is active on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, and regularly contributes to the Construction Marketing InSITE Newsletter, The Construction Marketing Straight Talker Blog, and various trade publications.