Management

Building a presence in the social media space

13 October 2010

Younger decision-makers access information in different ways — and Pritesh Patel says your firm needs to provide it

Social media is the buzzword among many marketers and business development professionals in the construction industry. Still a relatively new and untested channel, the question in most people’s minds is: “What is social media and how can I utilise this new channel for my business?”

Social media marketing is exactly that — being social by engaging and conversing with communities of common interests to fulfil a business or marketing objective.

All construction companies can make use of social media in some form. Many are already using Twitter to broadcast news stories and project studies which direct people back to their websites. Social media platforms can also be used to share media content, such as video or reports, and to collaborate on group discussions to improve business processes and reduce operational costs. More important, connecting and engaging with a defined audience or industry peers can develop relationships and increase awareness for your brand.

Companies should go through a planning process prior to implementing a social media strategy, and that starts with identifying where their audience is online. Are they on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook? Are architects on Twitter? Are specifiers on LinkedIn? If so, what groups are they part of? Many construction professionals regularly post discussions and engage with other members to solve problems in LinkedIn. There are many tools out there, such as www.flowtown.com, which can identify which social networks your customers are on.

Being social starts from within the business, with an effective social media strategy requiring an open and transparent culture. The automotive industry is showing the way forward here: witness the Twitter profile page for Vauxhall Customer Services, which displays photographs and signatures of the customer service representatives.

Another good example is Ford, which recently launched its new Ford Explorer model directly via Facebook. The company combined videos and images of the people behind the design, build and production of the new vehicle and connected them with customers who already owned or embraced the Ford brand. More than 50,000 people viewed the launch online.

So, the next time your brand launches a new product or service, how will you integrate and communicate to your audience in order to fully maximise reach, visibility and engagement?

Online reputation management is more crucial now than ever. It can take a business years to build credibility, trust and rapport with customers, but only a few minutes to lose it all through the power of the internet. It only takes a few minutes for messages, videos, pages and documents to go viral. How do you control such an event? Construction companies must develop policies to constantly monitor online conversations and this can only happen by participating within the social space.

The companies that fail to build a presence within this fast growing social space today will suffer as the younger generation within the construction industry looks to connect with brands in more and different ways.

Marketing has changed and business development professionals within the construction industry must keep up with all the new ways of connecting and communicating with their audiences. If they don’t it could be a mammoth task playing catch up in the future.

Pritesh Patel is digital marketing manager at Pauley Creative

 

CM has five copies of Social Media Marketing from publisher Kogan Page to give away to the first five readers to email us at: elaine@atompublishing.co.uk

 

Five ways to… get pre-construction right at the beginning

01 Sort out rights and obligations

Many of the issues that can arise through disagreements on construction projects can be ironed out by some good planning and attention to detail pre-construction. Sit down with your commercial people at the beginning of the contractual process and work out what your rights and obligations are. It is better to have important contractual conversations at the beginning of the process rather than when things aren’t going as you would like them to.

02 Establish who is responsible for what

Establish clearly who is responsible for the various elements of the project, including: design specialists’ input; what terms subcontractors will be engaged on and their contribution to the project overall; how amendments and constraints will be stepped down from the main contractor to the subcontractors; how risk will be allocated; how you will arrive at and formalise collective decisions

03 Put a clear construction timetable in place

It becomes much easier to keep a project on track if you have a clear project timetable with an action list identifying the responsibilities of everyone involved, when they have to complete each phase of the project and what the consequences are of not achieving these milestones.

04 Plan how you will handle underperformance

There can be many reasons why a subcontractor, consultant or individual is not performing as they should, so understanding the reasons for underperformance, and strict management with clear consequences, will work best. Robust project management from the outset ensures the construction timetable is adhered to and that underperformance is dealt with effectively.

05 View the contract as a means of communication

The contract should not be a club to beat the other party over the head with. There will always be drivers for a contractor to start on site immediately upon award of a project, but if you miss out those vital first stages you risk finding out that the price you think you have got isn’t the one you end up with, or, worse still, finding that you don’t have a contract at all, which may mean that you have a very messy legal argument rather than a contractual one.

 

Jason Farnell is a partner of CR Management 

 

Comments

Great Article! I am writing a dissertation on the subject for a Construction Project Management degree. It is a new concept and I guess there isn't going to be a lot of information out there, but that's what motivates me. Cheers!

Daniel Maddocks, 16 October 2010

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