Social Media in AEC

Social media in A/E/C (Architecture/Engineering/Construction) – yes, it’s out there. I know there are skeptics out there and (somewhat) rightfully so [I’ll get to that a little later].

Social media which includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn and even blogging & email marketing has infiltrated our daily lives and is here to stay (in some shape or form). Many companies have become very profitable through social media because it allows them to connect to consumers and have a relationship with them instead of just being transactional; this is mostly B-to-C companies, but it does work for B-to-B companies as well. We have attracted new clients through social media (we wouldn’t dedicated the time & resources if it wasn’t worth it) and there are numerous case studies out there on companies using social media.

One of the best case studies I’ve seen is by Pauley Creative in the UK. Last year they surveyed the largest construction companies in the U.K. and found all of them were using social media in some form (read Pauley Creative’s blog post). One caveat, in my review, I noticed all of these companies have other industries they serve outside of construction so it is unclear how many use social media exclusively for their efforts in the construction industry.

It is easy to find A/E/C marketers using social media, just look online on Twitter, LinkedIn group discussions, Facebook, etc. One of the best locations is a weekly tweet chat on Tuesdays at 3pm Central at the Twitter hashtag #AECSM (stands for A/E/C social media). Generally the tweet chat has a topic & moderator, but occasionally its just a community of marketers sharing their experiences and opinions. According to Tweet Reach, the tweet chat has a reach of over 15,000 followers and had nearly 30,000 impressions this holiday week.

For 100% public low bid contractors, the increased exposure may not make sense in regards to ROI, it can be harmful. I have a large public contractor that believes the increased exposure to the public and community will increase damage claims based on past experiences with increased awareness. How do you justify social media to this company? It is hard too justify and we weighed the options. Social media does more than just attract new business, it can build comradery in the company, especially with multiple locations as well as attract new, better employees.

The next generation hitting the workforce is very web savvy and grew up with Facebook and YouTube. That generation is looking for good companies to work for and will search the internet to learn more about your company. Having something as simple as training videos on YouTube shows your company is innovative, transparent and probably a company they want to work for because of these characteristics. Don’t forget, that next generation of the workforce is also the next generation of clients.

How is your company using social media? If not, what is holding you back?