Why a Low-Bid, Public Works Contractor Should Care about Social Media.

A big question for construction companies, especially low bid, public works contractors, is should they jump on the social media bandwagon. First off, if you’re only doing it because everyone else is doing it – don’t bother. Secondly, you need to ask yourself what is the goal and what are the pros & cons of getting involved in social media.

My number one reason why all companies should do social media in some form, is to build a brand community that cares about your brand. Drilling down on other benefits of social media, in particular for low-bid, public works contractors:

Share company news throughout the company – Generally public works construction companies are large, quite large actually, and employees, even family members, that work for the same company do not know what is going on at different locations and in different divisions. Honestly, my team of 10 has this issue sometimes, so a company of 250+ employees can’t possibly keep up without some type of communication. A printed company newsletter is great for large featured projects, but it takes months to develop, design and print so it is not timely and can be cost-prohibitive for some companies. Having a Facebook presence, even a private group, to share projects, solutions, and stories can keep morale up and even help facilitate knowledge from one crew to the next.

– Show your employees that you care about them – Many companies take good care of the employees and it is not noticed because the corporate office does a poor job of communicating things like awards, promotions, recognition, and perks. Did you throw a retirement party for someone who has been with the company for 40 years lately? Great! Did you tell the rest of the company? Let’s say that you did do this, do you think customers would want to know about this? Yes, they would and it builds trust in your company and shows that you’re a good company to work for and with. Imagine your customer, who works for the government, actually likes working with your company. It changes the relationship and they cut you slack when it doesn’t matter and do not come down on your project managers as hard when it does count simply because they care.

– Attract better employees – Because of  the internet, prospective employees have access to view your company. A strong website not only attracts clients, but it attracts better employees. Things like the previously mentioned retirement party and safety videos on YouTube show your company is progressive and treats the employees well. It also helps prospective employees understand the kind of construction projects your company performs and attracts the right kind of employee. The younger generations, such as the Millenniums, have proven they care more about working for companies that are good stewards in the community and do things the right way than they care about more money.

– Attract private customers – Who says a public works contractor can’t do private work? One of my long-time clients is known for their public works and their reputation of innovation, customer service, and quality work has lead to decades of success in the private sector. If you can complete a public project early and under budget, all while treating the client’s project manager with respect, when you don’t have to, you create a reputation for excellence. Good or bad, your reputation gets around because people talk, people change jobs, and people want to work with someone that makes their job easier and more pleasant.

– Better company image – You need to protect your public image at all times, but companies forget about being proactive on this idea. Imagine your company gets no press, has no social media interactions and the only things that appear when your company is searched is the company website & a Google map listing. Now imagine something bad happens such as an accident. When you Google your company, all you will find is bad news via articles, TV, blogs, etc. If you have a social media presence, you can balance out the search listings, but more importantly, you balance out the image your community has about your company. A large construction company in my area is widely known for their large infrastructure projects, traffic congestion, redoing some projects, and two people dying on one job. This company has been around for generations and done some great work, but if you ask most people on the street what they know about them they generally will say traffic or the two deaths. Those deaths happened 3 or 5 years ago and I’m sure it is effecting their ability to recruit and even retain quality employees. This is a slippery slope that can takes years to fix; however, if they had a strong, positive public image before hand, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal and wouldn’t shadow over their quality work.

I’ve had some “old timer” construction guys tell me that social media is warm fuzzies that they don’t need to worry about and it won’t effect their bottom line because they are a low bid contractor. Even though social media may not bring in a penny of profit, it can save millions of dollars in the long run by retaining & recruiting better employees, building relationships with customers, and improving the company’s image.

How do you use social media in your company?