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How to build your profile with social media

Social media has been with us since the start of the decade. But I’m prepared to bet that the majority of construction professionals reading this article have still to start using it to promote their business. A shame – it’s a great leveller.

In the past the SME could never hope to compete with the larger organisation’s extensive marketing resources. That has all changed. A series of informative blog articles, some useful postings on a discussion group or some informative tweets can get extensive coverage regardless of size. The smaller organisation actually has an advantage over its larger competitor as shorter decision-making processes allow a quicker response.

This is not about selling, but building profile and reputation. You have an opportunity to present your company as experts by providing useful information.

Content is king. Put out informative articles which help people. In time it will lead to referrals. Select subjects that you know about and find interesting, then it will make it much easier for you to write about them. Don’t include overt sales material as it will just turn people away.

Consider doing short pieces to camera and posting them on YouTube. This is rapidly growing in popularity as a means of communicating and is ideal for demonstrating a skill or showing off a project.

Do this and you will build a following of interested people, some of whom can pass enquiries your way or make decisions about awarding work. If they have read informative articles from you or your company they are more likely to make decisions in your favour.

Social media is a key tool, but it also has the potential to consume a lot of time. Start by understanding how it works – using it to help you with your job. Then incorporate it into your communications. Resist using an agency; it’s your thoughts and ideas that matter.

Define your objectives, time available and the success criteria. Have a clear, integrated, communications strategy which is fully understood by those selected to represent your organisation. Then start building and understanding relationships.

Finally, a word of warning. Only let selected people represent you on social media and watch what you write. Unlike a casual comment in the pub, a badly thought-through statement using social media can spread around the world very quickly and result in libel action.

Chris Ashworth is is founder of Competitive Advantage Consultancy, which specialises in strategy, market research and training for the construction industry. He serves on the Promotional Working Group of the government’s Green Construction Board and is also a member of the organising committee for CIMCIG, the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Construction Industry Group.The Construction Media Index 2013 was published in June and presents the findings of 550 telephone interviews with architects, civil engineers, main contractors and roofing contractors. Individual reports for each sector can be purchased from www.cadvantage.co.uk.

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