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9 social media mistakes construction firms should avoid

Three years ago I looked at how the top construction companies at the time were using social media. At first glance the results were encouraging – 46 per cent were on Twitter and a healthy 80 per cent had a company page on LinkedIn.

However, n closer inspection this social ‘presence’ appeared to be more of a box-ticking exercise than a concerted effort to engage with influencers, customers or prospects – 0 per cent were engaging in any conversation – clearly a watching brief.

Now in 2014, social media is a core hub for discussion and interaction, and the uptake of companies using social networking has grown enormously. So, I’ve looked again at how the leading construction companies are using social media and what, if anything, we can learn from their efforts.

In part, what I found was encouraging, yet I didn’t need to look too hard to find holes in the approach of some companies. This then is a timely reminder of the mistakes to avoid when penning your social media marketing strategy.

Using Twitter for broadcasting

Having a Twitter account but not engaging with the audience is a common oversight. Being ‘big’ will get you followers but being accessible will generate a following. All but one of the top 20 have a presence on Twitter and now an encouraging 45 per cent are engaging in some form of conversation.

Analytics without analysis

Having a Google Analytics account is a must for all construction websites. All but one had the code on their website. However, not using the information within it to inform your future marketing plan is a cardinal sin. Is social media helping you reach your marketing objectives? Google Analytics knows the answer.

Being social from the bottom up (and not the top down)

Social media is not taken very seriously in the boardroom of the top 20 construction companies. Only the CEO of Mitie has a visible Twitter account; she leads by example. Also go and check the Mitie Social Media Policy – this is how to do it.

Tweeting without authenticity

Social media marketing is a marketing activity; however, having an agency tweet on your behalf is a weak strategy. Your audience will guess that you have done just that very quickly.

If they suspect you are not controlling the page, they will be far less likely to want to engage with you. Being an authentic, passionate ambassador for your company will come through in your communications. Keep it real.

Burying social profiles

Having social media profiles but then making folks work really, really hard to find them – like burying them at the bottom of the page or only on the ‘contact us’ page – sort of says, ‘Yes, of course we’re social, we’re just not talking about it’. To coin a phrase: don’t make me think.

Not proving Your capabilities

Contractors spend too much time showing off, writing about their prestigious project wins in ‘news’ articles rather than using social media to prove the technical expertise of the people who make the projects happen, those who solve the issues that undoubtedly crop up on major projects.

Use social platforms to prove ‘why’ you get chosen for the projects, not the projects themselves.

CEOs on LinkedIn (but not really)

This is the difference between having a visible profile and not really having a profile. At first glance, around 80 per cent of CEOs have a profile on LinkedIn.

However, closer scrutiny suggests they are not in fact full profiles, just boxes ticked. Once again the one to follow is Mitie CEO Ruby McGregor-Smith, who has a professional profile across multiple platforms. How long before the rest think social media is important enough to follow suit?

Giving up and forgetting

Social media is a slow-burn strategy in many respects (finding the right resource, gaining industry authority, building your brand, generating leads, etc) but it’s easy for construction companies to give up before they ever really got going.

Understand from the outset that being social is not easy – take baby steps. Think about where your audience is online, plan what they might want to hear/read, create compelling content, review what happens when you share your content. Repeat.

Finding your social champions

Those companies that are leading the way in construction social media marketing appear to be driven by a clear company-wide social media strategy.

Your social teams are key to a company’s social success. Find your social champions and, rather than giving them enough rope to hang themselves, provide them with boundaries to work within.

More and more construction companies are claiming their social profiles and using them to share news, publish photos and videos, create discussion groups and use analytics to obtain relevant data.

To ensure your social media marketing contributes towards achieving your business goals (and your bottom line) you would do well to develop a clear strategy and integrate it into the rest of your marketing activities.

Nick Pauley is a CIMCIG committee member and the managing director of Pauley Creative – read the full post on How the top construction companies are using social media in 2014 on the Pauley Creative Blog

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