For the first time, the built environment has a list of the most influential ‘tweeters’ – those who have a passion for their work and like to engage with fellow professionals in 140 characters or less.
Following the list of the UK’s top 100 tweeters published by the Independent in February, social media consultancy the Construction network (@tCntweets) teamed up with PeerIndex (@PeerIndex) to compile the list. Those on it either nominated themselves, or were nominated by others and then assessed to compile a ranked list of those with the greatest influence.
tCn founder Ryan Briggs says: “I read a blog post from renowned tweeter Su Butcher in which she pointed out that the Independent’s list was unrepresentative due to its media-focused panel and appeared to exclude the niche world of the ordinary professional worker.
“We know there are Twitter users across construction engaging as individuals and as representatives of their organisations.”
While there is a lack of big-name contractors, sustainability experts, consultants and trade councils are making the most of this conversational form of communication to get their messages across, share ideas and ask questions of each other.
Should construction firms’ PR teams be using Twitter to reach audiences the size of football stadiums, rather than a few dozen folks gathered in a boardroom?
The answer is yes, according to independent consultant and social media expert, Martin Brown (@fairsnape), ranked sixth, who says Twitter can not only inform people about what your company is doing but help win work at the same time.
“When firms have problems on site it is invariably rooted in a lack of communication. Twitter is brilliant in making information widely available and increasing communication, and can be a phenomenal way of keeping abreast of what’s going on in the industry.”
When Mr Brown developed carbon measurement tool Construct CO2 (@constructCO2), and wrote about it using social media including Twitter, interest spread overseas and led to a partnership with a US sustainability institute and the tool being used on more than 60 projects in the UK.
Mr Brown says construction firms are divided into two groups; those who are intrigued by Twitter but don’t know why they need it and those who are aware of it but don’t know how to use it to their advantage.
“There is so much information around on Twitter like the latest sustainability regulations or people who are looking for work, that social media is becoming more and more vital at a boardroom level.”
One contractor that has got the ball rolling is Willmott Dixon (@WillmottDixon). It does not make the top 100 this year but has almost 1,000 followers. Head of communications Andrew Geldard says the firm is active on the site for several reasons.
“Twitter means you can circulate your news within seconds without recourse to other media. Depending on whom you follow, I learn a lot about news and what people are saying about us.”
The UK Green Building Council (@UKGBC), ranked 25th has more than 3,000 followers. Director of policy and communications John Alker says it has become a good way of engaging with members around policy. “We can now put questions out on Twitter to ask how people feel about certain topics and very quickly get good feedback”
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (@RICSsurveyors), ranked 23rd has more than 7,000 followers. Communications manager Jaclyn Dunstan says its members are now hailing Twitter as the main way they get their news from the group.
“It’s an excellent way for members to increase their exposure. They can show who they are and what they’re about and connect with potential clients and other built environment professionals.
“Also, I keep an eye on traffic metrics so if something sparks a lot of interest we can promote it further in our other communications channels or see if it’s something we can provide more of in the future.”
tCn intends its built environment Twitter 100 to become an annual event. With many construction professionals starting to dip their toe into the water, the 2012 list could look very different from this year’s.
To view the full tCn100, go to cnplus.co.uk/tCntop100