The overwhelming majority of A/E/C firms are engaged in social media.
But to what end?
Social media can be an effective part of a broader marketing and business development effort, according to Bob Fisher, publisher of DesignIntelligence and managing director of the Design Futures Council.
He cites nine qualities for taking advantage of the full scope of social media opportunities:
- The social media program fits within a broader strategic and tactical framework. Success should be measured by how well it accomplishes goals in areas such as gathering market intelligence, adding to the firm’s knowledge base, or building the organization’s brand and culture.
- It’s a conversation. Traditional marketing broadcasts to an audience, but social media facilitates multi-party conversations.
- The program is built on authenticity, originality, transparency and personality. The social sphere is keenly attuned to spin and will reject or ignore bland corporate speak and unoriginal thinking.
- It provides more valuable platforms for listening and learning than for talking. Smart firms stay attuned to who is leading conversations on important topics, how the firm is perceived in the market and what ideas may add to its expertise and leadership in practice.
- Successful programs are founded on building strong relationships with key stakeholders: potential clients, community members, business and design media, potential talent and others.
- The program is tailored to the unique qualities of each platform. LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Twitter and other networks attract different types of participants, maintain their own norms of behavior and interaction, and impose different technical limits.
- Successful outreach should frequently point to deeper thinking conveyed in videos, infographics, blog posts, white papers or other media. But the highest goal is to contribute something new to the conversation.
- It blurs the line separating the inside of the firm from the outside. Social media interactions can be like a visit to the office — a way to experience the firm’s expertise and culture as conveyed by the people who live it every day.
- Senior management provides the right support, including the allocation of staff time, leadership of dedicated social media champions and involvement of subject matter experts who develop thought-provoking content.