DCN Webinar on Social Media for Architecture, Engineering and Construction Firms – Follow Up

Markitecture was privileged enough to lead a webinar through the Design and Construction Network this week entitled “Keeping Up with Social Media – Focusing Your AEC Firm in 2012”. We had such a lively crowd and great interaction that there were a few remaining questions after Q and A that were unanswered. Below are those two questions, and my written responses to them. In addition to emailing them to the participants, I thought it would be nice to post them for all to see!

Question: Where can you go to get continued education about Social Media?

I first noticed “universities” and things like that pop up about 5 years ago for social media certifications (they may have been around before that though). I have yet to see one that was truly valuable and none that has been fully sanctioned by any major marketing entity that I’m aware of. Going through associations like SMPS, there are plenty of wonderful courses and education sessions during conferences that cover Social Media, and if you’re a CPSM (certified professional services marketer) the courses do count towards your CE credits. The real education in this field is best obtained by interacting though. Look to some of the resources I listed at the end of the presentation to just learn what’s out there and hear what experts have to say. Content that’s published in workbooks and given in classrooms for more than six months or a year is likely going to be outdated – and that kind of goes against what social media is all about.

Question: How would you suggest approaching the issue of management blocking social media access, specifically the sales and marketing team?

Numbers and case studies. I’m not a huge proponent of sharing every study on social media use and it’s positive impacts, but sometimes that is all that management will look at. Share information that is as industry specific as possible and make the business case that “our clients our out there and our competition is talking to them.” Hubspot is great for numbers that are B2B or professional services focused, but ZweigWhite and SMPS both have marketing surveys that discuss Social Media usage as a part of the overall marketing program.

Before preparing your best argument though, try to understand why they’re against it. Is the firm behind the times on all technology? If so, you have a cultural shift that has to happen. If you have people that still rarely use their email and use hand drafting instead of cad or BIM, you’ve got a bigger battle to fight than social media.

If the issue is a concern of productivity, use the numbers, competitive benchmarks and start small – just trying to work with Twitter or one other SoMe channel. You can also try joining a few relevant LinkedIn groups on your own and sharing the email digests from them. Some of the dialogue that occurs in groups is very valuable and can literally generate leads or new key relationships.

The other big common concern is control over “what people will say”. If they’re blocking access completely, that probably isn’t the concern, but it may be. If so there are two major points. 1. If other people are talking about us negatively, they are doing it anyways and by blocking access we are not even hearing about it to do damage control. 2. Develop guidelines that outline what is and isn’t ok for “us” to say. Spend the first few weeks (even though it’s a pain), sharing every post or tweet for a quick review before posting it so management is comfortable with how things are going. They’ll loosen the reigns quickly.

How Is Facebook Timeline Going to Change Your AEC Firm’s Page

Love it, hate it…or perhaps I should say Like it or Unlike it…Facebook Timeline is rolling out to your firm’s Facebook page by the end of this month.

I’ve never been one to complain a great deal about Facebook changes in the first place, especially since it doesn’t seem to have done much good. In this case though, I’m actually quite excited about the changes. I’ve done some test-driving on a number of client pages already, getting things prepped for the switch and I’m really looking forward to it.

Here are some things you should be ready for by March 30th.

Figure Out Your Cover Image

The size of the image is 850 wide x 315 high, but the dimensions aren’t the only things that matter. What are you going to do with the space? Facebook has already included warning messages letting page admins know not to get too “promotional” with their covers. This is a nice chance to show a little firm personality – go for it.

Resize Your Logo

180 x 180 is the new size for your profile image – for which many firms are just using a logo. Be sure to think about whether or not your logo makes since at that size though. It’s not always a good idea to rip an icon away from its type (if your logo happens to have both).

Choose Your Highlights and Your Pins

The new Timeline allows you some flexibility with your posts by giving you the ability to make some items large enough to fill the full width of your profile – these are called Highlights. It also lets you Pin items to the top of the page, giving you the chance to keep an important or timely post at the top of your page even if you post other items after it. To find these two features, hover over any post in the top right corner and you’ll see the tool buttons.

Change Your Custom Tab Default Icons

If you’ve added any custom tabs to create a welcome page or Email Signup page, you have probably always wished you could change the little star icon or whatever default image the developers used. Now you can change it! When you’re previewing your tabs, use the small downward arrow to the right to list all of your tabs, then hover over the app you’d like to edit. You’ll see a pencil in the top right corner of that icon that will allow you to edit settings and you’re golden from there.

Remember How Seldom People Actually View Your Page

All of this is great, but let’s remember that only a small percentage of people actually come back to your page after liking. I’ve seen stats that say 90% of people never return to a page from Social Media Examiner, but haven’t seen the studies to back it up. I would estimate even less if I had to hazard a guess though. So, the moral of the story – if you don’t jump right in and have all of this in place by March 29th, your firm is going to be just fine. Many of your fans probably won’t know the difference. The main thing is to take care of it soon, and do it thoughtfully.

As long as you keep posting relevant content you’ll make the switch just fine.