I think it’s the name that throws people. I mean, “social” media sure doesn’t sound like work, and the commercial construction industry is all about work. But what if you called it “virtual networking”?
The point is that while social media certainly started as a way to stay up to date with friends and family, it didn’t take long for people to realize that the principles of networking extend beyond sharing cat pictures and flirting. Far beyond.
In these blogs we’ll talk about why your construction business should be social, and cover a few basic topics:
- Networking and joining the conversation
- Using #hashtags to engage in your business’ passion
- Branding—sharing your vision with others
- Cost—valuing the unquantifiable
Your construction business should be social
If you think about it, construction has always been a social business. Many remember with fondness when connections were everything and deals were sealed with a handshake. The core of this, the idea that relationships matter, hasn’t really changed, it’s just moved online.
Today, people—and people who make up businesses—want to connect with companies outside the traditional and more formal methods of communication. Some still want to keep things professional while others want the personal touch, but most are looking for insights into who the company is, and what it represents. (More on that when we talk about the importance of branding in part two of this blog.)
Ignoring this opportunity to connect, to establish an identity, is probably a mistake, and increasingly makes a company the exception rather than the rule. Where once it was considered unthinkable to not be listed in certain construction business directories, now social media presence is becoming the norm.
So, what kind of social media platforms are out there?
At last count, there were over 500 social media websites out there on the Internet, but it’s the ones we all know (and use) that matter most. Interestingly, each site has its own “personality” and slightly different purpose.
LinkedIn: This platform is all business. Well, okay, it’s mostly business. It’s billed as a professional networking site, rather than a social one. Here you can connect with all of those you know and then use the advanced search function and find new business connections that are 2nd connections (just one degree away) to use your first connection to connect. Make sense?
Do this: The best use of LinkedIn is actually not very well known. Once you connect with new people, you can meet them in person to exchange information, make deals, or just make a stronger connection. Then, afterward, you can notate on your LinkedIn where you met them and what you discussed, so you can reference it in the future.
Twitter: Many call Twitter a “micro-blogging” site. You can write anything you want, as long as you can say it in 140 characters. The advantage of this is that many people are more likely to read shorter text than longer posts you often find on other sites, like Facebook.
Do this: A great way to build a following on Twitter is to follow people who interest you. If they’re interesting to you, chances are pretty good that you’re going to be interesting to them. Share posts you find interesting (called “retweeting”) and they’ll often return the favor, increasing your network/sphere of influence.
Do this: My only advice here is to post lots of pictures; invite all of your friends, business associates, and acquaintances; be yourself; and make sure to maintain consistency in who you are and what you say. (More on your personal brand later.)
Okay, enough of the primer. In the next installment (the oh-so-cleverly titled “4 Steps to Building a Social Business, Pt. II”), we’re going to tackle networking, the importance of hashtags (#), the value of branding, and considerations around cost.
Important tip–ask people to follow you on social media:
1 For you grammarians out there: It’s true that “media” is a plural, but social media, as a category, is considered a singular noun.
This is the first of a two-part “microseries” that will explore social media and how it can help your construction business connect, establish brand identities and, yes, sell products or services.