Building on being Social

Thursday April 26, 2018

Social Media is where the attention is, after all this blog is being read through one of the platforms out there, however for some reason the construction industry seems slow on the uptake with the way many of the platforms out there are being utilised to communicate and extend business. Outside of the Social Media Platforms (SMP) considered to be where professionals congregate such as Linked In, Medium etc there are only pockets of the industry that will look at other SMP to leverage opportunities for professional use. Instead of linking these other SMP to promote or inform of their business activities, they are often viewed as platforms for personal or entertainment use.

Web sites for construction products are considered the gospel for up to date product information; websites for specifiers are the reference point for clients of architects, engineers and designers on services offered; websites for builders showcase their capabilities and contractor websites showcase the services they provide. However compared to other industries it appears in Australia there is little focus from the industry in general towards the Social Media Platforms used by the larger population and I’m not certain why.

If I pulled in a cross section of 100 people in the building industry and sat them around the table to discuss, many would say they are active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snap Chat for personal use (and for some of us to understand our kids) but reluctant to use these platforms for business use. Anyone reading this have a Twitter account? If so, search for construction, architects, builders, specific trade names and you’ll see in Australia some smaller niche players engaged but primarily it is overseas businesses involved.  This resonates across Facebook, Instagram etc. Is it the conservative nature of the construction industry in this country, is it ignorance of these other platforms or is it the belief that they are a personal communication platforms and not for the professional happenings in the industry?

I hear many reasons why businesses and individuals are not using SMPs for business or work but one key underlying fact that keeps being forgotten is the attention grab. Whether you believe in these platforms or not, the fact is to market and promote your product, brand, services you want to be where the attention is, and all the SMPs is where the attention is.

Let me give an example to look at it from a different angle –  if you were given 2 choices this weekend at no upfront cost other than your own sweat equity to promote and display your business products or services to an audience, taking up as much space as you wanted with unlimited promotional ideas to showcase, call it an industry exhibition where your audience would be. Now you were told you have 2 choice of locations: 1) Inside a packed MCG or 2) Inside a packed flea market on the outskirts of the city. Which location would you take? The ability to communicate and have dialogue with prospects in the thousands is obviously where the opportunity lies. Direct feedback with that audience, networking, hearing firsthand what they want and don’t want, hearing their experiences, listening to their challenges, guiding them to a sale……any sales person that has blood running through their veins would be wanting this. Yet its right in front of us every day, in our pockets and on our screens and we tend to ignore it.

Social Media is how things are done now, like it or not. Forget the trends, the data is there that can’t be ignored.  I recently read companies in the USA are spending >40% of their marketing budget on Facebook ads and taking up strategies with media companies to help promote products through Instagram and Snap Chat. We might turn our nose and say that’s happening in the USA not here…..yeh right, and we said 5 years ago we’d never use our credit card over the internet. Fact is the money is spent on these platforms now because those little screens in our pockets is what everyone is watching, and more attention is going there. The value of TV ads is being brought back to reality and the fundamental reason is now when the greater population are watching their TV program and an Ad break comes on, they pick up their phones and look at their favourite social media platform for what they want to see, skipping the ads that some corporate has paid a monty for.

The most undervalued piece of Social Media Platforms is they inevitably improve the quality and standards of products and services. Unlike 10 years ago when you had a crappy experience about a product or service you invested in, it would be the topic of discussion at the next dinner party. Now when this happens, the news is out there in minutes to every contact on people’s network advising of what they experienced. However the upside is people spread the love to when they get a great experience in the same way across these SMPs. Social Media is lifting the standards, and the transparency of it pulls quality upwards for those that intend to grow their business. For this reason, I see massive opportunity in the construction industry to improve the quality of what is delivered, be it a product or service.

I recall when websites were novel and many said they wouldn’t need one. Fast forward today and the websites are only part of the equation. Getting social isn’t novel but being left behind may well be.