This article was originally shared in The Voice Southeastern by Southeastern Construction Owners & Associates Roundtable.
Technology powers our world. We are more connected now than ever before, from the computers in our pockets and on our wrists, to the smart devices we interact with in our homes and workplaces. Today, it seems unheard of for a company to not have a social media presence, yet it’s too common within the construction industry. In order to remain relevant in our increasingly tech-savvy world, it is vital that our industry meet customers where they choose to interact — on social media.
In 2018, Pew Research Center found that at least one form of social media is used by 69% of American adults. Social media influences many aspects of our day-to-day lives. More often than ever, we turn to Facebook for business recommendations from our friends, seek company contact information from Yelp or Google, look up potential hires on LinkedIn or ask customer service questions via Twitter. With all of these options, building a company social media presence can be a daunting prospect. Ultimately social media is a tool like any other — for full effectiveness it has to be used properly. The following tips can help ease your company’s transition into a marketing strategy that is fully social.
Know Your Audience
You know who you want to reach, now where are they? Find out where they turn for answers, social interactions, questions and meet them there. Chances are, you have access to someone who represents your audience, take a moment to ask them about their social media use.
Choose a Platform
There are many different social media options and the best fit for your company will be determined by your target audience. Don’t be afraid to start small, with only one or two accounts. Not all platforms are created equal or relevant to your customers. A couple well-managed accounts are far better representations of your company than five or six that are rarely updated.
Check out NCCER's social media channels.
Create a Plan
It’s important to know your goals prior to starting. Learn what type of content your audience wants and find out when is the best time to post it. It’s important to be consistent; there’s nothing useful about an inactive company social media account. Social media management tools are very helpful for scheduling posts in advance and across multiple platforms, keeping content fresh with reduced administrative time.
Find Your Voice
Appropriate tone is vital in social media. How do you want to be perceived? While it is great to connect with your audience on a personal level, it’s still important to be professional and helpful. Think about what type of interactions you’d like to have with your customers. Brands like Wendy’s have made their mark through sassy banter, while General Electric captures the imagination with technology-driven videos.
Start a Conversation
Don’t just talk at your audience — engage with them. Share a wide variety of meaningful content, from behind-the-scenes pictures and videos to industry blogs and articles. Contests and giveaways are also great engagement (and audience) builders. Inauthenticity can be spotted a mile away, so don’t use posts for a hard sales pitch. Softer approaches like how-to guides, FAQs and other product-related content are more effective for reaching audiences. It may take some experimentation to find the right balance of original versus shared content.
Connect with Partners
Networking is the core of the construction industry. Where else can dozens of companies work on complex, publicly visible projects together? Share images of collaborative projects and tag other company social media pages in posts. Cross-promotion helps everyone and builds awareness across a wide variety of audiences.
There are specific times and places for self-promotion on social media which include unique advertising opportunities. Users may be targeted by interest, geographic range and more. The ease of targeted advertising allows companies to get instant feedback on their campaigns. Additionally, the controlled cost of social media advertising makes it simple to experiment with messaging, images and targeted audiences in real time.
Manage Your Reputation
Customer dissatisfaction happens. When you have unhappy customers interacting on your social media channels, it’s vital to address them quickly and professionally. Be timely when responding to comments and inquiries. Customers want to know that their concerns are heard and important. Keeping a close eye on complaints and comments ensure that customer service issues can be spotted before they turn into public relations disasters.
Ultimately, social media is a communication platform like any other. It allows companies to connect with customers on a more personal level, taking them from the abstract to the relevant. The wide variety of social media channels allows companies ultimate flexibility in their approaches, to create a personality and voice that is totally unique to their culture. There’s no reason to be intimidated or wary, with a little experimentation and some patience, your company can have a thriving social media presence.
Check out the Careers in Construction Month social media kit here to get you started! Keep an eye out for a recruitment playbook by NCCER and Build Your Future — to be released in October — that is designed to give the construction industry tips and tools needed to effectively reach out to parents and influencers, shift perceptions, and highlight the benefits of a career in construction.