Mobile and virtual technologies are changing the way the AEC profession operates. Don’t believe me? Pick up any issue of ENR Magazine and you’ll see stories covering the complex dynamics associated with today’s multi-faceted procurement arrangements, the need to do more with less, and increased pressures to connect with new potential prospects.

Mobile technologies are influencing how work gets done and how professional connections are made in the industry. Personal connections continue to be made offline, but that’s not enough to connect with prospects or influencers. Today, online is proving to be a fertile ground for new connections. Social media marketing, when part of a well executed strategic marketing approach, can be just as scientific as the latest technologies being implemented in project sites.

Why It Makes Sense for AEC Firms

Here are just three reasons why social media marketing can help AEC firms:

  • Prospective clients rely heavily on referrals and online search to find new firms. In fact, 80.8% of professional services buyers check out a potential provider’s website. And 52% of the time, referrals are ruled out before anyone speaks with someone in that organization. Social media marketing helps build visibility and helps the credibility of your firm in both of these situations.
  • Using thought leadership to drive traffic to your website is an way to gain visibility with targeted groups beyond your immediate geographic area. However, 29.6% of buyers rule out a firm because of an unimpressive website.
  • AEC professionals are constantly dealing with changing regulations, and providing educational content around such changes can help build trust and engagement with prospective audiences, all part of the new business development engagement model.

Developing Your Social Media Marketing Strategy

As your AEC firm embraces social media, you’ll need to identify and implement a clear strategy.  Here are a few considerations:

1. Recognize that not all channels are created equal.

By far, the majority of your audience will be on LinkedIn. It will be important for you to maintain your firm’s profile on the channel, as well as encouraging individuals to invest the time in creating a substantial LinkedIn presence, both via their profile and by engaging in Groups.  When researching potential Groups to join, look at Group
Statistics for an overview of group members and engagement. A good rule of thumb to follow is to join groups with high engagement (i.e. many relevant discussions), not necessarily a high number of members.

2. Establish program goals and measurement.

ROI is the name of the game, especially when it comes to social media. In order to see payoff on your efforts, you’ll need to craft your strategy in a way where you are able to capture measurable results. An integral tool that will help you track your success is Google Analytics. Followers and Likes on social channels are nice, but what you’ll want to pay particular attention to is the amount of traffic going to your website. More specifically, the traffic your content is attracting and how conversions from that traffic are growing.

3. Test, test, test.

As technical professionals, there is an inherent desire to minimize risk and rely on the absolutes. STOP! Marketing does not work that way. Marketing is about taking risks and sometimes going against the current. How do you know if your online marketing is working? A/B testing can help provide your firm with solid data on what’s engaging your target audiences.

4. Share your work.

Let’s face it. Everyone likes to share a finished project. Go beyond the project portfolio or gallery on your website. Consider displaying different aspects of your finished projects on the more visual networks, like Pinterest and Houzz. These are perfect platforms for architects and construction firms looking to reach homeowners. Pinterest can serve as great portfolio sites outside of your firm’s website. Where Pinterest users are searching for “pinspiration,” Houzz searchers can actually find potential service providers, going beyond “just inspiration.”

Getting the Most From Your Social Media Marketing

  • Consistency is key. We know proposals and project deadlines can crop up in numbers at the drop of a hat, but don’t lose focus on social media once you’ve started. That will just lead to drop in your firm’s credibility online.
  • It’s better to be well engaged in one social media platform than to have little engagement in three or four platforms. AEC professionals have great stories to tell whether they’re about project successes, industry innovations or firm culture. Educational content is well suited for LinkedIn and Twitter, while Facebook is a good vehicle for promoting culture and connecting with a younger audience. Should you be on Instagram or Periscope? Well, only if your audiences are there.

One of many important things to keep in mind as your putting your social media strategy together is not to fall into the trap of being everything to everyone. Carefully select channels that your audience is participating in and speak with a clear and consistent voice. Get connected and get engaged.

Additional Resources:

How Hinge Can Help:

Social media marketing should be a core component of your firm’s overall strategy. Hinge’s Visible Firm℠ is the leading marketing program for delivering greater visibility, growth, and profits. Based on 8 years of research into high-growth firms, this program gives firms like yours the practical tools and approach used by industry leaders.