6 Common A/E/C Social Media Marketing Missteps to Avoid

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Many architecture, engineering and construction (A/E/C) firms are using social media to reach and engage a broader audience, build thought leadership, drive website traffic and generate leads.  But several missteps are common throughout the industry.

6 Common A/E/C Social Media Marketing Missteps to Avoid

As more and more firms jump in, be sure to avoid these common A/E/C social media marketing missteps. Here are several to consider:

Misstep #1: Not having a game plan

In some A/E/C firms, social media is not viewed as a strategic marketing initiative and therefore gets assigned to a member of the marketing team as simply a task to accomplish.  But you can’t just have a “wing-it” mentality with social media and expect to see success. If you’re going to have a presence in social media, it needs to be strategic and planned out.

Avoid this misstep by identifying:

Why you’re using social media (goals)
Who you’re trying to reach (target audience)
What topics will resonate with your audience (content)
Where you should be present (social channels)
How your social media will be managed (people and process)

Misstep #2: Treating all social accounts the same

Some A/E/C firms tend to ignore the differences of each social platform and post the same content in the exact same way to each account. Some firms even have their accounts connected so that all posts are automatically published to their other accounts. But while all social media platforms share similarities, each one has a different audience, format nuances and social norms that need to be taken into account.

Avoid this misstep by:
• Not trying to be on every popular social media channel

• Choosing the channels that make sense for your audience and firm
• Not auto-publishing your blog and social media posts to your social accounts
• Tweaking each post to the audience and nuance of each channel

Misstep #3: Focusing on your firm and not your audience

Simply using social media as a bullhorn to talk about a firm’s latest accomplishments and accolades is not uncommon in the A/E/C industry. But what’s important and “newsworthy” to you might not be of interest to your audience. Before posting anything to social media, ask “what’s in it for them?” True engagement takes place when what you’re sharing on social media and what you’re audience is interested in overlap.

Avoid this misstep by:

• Considering what content your audience finds informative and valuable
• Not just posting your firm’s latest press releases and company news
• Creating and sharing content people want to read, share, comment on and link to
• Sharing industry news, articles and best practices from reputable sources

Misstep #4: Lack of consistency and quality

To do social media marketing the right way, it’s not enough to just grab a Twitter handle and Facebook page. In fact, one of the worst things a firm can do is set up a social media account and let it sit dormant for days or weeks on end. However, posting low quality content that doesn’t reflect well on your brand isn’t good either. When you decide to commit to social media, be sure you have a process in place to create and share quality content.

Avoid this misstep by:
• Looking for a combination of quality and quantity with social activity

• Posting at least a few times per week; daily is preferred
• Staying active to build a following and brand awareness

Misstep #5: No personality or brand voice

So many A/E/C firms leave the social out of social media! Your interactions with your fans and followers should not be drab or overly serious. This is one of the many reasons why regurgitating company press releases in your social media content is a bad idea. While you’ll want to avoid being too casual or flippant, it’s important to find a voice and a tone for your brand that is engaging, conversational and appropriate for each social network. (e.g. LinkedIn is more business-like, while Facebook is more casual and lighthearted)

Avoid this misstep by:

• Developing a brand voice that is consistent regardless of who is posting
• Making your tone reflective of the channel you are using
• Being social! Ask and respond to questions, thank people for sharing, etc.

Misstep #6: Not buying into social media in the first place

For years, social media has been met with much skepticism and uncertainty by many A/E/C firms. CEOs, principals and marketing directors across the industry have been demanding to know the cost and ROI of social media marketing.  While challenging, there are ways to start to quantify social media ROI.

But I think the more important question is, “What is the cost of not being on social media?” Because the issue is not just about ROI, it’s about relevance in today’s increasingly social and digital landscape. The emerging communication channel of choice is social media and there are many A/E/C firms with a growing, active presence on social media. Are you one of them?

Avoid this misstep by:

• Considering the cost of NOT being on social media
• Developing a social media strategy
• Committing the necessary time, resources and budget to do it well
• Easing into it; start with one or two channels and build where it makes sense

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Social media represents a great opportunity for A/E/C firms to build their brands and grow their reach. But simply “doing” social media isn’t going to be very beneficial without the right strategies and tactics in place.

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Vice President & Director Of Digital Innovation

Tim is a syndicated blogger and sought-after national speaker, providing keen insights on modern marketing and an uncommon perspective gleaned from more than 15 years of B2B and A/E/C experience.