Three Keys to Creating a Valuable Social Media Presence
Social media should be an important part of the every architectural practice's communication program, but not all architects know how to proceed. Kate Potter explains how to get started.
I recently had the pleasure of presenting to the Association of Consulting Architects (SA) branch practice manager’s lunch where we discussed the evolution of social media as a communications tool. While it was generally agreed that social media is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but instead a ‘need to have’, there are many architects and architectural firms who are unsure about where to start and how to maintain an effective social media presence.
None of the practices I spoke to had thought about their objectives for using social media – they felt like they had to be there, but weren’t sure why.
It’s important to remember that without a strategy, your social media presence will lack direction.
A strategy does not need to be an in-depth, lengthy document (in fact, it can look like a cartoon with just six panels!). But it needs to address a few key points such as:
Your social media objectives
Why are you using social media? What do you want to achieve from your social media presence? This could be increased awareness of your services, seeking the attention of a potential new client base, positioning your practice as a knowledge leader, or being seen as an employer of choice.
Your target audiences
Who are you talking to? Who do you want to be talking to? Where are they, how old are they, and what industries do they work in?
Which platforms should your practice be focusing on? While you could have a presence on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and LinkedIn, do you really need to be on all of those channels? Where are your target audiences spending their time?
Your key messages
What is it about your practice that you want to communicate? How can you incorporate these key messages into your social media posts?
Your social media strategy needs content to fuel the fire. Social media users are driven by visuals, but this is your opportunity to think beyond the traditional image portfolio.
High quality imagery of completed projects will be an important part of your content library, but part of your social media strategy development should include a brainstorm about what other types of content you can post on your social media channels. Perhaps you can focus on ‘behind the scenes’ video, time-lapse video, slideshows, 360-degree panorama imagery that immerses Facebook users, or even ‘boomerang’ videos!
Importantly, you’ll need to dedicate time to content creation. This might be taking a day per month to travel to projects with your camera or sitting down and interviewing architects about their current projects with a video recorder.
Build up a bank of content and then you will be able to roll it out over the rest of the month.
Create a social media culture within your organisation
Often, those put in charge of social media find that one of their primary challenges is engagement from other staff – it can feel like you are a one-person band.
Social media administrators should consider themselves ‘champions’ in building a social media culture within the organisation, but when creating and implementing a social media strategy, it is important that all practice staff are engaged with the process and contribute content and updates.
This can be achieved by:
- Including all staff in the development of the social media strategy – perhaps as part of an internal planning or business development session;
- Holding a social media content workshop with key staff so they are engaged with the process and are motivated to contribute content ideas, imagery and video;
- Using email communication to reinforce the focus on social media, and encourage staff to contribute content; and
- Dedicating time to discuss social media in team meetings to reinforce the importance of the activity and ensure that it remains ‘top of mind’.
An important part of this process is reporting back to those who contribute content ideas, imagery or video. Celebrate successes to encourage future contributions and highlight to staff what kind of content is well received by social media audiences.
Further to this, staff need to be aware of your organisation’s Social Media Policy and their responsibilities regarding online conduct, and know how to use digital and social media channels in a way that may benefit the organisation’s presence online.
You could also create a social media savvy workforce by hosting workshops that focus on specific social media platforms, such as undertaking a LinkedIn training workshop.
These activities will help engage staff and ultimately help foster a social media culture within your organisation.
Kate Poetter is digital media specialist at Hughes PR, a communications and public relations consultancy with extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving.