Social media in practice - a case study
Emma Brain outlines CODA's approach to social media, which has enabled the Fremantle-based practice to build a national profile and engage with clients and colleagues across the country.
The development of CODA’s communications strategy, from a traditional website and print media focus, through to a suite of social media platforms – including Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter – has been one of our great successes. In establishing our social media accounts, we sought to achieve two goals: first, to engage with a broad national audience and, second as a medium through which we could reinforce the values and culture of the practice.
Our directors, Kieran Wong and Emma Williamson, established CODA in 1997, straight out university, and with a desire to positively contribute to the social, economic and practical needs of our state. This drive continues to underpin the way we practice and now, with a studio of 15 professionals, we are recognised as one of Australia's premiere architectural, interiors and urban design practices.
At the point of writing, our most successful platform has been Instagram. Architecture is an inherently visual pursuit and because of this we have a bank of professional images to post. We choose not to rely on these though, and instead pepper our professional images with photos taken on an ad-hoc basis as interesting situations emerge throughout the day. We particularly like to capture the faces and personalities of the communities with whom we work. Collaboration and community sits at the heart of our practice and we are not afraid to re-post the work of other practices that we believe to be worth sharing.
We were thrilled to hear that Jo-Anne Urquhart, Head of the Junior Primary at @ststephensschool, has be named as the 2017 Teacher Librarian of the Year! We loved working with Jo-Anne on our radical transformation of the flexible library and community hub at St Stephen's Duncraig campus. Image: @peterbbennetts #aiaawards2017 #educationdesign #schoollibrary #perth #interiors #coda
Our approach to LinkedIn and Twitter is similar, in that they both provide us with a platform to participate in discourse surrounding the issues in which we are most interested. We are not afraid of voicing an opinion or of engaging in political debate. In a way, much of the work we put into our social media can be thought of as subliminal marketing rather than a direct attempt to 'sell' our work. We have built up a following of people who are as interested in position as much as they are our design outcomes.
As part of this strategy, who we choose to follow is as important to us as the number of our followers. The great joy of social media is that on busy days there is just as much impact in reposting someone else's pithy comment as it is to craft your own! On LinkedIn, through our directors' individual profiles, we actively connected with as many existing and potential clients as possible; on Twitter, we have deliberately chosen to follow (non-design focussed) journalists, politicians and like-minded designers. We read what they have to say and engage with conversation.
On Instagram, posting daily is non-negotiable, regardless of how busy we are. To achieve this goal, we rely on the social media scheduling tools such as Later that allow us to curate our feed monthly. Of course, we are not beholden to the schedule and are quite happy to throw in supplementary images when they appear! Likewise, we use a shared Outlook communications calendar to plan written articles. Once complete, these pieces are posted on our website and a Bit.ly link is then shared through LinkedIn, Twitter and occasionally Instagram. Key to this approach is a desire to drive people to our website.
For us, the most beneficial aspect of having an active social media profile, is that it has allowed us to build on our national reputation without having to pursue journalists and wait on print media. Rather than having to rely on expensive PR, we have been steadily building a national profile through witty, colourful imagery and meaningful posts – all things we enjoy and do well! Importantly, at a time when the construction industry in WA is relatively flat, we have maintained our studio presence and continued to communicate our values.
Emma Brain is studio manager at CODA and ACA – WA Executive Officer. This is a revised version of an article first published on the Social Media Marketing Institute website.