When heavyweight [sic] magazines devoted to specialists sectors such as construction materials start talking about social media, you can be sure that the industry is beginning to wake up to the idea. Just days after UK magazine Construction Manager‘s own feature (see post), I came across an article by Stephanie Brown – Twitter Dee, Twitter Dumb – in the June issue of US-based publication Concrete Monthly.
Stephanie is a US-based construction PR practitioner and her company, Constructive Communication Inc, recently conducted an online social media survey of architecture, engineering and construction people. This highlighted the contrast between high personal use and low corporate use of online social media:
“75 percent of respondents said that they personally interacted with online social media regularly, while 80 percent of companies rarely interacted with online social media.”
(And I expect the picture is much the same in the UK). Similar to the Construction Manager article, Stephanie cites examples of individuals within companies who have used social media tools as part of their marketing effort, suggesting that there is great potential. But she is also careful to point out the potential risks of allowing employees unfettered access to social media platforms. Before giving some pointers on creating a social media policy, she says:
“it is important for everyone to understand what is recommended, expected and required when they discuss company-related topics, whether at work or on their own time.”
It seems Stephanie’s experiences is similar to mine, in that she is having to give business managers a grounding in the range of social media tools available, their increasingly wide reach, and their extension from purely personal use into tools for business-to-business communication (I talked to a UK trade association on just this topic last month). She makes it clear that even if they are personally sceptical of the value, leaders of construction businesses can no longer afford to ignore social media:
“Online social media is not going away. Even if it is something you choose not to allow employees to participate in, it is crucial that you educate yourself and your leadership team in order to gain optimal positive exposure for your company, as well as alleviate any threats.”
An excellent article – and a follow-up should be out later this month!