After I had remotely delivered my keynote to yesterday’s London social media training day for people in the architecture, engineering and construction fields (SMAEC; see post), attendees received more detailed talks on how to use several of the most well-known tools: Twitter, blogs, LinkedIn and Facebook.
Just as I have shared my presentation online, so have Su Butcher (To Tweet or Not to Tweet – for Construction Professionals) and Gemma Went (Making your mark on the blogosphere : An introduction to blogging) – their links being broadcast over Twitter and re-Tweeted many times, helping disseminate the learning even more widely. Both are aimed at AEC people making their first steps into Web 2.0, and contain some excellent practical advice on why and how.
Both also highlight the interconnectedness of online activities, with Twitter and blogs being used to link to each other, to conventional PR and marketing tactics like news releases, events, website and e-newsletters, and to initiatives in other online places such as YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn and so on. This is key.
For the AEC world, business-to-business PR and marketing hasn’t suddenly disappeared – many AEC firms are still heavily reliant upon conventional advertising, events, media relations, direct marketing, literature, websites, etc. With newspapers and trade magazines discussing the impacts of ‘new’ media – much of it ‘free’ and apparently simple to use, it can be tempting to switch focus. But while our publics’ communication habits may be changing, they aren’t necessarily changing as quickly as some ‘social media experts’ claim.
Beware of “social media snake-oil salesmen” full of vague promises about increases in website traffic, sales leads, followers, etc. You still need solid marketing and PR skills and experience to produce well-written, professionally presented information for your campaigns. But communication professionals should also be monitoring what channels are available and what channels its audiences are actually using, and matching how that material is delivered to recipients’ preferences – which will often encompass a range of platforms, tools and techniques.
Effective communication of information about your company’s (or client’s) products or services will therefore blend both traditional and ‘new’ media. Successful communication professionals will be those who can develop integrated programmes that are sensitive to the evolving needs of their organisation’s (or client’s) various publics. However, it probably pays to be slightly ahead of your audience – it must surely be better to be have a reputation for innovation than to lag behind your audience, mustn’t it?