After my recent trip to Spain (post), I’ve been almost too busy to blog, and it’s taken me a while to catch up with some of my reading. Something that caught my eye though was an item by Peter Hay in PR Week on 18 June: Corporates ‘must act’ on social media, not least because it echoed some findings from recent views of construction and housebuilding businesses.
Online comms agency Furlong PR studied the websites of FTSE 100 companies and found that more than three-quarters (78%) lacked basic social media functions such as blogs and RSS feeds. Only 12 per cent had a blog linked to their site. And less than a quarter had a Twitter feed to reach their audiences, despite almost 40 per cent of financial journalists being on Twitter.
Pauley says AEC companies do social media, er, poorly
These findings are pretty much in line with what you would find in the construction industry, though – when you look beyond the websites – there are signs that some construction businesses are beginning to embrace social networks, etc.
In a couple of recent blog posts, my friend Pritesh Patel of Pauley Creative, looked at the social media practices of the top 15 UK contractors, and the top 15 housebuilders (some of them FTSE-listed too). From their websites, only two contractors had direct links to social media platforms, and only one housebuilder.
But when he examined their activities in social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, the picture was more encouraging. For example, Pritesh found seven of the 15 top contractors are on Twitter (but only three actually Tweet!), 12 had LinkedIn company pages, and 14 had a presence on Facebook. Similarly, 11 of the top 15 housebuilders were on Twitter (only four tweeting), 11 had LinkedIn pages and 10 had Facebook pages. But only one housebuilder had a blog (and no contractors?), and only two housebuilders had RSS feeds on their websites; contractors were a bit better with RSS: seven out of the 15 had RSS feeds.
Pritesh’s concludes that contractors are making an effort, but that it’s a bit half-hearted:
Current state seems like ‘we must do it because everyone else is doing it’ type attitude with very little strategy implementation or integration with other business objectives. … These are all big companies and they all talk about CSR policies, brand characteristics, how they give back to the community, how green they are and how they look after their people. Erm…..come on then…..show me!
While he singles out Miller Homes for praise, the housebuilders fare little better in Pritesh’s view, with poor integration between websites and other online platforms:
The lack of focus on integration and treating Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as individual channels is just shocking. What marketers must learn is to integrate everything…email, website, social media, print advertising and direct mail to work together. Brands must learn to develop and show the same personality across all channels…..
Of course, Pritesh has only looked at 30 businesses, and – according to the 2009 Construction Statistics Annual – the UK architectural, engineering and construction sector comprises over 202,000 private companies (and employs almost 1.3 million people). Nonetheless, they are likely to be representative of the 1400 firms employing 80 or more people (totalling 456,000 employees), which collectively account for over half (52 per cent, or about £57bn) of the total value of work undertaken by the UK construction industry.
In addition to the contractors and housebuilders, I would be interested to see if the consultancy sector (architects, consulting engineers, project managers, quantity surveyors, etc) display any greater enthusiasm for social media. There are some good examples out there (I’ve written before about HOK Architects, for example, and recently highlighted Mace’s enlightened attitude), but I suspect the communication practices of many industry consultants will be similar to the poorly integrated, piecemeal approaches that Pritesh found among our contractors and housebuilders.