Just seven days before yesterday’s CIMCIG conference on Strategy & Tactics of Digital Communication, I got a tweet from Ross Sturley asking if I could step in to replace Su Butcher who had had to withdraw on doctor’s orders (which was a shame as Su always puts in a lot of time to create and deliver some great content in her presentations). I was already due to attend the event any way and, while slightly daunted about stepping into Su’s shoes (so to speak) and wary about repeating messages I had delivered at a CIMCIG event last year, I agreed.
Web 2.0 now firmly on the construction marketing radar
At the February 2009 event, I was almost a lone voice in talking about social media to a construction marketing audience, but there has clearly been a significant shift in people’s thinking since then. This time, almost every presentation mentioned social media tools and there was repeated stress on the need to integrate online Web 2.0 activities into a coherent marketing and PR strategy.
For example, Jon DeSouza from Constructing Excellence described how CE’s early career professionals group Generation for Change (G4C) have been using a Ning-based site to communicate (disclosure: I have been facilitating the G4Cnet project), while NetConstruct‘s David Bentley stressed the need to integrate social media tools into your website strategy. The positive impact of social media on search engine optimisation (SEO) was stressed by SiteVisibility‘s Kelvin Newman, while Kirstie Colledge from Simply Marcoms underlined how online reputation management now involved a spread of activities, including LinkedIn and online communities such as tCn [client] and the Building Network, to support ‘traditional’ public relations work. And – after I’d delivered my talk – Craig Duxbury of IASB2B gave a powerful example of an integrated on- and offline campaign for Corus Colors.
Online engagement vs broadcast mode
As the day went on I began to fear that I would be left with nothing left to talk about, but I think I filled some gaps omitted or only briefly touched upon by earlier speakers. I also wanted to demonstrate the value of web 2.o for attracting web traffic, so I compared Google Analytics for two sites ostensibly about the same type of technology. One was a conventional B2B website for a construction collaboration technology vendor undertaking almost no social media activity, the other was my B2B blog, ExtranetEvolution.com, about construction collaboration technologies.
Which gets most visits? Which gets most unique visitors? On which sites do visitors linger longer? Which site gets more returning visits? In every case, the blog. And where does the traffic come from? I showed how successfully the blog attracted visits through links from Twitter, from Feedburner, LinkedIn and Facebook, while the vendor’s website attracted a few visitors from Twitter – and lots due to links from the blog!
Of course, this was a fairly simplistic comparison – I’m not comparing similar types of site, for a start. But I think it shows how a traditional, web 1.0 ‘broadcast-only’ website can be challenged by a blog that is all about sharing authoritative ideas and information. It also suggests that, by creating and maintaining a blog as part of a company’s online presence, a business might boost traffic to its main website as well as enhancing its reputation. These messages and related themes (passion, authenticity, transparency, knowledge, personality) were also addressed in Gemma Went‘s recorded presentation, Blogging for profit (unfortunately, Gemma was too ill to attend in person; I was on standby to field any questions).
Another sign that attendees at the CIMCIG event ‘got’ social media was how much the event got talked about on Twitter. Ross put forward a hashtag, #cimcig10, and this was used by several people at the conference (me included), with over 300 tweets being logged during the day. So far, over 60 people have tweeted or re-tweeted the hashtag, and a TweetReach snapshot of 50 tweets showed a reach of over 13,000 people, and 63,000 impressions!