Construction marketing on Twitter builds more trust and is more valuable if you get involved in conversations rather that broadcast one-way sales messages. But how do you find the best, most relevant conversations to get involved? This post was inspired by a question asked by Simon O’Hea at a CIMCIG ‘Engage your customers’ event in London earlier this year.
Construction is not a sector where new trends are adopted quickly. For me this signals an opportunity for the companies for whom social media interaction comes easily, or for those willing to put the legwork.
#cimcig Can anyone say where to look for meaningful thought leadership discussions on construction matters outside of LI to interact with?
— Simon O’Hea (@SimonoatColt) March 3, 2016
Simon asked the question during a presentation by Catherine Towns of CIB Communications, which was broadcast on Periscope by Nick Gill – I watched it live from our office in Stirling – a great way technology can help someone like me, away from the London scene – get involved.
Catherine commented that Twitter is viewed by an agency like CIB as part of the marketing mix in terms of pushing out useful, sharable content, but it’s a small part of their client’s budgets.
CIB will engage in pockets of interaction on behalf of their clients, where it’s valuable, but it’s not a core part of the strategy. It’s true that an engagement strategy takes consistency and effort and many companies can’t justify the time and cost.
Construction marketing on Twitter: quality over quantity
In my opinion the real value of Twitter is in depth not breath – making a smaller number of deep connections that know, like and trust you. These days, customers (and specifiers) make most of their buying decision online before getting in touch. Working on relationships and gaining trust has been more successful for me than aiming for volume. And it’s a principle advocated by social media and marketing and business superstar, Gary Vaynerchuk, who will be opening an office in London this summer for his agency VaynerMedia.
I’ve used Twitter in a construction industry context in several different ways and I always found that the best approach was one that sought to make real relationships by seeking out the quality conversations and interacting with them.
When I adopted Twitter for construction at ESI the accounts were most successful when we interacted with people. This attracted unsolicited blog post submissions from industry thought leaders. Manufacturers were contacting us to contribute opinion articles and a strong community was forming around our brand.
It was hard to attribute direct sales leads to the activity though, and the strategy was changed – the accounts were used to promote only client content (product manufacturers) to the well-segmented and reasonably high follower lists. This does please advertising clients, and with better use of logos and the branding is stronger, but the interaction reduced.
The interaction is where the value is, in my view; it builds trust and strong relationships that will last. So to address Simon’s question – how do you achieve this?
Who to follow on twitter – focus on a construction niche
Ensure that the people you follow are focused on construction. This mean keeping “work” and “personal” separate – not everyone wants to manage two accounts, or be able to draw clear lines in this way, but it is a strategy that has worked for me. In my personal list, I’m into cycling, music and film but I’ve kept that off my @EditorOwen account so that my home feed is not too cluttered. I follow around 650 people – it’s quite a lot and I will never see all the updates.
At ESI, my colleagues and I had most success by building up three accounts for three subsectors: ESIBuilding, ESIInteriors and ExternalWorks. Even then, these are broad areas, so we used lists to add the people we followed to a specific category.
Use Twitter search to find construction accounts
Twitter is a much busier and noisier place than it was five years ago. If you are starting out or building up, use search to find relevant people. Use the search bar, then narrow down your results by ‘accounts’. Are you looking for architects, construction marketers, consultants, engineers?
The twitter advanced search is an underused but powerful tool.
Use Twitter lists as a shortcut to your ‘best’ contacts
If you are a construction product manufacturer looking to get your products specified, you might want to build up a rapport with architects. You can save people in a list by clicking the ‘gear’ icon on someone’s profile and then ‘add to list’. You can make the list private, if you like. Avoid calling your list ‘Leads’ or ‘Architects to target!’ You can return to this list to check on what the people most important to you are talking about. When they ask their followers for specification advice or a product recommendation, you can jump in to make helpful, useful suggestions – even if the answer isn’t directly related to your product.
Tweet (or talk) to real people
The majority brands or “official” company accounts are broadcasting their own stuff and looking for a following. The best conversations are being had between real people who are experts in their field and passionate about something specific like BIM, passivhaus or building conservation. Look for these people and if you aren’t confident to put your own opinions out there, reply to their tweets and get involved in discussion. This is the way to build strong relationships. The way to put people off is to tweet at them and push your products – this is like doorstep sales, cold calling or leafleting – it’s annoying.
If you do the three things above, Twitter’s algorithms will have a better idea of what you are interested in and the following things will be more useful for you.
Find and use construction Hashtags on twitter
Twitter works well when conversations crystallise around a well chosen hashtag. Especially if the topic is new, controversial or in flux, you will get the chance to interact with people you don’t follow, and those who don’t follow you.
Tweet about live construction events
In a general sense, Twitter’s strength compared with other social networks is how it enables users to react in real time to events like sport, elections, major news and entertainment, such as the Oscars. In the UK construction sphere, there is often a buzz around seminars, trade shows or industry awards. Government announcements, and changes, such as to legislation, are also the driver for discussion and opinion. Think about getting involved in these as they happen.
Twitter ‘While you were away’ feature
Although I recommend tweeting about live events, the Twitter feed is not as much of a “real time” stream as it used to be, sorted in time and date order. On mobile, it highlights important tweets that have been posted since you were last in the app. If you are following, and interact with, mostly construction people, ‘the good stuff’ is most likely to appear here. Reply to the ones that are of interest to you, or align with your business.
Twitter ‘Highlights’ feature
I’ve found Twitter’s Highlights feature to be useful in bringing good topics to my attention. It looks at the hashtags and keywords are being mentioned most. This week, it thought I’d be interested in #BIM, #CIMCIG and #Ecobuild – it was right! This is another way to find tweets to reply to, to strike up a conversation.
On Twitter mobile, this is found via the three dots at the top right.
On desktop it’s not available at the moment.
In summary, there are many little elements to construction marketing on Twitter that can make the difference. Let me know if you think I have missed any important ones. What is working for you? Have you tried any of the suggestions above? I’d love to hear your comments.