Guide to Social Media

Social media enables anyone in the world to connect with you and your firm's values and work at a relatively low cost. Whether it's leveraged as a way to lift brand awareness or as part of a strategic business development funnel, all architecture firms and their marketing teams should spend time critically experimenting with these powerful channels.
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Table of Contents

  1. Why Social Media?
  2. What Channels to Use
  3. How to Create Content
  4. Feedback and Engagement
  5. #Hashtags and Schedules
  6. Social Media Marketing is Playing the Long Game

Some people love social media and others really dislike it. It seems to be something that brings up some strong emotions. Regardless of your personal feelings toward social media, when you look at it through a business lens, it becomes pretty darn valuable. 

Knowing this, how can you make it worth your time and not a worthless venture? Fortunately, social media comes with some clear guidelines and metrics to guide your way.

Why Social Media?

There was a time when there was a debate over the necessity of a website – now a website is a given for most businesses. The same debate has been happening about social media. How much business does it bring in? Isn’t your time better spent on other actions? Over time, we have started to see that social media isn’t just valuable, it’s now a necessity.

According to Statista, a whopping 79% of Americans are using some form of social media. In 2019, Facebook had 2.4 billion users. For many, especially younger people, social media is how they get most of their news now.

Not having social media is a missed opportunity to reach potential clients. With social media, you can reach an extremely broad audience in a short time. With just a few clicks, your post has the potential to be shared with thousands of people.

What other methods of advertising has that potential at such a low cost? 

One other huge advantage is social media’s ability to create a community. You can do more than just put out an ad. You can connect with other architects, gain inspiration, put a human face on your company, and communicate with your audience. People no longer are ok with businesses being these faceless entities – they want to feel like they are dealing with humans.

What Channels to Use

One of the first decisions you will have to make when setting up social media is what channels to go with. There are many different options, but some of the most common are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Instagram. One lesser-used, but important platform for architects is Houzz.

One of the first things to consider when deciding on a platform is if there is one you already use and like for your personal use. The best social media account is one you actively update, so if there is a platform you already like and know how to use – start with that one. It’s easiest to start with one, but most of them can be integrated to some degree, so there is no harm in starting with a few.

Facebook is a good choice for those looking for something easy – consider it your basic workhorse. It has a large audience and allows you to integrate with most other platforms out there. Facebook provides excellent management tools, so you can easily keep track of how your social media posts are doing. It is becoming less popular among young people, but (for now) they likely don’t make up the bulk of your clients.

LinkedIn is known more as a business to business tool and less as a marketing one. On LinkedIn, your audience will be fairly limited to other architects or professionals in related fields. This isn’t a bad thing – collaborations and partnerships can be a particularly good thing. It’s also more commonly used by the older crowd.

Twitter is often the first to share and spread new and interesting things. You are limited in the number of characters you write – twitter is known as microblogging – but for many, this won’t be a problem. 

YouTube is great if you have a lot of ideas and resources for creating videos. These videos can be how-tos, personal fun videos, case studies, 3D animations of new projects, or anything else you can thing up. The most important thing is to make sure you have the resources and time to come up with, film, edit, and post several videos a month.

Instagram is all about showing off nice pictures, so if you continually work on projects that are camera-worthy this might be the perfect platform to use. One thing to note: while there is nothing wrong with having the occasional candid, phone camera picture in your feed, having mostly professional looking pictures will elevate the status of your firm in your audience’s eyes. This isn’t a problem for most architects, as we are continually creating professional content for clients. Just something to keep in mind.

Houzz is for interior and exterior design professionals. Most use it for connecting with contractors or product brands, creating more technical posts, and monitoring what other professionals are doing and using. 

How to Create Content

What kind of content you create will depend mostly on your goals for your social media channels and the channels you pick. Here are some of the main ways architects are using social media for their business:

  • Engage with peers
  • Drive traffic to website or have potential clients contact you
  • Build community
  • Promote events 
  • Research trends and inspiration

Developing some goals for your social media accounts and how you want those accounts to impact your business will help drive your content. Don’t get too stressed about coming up with content. Remember, as architects virtually every project we work on is providing potential content. 

Pictures, videos, or renderings we created for clients, videos of a walk through a project, or events happening in the office are all great sources for a top-notch social media post. It’s that easy.

A general social media marketing rule is to focus on only having pure marketing posts in 25-35% of your feed. This can be a little fuzzy for architects because you start to wonder what a pure marketing post is. Just focus on having a variety in your posts. 

One of the top rules of content creation for social media is to always have something ready. You don’t want to bombard your audience with an annoyingly long stream of content but send out content a few times a week. This will often require you to be thinking about content at least a week before you plan to send it out. 

Having a few posts ready to go will save you when it’s been a busy week and you realize it’s been an embarrassingly long time since you posted.

Know Your Audience

One thing to keep in mind when creating content for your social media platforms is your audience. It won’t matter how nicely written your post is, how interesting you think the topic is, or how professional the picture is if your audience doesn’t connect to the topic.

A big mistake people make is writing for themselves. If your audience is other architects, this might work out ok. Otherwise, continue to ask yourself what your audience would want to hear. 

To know the answer to that, do some research on who your audience is. What do they do for work? What is their socioeconomic background? Most social media platforms have some sort of analytics section that can help you find the answer to those questions.

Some find it helpful to create a pretend person based on the answers you come up with – say “Fred”. Then, as you create content, focus on creating if for Fred. It sounds silly but can help you get out of the habit of writing for yourself.

In general, you can give blanket personas for the audience of each social media platform.

  • Instagram and Facebook – broad audience, pretty much anything you create will find someone who is interested due to the high number of users.
  • Pinterest – inspiration-based audiences, looking for design ideas, more likely to act on the posts they see on social media.
  • YouTube – Education-based audience, how-tos, case studies.
  • Twitter – Casual fan audiences, just researching what is new and interesting.
  • LinkedIn and Houzz – Other design professionals.

If you have several different social media platforms, you will probably have to alter the posts for each platform. Some, like Facebook and Instagram, will be interchangeable, but others will need to be tweaked to speak to each audience.

Connect with Others

One of the best things that can happen to your business is to have other people talking about it. Social media was made for that. User-generated content (UGC) will give you extra credibility and will create content that you didn’t have to work for.

For some reason, general contractors seem to be particularly good at social media, so go out of your way to target them for a boost in UGC. Other good businesses to target are mortgage brokers, project managers, and 3D visualization studios. You can either target them organically by developing posts they might find interesting and want to share or reach out to them and develop something together.

Be Human

There is nothing wrong with letting the human side of your business show. It doesn’t have to be business and architecture all the time. Did you have a fun office party? Away at a cool conference? Have something interesting you have been thinking about?

Go ahead and include those posts. The variety is interesting and people like working with humans. We also are more likely to do business with people we like, so show a bit of your personality.

Fit Your Content into Your Overall Marketing Plan

When you are creating your content, especially the pure marketing ones, think about how it’s connected to your sales funnel. You don’t want your audience to read your post, be gung-ho and excited, and then have no idea what to do next. When writing your social media posts try to keep the following in mind.

  1. Is there a clear call-to-action to contact you?
  2. Is the content you’re sharing helping to answer a question someone has related to services you provide?
  3. How do you engage your following? Capture their emails?

That being said, authenticity is the name of the game in social media marketing (and all marketing, really). Your audience can tell when you are just writing something, anything, to sell them something. 

Make your posts helpful (or interesting) and real. If a clear call to action works with it, include one, if it makes the post seem clunky and fake, leave it out or make it less obvious. At the very least, potential clients can always send you a message if they want to engage further.

Feedback and Engagement

Unless you decide to shut down the comments on your social media (which we don’t recommend), your audience can comment on or ask questions about your business or social media post. This is the beauty of social media and can be the worst part of it.

Spend a large portion of your time at least reviewing the comments – respond if you can! Keep an eye on your inbox.

These comments are what the marketing departments of firms would have killed for before social media was invented – direct access to the thoughts of the readers consuming the marketing content you are putting out. 

In your comments, you might have people giving you feedback on your content. Unless that feedback is out of left field, use it to make your future content better. As an architect, your actual clients will rarely be leaving critical feedback about your services on social media. 

If someone leaves a nasty comment, you can either deal with it or ignore it. There could be consequences to both, so play it by ear. Ask other architects you trust their thoughts before responding.

Engaging with your audience is equally as important as feedback. You don’t have to drive yourself crazy liking everyone’s comment or responding to every little comment – especially when your following gets bigger this will be impossible. 

What you should do is scan for valid or interesting questions or ideas and respond to those. Most social media platforms now will organize your comments based on how many others are liking it. If a comment is rising to the top of the pile, make sure to respond to that one.

#Hashtags and Schedules

Hashtags might seem like annoying things fashion influencers use to be cute, but they are so much more than that. They help organize your content and can expand your followers. By including a relevant hashtag along with your post, you are now including your post in a pool of other posts with that same hashtag.

Here is the great part: people can follow hashtags. Once they follow a hashtag, their feed will be populated with various posts that have that hashtag. So, say you include the hashtag #architect. Your post with that hashtag will now show up in the feeds of people who follow the hashtag #architect.

We highly recommend that you use social media management software. One of the biggest advantages of this is the ability to plan out your content and schedule posts ahead of time. This will help you stay on track and continually posting.

Social Media Marketing is Playing the Long Game

Remember that social media accounts will start slow. You won’t have a ton of followers right away. You probably will feel like you are simply yelling into the void. This type of marketing is playing the long game, so keep at it.

If you are consistently putting out high quality, relevant content, the numbers will come. Your following will probably never rival Beyoncé’s, but that’s ok. You don’t need astronomical numbers to make social media marketing worth it.

Additional Resources

  1. Why Social Media For Architects Is So Powerful
  2. Social Media For Architects That Bring Clients: 7 Secrets To Success
  3. How Architects Use Social Media Today
  4. how do architects use social media?
  5. The Importance of Social Media in Business

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