Property and construction professionals can ill-afford to ignore social media products - they’re fun and have business benefits too

Helen Gough

Social media has become increasingly useful to businesses across the globe. Look at the recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge which has taken the world by storm. Without social media, this clever campaign and worthy cause would have struggled to gather such momentum. The results have been staggering with millions raised each week since its inception.

While there are great examples that demonstrate the power of social media, property firms and professionals have perhaps been a little slow to embrace it, however it is evident that our industry is picking up the pace. It’s certainly an area that I have begun to understand and appreciate and quite frankly it’s an area that we can no longer ignore.

Let’s look at the enormously fun and engaging distraction that is Twitter. While its real-time updates and reactionary comment can limit some of its business application, Twitter is a great platform to host material that the construction industy has in abundance such as photographs and video. Twitter also enables us to keep a close eye not only on our clients and prospective clients but our competitors, which we all know is incredibly valuable when operating in a fast-paced and increasingly competitive market.

Probably a more popular social media tool for us property professionals is LinkedIn. The growth of this business orientated social networking service is staggering with two new members joining every second and the UK network alone exceeding 15 million according to Linkedin.

Twitter also enables us to keep a close eye not only on our clients and prospective clients but our competitors ,which we all know is incredibly valuable when operating in a fast-paced and increasingly competitive market

For many of its users LinkedIn is a way of connecting – a Facebook or Friends Reunited for our modern day business community if you like, but when fully understood and applied, it can act as a powerful business tool. For instance, it can allow us to showcase our expertise and thought leadership to a large network of influential people. Even more than this, it is a great tool for demonstrating innovation within an organisation, and attracting talent by engaging with Generation Y at a time when recruiting staff is more competitive than ever. In my opinion, LinkedIn should be an essential part of the modern property professional’s business kit.

To date, my social media experience has been enormously enjoyable. I started slowly, dipping a hesitant toe into the water, but it is a journey I have found myself enjoying enormously over the last 18 months, and at times with the enthusiasm of a seven year old in a Lego store. What has made it even more exciting (and sometimes challenging) is learning how to use social media tools through my orchard of Apple products which requires help and insight to make the most of them for business.

Those most prolific, creative and enthusiastic within my Buildings & Construction team are among the more junior and the most hesitant include some of the more senior members. In this arena the teacher/student profile has been reversed; but the results can be very exciting. For example this week I created a ‘Hero Image’, yet only a week ago I didn’t know what one was, nor that it would help my LinkedIn profile (I am assured) stand out from the crowd (for those who don’t know a ‘Hero Image’ is a cover photo to convey the purpose of a LinkedIn page/group). 

Not all social media channels suit us all or our circumstances but we need to be aware of the business benefits of using social media tools and increasingly the choice we may be making in failing to use them.  

Helen Gough is the head of JLL’s Buildings & Construction team comprising Building Consultancy, Cost Management and Project Management . You can follow Helen on Twitter @GoughHelen