Social networks as a marketing tool are here to stay, the trick is not to get overwhelmed by the volumn of activity out there...

Social networks are already shaping how business is done, in construction as in every other sector. From how contracts and projects are managed, to how clients interact with your company, social networks are here to stay and word of mouth marketing has never been so powerful.

With so many major construction companies now represented across a growing number of sectors and social networking platforms, your peers are doing it, your competitors are doing it, can you afford not to engage and join in the conversation?

There are several social networks out there to choose from. There are the obvious big ones, such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn but once you start searching around, you soon realise there are many other construction industry specific networking sites like TcN and Building’s own Building Network to explore.

Using your time effectively

How do you keep up with it all? Like any new medium, there is a danger of overload. One of the biggest objections when it comes to Social Media participation, is how do you follow all the conversations and still have time to do your job?

Because social media is real-time, you can dip in and out, whilst setting up searches and RSS feeds for content of interest that you might otherwise miss.

The development of the smart phone makes it far easier to do business on the go, and accessing social media portals and being responsive to current issues and conversations as and when they happen. This can become a big part of your working day.

If you are using social media, you will wake up, check your smart phone and discover your email inbox full of messages on comments on one of your built environment Linked In Group posts, receive messages from new Twitter followers and follow links from your social networking circle.

You still have to manage your time effectively. Aim to strike a balance and think about the real value that you are getting out of it.

Part of a wider marketing strategy

Construction industry business development and marketing functions should already have plans in place for social media, as an integrated part of the modern marketing mix.

They should have identified their target audience, set clear objectives, be working to a social media plan using specific tactics to share your firm’s social media content through the various social media platforms.

In addition to the obvious brand recognition, social media enables word of mouth, real-time viral marketing. By creating and publishing social media content you can gain market share, benefit from collaboration, sharing and partnering whilst improving your company’s public and media relations.

Because social media marketing is completely measurable, you can quickly see what’s working, what’s adding value to the bottom line and how you are measuring up to your objectives.

Social networking is about building relationships. My advice for the beginner is to try it out, participate, share, listen... and most importantly engage. As an individual you can find a niche and share an interest, get a new job, gain CPD points, and develop new relationships. As a company, you can raise your PR profile and generate real revenue for your business.

You can follow CIMCIG on Twitter (@CIMCIG) and you can join CIMCIG’s LinkedIn Group for more information and interesting debate.