Take advantage of the smartphone and internet addiction – make your firm internet famous and reap the rewards!
I started off writing this article on a completely different subject, but over the course of a couple hours, I accidentally became internet famous and decided to share this story instead.
A few weeks ago, I was at a horse trials in Louisiana and had a near accident where I very nearly became detached from my horse while jumping into a cross-country water complex. During this process, my helmet was pushed down over my eyes. Blind and with little control, for some reason my horse continued and even picked out the correct next jump on course. All of this happened in the span of exactly 11 seconds, and a photographer caught it all on camera. The resulting photo series was shared to a Facebook group (with a profane name I will not mention here) designed to promote laughs and levity among equestrians. At the time this article was written, the post had more than 1,500 likes and hundreds of comments. Someone made an audio recording voicing over the series, I received numerous love letters to my horse, and one offer to purchase him (from someone in Australia). I also received two phone calls about people interested in my horse boarding facility/training program. All of this happened in less than a day!
This sounds outlandish – doesn’t it? Unfortunately, in this case, it’s true! The power of the internet is stronger than ever. According to an article on Global Social Media Usage Statistics, the average person spends 145 minutes every day on social media (something that has gone up by almost one full hour since 2012), and people aged 16-24 spend three hours every day on social media. Americans spend 33 minutes on average a day on Facebook (2.74 billion monthly users), and the average visitor spends 41.9 minutes on YouTube. LinkedIn, popular in the AEC and other professional services industries, has 740 million registered users, with 288 million monthly active users, but most users spend less than a minute a day using the network.
The AEC industry has been slow to adopt social media, citing a low return on investment and a waste of employee and marketing staff time. Recent (currently unpublished) results of Zweig Group’s Marketing Survey show that almost all firms have a presence on one or more of these outlets – but incorporating them into a marketing plan is very rarely occurring. Less than one-third of AEC firms are using social media to network with current or potential clients or partners/suppliers! The biggest challenge in social media marketing? “Developing an effective media plan for your social media efforts to reach your target market.”
Social media has a huge impact on SEO. Google your firm – if you have a Facebook page, I’d bet that page is the second thing to show up under your website, and from there – I would bet your reviews (if they exist) are highlighted. From this same Google search, click on images – I’d also bet that the majority of images showing up under that search are from social media sites – LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. I promise if you’re getting new clients – someone at that firm is going to do just what I described above. Check out your own firm and make sure you like what you see. If you don’t (or there’s nothing to see) it’s time for a plan!
Social media is about interaction – not just posting! Using social media, firms can respond to clients or potential clients right away. With nearly half of U.S. customers using social media to ask questions about products or services, being present is not enough – you need a strategy and a multi-platform approach that values communication, responsiveness, and quality content.
Other things to keep in mind:
- Get that wow factor! If I had crafted a beautifully written post and image explaining my services, there’s no way it would have gone viral. Be different, humorous, share something amazing, scary, or unique!
- Participate in Facebook and LinkedIn groups – this is where the conversations happen. Participating (that means commenting AND sharing) can multiply your exposure by 10 or even 100.
People are spending more time on social media than ever. Take advantage of the smartphone and internet addiction – make your firm internet famous and reap the rewards!
Christina Zweig Niehues is director of marketing and media at Zweig Group. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.