Thanks For Sharing: Using Social Media In Business
In my last column I shared with you how visual tools are imperative to our business and that of our clients, colleagues and friends in the commercial real estate industry. In that column, I mentioned the many uses for the photos and videos we take, one of which was social media. That topic brought to mind some recent conversations I’ve had with professionals in my network who have been less enthusiastic about putting their work before the social media universe. While I have wholeheartedly embraced technology and apps, not everyone is so quick to get on board. Their reasons were the standards — I’m too busy. I’m a private person. I don’t want my competitors to see what I’m up to. Or, the often asked, does it really help build my business?
A number of recently published statistics offer compelling evidence to back up my opinion. An infographic from CeBIT states that 74% of consumers rely on social media when it comes to their purchasing decisions, with 81% of people saying they are influenced by their friends’ posts. More than a quarter of mobile phone usage today takes place over social networks. This is hardly a passing fad; social media budgets are expected to double in the next five years.
While it’s difficult to put into dollars and cents the value of each platform, there are three outlets which we feel have been extremely beneficial to our business. The most valuable has been LinkedIn, an informative and professional publishing platform. Consistent use has allowed us to get our corporate messages out in front of not only other businesses, but clients as well. We’ve made connections with others in parallel industries and continued relationships way beyond project close-outs.
We’ve found another great way to engage our LinkedIn contacts: posting my weekly columns here in the Commercial Observer. Doing so has expanded their reach and directly engaged our pre-existing audience who have shared, re-posted and helped us gain new followers. We’ve received multiple responses from these articles, particularly since many of them mention projects we work on or organizations we’re affiliated with. For instance, when I paid homage to the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) in a column and then posted it on LinkedIn, several fellow members got in touch. Last month’s piece on Archtober got a response as well, including a note from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The most successful postings are ones that are informative or touch upon current issues, such as speedier test fits, managing change, architectural myths, the uptick in retail projects and what chairs of the future will look like. Posting has become a great way to stand out, showcase our knowledge and speak out as industry leaders.
It’s not all about us, though. We use LinkedIn to give an extra nod to the tenants and landlords we work with and to follow their news more closely. Recently I shared an article published about one of our current clients and they appreciated how in touch I was with what they were up to. Whether we use LinkedIn to network, get or make introductions or form partnerships, there is no doubt that the platform has become a part of our business strategy.
Facebook is also a key piece of our “social media puzzle.” We use it as a way to convey corporate culture and to visually communicate what we’re working on and what we stand for as a company. For instance, we recently posted photos from one of the largest design events in New York City, the International Interior Design Association’s Color Invasion. It was a fun way to show our support for a trade organization and to showcase the talented folks who work at our company. We also regularly use Facebook to announce new projects and to share updates along the way.
Another key platform, particular given the visual nature of our business, is Instagram. As we discussed last week, photos and videos have become a source of design inspiration, a way to showcase a portfolio and a place to document accomplishments. As such, we’re planning to start a company Instagram page to more fully share what we’re working on. We hope it will serve as a source of daily inspiration, both for ourselves as well as others looking for fresh ideas. Maybe it’s the nature of the world we live in today, but sharing has become part of who we are as a company — and we’re not afraid to post that.