With over 71 million social media users in the Middle East, social networks have become marketing channels that regional firms can’t afford not to invest in. In addition to allowing you to reach millions of users with a click of a button, social media channels provide a large amount of data detailing insights about demographics, users’ browsing patterns, and conversation trends. And for marketers, knowledge is power, and knowing how to utilize these channels will guarantee a high return on investment.
Social media presence for architectural firms in the region is a relatively new concept. For years, architectural marketers have relied on conventional PR strategies utilising industry publications and events. While these strategies are still effective today, the introduction of social media has opened up new avenues. Social media channels allow you to enhance brand awareness, communicate press releases, drive traffic to your website, showcase your portfolio, and generate new business leads.
Five Tips To Utilize Social Media:
1. Choose wisely
There’s no point in establishing a presence on every single social network out there. Maintaining a page is time-consuming, and neglecting one or two channels reflects negatively on your company. Choose your channels wisely, and start by defining your audience:
- Who do you want to reach? Demographics, Interests, Browsing Patterns
- How do you want to communicate with them? Image-based communication, Videos, Quick one-liners
Once you’ve defined one or more audience groups you can begin researching social networks to find the ones that coincide with your objectives. Whitepapers are a great source of social network insights in the region and can be easily found via a Google search. For architectural firms, the best option is an image-based communication channel such as Facebook where you can upload project albums and take advantage of the “Share” function. Additionally, a strong LinkedIn presence reflects a highly professional image and can contribute to business development.
Your channels will certainly show up on a Google search page at one point and for a design-based company, a poorly-optimized page reflects negatively on your capabilities. Messy graphics, incorrectly-sized cover photos, and pixilated post images need to be avoided at all costs. Use the tips below to ensure that your page is well-optimized: Business Information: Name, Address, Mission Statement, Contact Details Content: triple-check every post to ensure correct spelling & grammar Image sizes: refer to the Social Network’s design guidelines Pixilated images: ensure a high PPI(Pixel per Inch) value(300+) when creating the images using a photo-editing software Branding: make sure to add your logo to every image you post.
3. Content is King
This overly-used saying refers to the importance of generating appealing content. However, what it fails to emphasise is strategy. Posting impulsively and without direction will confuse your followers. A clear and well-established content strategy will give your page a voice and will enhance engagement ratings. Define your daily communication topics (e.g. Featured project, In the Press, Architectural Trivia) and stick to them.
When writing content remember to keep it short and relevant. Users scroll through social newsfeeds within seconds and skip the long paragraphs. Experts suggest 80 characters or less for a Facebook post, which in the case of architectural firms is valid. An architectural firm should aim to have image content constitute at least 80% of its social media content. Images resonate and enhance brand recall. Use Facebook to highlight your design capabilities through images, and utilise Twitter for press releases, news, and updates. Make sure to make use of the ongoing events in order to stay relevant.
Content without paid media is the equivalent of putting up a billboard in the middle of the desert. No matter how great your content is, without media support, no one will ever see it. In the case of Facebook, its constantly changing news feed algorithm limits post reach to show users the most relevant content. For marketers that means an addition to the marketing budget. Simply put: every post that goes up needs to be supported by a media budget to increase its reach. In addition to paying for reach, growing your online community is also a worthwhile investment.
While some might argue that the number of fans/followers in not always relevant, a large number gives your page validity. Take advantage of the various Ad products on Facebook and Twitter to grow your community. Always define your KPIs (Fans, Followers, Interactions, Impressions) before you start. This will allow you to stay within your set budget. The key is to take it slow and let it grow steadily instead of rushing it.
Additionally, digital story-telling was one of the biggest trends in the digital marketing this year. Architectural firms can utilise videos highlighting key projects with the support of Adwords Youtube Ads in order to contribute to the overall social media strategy. Adwords offers an array of solutions aimed to enhance brand awareness and increase clicks. As with Facebook and Twitter, realistic KPIs (Clicks & Views) should be set in advance and insights analysed periodically.
5. Calculating the numbers
The most important step in any social media strategy is analysing the insights. You need to be able to make sense of your activity and the feedback in order to enhance it. All social networks provide you with in-depth insights listing reach achieved and a calculated engagement rate. Mathematically speaking, a Facebook/Twitter engagement rate is the proportion of users engaged to users reach.
The higher the figure, the more engaging your content is. Set a benchmark for the engagement rate, which you can use to identify best performing content and adjust your content plans accordingly. In addition to the on-site insights, you can invest in third-party social media measurement tools that allow you to track and compare your performance to your competitors’.
Ayman Jaber is the Brand & Communications manager at LA CASA Architects & Engineering Consultants. He has experience in architecture marketing and is a Google Certified digital strategist and media planner.