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The business world has embraced the benefits of social media, and many companies successfully use a variety of platforms for everything from customer relations and promotions to thought leadership and even sales.
A far cry from the early adopters who only shared pictures of what they were having for lunch, social media now is at the forefront of the global economy—driving relationship-enhanced commerce as companies, vendors and consumers become digitally connected to one another. Construction executives use social media to share design ideas with prospects, case studies with existing customers, and research stats with government and industry officials. The simple truth is that companies that aren’t leveraging social media to grow their brand and connect with customers will find that their competitors are.

The most effective way to leverage social media is to think of it in terms of any measurable in-person networking strategy. The best way to expand a construction business is through connections; regular, repeated connections are the key to keeping the prospect pipeline full. Existing customers need frequent reminders of a company’s size and market activity. Having a regular presence on the right social media channels is important for all of these reasons. Defining a regular presence is different for every company, but spending 20-30 minutes each day should be considered the minimum.

There are a handful of leading social media channels every business should be leveraging today. Twitter allows companies to send short messages under 140 characters in length to ”followers.” LinkedIn primarily is used in business-to-business environments, and it’s highly effective for networking, sharing expertise and even recruiting employees. YouTube allows a company to post and share videos with customers, employees and industry influencers. Finally, Facebook gives companies a platform for sharing a little bit of everything—from company updates and project photos to customer interaction and thought leadership.

Following best practices is paramount to success for any business on social media. Across all channels, it’s important to understand that other people and companies have the power to decide whether to follow and engage with another person or organization online.

The 40-40-20 rule guides effective business-to-business social media communication. On any platform, 40 percent of communications should be sharing information important to the audience, such as an industry news article or updated statistics. Another 40 percent should be interaction with others in the network, such as discussing an upcoming industry event with a customer or colleague. Finally, just 20 percent should be promotional, or updates that include links to the sponsoring company’s website or offer-filled landing pages.

While that 20 percent figure may seem low, it’s important to keep in mind that social networking is like a cocktail party or in-person networking event. Best practices in this scenario prohibit shouting company promotions all night long to strangers. Over time, the 40-40-20 rule will pay dividends because people will see the company’s credibility and visit its website to learn more.

For a construction contractor, it’s important to use all four major channels together for maximum results. Use Twitter to share information and tips with other companies about how certain upgrades or new building technologies can produce cost savings. Leverage LinkedIn groups to participate in discussion forums as a way to elevate the company’s credibility with industry influencers and targeted customers. YouTube can provide a stage to showcase case studies in a video environment and engage customers. Facebook is a great way to interact with customers, encourage them to post pictures and even take polls or surveys that produce data for future marketing use.

While these are the four most popular channels today, each construction company should determine which platform is most effective for its audience. As with all marketing initiatives, test different channels and levels of engagement, and then measure them over time to determine the best ROI.

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