For any construction firm thinking that now is a good time to build out a social media presence, that company could do worse than the example of Martell Home Builders.
The Canadian firm had two big problems that bedevil many contractors: (1) Customers didn’t know where to find them when they needed them; and (2) they never finished their jobs on time. Problem number two took some old-fashioned brute force to manage resources on a project.
Problem number one just took some social media and a commitment to the approach.
The company added a “Where’s My Contractor” feature on its web site that also listed Twitter accounts of the firm’s managers so clients could always see what they were up to and know how to find them. It also connected the web page to a Google Map application programming interface (API), effectively adding a stickpin on a map letting them know where in the world they could find their contractor.
For many construction and engineering firms, however, Martell’s social media example is a rarity. Although architecture and pure engineering firms have been early adopters of social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook—and continue to innovate these communication platforms in their business and communications strategies—for plenty of construction firms of all sizes, their social media use and presence can be hit, miss or just not part of the mix at all.
Others are notably absent, such as Fluor, which has no social media presence beyond its very detailed website.
Why are so many construction firms hesitant to use social media as part of their operations?
“It’s more like a modern day press release tool for them still,” says Daryl Andrews, vice president of marketing and business development at 360 Construct, a building management firm.
Andrews recently went through the top 10 firms in ENR’s Top 200 Contractors list, and checked on their Social Media presence of each (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, for example). He discovered that, for many of the major firms on this list, a social media presence is still lacking. His blog post, which he sent out on his Twitter feed, spells out which companies have a Twitter account, the number of followers, and more.