What architects want: Social media

Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay, says Sam Hiner

Print is still a very strong presence in our sector, with 75% of architects stating that they read the hard copy of their preferred journal – a figure that has actually risen since 2015. But there’s no ignoring the digital juggernaut.

As a benchmark, 73% of UK internet users have a social media profile.

Our latest research shows that over half (58%) of architects access social media at least once a day on their preferred platform, which is more than double the percentage for 2015.

As expected, LinkedIn tops the poll of most used social media both in and out of working hours. Facebook is very close behind, and although most use is outside working hours, if users are on Facebook, whether for a social or professional reason, the fact remains: they’re there, so speak to them.

Twitter has doubled its architect user base since 2015 to 45% in 2017. It is the go-to channel when users want to stay informed, which says something about credible accounts sharing news.

Ultimately, it’s all about suiting timing and tone to the platform.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn naturally demands a more professional tone. It is where professionals, including architects, go to network. In fact, 77% of architects surveyed who use social media said they use LinkedIn as their primary networking channel.

So, what does networking behaviour mean to marketers? Well, it’s not going to be much use churning out product messages or the latest discounts. Instead you need to focus your efforts on engaging with architects. Post content that is relevant to them, encourage the conversation and engage on a personal level.

Throw out product images and press releases and bring in the projects, campaigns and value that your products bring to the environments in which they are used. It’s these human-interest stories that generate conversation; focus on the benefits brought about by your product, not the product itself.

This approach takes time, so don’t expect instant gratification for your hard work. Regular, timely and interesting content is king. Plan a two-month campaign with weekly uploads. If that fails to attract then target more specifically. Simple, personalised messages that say ‘Hi X, have you seen this, I believe it may be of interest to you because X’, or ‘what’re your thoughts on this?’. The worst that can happen is they don’t reply or refuse to connect.

Pro tips

  • Don’t mass message, make each engagement count
  • Write in single sentences and hit return before writing the next. Spacing text out like this makes it easier for mobile readers
  • Don’t include links to other websites in your posts. LinkedIn wants you to stay on its platform and punishes you for trying to get people to click away from it. Instead include external links in the top comment

Facebook

Facebook requires a different tack.

News flash: Facebook isn’t actually free. This platform is where advertising and paid content rule supreme.

Its targeting in the past has been excellent, so as long as you have the content, targeting someone interested in the built environment, planning and placemaking or social housing is simple enough.

However, with the changes brought about by the Cambridge Analytica scandal and new date protection rules it is an ever-changing landscape. It’s still early days here but we believe these changes will affect the world of B2C more so than B2B. This is because information such as shopping habits, income details, purchasing decisions etc may have been cast out with the new rulings. However, for B2B marketeers users' age, location, job title and interests of pages within Facebook should, for the majority, remain. This means we can still focus and target our content.

You can forget the formal tone here and replace it with strong imagery, video and even an emoji or two if you’re feeling particularly brave. Remember that we know architects use Facebook in their downtime, so peppering them with factual posts and stiff written copy won’t work as well here. Videos, images and a more relaxed tone are needed here. Social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined.

Pro tips

  • If you’ve got video, use it!
  • Try a small budget behind your first boosted post, £50 can go a long way with a targeted audience
  • Relax your tone, pretend you’re speaking to your audience in the comfort of their own home – NOT at the office

Shares and emotional reactions mean more than likes! Don’t get disheartened if you’re not going ‘like viral’.

Twitter

Fifty-seven per cent of architects surveyed use Twitter as a way to stay informed. That’s more than any other platform when it comes to information gathering. Perhaps one of the reasons for this is the ability to consume news and views from sources that you deem credible and the fact that you can access that information anywhere at any time. This then presents a huge opportunity for credible sources established in the traditional world to transfer over to the digital one. While it may seem daunting condensing your stories into 280 words, it’s something most journalists relish. Out with the long paragraphs full of boring adjectives and in with the to-the-point punchy content.

Pro tips

  • If you can’t say it in 140 words, don’t bother. The longer form (280 words), although available, is still a little lost on this platform
  • Continue the tone and style of your successful offline content, online
  • No brainer: include images and video – they do much better and might stop that pesky scrolling finger

Social and digital campaigns are a big part of our offering at RIBA Journal. While our beautifully printed magazine sits proudly at the centre of our offering, we understand the need to share our information across all platforms. This understanding of the evolving world of the architect and social media allows us to deliver news to our target audience in an effective and timely manner.

For more information on how RIBA Journal can help you reach architects in a digital world, please email our advertisement manager Richard Tomlin or call him on  +44 (0)20 7496 8329.


Sam Hiner is an account manager at Ridgemount PR