Why the heck do I need social media as an architect?
This is a serious question whereupon a lot of architects have no answer at all. But it does matter and it can make a big change in the way people look at you and your architecture firm.
In the last post about „The concept of Social Media simply explained for Architects“, I already admit, that the service of an architect has a totally different price point, than for example buying the newest T-Shirt from a fashion brand. People tend to buy stuff fast online (when things are easy and convenient), often out of an emotional feeling, but only up to a specific price point. Above that price point it gets harder to get them to an emotional buy. The service of an architect is way above that price point, thousands of dollars above.
Companies often times use social media to raise attention for their product, for example using an advertisement in your facebook notifications, with the further intention to sell the product right away. Let’s call this the first concept of social media marketing just to differentiate between both. That immediate buy won’t happen for architects, because it is not an emotional short term decision to invest thousands of dollars for the service of an architect right away of the social media advertising. But as we learned, selling a product is only one side of the coin of social media marketing. On the other side, Social Media Marketing intends to communicate your product, your values and beliefs, your mission and everything, that makes up your company, to the world. Hence, it intends to build an image of your firm without the intention to sell, just for the purpose of creating raving fans.
If you have a great firm, a great product, a great team, why not show it to the rest of the world? Let them know who you are, let them see how you craft your design, let them know how much you care about certain parts of the design process, show them your office interiors and show them impressions out of your process of designing and building architecture.
Show them what makes you, you.
And now it becomes interesting for architects. This second concept can be seen as the long term vision with long term affects for your firm. Nowadays there are tons of architects out there, they all have a very similar product. So the question is, what differentiates you from the competition? What makes you special? How should people know what you value in your work? One very promising idea is, that it is better to have raving fans who talk about you in the best words, then to do it by yourself. Besides the fact, that people usually don’t tend to trust people who say about themselves that they are awesome, having fans who spread the word is a much faster approach to expose your company to the world.
If there are people out there who believe what you believe, they will follow you. If they like what you do, they will tell others. That might lead to certain dynamics. People will share what you do, they will talk about what you do to others and maybe they will even do it with the same enthusiasm in which you communicate by yourself. Sooner or later people will discover your company. And at some point in the future, that can have beneficial impacts on your firm and can affect your further growth and progress.
Let your fans be your voice
It might bring you to the point, that you don’t have to convince one or another client, that your work is good, because they already know you without you having ever talked to them. They might like you and like your work without you having ever said that you are awesome about yourself.
I reall don’t say that you should build an image that isn’t real, just to make people like you. (Some companies do that with the intention to improve their image and it will come back to you like a boomerang.) But you can easily enhance what is already there.
Let people follow your journey
During my time in a New York based landscape architecture firm located in midtown manhattan, I felt like the whole office interiors, the building, the view to the empire state building from the inside, everything felt magic. How the sunlight floated through the huge windows into the brick building with high ceilings. But neither on the website, nor anywhere else they shared, in what kind of atmosphere they crafted their designs and developed their unique solutions. Looking onto their website (which wasn’t that good in terms of marketing) from my desk in Germany and then stepping into their office month later was a completely different experience. I asked them why they don’t share it and they didn’t even think it was special. But for their image and differentiation to other firms, a photo of this atmosphere would give everyone a good feeling right away without knowing anything else about them.
First, being aware of the power of social media and marketing and second implement it into your working routine can put your firm to the next level.
Those ideas really intersect between Social Media, which is basically having an account and simply sharing something, and Marketing, which is knowing what to share and in what kind of way. Using your projects, your office, yourself, your designs, your thoughts and every asset you have as marketing material to share it with the world.
But! Simply sharing everything without any concept, just putting everything on social media is probably not the best thing to do. You should have a clear idea about your company in the first place. Make sure you know what your goals and values are and what your mission is — to be able to underline and to communicate those core elements through your social media actions. With the intention to create a clear image of your company online.
Since, finding the right strategy and the best suiting channels (you don’t need to be everywhere) and knowing what to share and how to design your communication with the world can be confusing and complicated, but it is worth to give it a try or at least to hire someone who has the expertise to help you along the way.
BIG — Case Study
One case study, at least for me, is Bjarke Ingels and his firm the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). Bjarke Ingels was already well known, even he hadn’t really built anything yet. He published and talked a lot about his approach to architecture very early on, which was and still is unique, he crafted very unique projects with stunning graphics and was very transparent in terms of letting people know what happened behind the walls at BIG. At least, he did NOT present an image of his firm which was fake. He simply knew what his mission, his core values and his believes were in the first place and then communicated them through various social media and attracted a raving fan base by being honest and letting people follow the firms journey.
Hopefully it became clear why „the heck“ we should use social media as architects. Since there are many social media platforms ranging from Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, other websites (archdaily,…) which then are big on social media, Blogs like WordPress and so on, it is crucial to say that you don’t need to be everywhere. But considering the explained ideas should be on your list for the future.
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