The Value of Facebook for Architects
By Kelly Steckel
Now dubbed “Zuckerberg’s Law” by New York Times writer Saul Hansell, Facebook founder Marc Zuckerberg was quoted in 2008 at the Web 2.0 Summit having said, “I would expect that next year people will share twice as much information as they share this year, and (the year after that), they will be sharing twice as much as they did the year before”. Though I don’t have statistical data to support this claim, though I am sure it is out there, I do know that Facebook has grown from 100 million active users in August 2008 to 750 million as of September 2011 (source: www.facebook.com, Sept 2011). In addition, every month, more than 250 million people engage with Facebook on external sites. So it would seem to me that there is an awful lot of sharing going on.
And who is doing the sharing? According to www.insidefacebook.com, it’s persons within the age group of 18 – 25 that account for the largest group of Facebook users (2011).
Ages 13 – 17 account for 20.6% respectively
18 – 25 account for 25.8% respectively
26 – 34 account for 21.65 respectively
35 – 44 account for 14.9% respectively
45 – 54 account for 8% respectively
55 – 64 account for 4.6% respectively
This information is particularly relevant because according to some, an architectural firm’s target market tends to fall into the 35+ bracket, or the Baby Boomer generation, verses Generation X (and Y) that most frequently use it. Of course, this is not always the case, and as technology and social media advances it will become the norm, not the exception, to utilize social media for everything from search, research and database creation, to lead generation, sCRM, brand awareness and exposure, recruitment, etc. Architectural firms have always relied on word-of-mouth, referrals and relationships to obtain projects.
Why can’t this be achieved using social media, and in this case, Facebook?
Used by companies to connect, engage and build long-term meaningful relationships with existing and prospective clients, Facebook also provides a platform to drive word-of-mouth and referrals. When clients share news or project related content on Facebook that story is shared within that client’s Newsfeeds and their friends’ Newsfeeds. Imagine the impact when the average user has 130 friends (source: www.facebook.com, Sept 2011). One way this can be achieved is by implementing the Facebook ‘Like’ button on your website. Doing so will build connection and drive referrals to your website. To obtain the maximum benefit from the ‘Like’ button, firms should track these interactions, how they lead back to the website and how many result in conversion. Using Facebook Insights can provide demographic profile insights of visitors and clients that interact with the Like button.
The challenge is to create content of value for your fans to maintain dialog and interest. The messages, video posts and newsfeeds require constant updating. Creditability will decline if you are only posting once a month or even once a week. Remember the goal is to create/extend a value proposition that attracts, engages and connects clients to your firm (Jeffery Gitomer, Social Boom), which needs to be established in strategy before ANY type of social networking is performed. Everyday postings might be difficult, but if manageable is the best way to maintain a consistent presence in the minds of your audience. They will know to look for you. And if you’re not there, they might go somewhere else – to your competition.
And to this point, which is an important one, social media is here to stay. It has changed communication and it has changed marketing. If your potential clients or recruits, etc. cannot find you, but can find your competition, on Facebook, LinkedIn, and whatever new platform(s) will emerge in the future, you are at risk. Remember back to when the website was a new marketing tool. It took some firms years to get on board. Surprisingly, there are still some that maintain there is no need; that their reputation alone brings them enough business. Well, can’t argue with that. If it works, it works. But for those firms intent on truly growing their business, it is now all about social media. And better to be ahead of the game, or at least in it, then left behind, all the while potentially losing clients and brand equity.