On-Site Magazine

Social networking: What’s it good for?

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February 1, 2012 by Corinne Lynds

It’s official, social media is giving me attention deficit disorder (ADD).

Seriously, before Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, I was already struggling to keep up with a constant barrage of email, phone messages and snail-mail. Now, although I’m suffering fewer paper cuts, I’m frantically “Tweeting”, “Posting” and “Facebooking” instead! My thumbs are sore, and walking into walls has become a routine occurrence.

Is it worth it? Is the construction industry benefiting from social media? Is it necessary? Where’s the return on investment (ROI)?

On a mission to answer these questions, and figure out what role social media should play in the construction industry, I contacted Christine Zakrajsek, web manager at EllisDon. Zakrajsek not only manages the website, but also heads up the construction giant’s social media efforts as well.

During our phone conversation, she identified three key benefits that EllisDon has experienced as a result of social networking efforts-increased employee engagement, better brand management and network building.

“Facebook generates very low engagement numbers, even for mega brands like McDonald’s, Nike or Starbucks,” explains Zakrajsek. “But for employee engagement it’s great.” EllisDon employees from all over Canada post photos and updates from jobsites across the country on the company’s Facebook page.

Twitter and YouTube is where contractors should invest their time for business-to-business network building. YouTube because they can post videos of the projects and challenges that their companies experience. “These videos show the people and passion involved in a project. It’s very powerful,” says Zakrajsek.

Then Twitter is key, because that’s how contractors can blast out their messages and get people to see what they’re working on.

LinkedIn is another network that comes up in conversation often. Perceived as more of a human resource tool by the construction industry, contractors really aren’t fully embracing it yet. At present, it’s basically identified as a database of resumes, which is not seen by contractors as the best way to recruit a skilled machine operator.

What about brand management?

Ultimately, people are going to be talking about your company-whether you have a social media strategy or not-but if you do have a presence, that gives you an opportunity to manage your brand’s image. It gives you more control and keeps you in the loop in terms of responding to criticisms, questions and rumours.

The last key benefit that Zakrajsek mentioned is network building. Networking used to be (and still is) conducted in hotel lobbies and on golf courses, but today that has also expanded to include the digital realm. ROI for social media efforts is not quantifiable by dollars, so much as it is by the relationships we develop and the knowledge we gain.

I for one am very pleased to know my ADD has not come without some kind of reward.

Corinne Lynds / Editor

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