How Large Architecture Firms Can Be Better at Social Media

Most large architecture firms have a social media presence. Social media is a tool, though, and like any tool, how you use it matters.

We find that large architecture firm social media tends to fall into one of these categories:

Technically Alive, Barely Breathing

This firm established one or two channels years ago and for the most part hasn’t touched them since. The account profile may have an outdated logo, an old project, and at least one piece of outdated contact information. Every so often a new hire will presumably be given the task of “updating” the social media accounts, resulting in a single post every 10+ months, written in a different voice each time. There is no interaction with any followers or other accounts, and if you looked solely at the firm’s social media you would assume the firm had gone out of business.

They Never Met a Social Channel They Didn’t Use

This firm has a presence on every social media channel< there is. WattPad? Sure! Flickr? Yes! TikTok? Why not? As new channels are introduced, they will join those, too. The firm’s presence on these channels is without regard to whether those are the best channels for their audience and work, or whether they have enough content and internal resources to support being active on those channels. Instead, they just post once a month or once a quarter and use the same content across every channel. It’s a checklist approach that yields few results, but that doesn’t stop the all-you-can-join social media buffet.

Good Foundation, Needs Work

This firm has a more solid presence on a few select channels, and posts about leadership changes or additions, publishes project images, and distributes press releases. Posting is semi-frequent, but the firm isn’t making use of the available tools in each channel and may not be aware that each channel is intended for a slightly different audience.

How to Make Social Media Work for Your Architecture Firm

Have a strategy.

Know why you’re on the social media platforms you’re on and what you want to get out of each. Decide what topics you’ll cover on each platform, how frequently you need to publish, and how you’re going to measure engagement. Having this strategy clarified will also allow you to delegate social media management to someone else.

Differentiate between your firm and other firms.

While firms in this last category are the closest to mastering social media, what they’re still missing is information about what makes their firm unique. What are the particular problems that your firm solves? How does your approach to a problem differ from other firms? Put another way, how will a project be better because the client hires you? And if you’re focusing your social media on recruitment, what makes your firm different from another for the people who work there?

Include all of your offices in your social media presence.

Large firms often have a content advantage when it comes to social media: they have multiple offices, from which content can be collected or created. Not enough firms involve all of their offices, though, which can lead to each office creating its own social media accounts. If this is done as part of a firm-wide strategy that’s one thing, but too many times firm leadership have been surprised to learn that other offices have their own social media presence. Work and people from all offices should be showcased, which not only reduces the content burden on one office, but also helps everyone at the firm feel part of the social media efforts.

Allow your audience in.

Architects can look at a photo and ascertain what was involved in the design. Lay people can’t. What lay people can do is hire you, so you have to help them understand what you did in a non-patronizing way. A single image may be beautiful, but some details about the project will go a long way to helping a prospective client understand what you do and feel confident that you won’t exclude them from the process if they select you.

Get the technical components right.

This is where knowing how each platform works is crucial. You’ll need to make sure your account on each channel is set up to allow for someone to directly link to your content, instead of having to open a separate browser window, go to your website, and try to find what you posted about. Make appropriate use of hashtags; there is no clearer giveaway of your unfamiliarity with a platform than hashtag misuse.

Use your staff to amplify the message.

Social media platforms reward content that is shared and engaged with by showing it to more people. Enlist some of your staff to share and comment on firm posts. Giving them sample messages to work from can help them overcome a fear of “doing it wrong.”

Allow it to support your proposal submissions.

If you’re about to submit a proposal or are trying to land a new commission, you can assume that the decision-makers will at some point look at your social media channels. Use these channels to show the decision-makers more relevant work. For example, if you’re competing for a hospital commission, showcase your healthcare design on social media: images of previous commissions, thoughts about the current challenges in healthcare design.

Brian Jones