ASLA Oregon LANDbytes OCTOBER 2011 Feature:
Social Media and You
By Rebecca Wahlstrom
Social media sites are quickly becoming a part of our daily lives, working new ways of using vocabulary into our conversations like ‘tweeting’, or to ‘friend’ or ‘un-friend’ someone. Excepting a few die-hard detractors, most of my acquaintances are on Facebook, posting videos, pictures from their Hawaiian vacation, and tidbits from their daily lives. Sure it can be a time-sinkhole, but used in a smart way, it’s a great way to keep up to date on what is happening in other people’s lives. A more studious cousin of Facebook, LinkedIn, enables people to amass a huge network of professional contacts that stem from your known contacts. You might have 150 contacts, and those contacts have contacts; before you know it, millions of professionals are linked into your network. What a potent tool to have at your fingertips! Another popular social media tool is Twitter, which can be used in a targeted way to show potential clients your new projects, brag about awards, and boast about your fabulous employees. Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter all enable people to share on a scale like never before. Can we, as landscape architects, can take aspects of these services and wisely apply them to our workplaces?
One might argue that a company website can do the heavy lifting for online marketing, and that design firms don’t really need to utilize media sites. While that is true to a certain extent, just relying on people to find you using internet searches ignores a whole segment of internet travel. Using social media adds another layer of marketing that can enhance and strengthen your current program. Think of the millions of professionals out there on your social media network. What if one of them needs to contact a LA firm in Oregon? Are you ready? Each media site has their strength and needs to be used in a strategic and directed manner. LinkedIn is more of a professional listing and doesn’t allow for multiple photos and fancy graphics. If you can say what you want in 140 words a ‘tweet’, Twitter can be a great tool. Photos and links can be included with tweets, keeping clients current on the progress and success of your firm. Not only can firms push information out to the public, but they can also track and generate buzz about their firm. Facebook is probably more for curious people who see that a friend works at a particular firm and wants to check it out. Pictures, text, videos, and links can all be included on a Facebook page. You can also advertise your media prowess by including links on your website and giving clients options on how to communicate with your firm.
If the idea of using social media sends you into fits of palpitations, there is help. Technical articles abound on the internet, each helpful in its own way for navigating the ins and outs of these tools. Among those articles there are some common tips that bear repeating here; have a thoughtful and directed strategy that compliments your existing marketing program; don’t try to tackle all the media sites at once, concentrate your efforts and do a good job; show your personality; and demonstrate to potential clients why they want to work with your firm. I’ve only mentioned a few of the available media sites; it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of sites worldwide that cover a range of interests, but as experts suggest, start slow and be focused in your approach. Utilizing social media can be a bit intimidating at first, but once you get the knack of it, you will have increased the numbers of your potential audience in a very real way.