25th August Journal Column

By Catriona Lingwood, Chief Executive of Constructing Excellence in the North East 


When you think of social media, I doubt construction is at the forefront of your mind, but then again when you think about tech-driven industries, construction was never one of them and just look at us now!

Whether we like it or not, technology is the world we live in now and it is time for the industry to move into the world of social media, it’s what keeps our world connected. I’m sorry to say it, but if you’re company isn’t on social media yet, you’re falling behind.

Social media allows you to network with your audience and other companies in the industry. You can also see what your competition is up to and how their audience interaction is doing. SME’s will also benefit massively from recommendations, whether that be a professional review or just a mention of your name.
Early analysis of the survey by Competitive Advantage Consultancy has found 90% of industry professionals are active on social media and that 43% use social networks for sourcing construction product information and ideas.

This year, early analysis of initial findings shows that 78% of respondents use LinkedIn, and the majority (91%) use it for work, a marked increase of 42% when compared to 2015. Over 370,000 LinkedIn members are engineers, with construction coming in second as the most represented industry on the platform. Facebook has also seen an increase with 27% of Facebook users now using it in a work capacity.

Most companies now have Facebook and Twitter as a means of promoting themselves (we like the odd tweet now and again), with LinkedIn being used mainly for recruitment. It’s also worth setting up Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube accounts, to push photo, video and ‘behind the scenes’ style content, especially if you’re wanting to target the younger generation.

The only thing with social media, is that it’s hard to control. You can’t entirely manage what employees are posting on personal platforms and you can’t stop external sources making negative comments. It’s especially difficult on a platform like Snapchat where videos only appear for a short time before disappearing forever. We saw this earlier this month, where footage of Apple Park, one of the world’s more secretive construction projects, Apple’s new headquarters, was leaked on Snapchat.

I understand companies, especially those as big as Apple, like to do the ‘big reveal’ at the end of the project, but considering the skills gap and need for a younger generation, I don’t think it would hurt to do ‘sneak peeks’ of sites. You often see sites hidden behind giant hoardings and you see nothing until you see the finished results, but why not show off what’s behind them and the work that’s gone on to get us there. It’s likely to increase interest and get people talking, and it’s the perfect way to target the younger generation and get them interested in the work we do – because some of it is very impressive, if I do say so myself!

For more information on Constructing Excellence in the North East, please contact chief executive, Catriona Lingwood, on 0191 500 7880 or email catriona@cene.org.uk.