Inspiring Social for Small Businesses

We tried to do it all. Be all to everyone on every possible social media channel out there. Plus manage our small business and demanding workload. We’ve outsourced until our brand got lost. We’ve had enough. 

These are the conversations I’m having with small business owners specifically in the Minnesota marketplace in the architecture, landscape architecture and design industry. But frustration is no excuse not to have a plan. And so to delve into these questions and bring some sanity to small firms’ social media and traditional marketing, I started SparkTrack Consulting.

It’s always been about balance and efficiency in my world. SparkTrack reflects my approach to communications: how do you spark content and topics worth talking about and how do you effectively track, analyze and improve your path?

We start by asking questions like: Where do you need to be? which btw, is as important as where you don’t need to be; What are your strengths?; What are you already doing that you can easily repurpose?Where is your audience?; If you had to choose a single social media channel and do it well, what would it be?

We answer by doing our research and homework (no excuses – the content is out there!), maybe even talking a class; observing what others in the industry are doing (best practices); and connecting with someone who will force us to pay attention and get us on a consistent content schedule. Let’s start with research through the list of resources below.

AIA

I didn’t attend last week’s AIA National Convention in Denver, but I see they offered this four-hour session on June 19 : Tools and Trends in Web Platforms and Social Media for Residential Architects and Small Project Practitioners with presenters from AIA National, Houzz and The Business of Architecture. Hopefully some Minnesota architects were able to attend and put this knowledge into practice.

In a recent search of AIA national for overall social media best practices, the most recent info I found was last updated on June 2011. It’s still worth a read. I also came across a social media article where AIA interviewed several firms including one powerhouse I’d recommend checking out: BUILD. See also BuildLLC’s overview of social for firms, based on their 2011 presentation at the AIA National convention and a January 2013 Social Media in Architecture presentation by Brian Skripac of Astorino.

Knowledge Architecture

I had the opportunity to attend the Knowledge Architecture Conference in SanFrancisco in April 2012. If you’re not following them, do it! (on LinkedIn or Twitter at @karchitecture) They are leaders in the AEC industry in knowledge, software and technology and just published their 2013 conference talks. Also check out Social Media in Action, which came out last spring prior to KA2012 where author Amanda Walter spoke. It’s the first book of its kind to apply social to the business of architecture.

Markitecture

Lastly, here are some good tips specific for Twitter from late 2012 that still hold true from Markitecture (because what noun hasn’t been merged with some form of the word architecture?).

Research should inspire. You might even consider a social media class or local resources like Geek Girls, Kane Consulting podcasts and monthly sessions of the local Social Media Breakfast.

Whatever it takes – get inspired to begin. Next step : checking out social media best practices.

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