Annmarie and I launched our first website at fivecat.com in 1998, way before any other architects in the region were online. I’ve been writing blogs since 2006 and as social media grew in popularity, we adopted early and benefited tremendously. Having a strong online presence has made us very accessible on search engines. We’ve held a top 3 position on Google since launching the website and literally built the firm with inquiries from local prospects searching for Westchester Architects.
Today I’m sharing my thoughts on each of the channels I visit during my daily rounds online. If you and I are not connected on any of these networks, please be sure to hook me up. I’d love to get to know you better.
Twitter is a great tool for social networking. It’s 140 character limit encourages back-and-forth dialogue, just like a real life conversation. Of all the channels I visit on a daily basis, Twitter is the place where I have made the most valuable connections and made the most friends.
I often hear people say, “I don’t get it.” I say, give it a try. To get started, sign up for an account and search for “architects” or any other group you are interested in following. When you find some interesting people, click “follow” and see what they’re saying. Interact by “retweeting” or commenting on their tweets. Visit every day for two weeks and you’ll be hooked. Some of my best friends in architecture are people I have met through Twitter. If you want to get the most out of your time on Twitter, consider it a global online cocktail party. Mingle and schmooze and you’ll be making friends in no time.
I have a Twitter account for Fivecat Studio as well, but I don’t find it as successful for finding new work. I focus my efforts on using these channels most effectively. For me, Twitter is better for connecting with other professionals than for finding my next client.
During my high school years growing up in Paramus, New Jersey, the place to see and be seen was the local mall. In Paramus, we had four major malls from which to choose. It’s the shopping capital of the northeast. The mall was a place where we would all hang out, talk and meet new friends. When I’m on my personal Facebook account, it feels very similar to those days at the mall. My friends are all there and I can always keep up to date on what’s happening in their lives. I keep my personal account private and personal, connecting only with family and friends.
I use a dedicated Facebook Page to share news and updates about Entrepreneur Architect and link to interesting content about business and architecture. Every article from the blog and every episode from the podcast is posted. If you “like” my page, everything I do can be delivered directly to your personal Facebook news feed. Be sure to click “Get Notifications” under the “Like” button to ensure that every post gets through. If not, Facebook decides whether my content is worthy of your viewing.
Since I put most of my effort toward Entrepreneur Architect, my Fivecat Studio Facebook Page is less active than it could be. I put most of my social media efforts toward connecting with other architects, but Facebook is fantastic for connecting with potential clients. For a great example of what is possible, check out Marica McKeel’s page for Studio MM. She consistently posts interesting original content about architecture and design and is quickly gaining traction with her residential market.
Much of my social media management is done with my iPhone, so apps for these channels are very important. Recently Facebook introduced Paper. It is simply beautiful. The interface is very intuitive and it provides a wonderful experience when checking in. My friend Evan Troxel, says, “It is with this that all apps shall now be judged…”
If I view Facebook as a place to hangout with friends, I see Google+ as a place to connect with professionals and others interested in topics that may interest me. Google+ Communities are filled with people interested in specific topics. Check out what my friend Jes Stafford is doing at Big Time Small Firm. He has built a very active community of support and encouragement for owners of small firms.
If you have a Gmail or YouTube account, then you already have a G+ account. Google is slowly taking over the world and Google+ is their base of attack.
Google+ looks beautiful and functions very well, but for me, I haven’t spent much time there. I share all my content on the channel, but it’s another that slips to the bottom of my list due to a lack of time.
Currently 6,242 members strong, the Entrepreneur Architect Linkedin Group is the oldest and most successful of all my Entrepreneur Architect channels. Only this blog has been around longer.
Every day members of this private group share discussion posts, support and encourage one another. Only architects, builders and designers are accepted to membership in the group, which allows for a very open and honest community. Need advice on how to develop a proposal for a client in a new market? Want to discuss fees without fear of your clients reading your thoughts? Post a discussion at this Linkedin Group and an entire community of professionals will respond with answers.
If I had to pick one social media channel to market Fivecat Studio, it would be Houzz. Every day, I receive questions and comments from viewers of our Houzz profile. I receive so many questions about our projects, that I cannot answer them all and this is the second year in a row, that we have been voted by the site’s community to receive the Best of Houzz award.
Often when I meet with prospective clients, they reference that they have already visited our profile. Houzz is also the only channel that I can credit directly to signed projects. Having a social media presence on every channel is important when building success on search engines, but Houzz is the only channel that has delivered direct results.
In addition to finding new clients, I also use Houzz during our pre-design discovery process. When starting design, we walk our clients through a process of us learning who they are and what they want. Before Houzz existed, we asked clients to collect magazine tear sheets of things they love and things they loathe. Today, our clients are building these image collections using Houzz Ideabooks. If you only have time to manage one channel, Houzz is the place to be.
I love Pinterest, but unfortunately it is another sacrifice to my limited schedule. There are only so many hours in the day. The simple intuitive interface and beautiful format based on pinning and sharing linked images, make it an excellent place for architects to show off their best work.
I have built an active profile for Fivecat Studio on Pinterest and have begun to build a series of boards dedicated to inspiration. When users see something they like, they click the image and “pin” it to one of their own boards.
I have also experimented with “private boards” to share and organize fixture and finish selections for clients. It works very well to show images of selections with direct links to sources.
After building your profile on Houzz, if you are looking for business results, I suggest spending some time pinning and sharing at Pinterest. With its focus on images, it’s a perfect place for architects to shine.
I have Pinterest boards for Entrepreneur Architect as well, but other than my Inspirational Quotes board, there’s not much to see there.
Instagram has become an active part of my daily social media habit. I use it to share my life with anyone who is interested. I do post progress photos of current Fivecat projects, but mostly I share images from my day-to-day life; dogs, cats, kids, cars and everything else I do each day. If you want to get to know me better, Instagram is the place to follow me.
I must confess, YouTube, for me, has been neglected. The second largest search engine on the internet is most certainly not a channel to be ignored. I have posted a few videos of my participation at friends’ Google Hangouts, me moderating live discussions and my limited speaking presentations. I also have a few videos from my work with AIA National at the national convention in Denver.
YouTube is on my list of future channels to develop. I have plans to launch EntreArchitectTV, an Entrepreneur Architect YouTube Channel. I will share original video content, as well as future EntreArchitect Google Hangouts where I will very literally hangout with friends and talk architecture and business. Stay tuned for that.
So, which channel is YOUR favorite place to be? Please leave a comment below and share your thoughts. I’d love to have a conversation about social media for architects with you.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com/marekuliasz