This website uses cookies primarily for visitor analytics. Certain pages will ask you to fill in contact details to receive additional information. On these pages you have the option of having the site log your details for future visits. Indicating you want the site to remember your details will place a cookie on your device. To view our full cookie policy, please click here. You can also view it at any time by going to our Contact Us page.

Time for FMs to wake up to social media

Author : Chris Hoar

02 August 2012

In an economic climate that remains turbulent, FM organisations are not alone in seeking new ways to reduce costs whilst still trying to generate leads, secure contracts and maintain relationships with existing clients. Chris Hoar believes social media should have a bigger role to play.

As advertising budgets are under increasing pressure to deliver, I am surprised that more FM organisations are not turning to social media to rejuvenate their marketing and PR strategies. No one can doubt the sheer impact that the social media revolution is having on businesses; how we respond to it however is the key.

A recent 2012 Benchmark Report from the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) reported that general business adoption of social media is positive with 71% on Twitter, 56% on Facebook and 53% on LinkedIn, however many marketers are still failing to fully and effectively embrace the social media revolution. It’s quite clear that the number of FM organisations using these platforms is considerably lower.

It is evident that, broadly, commercial use of the platforms is rising, and that social media is now widely considered to be an innovative way to generate leads. The report by the CIM also highlights a changing focus of marketing and PR strategies, with research showing that 62% of businesses are now increasing their social media marketing budgets, whilst 11% of firms are decreasing their budgets for paid search.

As the leading UK representative trade body for employers in the FM sector, the Facilities Management Association (FMA) is an ardent user of social media and is keen to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the core social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook LinkedIn and YouTube) with regards to grass roots brand management.

For the FMA, there are many perceived benefits to our use of social media. Firstly, the various social media platforms enable online discussions to take place following our offline networking events.

For example, we have our own LinkedIn group in which members can start discussions about recent industry events, news, legislation and other similar issues. The LinkedIn group is a great platform for us to gain an insight into the current challenges being faced by our members. This information, subsequently, can be used as an indication of the issues which are of most importance to our members, and perhaps issues in which we could become involved with lobbying.

Secondly, social media is allowing us to approach the press directly, and make some noise about the fantastic work of our members and the industry as whole. There are many facilities management titles on Twitter, in addition to the various vertical titles that many FM organisations would love to feature in. Social media clearly offers a way to communicate with journalists in a novel way. National press are also on Twitter, including The Guardian - @guardian and The Times - @TheTimes.

We were particularly keen to get involved with social media, in order to reach out to a younger demographic, especially for the benefit of our Young Managers Forum. When initially deciding to embark upon a social media campaign, we decided to appoint an agency that could handle our traditional PR and social media as integrated activities.

This is particularly important as a lot of the traditional PR activity that we engage in provides excellent content for use across the various social media profiles. In addition to this, social media is a useful tool to amplify our traditional PR activity.

Katie King, Managing Director of Zoodikers Consulting, commented: “Many FM organisations are evidently still unsure about how best to use social media, yet this represents a fundamental shift in the way that we communicate. It is important for FM companies to think strategically about social media, and how it can be aligned with their wider business and marketing objectives. The level of engagement that the FMA social media campaign has attracted to date is illustrative of the fact that this is relevant for the FM industry.”

She added: “Whilst some organisations feel nervous about investing an increasing proportion of their marketing and PR budget in social media, they are reassured by the fact that social media is very measurable. Unlike other marketing activity, social media platforms have developed analytics tools such as Facebook Insights, Hootsuite and Tweetreach to measure the reach of tweets, general sentiment, and the demographics of users. Google Analytics can also be used to ascertain the percentage of traffic to websites that has originated from social media.”

Recent announcements by leading search engines Google and Bing have stated the importance of social media in relation to Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). These search engines are now taking into account Facebook ‘likes’, Google+ ‘+1s’ and social media content when compiling their search results.

My main note of caution would be to ensure that, if employees are engaging in company social media activity, there is a social media policy in place. This policy should encourage honesty, transparency and courtesy, whilst being mindful of confidentiality and the prevention of libellous activity. This policy is important for organisations in any industry, to protect both the employer and the employee.

I would like to conclude by encouraging everyone in the FM industry to think about the strategic case for social media in their organisation. Take the time to think about segmenting your target audiences. Consider how they need to perceive your company and therefore which messages you can embed into your overall marketing to help achieve this. Next, decide on which platforms they are most likely to interact with you, and finally, come up with a compelling content strategy, which you can use to engage them. Time to give it a try at the very least!

Chris Hoar is Chief Executive of the Facilities Management Association

Contact Details and Archive...

Print this page | E-mail this page