Building a Better Architecture Business with Social Media #RSAW11


Published on

These slides illustrated a presentation to the Royal Society of Architects In Wales (RSAW) Autumn Conference on 9 December 2011. The conference was entitled 'Practice Makes Perfect'.
Read more about them at

Published in: Design, Technology, Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide
  • These are the slides for a talk I gave at the RSAW (Royal Society of Architects in Wales) Autumn Conference in Cardiff on 9 December 2011. All the blue underlined text (and some of the images) are clickable links which you can use to access reference material, credited photographs (under Creative Commons license) and other useful information.
  • I’ve been asked to talk about 21st Century Media and how it can help you build better architecture business, so I’ve split the talk into two parts. First I’ll give my take on the media, and then what I think it means to become a better business, and how social tools can help do the latter.
  • Lets talk about Media and how it has changed. 20 years ago we used the term ‘media’ to talk about Broadcasting. TV, Radio, Newspapers, Magazines. They were externally controlled and intermittent. Remember when the TV was only available at some times, and how you had to wait to hear the news? Other people, people with the funds and influence, decided what we were going to hear and see, and when. If we wanted to be heard widely, we needed to get these people to take us on board, on their terms. That usually meant money too.
  • The WorldWideWeb first appeared in the early 90s in academic institutions, first in the states. This is one of the first pages I made at the University of Liverpool back in 1995. Websites too were about broadcasting - putting information online for others to see Content was static - no interaction (I had a feedback form you could download, that was the limit, and you had to fill it out and hand it to me!) Basically we have a list of things and limited connection with the rest of the internet - all the connections we set up were our own - little nodes of connectedness. And we had a limited audience.
  • The Commercial world got hold of the WWW and it grew exponentially until the dot com boom. One thing that made this growth possible was the search engine which enabled people to find websites for the first time. There were many search engines, many more than there are now, but the one that prevailed was google, which was set up in Standford University.
  • Google looked like this in 1997, and for websites of its time it was very clean. You can see that they were trying hard to be cool! These days everyone knows they are cool, they don’t need the exclamation mark any more. What search engines managed to do was make the internet accessible to ordinary people, people who are in a hurry and not clever. So what happened next?
  • The internet grew even more - in the last eight months 50m new websites have been created.
  • Here’s one of my websites. It is so much easier to make them now, but the thing that drives their creation isn’t just that the technology being simpler. There are two key things:
  • Firstly there is the conversation - the web has become social. People are talking to each other online as well as in ‘Real Life’. This is a map of some of Christine Murray’s recent conversations.
  • Secondly, people are making these conversations in a myriad of different places - this is just a selection of the range of types of platforms where you can publish material and hold conversations. What makes the growth come out of this chaos, is Google. Let me give you an example.
  • I don’t know if you’ve stopped advertising in Yellow Pages, possibly not. But is this how you get the majority of your business? No. IT is more of a vanity publishing opportunity. What gets you work is your real life contacts.
  • How many of you play golf? There should be more. And this is why. Golf is one of those great social constructs where business people can have a no-strings, semi-social conversation and get to know each other. A bit like twitter. Golfer A says to Golfer B, my development is ready for planning application, but it doesn’t stack up financially. Golfer B says - maybe you should get a second opinion on the design? My architect might be able to help, I’ll give you his phone number. His name is Peter Wells
  • So the next thing you do is call up Peter Wells, isn’t it?
  • Not really. If you’re sensible you’ll do this first. Notice that we’re talking about an individual here If they have a properly prepared profile on Linkedin, this is what happens next.
  • Because Linkedin is so big and public profiles are indexed by Google, its the best way to be found by Google, which is where everyone looks. There are 2500 people called Peter Wells on Linkedin, but if you search Google for our Peter Wells you’ll find him first, because we optimised his profile for Google. This listing appeared 24 hours after we optimised his profile – in a few days it was right at the top.
  • This is what you see if you click through. Tells a visitor everything they want to know about Peter. Is this the right Peter Wells? What does he do? What (and whom) do I have in common with him? How do I get in touch or find out more? If your people do business with people, they’ll be searching for them online. Make sure they are found in the way you want. With Google’s help, Linkedin can make this happen.
  • So we began with the internet being mostly static content not connected, and search engines like google helping us find things.
  • Then the second growth phase where it doesn’t matter so much where your stuff is, if it can be found by google, because we have capitalised on bringing real life conversations online
  • And where do we go next? Already the internet is mobile - here is a QR code on the back of a van so you can scan it with your mobile phone whilst you're in a traffic jam (they do get business out of this)
  • We web is now geo-located - location specific (more about this later)
  • And we are making new connections between the real and virtual worlds using tools like augmented reality which can connect real objects (in this case a photograph on a piece of card) with virtual objects (an animated 3d walkthrough of how insulation works on a building). But note we still have the power of search here. Search is what powers the internet, and we don’t use that fact nearly enough. Search and Conversations will permeate everything else I talk to you about today.
  • Lets move on to building a better business. This is a diagram by Bud Caddell called How to be Happy in Business We all want to do what we like doing, well and for money. Don’t we? We must focus on moving towards the centre of the diagram. But in order to achieve this there is a process we must go through on a day-to-day basis. It is a process that depending on how well we do it can drive our businesses forward or into the ground.
  • Here is that cycle. Everything you do should be directed towards building on this process. Lets have a look at the one people think of most - lead generation.
  • How to generate plenty of leads - to start with we need people to know we are there.
  • Lead generation is all about Word of Mouth. You need people to be talking about you, and then they will go looking for you. Lets start with the people who are looking for your services, and then look at those who aren’t yet looking.
  • Use the free google keywords tool to find out what people are searching for online. Here I’ve looked at location based searches for architects - and you can see that in the UK 880 searches a month are carried out for ‘architect Essex’. If you were looking for a plumber on google, you’d add your home town or area wouldn’t you?
  • If you try searching for ‘architect essex’ the most prominent listings you’ll find are Google Places listings. These are free and any business with a location in the area can claim their Google places page. Note that there is a link here right through to your website (named by your company name) as well as to the place page.
  • On the place page itself the owner can create a profile of their firm which tells people searching what they do - you can even put special offers on here, all for free. The information about you - creates qualified traffic to your website, and What you put here raises your listing under the local search. And its free. Even better Web 2.0 lets you work online with people who aren’t looking yet.
  • When people aren’t looking for an architect yet, you need to engage in ‘PR’. Take the opportunity to bring architecture into the conversation about something else, when it is appropriate. Heres an example from my former firm, Barefoot & Gilles We had an opportunity to design a childrens hospice in a wood. We rose to the occasion and used cheap or free social tools and a proactive approach to work with the client, their PR, the contractor, local newspaper and radio to aid in a fundraising appeal whilst the hospice was on site. These people were interested in a charity fundraising project - the building design was not central.
  • We made a scrapbook of articles we were finding online during our PR searching, and added to it monthly photojournals supplied by the contractors. As the contractor was concerned about controlling what photos appeared online, we gave them the job of sending us the photos they wanted to publish, and we published them. This way they kept their control and could be involved. The scrapbook blog linked back to our website, that of the contractor and, of course, to the fundraising pages of the client on their website, twitter and facebook.
  • As a result of our combined team effort the appeal raised the target £3m in just 10 months. UK Construction contacts across the country agreed to be sponsored for the appeal, there were t-shirt campaigns and a huge range of initiatives, and it worked.
  • If you want to start getting involved in this sort of thing you have to cultivate relationships with journalists. Twitter makes this much easier than it used to be. You can learn to share with them what they are interested in, when they are interested.
  • Because twitter is public, your conversations can have wider effects. Here’s a recent example of someone approaching me for the right reasons on Twitter. He came completely from out of the blue. This person doesn’t know me – but he can see me being myself, he knows how I operate. He has identified that I have influence. He trusts me already.
  • The problem many of us have with lead generation is that we don’t do it, and because we don’t do it we get very poor quality clients. What we want to do is get loads of interest so we can pick the most appropriate work we want do do, that we can do well and at a profit. We need to generate plenty of good leads and qualify them - distilling down from volume.
  • Lets move on to the tricky problem of getting a sale.
  • The Message on Sales is “do the right work at the right price”. The solution to this is - have enough qualified leads, from customers that want YOU rather than anyone else. Make sure that when people ask you to quote, they already want your services, then they’ll do the work to persuade themselves to pay for them. Sounds simple doesn’t it. But we’re actually pretty bad at it.
  • Why would someone what you and not some other architect? Because you are doing something remarkable – literally. When you’re doing something amazing people remark upon it. They share it with others. Seth Godin wrote a book about this called ‘Purple Cow’.
  • Traditionally we demonstrate our credibility only through our portfolio because that is all we have. But most of us don’t have great buildings to crow about very often, and when we do we don’t have access to the media. But we do now. Now we are the media. Today you may have no portfolio, but you do have EXPERTISE.
  • How does Social Media help you be an expert? Today, You don’t need to be large to be found online You just need to be specific. The changing Face of Specification and Selection - CIMCIG 22nd September 2011 12/12/11 View online at - Online version has notes and clickable links
  • Here’s an example. If you search online about lead-free stringing of solar panels you’ll find this article by a scientist who works for the huge Indium Corporation as one of their 14 bloggers. We need to use accomplished technologists to generate relevant content in a language appropriate to the audience. Using terms they will search for Key elements - specific targeting of content. Useful information. Notice also on the page, the opportunities to keep in touch and ask for more. Also notice the Share buttons. The amount of time (and money) required to generate new contacts is much more efficient than trade shows or hard copy marketing, or even cold calling. The changing Face of Specification and Selection - CIMCIG 22nd September 2011
  • Chris Anderson writes about this in the Long Tail - Highly popular mass products and services (Macdonalds, Burger King) used to drown out the local specialists through their monopolising of all the advertising channels. Now with the internet you can search for a café in Ipswich and find a very specific niche venue, check out its reviews, read its blogs, ask it on twitter whether it is open on Sunday, and share the information with your friends. Google allows us to do this by finding specific information related to our search terms. The changing Face of Specification and Selection - CIMCIG 22nd September 2011
  • marketers are beginning to realise makes the internet work - Social Objects. The Social Object, in a nutshell, is the reason two people are talking to each other, as opposed to talking to somebody else. Human beings are social animals. We like to socialize. But if think about it, there needs to be a reason for it to happen in the first place. That reason, that “node” in the social network, is what we call the Social Object.
  • Here’s a practical example of the use of social objects. Barefoot & Gilles launched a new blog about making sustainable housing affordable – an ongoing story about GreenGauge Homes, our partnership projects in affordable housing. The blog was only a few weeks old but one of our first posts got over a hundred visits over two days. We turned some of the more popular into downloadable pdfs - useful, shareable, clickable content.
  • We share the content on twitter…
  • and people who are interested pass it on. (search keyword Sustainable Housing)
  • We can track the effect on each post on twitter and spot which subjects people are interested in, and this way learn to build a better relationship with our readers. The downloaded objects get shared about and we can monitor what works and where visitors to our site come from (including from the pdfs) As a result of the exposure we’ve had for this work, Barefoot & Gilles went on to work with a housebuilder developing a new range of housetypes.
  • One of the most useful effects of sharing our information on twitter is that it attracted the attention of journalists who then interviewed us and published articles. Building Magazine published one of our releases about the project on their website - because it was topical and they were looking for a story - together with a link back to our site. This was hugely beneficial to our profiling on google. Newstart magazine (which is read by regeneration professionals) used our housing and an interview with one of our architects as a case study in a piece about Zero Carbon. This all happened in 2008, when what we were doing was pretty remarkable - since then we’ve moved on to stressing other subjects, now that these issues have entered the mainstream.
  • So what is Your Area of Expertise? This is what you need to demonstrate online, so that people who contact you know what you can do, and contact you because that is what they are looking for. You must then have the confidence to charge enough knowing that a) it is good value and b) you can deliver. This means knowing your clients and your processes.
  • Delivery is about being Effective - doing the right thing Efficient - doing it right. Being a Social Business means using social tools to be more effective and efficient.
  • We are aware that our construction industry is broken. Why else would there be so much stress put on the cost of design when it is minimal compared to the value generated? This is because there is a disconnect between parts of the process. People like Constructing Exellence are working to put this right.
  • One venture I’ve learned about which has been motivated by this disconnect is the Integrated School of Building - a new school set up in IIT Chicago by architecture graduate Tabitha Ponte and partners across the US and elsewhere. I’m hoping to be involved in this venture which aims to break the disconnect through the common education of built environment students..
  • One of the collaborators in the Integrated School of Building is Randy Deutsch who has written a really interesting book, BIM and Integrated Design. BIM will make many social and cultural changes to our industry, and we need to get involved in these conversations.
  • But in the short term, as well as these big issues, we need to think smarter about how we work on a day to day basis too. We need to get ourselves out of our silos and start finding the right people to work with.
  • What makes this possible is the connection between our real life networks and the search power of google.
  • Here’s a tool I’ve started to use to help people know when they can get in touch with me. It is called Tungle. You can use it to suggest meetings or simply know when someone can be contacted. The working day has changed and though I still work 9-5 I mostly work 8.330-3.30 and 8.30pm-10pm Tools like this can help us connect together better, wherever we are working.
  • There are many tools online which help us collaborate remotely with each other so that we don’t have to work only with the people around us. For example Here are Google Hangouts (like a free Skype style video conference) And Woobius Eye - a tool to discuss and annotate visual images online - This was developed by the team at Woobius including Bob Leung who used it to hold client meetings to review drawings - instead of 4 hours travelling he could devote more time to discussing the drawings with the client and save time and money.
  • And you don’t have to be huge to be helpful. These tools with visual and conversational elements can help us solve problems more efficiently. Here am I getting product information advice via twitter. I shared a sketch of what I was looking for on twitter and within half an hour several suggestions came back including this one by Jacqui who runs a supplier of modern interior fittings and furniture in Burnley called ‘Design Conscious’. The light fitting went into the presentation, the client loved it and it went into the contract. The changing Face of Specification and Selection - CIMCIG 22nd September 2011 12/12/11 View online at - Online version has notes and clickable links
  • Lastly lets come to the tricky subject of Evaluation. You need to get clients to talk to you As well as talk about you. They will be talking about you anyway - at least on the internet you can hear some of it. If you are concerned about what your clients think about you - why not meet up with them and ask them?
  • Remember word of mouth? Word of mouth can help your clients refer you and generate leads for you, and social tools can help amplify the effects
  • If you get testimonials from your clients - publish them on your website. (If you don’t, why not? You should ask for them)
  • Even better, ask your clients to give you a review on Google Places. Remember that this is where many strangers looking for an architect will find you first. A review will help you rise up the listings on google (and its free)
  • This is Patrick Goff. I met him on Twitter, didn’t know much about him, except that we were introduced through a common interest in cats. I was intrigued by his twitter handle ‘@HotelDesigns’ and looked him up on Linked in. This is his profile. It shows me who he is, what he does and also who endorses him from his industry. So armed with the confidence of trusted endorsements, we meet.
  • It turns out Patrick is a gem. He has an online magazine site which was read by over one million visitors in the last year (not hits – individual unique visitors). Patrick reviews dozens of hotels all over the world, which means he is a gift to an architect who designs hotels. We are working together on a number of projects.
  • The other half of evaluation is the process of measuring the effectiveness of your online activity. Here’s an example of a blog post I wrote in May called ‘What can Construction Companies do about Social Media?’
  • I monitor the traffic and movement through my site using Google Analytics. If I compare the visits to the site with the bounces (% of occasions when people visited and left the site via this page and didn’t look round elsewhere) I can see that when I first posted up this post there was a great deal of ‘bouncing’ out of the site, people leaving immediately. But over the following weeks visitors continued to come to this post, even when I’d posted new ones, and these visitors were hanging around, looking at other things I had written. This blog post has become part of my footprint online, valued by my visitors, and the source of qualified leads for my consultancy services, as I can also see when people contact me from this page.
  • If you are specific and remarkable then you’ll be memorable. Your contribution sticks not only in people’s minds but it sticks onto the internet, building up a footprint of your remarkableness.
  • Just in case you were, please heed the advice of David Meerman Scott (who wrote ‘The new Rules of Marketing and PR’. Don’t worry about sharing your best information online. Your competitino already knows what you’re doing, and People like leaders, not followers. That was August 19 th 2008 by the way. He was ahead even then.
  • As a postscript I’d like to tell you about another project I’m working on with a friend in Dubai, Mark Schumann of Davis Langdon. We’ve set up a crowd-sourced (I.e. we invite people to contribute) map of architects and other construction professionals on twitter. Here is a screenshot of the architects and other design consultants (engineers, QS’s etc) who have put themselves on the map so far.
  • And here’s an overlay of all the UK Construction people on twitter who have joined the map - they include construction firms, designers, architects, landscape architects, product manufacturers and suppliers, and graduates too. We hope to use the maps to help construction professionals who use twitter find each other in their locality. If you’d like to join the map or want to know more, please visit We look forward to seeing you on the map!
  • Thanks for your time, I hope that was useful.
  • Building a Better Architecture Business with Social Media #RSAW11

    1. 1. Build a Better Business Practice Makes Perfect : RSAW11 : Cardiff Su Butcher HiddeDevries
    2. 2. 21 st Century Media A Better Business
    3. 3. curtiskennington
    4. 4. Web 1.0 - Broadcasting waybackmachine
    5. 5. Web 1.0 - Growth = Noise netcraft 50m in 10 years
    6. 6. Web 1.0 - Search
    7. 7. Web 2.0 - Growth netcraft 50m in 8months
    8. 8. Web 2.0 - Conversation www. justpractising .com
    9. 9. Web 2.0 - Conversation http:// mentionmapp .com/
    10. 10. Web 2.0 - Platforms http://www. theconversationprism .com/
    11. 12. Your advocates speak well of you when you're not there. Nicole Bachmann Golf by Robert Scoble
    12. 13. tylerdurden
    13. 16. Your Public Home Online
    14. 17. Web 1.0
    15. 18. Web 1.0 Web 2.0
    16. 19. Web 1.0 Web 2.0 Web 3.0?
    17. 20. Web 1.0 Web 2.0 Web 3.0?
    18. 21. Web 1.0 Web 2.0 Web 3.0?
    19. 22. How to be Happy in Business
    20. 23. How to Pay Your Staff (and Yourself) Well
    21. 24. 1 Lead Generation HiddeDevries
    22. 25. Word of Mouth
    23. 26. Google Keywords Tool Keywords Tool
    24. 27. Google Places http://www. google .co. uk /places
    25. 28. Google Places
    26. 29. Join the Conversation
    27. 31. https://www. facebook .com/ EACHhospices
    28. 32. Local Journalists
    29. 34. Distill from Volume Jack Schiansky
    30. 35. 2 The Sale HiddeDevries
    31. 36. Do Not Compete on Price Cash Cow by Bixentro
    32. 37. Be Remarkable Solarpowerrocks .com
    33. 38. Our Great Projects
    34. 39. Free Your Expertise
    35. 40. Tin-Silver Solder Alloy for …
    36. 41. thelongtail .com
    37. 42. The Social Object : Hugh McLeod aka @gapingvoid
    38. 47. http://www. barefootgilles .com/news_lingwood6.asp
    39. 48. Compete on Expertise
    40. 49. 3 Delivery HiddeDevries
    41. 50. The Effect of Recession on Partnering in the Construction Sector - Don Ward
    42. 51. The Integrated School of Building
    43. 52. BIM BIM and Integrated Design
    44. 53. Change the working day
    45. 54. Networking is about Other People Helping You Kent Bye Andy Lopata
    46. 55. Change the working day http:// tungle .me/ subutcher
    47. 56. Work remotely Google Hangout Woobius Eye
    48. 58. 4 Evaluation HiddeDevries
    49. 59. Word of Mouth
    50. 60. Testimonials
    51. 61. Google Places not Yellow pages Reviews
    52. 62. Endorsements
    53. 63. Over 1,000,000 Unique Visitors /year hoteldesigns .net
    54. 64. Experiment and Measure Visit page
    55. 65. Experiment and Measure www. google .com/analytics/
    56. 66. Sticky
    57. 67. Don’t worry http://www. davidmeermanscott .com/
    58. 68.
    59. 69.
    60. 70. Thank You. Me: @ SuButcher subutcher My Company: www. justpractising .com Slides: