Guest post by Stephanie Mah, Digital Media Coordinator for Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) NextGen, and Product Marketing Manager at BuzzBuzzHome. You can connect with Stephanie on Instagram and LinkedIn.
Social media has presented architecture a unique opportunity for greater public engagement. Not only are people seeing more buildings, but it’s in a casual environment that makes them feel comfortable sharing their thoughts on design. As someone who really wants to share the love of architecture with the world, this is super exciting!
When I started my Bachelor’s in History and Theory of Architecture 6 years ago the field sometimes felt, well, exclusive. Sure, it makes sense that if you study a professional field you should have significantly more insights on the subject than others outside of the industry, but at the same time…we all experience buildings, right? So why was it that none of my friends could even comment on what they liked about a building over coffee? And if people don’t appreciate or even think about design outside of the industry, how can the public help hold architecture up to high standards?
This is where social media has kicked-in for the better. Every day more people are sharing content about buildings. From travel to lifestyle blogs, it’s all just part of the norm now. So, how can architects ride this social wave and promote architecture?
Get out of the office
A great way to digitally reach lots of people is through events. Take Doors Open Toronto as an example. Last week I attended a media preview hosted by Ontario Heritage Trust that gave bloggers a sneak peek at some of the buildings. Why? Because the power of influencers. They knew that they could reach more people by taking advantage of large social networks outside of their own existing audience. Architecture firms can do this too by participating in Doors Open; either by showcasing their own office or projects as one of the buildings available to visit so hundreds of people can later share the experience online, or by attending the event and posting their thoughts.
Doors Open Toronto
Getting recognition is an important promotional tactic for a lot of firms, especially when it helps with submitting RFP’s and landing new clients. Social media can be used here, from gaining project exposure, to discussing nominations, and getting your audience to vote for awards. And though images are powerful marketing tools, videos are gaining more traction. People enjoy watching and hearing content, which works out pretty well because usually (hopefully) there’s more to design than meets the eye. Because of this demand, every Tuesday BuzzBuzzHome hosts a Facebook Live session to discuss our top stories, and we always invite a guest. Recently, Paul Stevens of ZAS Architects shared his thoughts on relevant topics, answered live user questions, and discussed his work. This platform lets you show and tell while still being in a casual environment that is easily accessible to the public.
“though images are powerful marketing tools, videos are gaining more traction”
Create Content Collaboratively
A seriously under-used method in digital marketing is networking (a bit ironic, given that it is social media). I don’t mean just replying to comments and using hashtags (which is great too), but specifically getting involved with other organizations, blogs, and potential clients! As the Digital Media Coordinator for Architectural Conservancy of Ontario (ACO) NextGen, I find communicating with similar groups not only expands our social engagement, but also has a positive impact on our programs and architectural advocacy. When organizing our Annual Job Shadow Program, cold-calling (okay, cold-emailing) potential partners was only occasionally successful, whereas reaching out to firms we first made connections with through our Instagram and Twitter worked out 100% of the time.
Now that social media is more ubiquitous than ever, using these platforms to promote architecture can have a lasting impact on brand awareness and even design quality.