How Social Media Can Help Structural Engineers With Their Business

I am pleased to introduce you to one of our newest members of the Simpson Strong-Tie team, Minara El-Rahman. She is our Social Media Manager here at Simpson Strong-Tie. Minara has extensive experience with digital/mobile marketing, social media marketing, engaging with online influencers and blogging. As structural engineers use online resources more and more, she will be contributing to the Structural Engineering blog to help you navigate using them. 

The last time we wrote about social media, we gave tips on how structural engineers can use social media to be better at their jobs. But we also believe that you can use social media to grow your business. The more touch points that you can have with your existing and potential clients, the better chance you have at forging a relationship with them. That’s what social media is all about, it is about engaging and fostering a relationship with others: whether it is with an individual, company, brand or your old college buddies.

Here are some tips for any structural engineer looking to grow his/her online presence:

Map Out Your Social Media Strategy

Think about where you want to be in terms of online presence. It is important to be where your clients are online. Do your potential clients have a page on Facebook? Do they gather and share industry news from LinkedIn? Once you decide where your clients are, start listening to their conversations, reading their posts and following them on their social media accounts so you can determine where you should be online and start to build your presence.  Try to narrow it down to a few social media platforms at first so that you can devote your time and resources to growing your social media presence. This is especially true if you are managing your social media content yourself, or requesting someone on staff to do it for you part time.

Make sure to take the time to think about how you define social media success at this stage. Is social media success a lift in brand/company awareness? Is it an increase in your social media fan base, number of retweets or traffic to your site? Once you have figured out what success looks like to you, write it down and craft your strategy and content around that criteria.

Create Engaging Content

Offer content that is informative and interesting to the audience you want to reach. For structural engineers, content that explains concepts such as the importance of a continuous load path in structures in high wind or seismic areas may show potential clients the value in working with a professional engineer. Whether you are writing a blog post, or sharing an image on Pinterest, content should improve knowledge, help to solve problems and spark conversation.

Map out your content ahead of time in a content calendar. It could be as basic as writing down your posts in a Word document and setting reminders in Outlook. Planning keeps you consistent and accountable. Consistency is key when it comes to engaging with clients on social media.

Think about creating content specific to the platform. Pinterest and Houzz are social media platforms that rely heavily on visuals, so content such as infographics, photos and BIMs are appropriate. For LinkedIn, in-depth articles about your industry tend to perform very well. Craft content around the platform so it appeals to who you want to reach.

Measure Successes

Don’t forget to check in on your measures of success on a monthly basis. This will help you gauge whether your social media efforts are paying off. If you are doing well, that’s great! If you notice that you are not quite hitting your goals, look at the numbers and adjust your strategy. Are you posting at a time when no one is looking at your content? There are a number of articles that recommend the best time to post content so that it will be seen. Is your content not resonating with readers? Try to change it up so that it really connects your readers with what they want to know.

And one final tip: be committed. Posting every once in a while or not responding quickly to readers’ comments and questions can negatively impact a firm’s brand and reputation. However, those that are active on social media and post regularly are able to build stronger relationships with clients, demonstrate their expertise and ultimately grow their business.

Are you using social media professionally? What are some tips you have for growing your own business using social media? Let us know in the comments below.

Paul McEntee

Author: Paul McEntee

A couple of years back we hosted a “Take your daughter or son to work day,” which was a great opportunity for our children to find out what their parents did. We had different activities for the kids to learn about careers and the importance of education in opening up career opportunities. People often ask me what I do for Simpson Strong-Tie and I sometimes laugh about how my son Ryan responded to a questionnaire he filled out that day:

Q.   What is your mom/dad's job?
A.   Goes and gets coffee and sits at his desk

Q.   What does your mom/dad actually do at work?
A.   Walks in the test lab and checks things

When I am not checking things in the lab or sitting at my desk drinking coffee, I manage Engineering Research and Development for Simpson Strong-Tie, focusing on new product development for connectors and lateral systems.

I graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and I am a licensed Civil and Structural Engineer in California. Prior to joining Simpson Strong-Tie, I worked for 10 years as a consulting structural engineer designing commercial, industrial, multi-family, mixed-use and retail projects. I was fortunate in those years to work at a great engineering firm that did a lot of everything. This allowed me to gain experience designing with wood, structural steel, concrete, concrete block and cold-formed steel as well as working on many seismic retrofits of historic unreinforced masonry buildings.