Twitter for Architects
(Part of Series: New Digital and Social Media for Architects)
This is a re-post in of the two articles published on the Texas Architects. (Part 1 – Part 2) This post has combined the two separate articles into a single post as originally intended. Also this post provides placement of imagery is as intended.
Twitter: Why should I?
So there is a large amount of buzz about Social Media these days. In the field of architecture and design, it is no different. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google + and many more are actively growing their usage in a professional applications. Should you join the Social Media scene? What are the benefits? Are there drawbacks? What is the best way to go about establishing a social media presence on the web? These are questions for every person or company that has yet to embark into social media. And are still questions for some who already participate within social media.
One of the more popular social media platforms is Twitter. You hear more about it every day. Twitter is a fast paced, 140 character conversation stream, and it is full of AEC professionals. Twitter offers the possibility for you (as an individual or a firm) to increase you awareness within the AEC community. Twitter provides an endless stream of information waiting for your interaction. You can grow your network of professional contacts to all parts of the country and the world. Twitter presents a way to find current information about architecture, design and construction along with any other areas of interest. At times, I feel that architects can benefit more from Twitter than almost any other users. We have the ability to find the common thread among varying topics and weave them into a unified concept. This is one of our strongest abilities as architects. Twitter furnishes an opportunity for you to become a firm or individual with expertise in your desired area. You can also connect with others who share those interests or can help you gain even more knowledge.
Twitter is not about landing a project. There are not clients just waiting for architects to tweet so they can offer them a job. (No one is directly tweeting RFP’s… yet.) It’s about increasing your knowledge and network. Both of which can eventually put you in the proper position to land a project. It’s about the long game; and about professional community and personal development. As you increase your network, your opportunities grow. Social media presents AEC professionals with the ability to expand their network beyond traditional means. Your interactions are not confined to only other architects or firms. There are manufacturers, contractors, consultants, specialists and researchers all contributing to that endless flow of information. There is an indefinite number of ways to expand your network in areas of interest. Twitter constructs a framework to generate a personal intelligence community. A community created by your efforts and one that is tailored 100% to your interests. Development of this network of intellectuals can increase awareness and produce a better professional. This is the payoff; the ability to learn about the AEC industry in a manner like never before, in as close to real time as possible. Realize this could also be called “professional intelligence media”. Introduce yourself to Social Media; Get on Twitter. Then participate.
The following are a few helpful tips to get the most out of the platform.
Create your purpose: So now that you have a desire to get involved on Twitter, you need to first think about your purpose. Determine what you hope to learn and the message you want to convey. Maybe make a list. This will guide you and give you some focus, which on Twitter, is necessary. It is fast paced and easy become distracted and to lose focus on your main objectives. This is not to imply you should limit your initial searching. I would not recommend that, but eventually you will want to come back to this focus.
Craft your Presence: Make sure to add the important aspects about yourself in the bio section. Many search engines use this data (as does Twitter) to categorize you as a user. Want to be known for beehive architecture? Make sure that is in your bio. Create your 160 character bio with care; it is your first impression. You should add an image (yourself, firm logo or anything) to replace the stock placeholder image that Twitter provides. (it’s an egg) Nothing will show others a lack of serious interest more than that stock image. Again this is about first impressions. You should create a custom background if you are so inclined. If not, Twitter has a few options that you can use as your own. Once you become more active, you will certainly want to have a custom background and imagery. It helps convey your message after all.
One small note on @ replies that is often misunderstood:
The “@” is used two different ways in conversation streams. One is more private than the other. Start a post with @UserX and only those persons who follow both you and @UserX will see this message. This is a bit more private. Put any amount of text before the @UserX; then this message is broadcast to all viewing your stream. Plain and simple; if it is meant for everyone to see, don’t start a tweet with the “@” symbol.
Start following: One of the first things to do is to start following other users. As an architect, you should start with these:
@Txarchitect @ your local AIA chapter (Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Brazos)
Search for your topics: You can search for specific topics within the Twitter stream. You can search for single words, phrases or hashtags (# is a hashtag). Hashtags are used to “flag” words or phrases. It is a method to draw attention to that specific word or phrase. It makes for easier searches, trend spotting, and ease of conversation. Search out topics you are interested in learning more about, connecting with or just enjoy. The possibilities are endless, trust me. Typical searches go back for 4-7 days through Twitter content. But this may change as Twitter decides. If you don’t get results, try back in another week and see what stirs. Save your favorite searches so you can watch their stream easier in the future. From there follow those users who provide you with useful information. You can watch for their feed a while before you decide to follow.
Twitter chats: Twitter chats are just organized conversations. They occur on set dates and times and have a specific hashtag that allows for easy following and participation. Most are moderated by a user and present 3-6 questions on a theme which are discussed among the chat group. These are always a great way to learn and find new Twitter connections.
There are several good twitter chats about AEC. The most notable being a monthly chat hosted by @AIANational. This chat is on the first Wednesday of each month and deals with topics related to our profession. Participants from all over the country and all areas of AEC usually join in this conversation. It uses the hashtag #AIAchat. (You can search for it)
Another chat is AEC Social Media chat. (#AECSM) This one is about the different applications and uses for social media in the AEC industry. Again this chat has varying topics and attracts various persons in the AEC industry. It usually meets weekly.
Here is a link to a long list of Twitter Chats
Integrate Twitter into your practice: Twitter is an application that requires attention. In order to reap the benefits, you must put in some effort. This is where many users falter in the professional sense. In order to reap the benefits, you must be present. It is a grand prize drawing; you must be present to win! Set aside a time each day for your activities. Then use them to present your message and interact.
Integrate your ideas/expertise: Once you are comfortable, begin to add your input and information to the stream. Share original thoughts, blog posts, interesting articles or other’s tweets. Begin to craft your message and create your user identity. Remember this takes time. Do not worry about followers. That is not why you are here. You are here to gain knowledge and contribute. As architects, we can integrate many separate pieces into the world of architecture. Do that in a meaningful way, and the followers will come.
So now that you know what is available and are a bit more informed, go on and get on Twitter and join the conversation.