Projects increasingly have their own online presence and use social media to communicate. What lessons can be learned for your own project? Here are Ten Top Tips on the proactive use of social media.
The new risks that ‘the age of social media’ brings to enterprises and projects, is increasingly debated and understood. The fact that a video of an under-prepared CEO reacting badly to a crisis could live for ever on YouTube and that disgruntled customers and citizens can share negative comments and bad reviews via Twitter in seconds, has seen enough real life examples to start to get this topic considered by senior management.
Another aspect of perceived risk is that of employee interactions with social media and how they intersect with the objectives, values and policies of their employers. This has seen many companies draw up guidelines for how they expect employees to behave in a work context when using social media. This is a still evolving topic that touches on the intersection of people’s public and private personas, and their work and non-work lives.
Less often discussed is how social media can be used as part of risk management and risk mitigation strategies.
Active Risk customers include organizations working on some of the world’s most challenging projects like Crossrail, London 2012 and the Joint Strike Fighter. Businesses are rightly proud of some of the amazing feats of engineering and construction being achieved, similarly for the technology boundaries being rolled back.
We are increasingly seeing major projects given prominence on corporate web sites, and even having their own public project web sites and Twitter presences. Often the project web sites go live long before the projects themselves get the go ahead. A proactive social media strategy can help mitigate project approval risks, playing an important role in public education, and providing transparency of plans and business opportunities. We also see the Joint Ventures which lead major projects or sub-projects create their own distinct web presence for the life of the project.
Examples of mega-project with independent web presences are:
- The New NY Bridge
- Thames Tideway Tunnels
- Rio 2016 Olympics
- Qatar Rail
- Mersey Gateway Bridge
- BAM Ferrovial Kier JV working on Crossrail – Linkedin presence
These and others provide some great ideas that you should consider using on your own projects.
Here are Ten Top Tips on the proactive use of social media on projects:
- Tell your own story – the project web site and social media presence is your opportunity to explain the project in your own way. It will be used as a source of resources and information by journalists, bloggers, contractors, politicians etc – so be sure that the site is professional and supports your key messages, utilizing your best materials like video and graphics.
- The power of pictures – great illustrations of what the project will look like when completed and powerful photography of project progress, help the public see the end goal and will be used by the media to illustrate their stories – and even shared by the public if they are cool. Consider making a range of up-to-date, great photos freely downloadable from your project site.
- Infographics – mega-projects can often be difficult to explain, but also include awesome statistics. If you can present this information via simple infographics then these will be the facts that people remember and share.
- Use social media in the project’s public consultation phase – mega projects can often be very disruptive to the general public or a local community. The project web site can not only share the ultimate vision, but also show plans, counteract mis-information and illustrate the breadth of public consultation process itself.
- Share business opportunities – many projects have portals publicizing the business which is out to tender even down to small opportunities for SMEs.
- Keep interested parties updated – this means keep the project web site refreshed but also consider Twitter and Linkedin to announce business opportunities, project milestones and winning bidders.
- Monitor and respond – honestly – even if you do not have a large web presence people may be talking about the project in the Twittersphere. You need to keep an eye on what people are saying and respond appropriately. This could also be a useful source of fresh ideas and an early warning of problems.
- Build and leave a learning legacy – often the quality of the legacy of a mega-project like an Olympic Games, is a significant factor in the project getting approval in the first place. Build the information legacy by sharing insights and best practices via the web. Decide how will these remain available after project completion.
- Use the right tool for the right job – there is an ever-growing set of online and social media tools to help get the message across – the web site, blogs, user forums, Twitter, YouTube, Linkedin, Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr et al… Unless you have unlimited resources you must decide what you are trying to achieve, then identify and focus on the best medium to reach each appropriate audience.
- Consistent content is king – quality content is a prerequisite for the strategies outlined above, but with a wide variety of communication channels available you need to keep things up to date and consistent. Try a Google search on your project. What do you find? Are some pieces of content out of date? Is a consistent story provided across the different tools?
Do you have great examples of how projects are using social media? How is your own project tackling the inherent risks and opportunities provided?