Yesterday, @Ryan_Link tweeted: #AEC industry is 2-3 years behind other fields in the use of #socialmedia. Referenced from statement made at last SMPS National Conference. I don’t understand why the AEC industry is behind others in adopting social media tools. Some of the smartest folks I know work in this industry. The very people who could grasp the game-changing power of social media platforms are choosing to ignore them or dismissing them as a fad.
Anthony and I have been volunteering to help folks use social media tools at AEC conferences and events over the past year. Some conferences have embraced and supported social media use–like the APA National Conference and the TAEP Conference. Still, we get told “No–you may not volunteer to teach people how to use social media tools at our conference/event” more times than we get told yes.
There are 5 reasons that I hear over and over when we get told no to volunteering at AEC events. I’ll attempt to address why these reasons are based on misinformation or misconceptions about social media.
- Social media is distracting from the presentation material.
- It takes too long to get everyone set up and to teach them how to use social media.
- There is not a high enough adoption rate.
- Social media is too complicated.
- Social media is not applicable to our projects or our careers.
Reason 1. Social media is distracting from the presentation topic.
A. Studies show that note-taking and summarization actually increase retention. Twitter, a common social media platform used during presentations, requires both. For more information on how Twitter is actually positive for presentations, check out How to Use Twitter to Supercharge Presentations.
B. Audience participation via social media actually increases audience engagement. Below are some perspectives from Audience Tweeters.
“Twitter allows me to add my perspective to what is being presented and that keeps me more engaged than just sitting and listening – even if no one reads it.”
“And what struck me was the dynamic of this meeting. It was participatory. No one was talking out loud except the guy presenting the ppt. But the conversation was roaring through the room via twitter. It was exploding. People were asking questions. Pointing out problems. Replying to each other all while the ppt was progressing along it’s unwaveringly linear path.”
For more perspectives, check out the Benefits of the Back Channel to the Audience section of How to Present While People are Twittering.
Reason 2. It takes too long to get everyone set up and to teach them how to use social media.
The goal isn’t for evey single audience member to engage in social media during the event. By displaying social media use during the presentation, the minority of attendees who are already using social media demonstrate the positives (AND the negatives) of the platform to the majority who aren’t there yet.
Reason 3. There’s not a high enough adoption rate yet.
Maybe so, but unless the AEC industry wants to stay 2 to 3 years behind, someone has to go first.
One way to increase the adoption rate is to show people engaging in social media in public settings. When people see others using social media and engaging each other in conversions, adoption rates will increase. That’s the perfect opportunity for a volunteer social media table to be there to help the handful of folks who after seeing live tweets/social media engagement say “Wow, that’s amazing. Will you help me get started?”
As for Reasons 4 and 5, I’m currently working on a presentation titled “Say It To My Facebook: How EISs are using Social Media for Public Involvement” for the Texas Association of Environmental Professionals Austin Chapter that will address these two points. On July 14th, I’ll give the presentation at Carmelo’s and will post the presentation materials as a blog post then. I love to have some friendly faces in the audience. Please join me if you’re in or near Austin that day.
Will you leave comments with your experience with social media in this industry? What’s the REAL reason why the AEC industry is hesitant to adopt social media? Also, do you have any ideas for how we can help our community catch up and begin to use social media tools for our projects, our careers and our companies? I’d love to do a follow up post featuring your ideas for how to attack this problem.