Why we need to rethink the ways we connect with our audience

24 March, 2020

Founder of make:good, Catherine Greig on digital engagement and new conversations

Social media will, of course, take on a whole other level of meaning in these current unprecedented times – for individuals, in how we interact with the profession, and in how we reach out to the communities in which we work.

For us, it calls for a refresh in how we use our channels not just putting content out there, but really thinking about how we produce intriguing material, ask engaging questions and provoke interesting conversations.

It also marks an opportunity for architects to think about real digital engagement, not just telling our followers that we’re using video calls for meetings – everyone is doing this.

From a project perspective, we are interested in the new conversations this era will spark. What does this moment tell us about our public spaces? What can we learn about how to do things differently?

From a business perspective, we’ll be thinking a lot about how we can still connect (and really connect, not just reach with a targeted ad) with communities remotely. And we won’t be relying on just digital. Instead, we’ll be questioning how we continue to build meaningful relationships from afar. Last but not least, from a team and client perspective, we’ll be exploring how we hear and support each other and how we ensure we all have the resilience to keep going.

All of these things are shaping our current social media planning and I look forward to sparking new conversations soon.

 Why is social media important to you?

We are a small business who practices on the fringes of architecture, design and community engagement. Social media has proved invaluable for us to carve ourselves a place in an industry that can often feel impenetrable – particularly in the early days of starting a business.

I used to write pitches for articles and press releases about our work to no avail. Social media has allowed us to take control of the information about us, giving people a window into our make:good world, our viewpoint and our culture. It constantly connects us to other people and practices that are interested in the same stuff, helps broaden our perspective and challenge our ideas.

How do you create content for your social media pages?

We actually plan in quite a lot of detail. We think about an overarching theme to focus on for three months, and then plot in three monthly blogs that explore this theme from different perspectives, definitions and approaches.

From this structure we break down the content into bite size pieces of audio, animation, video, illustration and photography to scatter across our social channels. We think about how past and current projects link to these themes, and look at news articles, podcasts, events and exhibitions through their lenses. Often we ask ourselves, who else is working in this particular area – and we shout them out, celebrate and share their work too.

All of this allows us to generate interesting and unique content that we can schedule out across the coming days and weeks. But we recognise the need for a human, timely and responsive approach, and so we also post the immediate stuff we are working on (or in the case of our weekly sharing lunch, munching on), and things we are thinking about. The framework is there to help us, not shackle us!

What tips can you pass on?

To pick out two key lessons:

  • Plan your content as a business
  • Get senior people in the organisation involved, posting, creating content and conversation

I think we now have a clear voice on our social media platforms, which represents us well as a business, so the role of social media sits across the team. At the beginning I ran all the channels myself and played around with different approaches, so I learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t work – but also became really comfortable with it as a tool and I think some business leaders aren’t so they don’t but enough personality into their content. I still get very involved but I don’t post everything myself.

make:good is an architecture and design studio involving people in shaping neighbourhood change. It won the Best Use of Social Media category in the 2019 Archiboo Awards.