Planning should be participatory; however, it’s often very difficult to get stakeholders to contribute to planning processes. Mail-in survey return rates are low, and more often than not, residents don’t want to sit through a Saturday morning design charette. Marketing online and social media platforms give urban planners and architects a set of contemporary tools to promote participatory city planning.
Social media can take the form of an informational blog, such as The GRID, or social network websites like Facebook and Twitter. These tools make planning more participatory by making it easier for stakeholders to contribute ideas about the design and elements of their communities. Sasaki Associates, Inc., an international, interdisciplinary planning and design firm, chose to share their experiences regarding social media implementation with The GRID.
Sasaki Associates, Inc. began utilizing social media to enhance their internet marketing campaign and update their clients and interested parties during winter of 2011. Since then, they have utilized Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Vimeo accounts. The company maintains one firm account for each of these platforms and encourages individuals within the firm to build their own social media presence. According to Liz Rosenbaum, Communications Specialist, Facebook represents the firm’s culture while LinkedIn showcases the firm’s professional reputation. The company engages with Facebook on a daily basis to update potential clients and share relevant articles. On the other hand, Sasaki Associates uses LinkedIn on a weekly basis in order to update professional accomplishments. Through Twitter, “the informal, smart voice of the firm,” Sasaki Associates is able to engage throughout the day with clients and potential leads.
Generating interest in social media platforms is not always easy and Sasaki Associates, Inc. had difficulties at first. In recent months, the firm has made significant progress “both in terms of support for our corporate efforts and in terms of individuals wanting to participate.” Liz Rosenbaum explains that implementing a social media program takes “a lot of patience, ongoing self-education, experimentation, and strategy.” As a result, the firm has experienced a steady increase in their networks, new collaborations, and even media coverage!
What other ways can social media marketing benefit a small-to-medium sized urban planning firm or environmental non-profit?
Credits: Image and data linked to sources.