Twitter for Sustainable Business

17062008118“I didn’t know twitter could be used for business, I thought it was just for complaining and moaning on poor service” A comment from a recent chat on a construction site illustrates the level of understanding of twitter and social media within the sector.

OK, it is maybe more daunting to start using twitter today than it was four or so years ago when I wrote in the Guardian “Why Construction Should Engage with Social Media”, but the reasons and rationale for doing so remain the same, but now perhaps with more urgency.

I am often asked where to find the best source for up to date information and thinking on sustainability in the built environment, in design, in construction and in facilities management . My response is the same as in 2011, i.e. “There is probably no better, and certainly no more accessible, tool for keeping abreast with sustainability thinking, development, papers, case studies and failures than twitter”

We were reminded by Martha Lane Fox, in her Dimbleby Lecture this week of Aaron Swartz’s comment “It is not OK not to understand the internet anymore” and too right, its akin to not understanding or wanting to engage with email or the telephone or the radio or …

So just where would we start today? 

I liken twitter and social media to the radio, it’s live, it’s full of great comments and content, but also non stop and full of unwanted content or ‘noise’. Therefore one of the modern skills we have developed is filtering out noise from that we are really interested in – we use programme schedules, our beloved wireless sets to tune in and occasionally use the off switch. In twitter we can do this through lists, through hashtags and with suitable applications (think apps such as tweetdeck as your digital wireless) Not only is this now an essential life and business skill, for directors, managers and others in the built environment, its sadly not one included in the sector’s education and training.

There are great social media training courses out there – but many are the equivalent of the Letter Writing Courses that many us would have attended pre-email days. Informative and entertaining with many wow tips, but the content was soon eclipsed and rarely applied, which is why I continue to recommend and deliver one to one coaching over time.

Following hashtags such as #GreenBIM, #UKBIMCrew #CSRchat #sustldrconv will bring up to date thinking, links and help direct to your twitter stream. Start building your lists for great content and insight, check out the top 500 lists curated by Jim McClelland, for example: Built Environment SustainabilityGreen Infrastructure or BIMAnd keep your twitter ear open for curated lists: for example: 30 CSR Pro’s to follow in 2015 or the EcoBuild 2015 Influencers list

“Resistance to twitter is futile” as my colleague Andrea Learned wrote in her Linkedin article recently. You will start using it sometime soon, your competitors are most likely using it today, your staff are, and the most informed on built environment sustainability issues certainly are.

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