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Monthly Archives: March 2012

I’ve known for many years that writing a book is no easy task. I pitched the publisher, managed the writing, editing, image selection, etc. of EDAW’s first book Designing Public Consensus with author Barbara Faga in 2005. I distinctly remember prying the manuscript from her hands on the day of our final deadline. I now completely understand the difficulty of letting go of something that bears your name. I’ve since apologized to Barbara for not being more empathic.

I was fully prepared to put in the long hours, but my family wasn’t. When I worked on Designing Public Consensus, I was married with no children and my husband accommodated my schedule by having dinner ready when I finally arrived home from work and I learned to happily eat tacos 3 nights each week. This time, my husband has a much broader range of recipes, but we also have two young kids. Working late wasn’t really an option, so I started my days at 5am and a couple nights a week I’d plug back in after the kids went to bed. After a while, this started to wear on me. Working a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays and few hours here and there on vacations, this started to wear on my husband.

My co-author Holly Berkley, who has written two books prior to this one, also has her own consultancy, a husband and two young kids—but somehow she manages this smoothly. I’m so glad to have had her throughout this process to lean on, complain to and learn from.

I had mixed feelings about letting go of this manuscript. “Perfect is the enemy of done”—a mantra a former boss used to recite to me. This went through my head daily, but there was always seemed to be one more thing. Finally we finished it. Now it’s out there for the world to judge.

The product of 13 long months, Social Media in Action: Comprehensive Guide for Architecture, Engineering, Planning and Environmental Consulting Firms is now available as an ebook for $9.95 and the print version will be available next week for $29.95. You can even enter to win a copy on from our AEC Idea Exchange Facebook page by posting your favorite design or planning site, tool or event on social media.

However you come across a copy—if you come across a copy—and if you read it, we’d love to know what you think. And if you like it, please tell someone about it.

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HMC Architects' Social Media Timeline

As with any learned skill, story telling on social media takes practice. When we started working with HMC Architects in June 2010, they had already established themselves as one of the top architecture firms to follow on Twitter. From the start, they used Twitter to connect with and share knowledge and resources with others in the AEC industry and this approach continues to serve them well.

However, the firm’s blog was simply an extension of their newsroom — predominantly announcements of new projects, press coverage, new hires and promotions. In July 2010, the firm started creating content that told the stories of its work and its professionals largely by interacting with employees behind its firewall through an internal blog to mine for stories that readers might find interesting on their external blog.

Over time, HMC was able to learn from the blog and Facebook posts that prompted people to respond and share.

We created this timeline of HMC’s social media path to illustrate the many lessons they learned over the years of consistently publishing content and ideas and closely monitoring what worked and didn’t in terms of engaging their readers. Social media requires an ongoing process of trial and error. Even though their storytelling has matured and is effectively engaging readers, HMC continues to try new things.

There are lessons here for anyone starting or evaluating their social media program, perhaps, the most important message is that social media success takes time and consistent posting to understand what your fans and followers want.

What are some of the events that have shaped your social media strategy?

A large format version of this timeline is currently on display in the “Presenting Architecture” exhibit at the American Institute of Architecture San Francisco Chapter.