To celebrate National Architecture Week happening this week, the American Institute of Architects launched a campaign called “Design Connects.” This campaign connects architects, architect lovers and architecture through the use of many social media platforms. The organization isn't simply asking people to tweet about it, it’s going even further with Pinterest and Foursquare. Impressed with how AIA is engaging the world of architecture through social media, ForResidentialPros.com spoke with its director of social media to learn more.
Sybil Walker Barnes, director of social media, AIA, based in Washington, D.C., says they did a Foursquare campaign last year after she saw so many members using the site. “We started testing the waters – looking at what our members were posting online. We awarded four gift certificates to people who checked in and tweeted with the hashtag,” she says.
“National Architecture Week is our public-facing initiative. We aren’t preaching to the choir but reaching a broader audience, getting people to share. And hopefully we pick up additional architecture fans,” Walker Barnes adds. The Twitter hashtag for National Architecture Week is #archweek12.
New to this year’s campaign is Pinterest. “Each day we are pinning a new pinboard that showcases a new building type. We are looking at religion, learning, commercial, mixed use, hotels, performing arts,” she says. The pinboards will carry on a life after this week showcasing more types of architecture and architects, Walker Barnes adds.
Prior to our interview with Sybil, we asked for questions to be submitted via Twitter. Bensonwood asked: “[We are] interested in their use of Pinterest and if they're seeing trends as to what images [people] are repinning.”
Walker Barnes responds: “I’m not seeing trends just yet because we just launched yesterday. I need a little bit of time to see if there are patterns that evolve. It’s still new for us.” She is using PinReach to see Pinterest analytics and trends behind the AIA Pinterest account.
Some trade professionals have been hesitant to use Pinterest due to its copyright controversy, though Walker Barnes is not concerned. “That is something Pinterest has to work out. We can’t ignore that Pinterest is an interesting medium we can use,” she says. “It falls into our core philosophy of social media use. You just need to use it responsibly.” By this she means giving credit where credit is due.
AIA’s social media philosophy is to engage members no matter the medium. “I’m trying to create relationships in a virtual environment,” she adds. “I love seeing the conversations taking place among our followers.”
AIA also has a monthly tweet chat with the hashtag #AIAchat. It is held every first Wednesday of the month at 2 p.m. EST with a different topic each time. AIAchat turns two years old this month.