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The Shortlist Episode 49: Revisiting Social Media

We've talked about social media before, but since it's an ever-evolving communication tool we're revisiting the topic with a focus on the nitty gritty of managing your firm's social presence. To start, what do you look for in assessing your firm's current approach and what are current best practices for honing your future strategy? Understanding what your target audience is interested in and serving up that content in various forms is one surefire way to build engagement and your firm's digital brand.

In Episode 49 of The Shortlist, Grace Takehara and Becky Ellison (aka Middle of Six's social media masterminds) share their experience and tips for focusing on the most effective elements of social media to make the process less stressful, more successful, and much more satisfying.

CPSM CEU Credits: 0.5 | Domain: 5

Podcast Transcript

Welcome to The Shortlist.

We are exploring all things AEC marketing to help your firm win The Shortlist.

I'm your host, Wendy Simmons, and each episode, I'll be joined by one of my team members from Middle of Six to answer your questions.

Today, we're talking with Becky Ellison and Grace Takehara to discuss social media.

Hey, Becky, hey, Grace.

Hey, Wendy.

Thank you both for being here.

This is season three of The Shortlist, and we are starting with something new and exciting, which is a quickfire question for our guests.

I think everyone who's been a listener of The Shortlist has had the pleasure of chatting with you or listening to both of you on past episodes.

So let's get a little deeper here.

I want to know what is inspiring you two.

Becky is rolling her eyes.

That is not an eye roll.

It is widening my eyes in terror.

Looking deep, deep into her soul to understand what is inspiring her.

I can go, Becky, if you're thinking.

Please do.

Okay, so podcasts, we're on a podcast right now.

Podcasts are kind of a, I wouldn't say resolution for 2024, but maybe a personal initiative to listen to more podcasts in 2024.

And one of my good friends, she suggested one that I think is very applicable to everyday life.

And the title of the podcast is called We Can Do Hard Things.

And it features Glennon Doyle.

And it basically provides, you know, every single day we're doing hard things.

And it's just these stories of how we can overcome these hard things, you know, through all these personal anecdotes and guests of the pod.

And so it's, again, hosted by Glennon Doyle, author of Untamed, and her wife, Abby Wambach, or Wambach.

You got it.

That's great.

And Grace, I know you have admitted to not being like a heavy podcast listener.

You're not as obsessed as some people that we know.

So have you listened to very many episodes?

Are you just getting, you know, dipping your toes in the water?

What's your study on that?

I'm dipping my toe.

I have not listened to a robust amount of episodes yet, but I'm liking what I'm hearing.

It's very approachable, funny, but also real.

And, you know, I think that that's what people appreciate about podcasts is kind of the realness of it.

And so, yeah, it's just been kind of reassuring that even though life sometimes you feel like, am I on the right track?

Am I doing the right things?

Where am I going?

It's just reassuring that many other people feel that way, and we're not alone, and we're all in this journey together.

So it's been good.


Thanks for sharing.

Okay, Becky, now you've had five minutes to think.

Yeah, that was way too impressive.

I also am not a podcast listener.

I've listened to...

You could count the number of podcasts I've listened to on one hand, but I am also being inspired by people who are far, far away from me.

I am a big fan of British comedy, and I especially enjoy British comedy panel shows and quiz shows kind of thing.

So lately, I've been watching shows called Would I Lie to You?

hosted by Rob Bryden.

Was It Something I Said?

hosted by David Mitchell.

I also like Big Fat Quiz, Taskmaster.

That's more of a game show type thing, but...

Good evening, and welcome to Would I Lie to You?

The show where deceit and dishonesty is applauded and rewarded.

It's not unlike a podcast.

I'm suddenly realizing literally in this moment, it's people talking and bantering back and forth and making jokes, and maybe I just need to see a podcast, and that's kind of what I've been enjoying.

And I feel like we're all having really hard times right now.

I mean, I've been going through some stressful things.

I mean, the world is really strange at the moment, and I'm kind of realizing that just being able to laugh and distract yourself for a little while, that's okay to do.

You don't always have to focus on all the terrible things that need solving and like, you know, what do I got to do to like fix my life?

Like, it is healthy and good to take a break and just laugh.

Comedy is so important.

So I would encourage everybody, whether it is a podcast or some other medium, find some comedy and take a break to laugh.

It's so good for your mental and physical health.

Ding, ding.


Nothing to add there, except for everyone needs to go and rewind 30 seconds and write down all the shows that you just spouted out.

Are you watching those on YouTube?

Is that your platform of choice?


YouTube is excellent for finding these things.

If you have a VPN and can watch shows from other countries, that may be illegal.

Don't do that.

But if you did have that, you could, but don't wink.

This is not Middle of Six advice.

Becky is just saying what she does or does not do.

Hey, how about this for some transition?

YouTube, you're watching this on YouTube.

YouTube is social media.

That's true.

Shall we?

That is correct.

That was so smooth.

I love that.

Yeah, so let's talk about social media.

We've talked about it before on the podcast, but we're going to go a little deeper today.

We're going to talk more about thinking about your social media strategy and how to audit your social media and get perspective on what you're doing.

And lots of good stuff there, deeper than we've ever gone before.

But before we get into it, I want to throw out a trivia question to you two.

Question time.

I am curious if either of you know.

I'm sure you have guesses, wild guesses.

We'll learn something about you here.

But how many hours does the average person, I'm assuming American, I'll check that when we go for our answer, but how many hours does the average person spend on social media per day?

Way too many, and that is the only guess I could possibly hazard.

Well, I think you're right.

There's 24 hours in a day.

But you need at least what, six, seven hours of sleep.

Some people are only getting five.

Stress is a thing.

So I'm going to go absolutely wild and say like 15 hours.

I'm also not good at math.

Should I bring that down?

Eight hours, that sounds reasonable.

Well, I mean, if you are watching a lot of YouTube videos, I could imagine that time would go by really fast, right?

So I think that there's way more social media out there in the world than we even think about.

Grace, what's your guess?

My guess is five hours a day.

Five hours a day?

Yeah, I'm imagining in the evenings, you kind of lose track of time.

There are some apps or whatever that you can have that limits your social media intake and tells you to take a time out and take a break.

But I feel like there's not as many people with those guardrails, and you kind of just get lost in social media.

And so I could see five hours a day.


Well, I think that's a good guess.

Somewhere between zero for people like Allison Tivnon on our team and 15, which is Becky's number.

All right.

Well, you're going to have to be patient.

We answered our trivia question towards the end of the show.

And then I like to share some other tidbits that I gathered along the way as I was just Googling things.

By the way, that's our scientific research at Middle of Six for the podcast.

All right.

Let's get into this topic.

Who wants to tell our listeners why this topic?

Why do we feel like this was important to bring up?

I think that, you know, this is a timely topic with the beginning of the year and planning ahead to the rest of the year, and maybe some initiatives, marketing initiatives, communications initiatives are revolving around social media and, you know, performance and setting KPIs for the year.

And so this seems like, again, a timely episode and conversation, because social media can sometimes feel like a have-to-do type of task on a team.

And really, social media and being strategic can really reinforce brand and brand values, reinforce these company initiatives, such as recruiting and employee retention, and then also, you know, being able to project your awesome team members and the technical skills that they have in being thought leaders.

So there's a lot of goodness in social media if you're strategic about it and develop a solid plan and an executable plan that feels realistic with the ROI that you have in mind as well as the resources that you have on your team.

Also, social media is often the only way that people are interacting with your company, because we've seen such a shift away from, you know, television, media, radio.

I mean, there's just not...

There's not any other channel of communication anymore.

People are even getting their news almost exclusively on social media, which is, you know, maybe a little frightening, but that's the fact.

So the good thing about that is social media gives you the chance to put out the message that it's authentic for you.

You're not having to hope you're coming across.

You can strategize and say, how exactly do we want to be perceived?

What is the message we are saying?

You can take a lot of time to plan out a calendar, put that together, whatever, and that way you can make sure that your communication is coming through in your true voice.

And it's very inexpensive for the most part, which is kind of a side benefit.

Well, great.

Those seem like fantastic reasons to dig into this more.

Grace, when you were kind of describing your piece, and it connects with Becky's section there, you said sometimes social media feels like a have to do, right?

And maybe it's your job, or maybe you see it's a need in your company.

From your perspective, what are some ways that you might approach assessing, looking at your firm's social media and seeing like, oh, goodness, we need to do something here?

Where would you start, or where would you recommend a marketer who's thinking about this, and maybe they're having that feeling of like, oh, no, do I have to do this?

Is this my job?

Start us off with that.

Yeah, I think that establishing a baseline of where you're at and what content has maybe not received the highest engagement and content that has had higher engagement.

So taking a look at, again, the baseline and performance historically, because sometimes when you have the, this is a have to do, it's because maybe your social media hasn't been really widely received or responded to, and it kind of feels like what is the purpose of this content if it's not being interacted with?

What you've historically posted, what's maybe been more successful, what's been maybe lesser successful is a good baseline to establish, okay, this, I'm noticing that this content is resonating with our audience that we have.

Let's see if we can fold in some of the key takeaways from that content and what is resonating.

So I think that that's a good place to start.

I also think that establishing a look ahead of content really helps set the team up for success and allows those strategic pillars to be established.

So then again, it feels more bite sized.

It doesn't feel like we are trying to have this crazy goal and we're trying to meet it.

It feels a little bit more doable and realistic and allows you to be successful because I think that maybe others have experienced this.

I know that others have experienced.

You have these really ambitious goals, and it can be daunting to try to achieve them when there isn't really an established process or you haven't seen if it's successful.

So I think that trying to take bite sized pieces to establish that social media presence and like a plan will...

So starting with assessing the current situation and then kind of refocusing it towards the goals.


I know that it's just a teeny nuance, but it maybe feels different than some of our other podcasts.

We're always like, well, we start with the strategy, but sometimes something is already going.

It has a life of its own or it doesn't have a life of its own or whatever it might be.

Looking at what's been out there and taking a poll, essentially a poll of like what's been working, what's not working.

To Becky's point, this may be how some companies or people, it's really their only close interaction with your firm.

As strange as that might sound, they are really seeing the most about your company through the social media channels.

So, you know, Grace's recommendation is look at the content out there and study how are people engaging, what is resonating and what's that right mix that can help lead to a future strategy.

Yeah, another thing that you can do to make social media less of a chore and more functional and organized is take a look at who you have working on your social media and decide who's doing what based on their strengths.

And I understand that, you know, some people are kind of a department of one and whatever else, and there's creative ways to like pull people in here and there who may not be focused on marketing to accomplish this.

But for example, like as Grace is just reminding me, she is excellent at, you know, knowing about ROI and numbers and stats, and she's very organized and she plans and schedules, and it's amazing.

And I am just like the typical, like disorganized, disheveled artist who's just throwing things at the wall.

But like that, if you look at the people you have, like some people are going to be great at like sort of scheduling and strategy, and you might have some people who are great at creative ideas, throwing stuff out.

What if we tried this?

You know, so the more you can kind of segment those responsibilities, the less it becomes kind of an, oh, no, I have to do all of this, you know, kind of thing.

So I think it's valuable to scrap together whoever you have, even if you have a small department, even if you've got to pull in maybe some people from outside of marketing and have everybody kind of like doing what they're good at to make the machine run faster and more efficiently.

Yeah, we have said this on other podcasts where it's like you're, even if you're a department of one in marketing, you are not alone.

The whole company is actually on your team, whatever that looks like.

So think about them in that way.

Is your business development person getting stories or making connections and realizing that we should be talking about something that's happening out there in the industry or your project managers bringing back stories and photos and things from their project that could be shared out there?

Is the HR person thinking about what kind of company events and recruiting and whatever needs to be talked about?

I mean, goodness, all the content is just sitting all around you, and you gotta recruit those people.

But it can be a big effort.

Grace, do you have any thoughts of how much time is the right amount of time to spend on social media or how do you develop that plan and figure out resources to actually implement it?

One way that I'd recommend is kind of working backwards.

And what I mean by that is once you have an established content calendar or at least a plan, we were noticing when we were taking a look at a specific case study, but we were noticing that when companies on LinkedIn, for example, were posting more frequently, and when we say more frequently, it's 16 times per month.

So think of that as four times per week.

They tended to have lower engagement on their content, but a higher followership versus when companies were posting at maybe more of the pace of one post per week.

So four times per month, they had a higher engagement rate, but maybe a little bit lower followership.

So I think that finding the right size and identifying your goals is the goal for followership growth, which is always, you know, a great initiative and great goal.

Maybe posting content more frequently is going to help aid in that, versus if you want content that is going to resonate more with your audience, and maybe you have a slower growth for followership, you post less frequently.

So I think that right sizing your plan and determining your goals is really key for establishing the amount of resources you need to post four posts per week versus one post per week.

But I would say that, you know, depending on the graphic or the content that you're actually posting, if you're going one post per week, I think that people can underestimate how long it takes to pull together compelling content.

But I think that, you know, having somebody in the right seat for content, actual development, and the graphic design is pretty key.

Good rule of thumb for developing one content post that receives adequate QC.

The ideation phase would probably be about four hours for one piece of content.

And that's from start to finish.

Yeah, I mean, that sounds sounds right.

And some pieces take more than that.

So I would say that four hours sounds right for any kind of standard piece of content.

Maybe it's a promotion or sharing that a project completed, where the content itself is going to come together pretty quickly.

But it can be much more if you're creating something really unique and from scratch and with motion graphics and all of those have a place.

We want to do it even if it takes more time, but I would say maybe four hours might be a potential minimum.

I don't know, Becky, what about in your experience?

How long does the creative content creation take for you?

I have no idea.

Again, not a math person.

I could talk about the process, because what we do, for example, is we talk about what are our ideas?

What do we want to put out there?

And then we assemble the team.

We get people to schedule.

Here's what's going to happen and who's doing what by what date, and we break it down.

And then for me, my part is usually developing some...

I mean, I'll participate in coming up with ideas, of course, but then putting together graphics.

That doesn't take a very long time when you set up, here's what it's going to say, we've got the message, we know exactly who or what is going to be in that graphic.

So depending on how much time you like to take just as a graphic designer individually, I think that part of the process goes so fast because you've spent the time in the other part.

So I don't know that I would even...

I'd maybe call that maybe an hour or two with revisions, depending on what it is, of course.

But again, it can be kind of a five-minute thing if you've got everything already decided.

You put the time into coming up with exactly what it's going to be and then turn it around quick.

Well, one of the reasons why I asked this number about how much time does it take was because I know that we're often helping our clients develop social media strategies or just even a short-term campaign for something.

And I think that we may be even helping guide their own internal team, implement everything, right?

We're just kind of big picturing it and earmarking those hours and that time where there can be a lot of flux, right?

It could be a five-minute graphic, to your point, but it could be more for the interview process and building something out.

It can be surprising.

So it can be surprising to leadership like, whoa, hold on, how much time are we spending on social media?

Is Instagram really our strategy here?

What I would say to use one of our own campaigns as an example, the Wild Cards campaign, which we spent quite a bit of time putting together the graphics for this, was also, if Grace correct me if I'm wrong, I think maybe our most successful social media campaign so far.

So the return on investment there from spending that time to create something really quality that we know is going to resonate, I wouldn't hesitate to put quite a bit of time into something that's going to get you that much bang for your buck.

And again, that was the result of thorough planning.

We talked that out.

We ideated all the way through that.

We had a great plan for that.

And then we spent that time on art that we knew was going to grab people.

Yeah, I totally agree.

It was a really great use of our time.

And not just because we are creative people and wanted to do a creative project that would resonate with our audience, but that applies too for anyone in AEC.

You have a story to tell.

You want to show more than just a beautiful finished building.

Yay, it's beautiful.

But there can be more.

And sometimes you are part of the right project where it's going to all come together and there is more.

So don't let a bigger time commitment steer you away from doing really cool creative stuff with social media, because again, they are your target audience out there, and they may not get to see that side of you or that depth because they are siloed in some other part of your world.

So, it's definitely worth that.

Do we want to talk about digging more into the data, Grace?

Because you talked about studying it, but like, what are you actually polling?

What are you polling from?

And we kind of focus mostly on LinkedIn and Instagram, but there could be others.

What numbers are you looking for to make those determinations?

Yeah, so the statistic or observation that I shared earlier was polled from looking at, in our industry, a very specific group of company profiles on LinkedIn.

And what I'm looking for when I'm looking and assessing is looking at the overall followers to kind of gauge, okay, this is the average amount of content that they're pushing out per month, and then calculating based off of the content that they've been posting and the amount of reactions that they're seeing.

Of course, I'm not getting the backend data because I'm not logged in or an admin for their profiles, but all the forward-facing content that I can see.

And again, so I'm looking at the followers that they have, the amount of content, the frequency that they're posting at, and then the amount of reactions, comments, shares, actual post reactions to their content.

And then from there, calculating the engagement rate per post, and then developing an average for those posts overall, and kind of comparing and seeing if there's any trends between post frequency and engagement rate once again, post frequency and followership rate.

And I was noticing that more frequent post posting resulted in higher followership overall, and maybe less frequent posting, but posting, you had a higher engagement rate.

And that kind of makes sense.

You kind of think about, oh, if some account that you're following is posting pretty frequently, are you gonna start to tune them out?

Is all the content going to be incredibly relevant, high quality?

So I think that, you know, unless you have a dedicated social media team where you can be really churning out quality content consistently, really making sure that your content resonates is interesting, engaging with the resources that you have and producing quality content.

Personally, I feel like that that supports your brand is more worth the investment.

And you still get that engagement rate and you still do build your followership.

So it's kind of the best of both worlds.

But yeah, those are just kind of the high level observations.

Maybe not the most scientific, but there is numbers behind it.

I mean, that seemed pretty scientific to me.

Yeah, see, this is exactly what I'm talking about.

Like, yeah, that sounds very impressive.

I think you nailed that.

And then we've got, we have Becky on the other side, who I think is going with her gut on, you know, what's going to resonate.

We love.

Well, I'm going with...

The shareability.

What are your points?

Observation and experience.

I would...

Oh, sorry.

No, there is some, but you know what you see.

I mean, because a good way to think about your social media strategy is to put yourself, you know, in the shoes of your followers and potential followers, you know, because you as a user, you know what you respond to, the kind of things that you like, that you share, that you will follow.

So what you want to do to get that shareability is there's a few things you want to think about with your posts.

And sometimes we'll see people get kind of, you know, nervous and wrapped up thinking, oh, we have to produce these like Oscar-winning videos and these amazing graphics and all this stuff.

And you really don't, that's very, it's counterintuitive, but kind of the more unproduced your content is, the better it will do.

What you want to do is be saying something that nobody else can say, and you want to grab the user's attention immediately.

Some ways to do that are through humor.

Humor is the quickest way to grab somebody's attention on social media.

If they see something that they find even a little bit funny, you'll get that little ha ha, they might like it, they might share it.

Because people want to share things that they want to repeat.

If they see something and they read it and say, oh yes, this, that's the kind of stuff that they're going to repost.

So you think about things that are truthful to you and that are kind of like fun.

Like for example, this used to be true on Twitter or whatever it is now, that a lot of major brands would hire people with comedy writing backgrounds.

And you'll see that in the weirdest places, like government agencies, national parks, fast food brands will have these consistently just funny, they just put out funny tweets and they're getting attention because people are just loving that.

They're laughing, they're retweeting, they're engaging.

And you might think, well, that's so weird.

Like we could never do that.

You know, we don't want to seem ridiculous, but if you just keep it, you know, keep it a little bit fun, keep it relevant, you're sort of, you're building that audience for the next time you are putting out something that's a little more marketing-y.

Another thing you want to do is make sure that your content is unique and resonating and not something that everyone else is doing.

There's always going to be those, hey, we promoted this person, or, you know, we built this building.

But you want to look for things that are kind of fun and personal and show your culture, for example.

Like maybe you have a superintendent that cooks a Maine chili, and you could do just a quick little, you know, shoot it on your phone, don't edit it, just here's Bob and his chili, and here's his recipe.

At least once a year, I like to bring in some of my Kevin's famous chili.

The trick is to under cook the onions.

Maybe you have like an office dog that people could like follow the adventures.

You know, we have an office dog, Poppy, she's wonderful.

You can just kind of show like, oh, here they go.

And it's just a nice little fun break, and it gets people to kind of know your culture.

And another audience that is, you know, really interacting with your brand on social media is people who are looking to maybe work there, people who are researching your company.

Do I want to apply?

Do I want to interview at this place?

Is this the place for me?

And then putting that kind of stuff on social media can show, hey, this is a fun place to work.

We're real people.

This is what we do, you know.

There's actually a lot of value to be gained from just keeping it really simple and just having fun.

Because, you know, the average person who's looking at your post is just gonna be, they're scrolling through, you know, all kinds of stuff.

And the more you can stand out, the more you're gonna grab that attention.

I totally agree.

I kind of heard you say that at the start of that, that things can be less polished.

It does not have to be Oscar-winning quality videography to go on social media.

But that can be hard for some of us perfectionist marketers who want everything perfectly branded.

I mean, we have to let go a little bit.

How do you find that balance of showing, being vulnerable, you know, showing the gritty part of our work?

Yeah, I mean, that said, you don't want it to be complete garbage.

I mean, you do want to have the basics of like, you know, flip the lights on, make sure you can see, trim off the parts of the video that are just dead air, you know, like that sort of thing.

If you're posting an image, you know, tune it up a little bit, give it a little bit of a filter.

But you actually, and I'm sure we're going to get into this, but the algorithm, the algorithm on the platforms tend to prioritize images that are not heavily produced because they're sort of trying to sniff out things that might be ads, that might be you trying to market, sell things.

So when you have images that have a lot of text on it, the algorithm looks at that and says, oh, this is a flyer, this is an ad, you know, they're selling something, and it will deprioritize your content.

So if you really want to get a post scene, keep the text to an absolute minimum.

If you can have no text in an image and then just put it all in the caption, that's fantastic.

With a video, you don't want a bunch of logos and slides with information on there.

Keep it as much to just the video as you can, because again, the algorithms are so, so smart, and they know ads a mile away, and users do too.

If they see something that looks like it might be an ad, they're gonna keep scrolling.

It is counterintuitive, because you're thinking, I'm in a marketer, this is what we do, we do marketing, we're advertising, we're selling, but social media is a different animal.

You wanna be more authentic, more direct, more people-facing.

And we could talk about the algorithm forever, so I won't go down that path unless that is where we're going.

No, I feel like you checked that box.

I agree 100% putting stuff out there that is going to get picked up because it doesn't seem like an ad.

I'm guilty too of scrolling past things that look too polished, and I don't want to just be looking at ads all the time.

And so some content just appears that way.

I'm sure some of our content appears that way too, but there's maybe a time and a place for everything.

Like our social media posts related to The Shortlist, that is a little bit more like an ad, right?

It kind of has that feeling.

And then people can pick that out very easily compared to seeing our team having a lunch or at a baseball game or something like that.

So maybe having that right mix.

Grace, do you have any suggestions on that right mix?

Yeah, I was just going to say and mention that, also realize that social media channels and platforms are not one for one.

So just keeping that in mind, Instagram, for example, I think that the use of reels in video...

I think that ive seen some gearing content that feels again like that break that visual palate cleanser is important and tends to perform better.

Whereas LinkedIn, you know, we have done some A-B testing and shared videos, images, graphics, and I have not really seen a noticeable jump in our impressions, for example, for videos.

And so just kind of noticing that something that works well on a different platform is not necessarily going to suit that platform.

An audience the same.

And so just making sure that your content is diverse and aware of where you're posting to in the audience that you're posting to on those channels.

That goes right back to where you started with looking at what is working and making some decisions.

There could be some pitfalls, like maybe you haven't the company hasn't been consistent, so you don't feel like you have data to go off of.

Or what if you have a really small following?

What do you do with that?

Because that maybe isn't where you want to be or you're not getting a good read because it's, I don't know, everybody's mom liking your content.

And it's not, you know, the eventual, you know, your clients there.

So a little bit of an exaggeration there.

But either of you suggestions on how to strategically grow that following and then adjust the content to, like, match what they want?

I feel like just as you make strategic partnerships on pursuits and in the industry, making strategic partnerships or being a public partner with maybe, let's say, your general contractor that's on your team, tagging them and building this relationship and rapport with other industry partners, I think, is important and can help build your brand.

Do you get more eyes?

I think that it's a nice pat on the back for maybe your design partners to be tagged because that's content that they can reshare.

And it kind of has this like a pay it forward effect.

So I think that developing these partnerships on social media and making sure that you're calling out and recognizing those firms that you're working with can really help build your brand and build your following.

I also think I know that it can be difficult to get leadership to be on board, to be more active on social media, but leadership and having a full team approach, it's not just on marketing to make social media success.

Having active partners and people at your firm engaging with content also helps, I think, build the followership.

So, I would say folding in leadership and providing training for them and making it easy for them to be engaged can really pay dividends in the long run.

Also, you want to, like Grace said, you sort of get back what you put out.

So, the more you kind of comment on other posts, you know, write something thoughtful on the post of a company that you want to kind of align with, reshare somebody's content with the comments so that you're not just, you know, reposting or whatever, that will build your presence and it will it will endear you to the other people.

And as as Wendy said, a lot of times you do have, you know, moms like in the content or like people's, you know, families like that.

That's great.

I mean, the more you can feature your employees and their special things, you know, here's Bob and his chili.

I mean, that gets the employees to get engaged with their own brand.

That gets their friends and families to see their stuff.

The more that your stuff is kind of like, hey, here's some here's something funny or interesting or fascinating that only we can say.

You know, the more likely that like Bob's mom is going to see that and say, oh, great, you know, share.

I like that.

That's a good way to kind of build that community and develop your personality.

Another thing you can do.

And this is this might be specific to Instagram, which is the platform with which I am most familiar.

The Instagram algorithm is a curious beast, but it really loves video and it will push video that gets a good response to a lot of people who don't even follow you.

If you want to blow up on Instagram, the best way to do that is to put together a clever, short video that grabs attention right away, gets a lot of comments and likes right away.

And then the algorithm will push that up to potentially hundreds, thousands, millions of people.

And you can grow a following incredibly quickly with that.

So you do want to be strategic.

Again, you don't want an overproduced.

By overproduced, I don't mean great quality because great quality is great quality.

I mean, you do want great quality.

What I mean is, don't put on a bunch of graphics and text and things like that to add to the video.

Just do a great looking video that's short to the point and just quickly grabs attention and is unique.

And you can see your following shoot up with something like that, as long as the rest of your content, when they go to check out who you are, is also generally good stuff.

That can be a great way to do that.

I want that mean chili recipe.

Oh, Bob.

Bob and his chili.

A question popped into my mind.

I don't know if either of you have opinions or preferences, but when is the right time to get extra help for your social media?

Like, you know, using tools, something simple, like Photoshop Express or Canva or paying for a subscription service that will help schedule and advise, and then all the way up to actually having someone develop a social media plan.

Any thoughts on taking your strategy to that level?

I think if you are that department of one or maybe even two or three, that's when you really want to look at getting some help, because you never want to have just one person doing all of the social media, because there's no way that they're not also doing all of their other job and maybe three other people's jobs.

So like, you definitely want to use resources when you don't have a lot of people to contribute the different parts.

Basic graphic design software can be good as long as, again, you're not using it to create all kinds of text and graphics and stuff that you're throwing on images needlessly.

But the more you can kind of speed up that creation process as someone who does graphic design hands-on by knowing exactly what you're going to say, crafting the message, this is the imagery we're going to show, the faster and more efficient it will be for someone who maybe doesn't have a design background to use something like Canva or Adobe Express or whatever and quickly put together an image.

Yeah, I think the technological efficiency can make up for maybe not having a lot of hands on deck when it comes to social media.

I'm an advocate if budget allows and you're short on resources for having a subscription to something like a Hoot Suite or deployment software where you can schedule content ahead of time and it distributes it on a specified date, time, all of that to the platforms that you assign it to.

I think that you can kind of set it and forget it, and that helps you build out content one, two, three months in advance so then you can kind of be working ahead and feel a little less crunched on content that has maybe a little bit more evergreen and isn't as fast moving as, let's say, a project update.

So I think that having platforms that distribute and schedule content is really handy.

It also can have back-end support where it can do reporting for you, so then that's one less thing that you have to worry about as a department of one as well.

So something to think about, I know that LinkedIn has the functionality to schedule ahead.

There are some limitations there.

And then Instagram, I do not believe that there is a schedule ahead option there, which can be, I know, I wish.

But there's definitely resources out there, and it has been handy for me in the past and would be something that I would recommend to teams with fewer resources.

Like so much of the advice or kind of tips that we give on this podcast, so it depends on the size of your firm, the need, the size of your resources, internal and external.

I could imagine a scenario if you're a really large international firm, you might need a lot of resources and almost like strategic planning to coordinate all the parts and pieces of a social media campaign, right?

If you're a smaller firm, one brain can handle a lot of that on their own.

And well, it might be nice to get some help or advice or an audit on occasion.

You don't need as much coordination.

So maybe that's all gonna be obvious to you as you're looking at it, but just keep an open mind that there are tools, templates, services that can help you do more.

And you also can do just fine without that, as long as you're managing and deciding and realizing like to Grace's earlier point, you don't have to do it 16 times a day or 16 times a month, even that might not be the ultimate goal.

All right, well, I feel like we're getting close to our like target time of wrapping this up and we've hit on some really good content here, some good stories and like proof from two people who do an excellent job on social media for Middle of Six and personally.

So let's wrap that up.

Think about some tips, because I'm going to come back to that after I hit on our trivia question.

Question time.

So that's your assignment.

As I share with you, the average amount of time a person spends on social media every day, and this is according to Forbes Magazine, and this was a 2023 survey.

The answer was 150 minutes on social media every day.

So that's two hours and 30 minutes, two and a half hours.

When I was first looking at this number, I was all excited.

I found this great report and I was, ooh, this is good.

And it said it like an hour and 15 minutes.

I was like, what?

Clearly, I think I spend more time on that.

So I was like, this is questionable.

Well, that was from 2018.

And then, so then once I got updated data, I thought it was interesting.

It was like, well, from 2018 to 2023, five years there, it has essentially doubled.

I thought that number was really low.

It makes me very nervous about my social media habits, but that's just Forbes.

Go and blame them.

You can write them a note and contest that study.

But here's some other fun facts that you can share with your friends.

As of 2023, there were nearly 3.4 billion social media users worldwide.

So that's awesome.

That's a lot of people.

And Facebook still seems to be the heavy hitter with 2.9 billion users.

I'm gonna think about that two hours, 30 minute marker.

Yeah, I know, that seems, I think that my phone pops up and says, I don't know, a lot more time than that, which makes me nervous.

That feels low.



But maybe that is, hey, it could be self-reporting.

It could also just be really only on the purest of social media platforms.

But I think a lot of things have morphed, right?

There are workout social media platforms and other things where you're spending time online being social, but it doesn't qualify as being a Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram type of thing.

Anyways, those are my facts for today.

And since I gave you two minutes to think about the summary of tips, wrap us up.

What are the takeaways from today's conversation?

I think that it's key to have a strong plan in place for content and really thinking about your content over the span of not just the next two weeks, the immediate needs, but looking overall at maybe the next two months and really making sure that you're setting up yourself for success and your team for success is key with developing that plan.

So build a content calendar if you don't have one.

Picture yourself as your typical follower or potential follower.

Give them a name, give them an identity.

Think about what they would want.

What would they like?

What would they click on and want to share when you're thinking about your content?

Think about other marketers, because people who run social media accounts at various companies tend to be your counterpart.

They're marketing people for their company.

So think about what might resonate with them to get their attention if you want to get new followers.

And for the algorithm, you want to show faces of people.

That's what it likes.

Just keep it simple.

Photos and videos of people and interesting stuff and cats.

Everybody likes cats.

Cat videos are huge.

Don't overuse hashtags.

The algorithm can smell that a mile away.

That can be tempting, but there is a limit.

If you use too many hashtags, it will say, you are desperate, you are thirsty, we are not going to push this out.

Also, again, do not overproduce.

And by that, I mean, don't add text and graphics and logos and slides and all kinds of stuff.

You really don't need it.

Just do a nice looking video photo and keep the information in the caption.

Those are Becky's 10 tips at the end of that episode.

I have a couple more.

Add it on, Grace.

All right, I'm piloted on.

Not to create more work, but just a reminder that content isn't one for one across platforms.

So just making sure that you're aware of your audiences, their different needs between LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, maybe even TikTok.

We didn't even venture there.

And then also, to build that followership, don't forget those strategic partnerships can live online and making sure that you're paying it forward and the content that you put out there and tag other people and firms in, it usually serves you well.

So I would recommend just remembering those strategic partnerships on your online presence as well.

Yeah, good tips.

Yeah, it's a conversation.

You have to give, you have to connect with people and think about what they are curious about.

It's not all about you.

Nobody wants to go on that date.

So thank you both for sharing your tips.

And I wish we could just keep talking about this.

We should just stay online, but we have to go back to work, back to proposals.

We have to go get on social media for 34 hours.


Bring up that average.


Well, thank you both for being here and we'll see you on the next one.

Thank you so much for having us.

The Shortlist is presented by Middle of Six and hosted by me, Wendy Simmons, Principal Marketing Strategist.

Our producer is Kyle Davis, with digital marketing and graphic design by the team at Middle of Six.

We want to hear from you.

If you have a question or a topic you'd like us to discuss, send an email or voice memo to

If you're looking for past episodes or more info, check out our podcast page at The Shortlist.

You can follow us on LinkedIn and Instagram at middleofsix.

Thanks so much for listening.

We hope you'll tell your friends and colleagues about the show, and be sure to subscribe so you don't miss any of our upcoming episodes.

Until next time, keep on hustling.


Bob's Chili.

For when you want it spicy, safe and done on time, Superintendent Bob's.

That was a good commercial.

We should do fake commercials with like fake promo codes, like, you know what I mean?

No, we should.

No, we should.

Never mind.

I quit.

The Shortlist is a podcast that explores all things AEC marketing. Hosted by Middle of Six Principal, Wendy Simmons, each episode features members of the MOS team, where we take a deep dive on a wide range of topics related to AEC marketing including: proposal development, strategy, team building, business development, branding, digital marketing, and more. You can listen to our full archive of episodes here.


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