Social media nowadays is under the marketing umbrella of every business, including architecture. With billions of users all over the world, platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, Youtube, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Snapchat have become part of the daily activities of several people. Consequently, small and big entrepreneurs had to adapt their businesses to fit into this new reality. Today, it is hard to find a company that does not have an account on any of these sites. Architecture firms also had to delve deeper into this matter, especially considering that architecture is a very visual subject. Social media has become not only a showcase for architects but a research tool where people can easily find examples of design solutions, tips on how to use architecture software, etc. As a result, in social media, architects can influence and be influenced by others.

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Architects and the power of Social Media - Sheet1
Cellphones_©Camilo Jimenez

Social Media as a Business Matter

It has become clear that social media is not just a tool for socialization, one of its main goals is to sell. Online platforms can reach many more people than non-online interactions, and in much less time, which is why it is such a powerful tool. For an architect, it means that more clients can be drawn to their product when they have a strong presence on social media. As this space becomes more and more competitive, architects’ challenge is more than just having an account, it is to engage on social media.

One polemic yet effective way to engage on social media is by publishing educational content. Today, information on the Internet is wide and easily accessed, which makes it harder for an account to stand out. Thus, a great way for architects to improve their content is to give specific quick tips. However, this is a controversial topic, because many people believe that offering too much free content is a waste of money and that it should be sold. Undoubtedly, making money from architectural content on social media is a tool that architects and firms should consider, although it is important to know that providing free educational content is a powerful way to attract clients and even buyers of the content that will eventually be sold.

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To make the most of social media opportunities, architects should also be informed about the trends. The humanization of social media accounts, for example, is a trend that companies have to be aware of. Today, it is clear that people connect with other people, and that the connection between a person and a product or a company on social media is much more superficial. So, if architecture firms want to engage, they have to humanize their content. This means that posting a few facts about the architects behind the project, their personalities, and beliefs, is highly recommended. It is still easy to see websites of architecture firms that do not show any information about the architects themselves, not a photo nor a description. If architects want users and potential clients to truly connect with them, they have to show more than just what they do. They have to tell who they are, how they do what they do, and why.

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Instagram User_©Jakob Owens

Positive and Negative Outcomes

The possibility of searching references and showcase projects for several viewers is a great advantage of social media for architects, but with the advent of Instagram, another tool took place. As influencers and ordinary people started posting pictures of places where they traveled to or where an event was happening, some locations became famous for their Instagram and Pinterest pictures. As a result, more visitors were drawn to these places, many of them with the clear intention to take a photo there too. This was a great benefit for public spaces, considering that urban interactions are an important part of their functioning. Street art such as graffiti and live informal performances thrived with the sharing of photos and videos on social media. Regarding buildings, architects started to be more concerned about popular opinion instead of trying to have an erudite approach, as social media began to promote a dialogue between them and different types of people. On one hand, this is also a benefit, considering that many architects are taught to push a style agenda rather than designing what common people like. 

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People taking photos_©Rafael Leão

On the other hand, the search for an “instagrammable building” can seriously compromise the quality of architectural designs. As one of the main concerns is to build an architecture that will look good on Instagram pictures, many other important aspects such as function and thermal performance can be set aside, not receiving the attention they deserve. Considering that photos and videos on social media are very different from real life and in-person interactions, “instagrammable” should not be the concept nor the top goal of any architectural design, otherwise, buildings will function as a simulator or simply scenery. 

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The power of social media is a tool that most architects are trying to take advantage of. It has a unique potential in marketing, attracting clients, and reinforcing sales. Social media is not a trend that will soon fade away, conversely, indicators show that access to information on the Internet is increasing worldwide. Sooner or later, most architects will need to adapt to this new universe that can be quite beneficial, however, the possible harms should not be taken for granted. Therefore, people must be both open-minded and careful when dealing with architecture on social media.

References List

ArchDaily. (2020). “TikTok-itecture”: Is This the New Digital Media for Architecture and Design? [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/954080/tiktok-itecture-is-this-the-new-digital-media-for-architecture-and-design. [Accessed 9 Sep. 2021].

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ArchDaily. (2019). Building Images: A Video on How Social Media is Changing Architecture. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/916205/building-images-a-video-on-how-social-media-is-changing-architecture [Accessed 9 Sep. 2021].

ArchDaily. (2018). The Most Important New Tool for Architects: Instagram. [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/900637/the-most-important-new-tool-for-architects-instagram [Accessed 9 Sep. 2021].

Journal. (2015). Insta-Architecture: How Social Media Will Build Buildings – Architizer Journal. [online] Available at: https://architizer.com/blog/practice/details/insta-architecture/ [Accessed 9 Sep. 2021].

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ArchDaily. (2020). Good Content vs Good Architecture: Where Does “Instagrammability” Take Us? [online] Available at: https://www.archdaily.com/941351/good-content-vs-good-architecture-where-does-instagrammability-take-us [Accessed 9 Sep. 2021].

Wilkinson, T. (2015). The polemical snapshot: architectural photography in the age of social media. [online] Architectural Review. Available at: https://www.architectural-review.com/essays/photography/the-polemical-snapshot-architectural-photography-in-the-age-of-social-media?utm_medium=website&utm_source=archdaily.com [Accessed 9 Sep. 2021].

Author

Roberta Inglês is an architecture and urbanism student at University of Brasilia, Brazil. She is passionate about urban planning and architectural history, and loves to observe how buildings and cities can influence human behavior. She believes writing is a very effective way to develop critical thinking.

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