Source: Twitter

A year ago, I told a co-worker that Twitter was a fad. It would not last, I pronounced, because it was fluff and provided no clear benefit. Who cares where tweeters are eating lunch?

Boy was I wrong.  Not about tweeting your dining selections – that really is fluff.

But people do care about obtaining useful information. And when used well, Twitter delivers strategic nuggets more efficiently than most other mediums, even for the design, construction, service and maintenance markets.

My epiphany moment came when I realized that Twitter’s 140-character limit can turn complex subjects into easily digestible “headlines”. Those headlines can be scanned in seconds, quickly analyzed for benefits, re-Tweeted, and linked to articles or blogs for further study.

Twitter can save time and point us immediately to content that is meaningful for our jobs or personal lives. Rather than searching recklessly throughout the Internet for the latest key trends, ideas and breakthroughs, Twitter delivers topical headlines directly to our computers or mobile devices.

If you are in the construction or service fields, then you might want to start embracing Twitter, Facebook, Linked In and other eMedia tools. Social media is getting hotter by the day, even for men and women who sometimes get grease under their fingernails. AEC pros are engaging in these platforms not only to learn, but to reach out to their customers.

Several months ago, I signed up for a Twitter account to follow a co-worker. Soon, a few people began following me, even though I wasn’t seeking any followers and wasn’t tweeting. So recently, I sent out a few tweets. I’ve yet to become good at using Twitter, but I admire people who are.

One such person is John Sonnhalter, founder of the Sonnhalter marketing communications firm, which helps manufacturers reach professional tradesmen in the construction, industrial and MRO marketers. As I write this blog, John has 6,773 Twitter followers. No doubt, the large number of followers is a result of his frequent and insightful tweeting and blogging.

John also distributes a free e-newsletter calledTradesmen Insightsand offers a free contractor white paper when you sign up. Visit or email Jsonnhalter@sonnhalter.

While many of John’s posts are aimed at professional business-to-business marketers, you’ll find it interesting to read how he is helping them understand tradesmen. Several recent posts focus on connecting through email, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. John is helping marketers develop best practices for engaging you on your terms.

The founder of another marketing communications firm, Steve Kleber of Kleber & Associates, also is reaching out to AEC pros. In addition to being a frequent tweeter and video poster, Steve writes a blog calledMarketing Home Products ( If your job involves specifying, buying or installing home products, you may want to follow Steve.

Last week I participated in a Webinar on social media for the AEC field. The company hosting the Webinar was Function, an integrated marketing company that connects building product manufacturers with architects, contractors, facility managers and distributors.

In addition to blogging and tweeting, Function is using Webinars to connect the AEC market. Learn more about them at

So how does a pro get started using Twitter and cut through the endless universe of electronic information? I recommend three steps.

* Sign up for a Twitter account at Yes, the name is goofy, but you are signing up for a “headline” service that will help you focus and save time.

* Find and follow people you respect, whose opinions and insights you value. Stop following people who don’t deliver information relevant to your business.

* Ask your customers if they would follow you if you tweeted on topics relevant to their needs. Many will accept. Then do it.

A great place to find insightful tweeters is on the Web site you are visiting now, or in the printed pages of their magazine counterparts. Many writers list their Twitter or email contact information at the end of their articles. And you can follow me at