How To Make Construction Sexy On Social With Liberty Cogen

How To Make Construction Sexy On Social With Liberty Cogen

BY ATOMIC | AUG 29, 2023

Liberty Cogen is a social media manager and content creator specializing in the construction industry — something that you would think isn’t trendy, glamorous, or even fun to post about. She is a bad-a$$ in this space, and has the professional knowledge to promote the construction industry in a way that isn’t stark and boring. It is pretty cool to hear what angle she takes to make her clients relevant in today’s social media-driven world.

As a digital marketing agency in Birmingham, AL, we are always looking to come up with was to make all types of industries stand out on social media.

Tell us about yourself.

Oh gosh, where do we even start? Well, in this current day of 2023, I am a social media professional. Let’s see, I’ll call myself a content creator and a social media manager specializing in the construction industry. Many of my clients are in the concrete and construction sectors, but honestly, I have clients from a wide array of industries, which keeps things fun, fresh, and exciting. However, I truly enjoy focusing on the construction industry. So yeah, that’s where I am now. As for my background, that’s a completely different story. I actually majored in musical theater in college. I attended the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. I’ll keep my graduation year a secret, you know; a lady must retain a little bit of mystery, even though I probably mentioned it at some point online in the past. But let’s just roll with that. So yeah, I graduated and moved directly to New York City to chase my dreams of performing on Broadway, aiming to become a professional musical theater actress. While I didn’t make it to Broadway itself, I did embark on a national tour. Specifically, I was part of the first national tour of the musical “Legally Blonde,” which was an absolute blast. I did that for seven months. And then I came back to the city, and continued auditioning. I had an agent, I had all this great stuff going for me. And for the next year and a half, I never booked another job theater job. You know, being an aspiring actor or actress is obviously extremely difficult work, and it takes a lot of mental stability and a lot of patience, which I guess I learned I just didn’t have.

So I left New York, moved back home to Atlanta, which is where I’m originally from. I actually opened up a branch of a babysitting agency that I had worked for in New York City. When I moved back to Atlanta, I approached our CEO with the idea of establishing an Atlanta branch for the company. I thought it could work exceptionally well there. Surprisingly, she agreed. So, naturally, we started from scratch—building from the ground up. Over the next three years in Atlanta, I managed to develop both a client base and a sizable pool of sitters. Simultaneously, I was involved in performing at various theaters around Atlanta. This allowed me to enjoy the best of both worlds, which was truly awesome. Then, in the spring of 2015, my husband (then boyfriend, now husband) received a transfer to Nashville to work in a recording studio under his boss at the time. The transfer was from the Atlanta studio to the Nashville one. Naturally, I went with him, but I continued to oversee my babysitting agency in Atlanta from Nashville. This led to a lot of commuting back and forth, which was manageable at the time as I didn’t have any children. Work was pretty much my whole life, and I didn’t mind it.

I was running my babysitting agency from there. Eventually, I had a little bit of a falling out with my boss, and it just wasn’t working anymore, you know? So I left that job. Then, at the beginning of 2016, I started working for a dance tech startup. I won’t mention the name; they’re not around anymore. The idea was great – they wanted to be like the Netflix of dance programming, offering dance movies, dance shows, and dance reality shows. Unfortunately, it did not work out.

When I started I began as an executive assistant to their then CEO. Interestingly, he left the company about two weeks after I started. They also fired their big, fancy marketing agency that had been handling all of their social media. They asked me if I had any past experience with social media. This was back in 2016 when social media was significantly different from what it is now. Of course, it existed, but it was quite distinct, as I’m sure you’re aware. So, I sort of fell into that role. I had done a bit for my babysitting agency, but not that much. I found myself in that role, and I loved it. I really enjoyed being able to be creative and communicate with people whom you never thought you could reach. I absolutely loved creating content. Obviously, I come from a creative background, so the creative part of it really just came naturally to me. And then from there, I did that for the next two years. 

At the beginning of 2017, a concrete company in Atlanta that both of my parents worked for, they reached out to me. They knew I was doing social media and they had social media pages, but they weren’t active. No one was running them. No one was posting anything, which is pretty par for the course when it comes to construction businesses, I must say. But they reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to start running their social media from Nashville. They had an office in Atlanta and Nashville at the time. So of course I jumped at the opportunity. I didn’t know diddly squat about concrete or construction aside from what I’d learned from my parents. Cause like I said, they had been working there for quite some time. And I just kind of jumped into it. And I found that I was actually really good at it and that I actually really, really loved it. And I found that there were creative ways to bring concrete and construction to life online rather than just posting, you know, a picture of a driveway or, you know, announcing one of their new projects.

When I got to Tuscaloosa in 2018, another concrete company reached out to me via LinkedIn. We’ll talk about LinkedIn as well because LinkedIn changed my life. If LinkedIn ever needs, you know, an ambassador to come talk about them, they can call me.  But yeah, another concrete company reached out to me because they saw that I was working for another concrete company and asked me to do their social media. Of course I said yes. And it really just kind of snowballed from there. A lot of word of mouth, a lot of referrals, which I’m extremely grateful for, but I definitely became more and more active on LinkedIn in showcasing myself and my clients and the kind of work that I was doing. And it kind of turned into like a niche thing. These companies would reach out to me or they would see my headline on LinkedIn and they were like, “oh, I didn’t know social media people for the construction industry even existed.” I didn’t even know it was a thing.

So they’re like, I have a concrete business, I don’t know diddly squat about Instagram, but it looks like this girl does. So let me reach out to her and see what she says. And so I just kind of zoned into that and kind of owned being like the construction social media lady on LinkedIn in the Southeast. A lot of my clients are based in the Southeast. And like I said, it just kind of snowballed from there. And now I have clients all over the country, which I’m extremely grateful for. I get to create content on a daily basis, which is my favorite part of it. Getting to be creative and incorporate music and do editing and all the things that come along with being a content creator. But then also I enjoy the social media management part of it as well. Doing the actual posting and writing copy, writing, engaging captions, interacting with people in the comment section, interacting with, you know, our peers and other companies that we work with. And yeah, that’s kind of led me to where I am today.

How do you make something decidedly unsexy sexy on social media? What’s your formula? How do you get there?

So I mean, there’s a few things. Number one, and this is for any industry, any business, any content that you put out there should be quality over quantity, right? My biggest pet peeve is when, especially concrete and construction companies are very guilty of this, they will put out low resolution content, whether it be a photo or a video, like, y’all come on. Like… Most people nowadays have a decent camera on them, you know, at all times, whether it’s their phone, whether it’s an iPad that they carry around with them for work. So number one is it needs to be high-resolution content. HD, you know, portrait, like use that portrait mode on your phone, whatever it is. So that’s number one. Number two is you have to find a way to you know, obviously, get creative with how you’re presenting this content. So if you’re doing video posts, if it’s like a reel or a TikTok, the sky’s the limit when it comes to creatively presenting that content and choosing audio that goes along with it. So one of my clients that I work with, they’re a concrete company based in South Georgia, and I’m very lucky with them in that they provide me with a slew of this beautiful high-resolution drone content from these massive job sites. This drone pilot that they have working for them. I mean, he does an absolutely fantastic job. So that for me is like candy. They just send me all of that content, and I just get to go to town with it. 

Drone content is fantastic because you get to really see the whole scope of what’s going on, not just the stuff on the ground. But if you’re a, you know, smaller business or you don’t have the budget to go out and, you know, hire your own drone pilot and drone company that can shoot that content for you, there are so many tools and tricks that you can use either with just your iPhone or your iPad to shoot high-quality content. So comparing the high-quality photo or video content with, you know, trending audio, it’s all about the trending audio. I hate to say something like that because it sounds so cliche, but it’s very much true. But find audio that is going to speak to your target audience, you know? Just because it’s a trending audio that works for another business or say one of your competitors, it might not be… and a trending audio that’s going to work for you and for the audience that you’re trying to reach specifically. So find audio that is going to really bring to life the content that you’re putting with it and that is going to speak to the audience that you’re trying to reach. 

And then number three is it doesn’t all have to be concrete and construction based. One of the biggest things that I talk about, especially on LinkedIn, and that I see other creators talking about is what makes your construction or concrete company great isn’t the work that you do. Yes, that’s obviously a big part of it, but it’s the people that are doing the work. It’s the upper management. It’s everyone all the way down to the guy that’s running to get Starbucks for everybody on the job site at 5 a.m. on a massive poor day.

About your people, make it relatable and make content that the people that you’re speaking to, they’re going to find something that they can connect with. So that guy that’s out there on that 3 a.m. pour, a lot of the people that do that type of work are there because they really love it, because that’s a hard job, right? A lot of people aren’t going to show up at 3 o’clock in the morning when it’s freezing cold outside to pour concrete and be outside for the next eight hours. If you can make your content about those people and how important they are to the success of your business and find a way to showcase them and get them to talk about themselves. You know, it doesn’t all have to be about work. Get them to talk about their hobbies outside of work, what they love to do, where they love to go on vacation. So try to find a way to make your content, yes, about your work, but more importantly, about your people.

How many clients are you currently working with?

I currently have nine clients. I mean, it’s just me. I’m a one-man, one-woman shop. So I have an Atlanta-based videographer that I work with sometimes. Like if I really want to go shoot a job site or, you know, we need some new fresh content and because I have little kids here in Alabama, I can’t travel as much as I would like to. Believe me, I would love to be the one that’s driving out there, going to see my clients all the time, and getting fresh content, but that’s just not my reality at the moment. So, yeah, I have nine clients that I work with. Most of them are in the construction space, but I have some in other spaces. So I am very busy. I have to stay very organized all the time, but I also have to constantly keep my pipeline full of leads and potential clients. I am always open to work. I should have my open-to-work frame constantly on LinkedIn. I took it off recently, which was dumb. I’m going to put it back on. So if you’re listening to this, go check my LinkedIn and see if I did it.

You always have to be open to new opportunities because you never know. I work freelance for most of my clients. And so my clients have the opportunity to leave me at any point in time, which that’s part of the initial deal. Usually, I ask them for a six-month commitment upfront. I do that to protect myself, so I don’t put all of this work in. And then three months in, they’re like, actually, you know what? Never mind. So I ask for that six-month commitment.

Tell me about ways that you are getting client opportunities. What are some of your personal marketing tactics?

Number one for me is being active on LinkedIn every single day in some capacity. I’m not saying that you need to be posting every day. I don’t even think you need to be posting every week. The most important part of LinkedIn that people need to understand is it’s 90% engagement and 10% posting your own content. So be following leaders in your space. and engaging with their content. And if they’re any good at LinkedIn, which if they’re a leader in their space on LinkedIn, they probably are, they’re going to respond to your content and they’re gonna engage in some kind of conversation with you. And that is where all the exposure comes from on LinkedIn. I don’t know how their crazy algorithms work, but they work. I can attest to it because just by commenting or by reacting to one post by someone in my industry in the construction space especially, I will get a either connection request or I will get a direct message. Even if it doesn’t lead to actual business in the end, they’ll reach out to me and just we’ll just start a conversation. And maybe a year later, they’ll reach back out to me and be like, Oh, Liberty, we spoke a long time ago. We weren’t ready for you now, but now we are. So it’s all about constantly engaging with other people. I leave it open on my desktop from the second I get back from dropping my kids off at school until about 6 p.m. because I don’t want to miss anything important. You don’t want to leave money on the table by missing that one notification that may have been the game changer for you.

Whenever I either send a connection request to someone or when they accept the connection request, I do send them a direct message. And it has literally nothing to do with business. It has nothing to do with sales. It has nothing to do with construction or whatever industry they’re in. It’s literally just saying, “Hey, thanks so much for connecting with me. I hope you’re having a great week.” And then they’ll read that and they’ll be like, “Ugh. How refreshing. They weren’t trying to sell me something before I even said hello to them.” And that’s where the sales eventually come from. Talk about some great restaurants that you ate at when you were in their city last time. Whatever it is, make some kind of personal connection with them, because that is what they’re gonna remember, and that is what is going to lead you to the clients that you really want.

How do you feel about LinkedIn ads?

I really specialize in organic growth. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do paid advertising, but I feel like a lot of companies come to me and in our initial conversations, first of all, they don’t even have a social media presence yet on any platform. And they’re like, okay, we want to start running ads. I’m like,  what? Hold on. You don’t what people even like yet, so why would you spend money on something that you have no clue if it’s reaching the people that you want it to reach or if it’s the type of content that your audience wants to even see? I think you should at least spend a good year of just focusing on organic growth and doing a lot of testing, seeing what people like, what they engage with. And then from there, if you decide you wanna spend some money on advertising, go for it. But my personal opinion is don’t do that right off the bat.

What are you optimistic about moving forward? What are some cool things you’re looking forward to?

Oh gosh. I mean, I’m lucky that I’m at a point right now in my personal business where I’m looking to scale somewhat. And I mean, for me, scale is a very relative term. Some people are like, all right, we’re gonna hire 50 new people and we’re gonna take over the world. No, I can’t hire 50 more people. That’d be awesome if I could. But I’m trying to find a way to scale the right way while also maintaining the very personal aspect of my business. Because I like that people know me on a first name basis. I have a unique name that stands out and people are like, oh, call Liberty, call Liberty. And I want them to, if they do call Liberty, they actually talk to Liberty. They reach directly to me. I pride myself very much on having a very personal connection with all of my clients. We’re texting on a daily basis. We have shared iCloud albums on our phones that, you know, if they’re just out and about during the day and they want to throw something on their story, they’ll dump it in that album. And I work my magic and put it on their story. And I like having that very close connection with my clients. And I want them to be able to feel like they can talk to me very honestly. And we have total open communication. So that’s not something that I want to lose because I don’t want to lose that essence of my business.

I’m excited about growing my business while keeping my personal touch intact. And I’m very excited about the construction industry really becoming a heavy hitter on social media and people taking more notice of it on social media. I want construction companies and whatever concrete company, carpenter company, lumber company, whatever it is in the space, they need to be jumping on this opportunity. They don’t need to be sitting back because right now your competition is beating you if you’re not consistently posting on your social platforms. Do you need to be posting every single day on every platform? Absolutely not. But if a big general contractor that you put a bid in on that job, and that general contractor goes to your LinkedIn and sees that you haven’t posted in like seven months, what do you think they’re gonna think? Not anything great, right? Because they are selfish and they want to know that your business is actively posting on social media, so that if they hire you for a project, you’re posting about their project and you’re giving them more exposure by tagging them and putting up pictures of the project and plastering their logo all over the place.

Liberty is definitely doing some great things in the world of social media and business marketing. She is proving that an industry that seems bland doesn’t have to be online. There are ways to take social media trends and make them work for your business.

We’ve shared thoughts on whether an agency, in-house manager, or contract/freelance expert would be beneficial for your business. If you are in the construction or concrete industry, Liberty may just be the person your company needs!

If you would like to learn more about Liberty Cogen, check her out on LinkedIn.

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