Multinational giant HOK started its social-media program in 2008, launching a blog, Life at HOK (, and starting Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and LinkedIn accounts. "We were very focused on the ‘war for talent’—attracting the best people, and showcasing our unique culture. We saw the potential for social media to help us do that," writes Corinne Drobot, the firm’s global public relations director, in an email.

Indeed, many new employees have indicated that the blog, populated by postings from staff architects about events, awards, cool new buildings, or whatever else inspires them, gave insight into the firm’s culture and the impression that it "values people," Drobot writes. The blog and other social-media use, she adds, have also dispelled the impression of HOK as an impersonal monolith, have helped generate project leads and media inquiries, and have spurred both internal and external collaboration.

HOK’s communications team spends about 20 percent of its time on social media. About 40 employees contribute blog posts to Life at HOK and 30 additional employees contribute to other company blogs and social-media sites. HOK’s Twitter account has recently gained momentum and will likely soon boast more than 10,000 followers. The firm tries to use social media to inspire discussions with potential clients and others in the industry, which is a more effective marketing technique than "broadcasting a message," Drobot writes.

"We’re getting to a point where if you don’t use social media, you’re absence is conspicuous," she adds. "The open dialogue and increased transparency can only be good for the design profession."