Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The "Social Media" debate: you can't really tweet about it in black and white.
The 2010 NMHC Apartment Operations Technology Conference & Exposition brings together some of the sharpest, most successful minds in the multi-family housing industry. Over the past few days, we've spoken to many of them and heard opinions on a wide range of topics: data mining, the "paperless" office, or marketing trends. One topic however, seemed to pop up over and over: social media. A sample of the agenda menu? Social Media: Point/Counterpoint, Social Media: What do you need to know?, Technology & Marketing--Caught in the Crosshairs?, Mobile Strategies, Marketing Trends, the list goes on and so did the discussions. What is most interesting about all of this is the notion of simply accepting social media as a valid medium or tool for communication. In fact, they presented this video which we've seen several times at various trade shows and events: There is no doubt that "social media" is here to stay, but it's also a buzz word that often loses it's meeting in conversation. Social media is defined as web-based technologies designed to turn communication into an interactive dialogue. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein, in their their recent article Users of the world unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media, define it as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0 which allows the creation and exchange of user-based content. Yet, most people hear those two controversial words and think along the lines of Facebook or Twitter. Although this topic can be debated with a range of opinions, let's boil it down: there are people who think that the time and energy put into social media to develop branding and community isn't worth it, and there are folks who think that it is worth it. The notion of a web-based platform that actually promotes not only the brand and the sense of community of a building, but also streamlines communication and day-to-day operations isn't even discussed. If social media is supposed to turn communication into a dialogue, then functionality that allows residents to be notified when a package arrives, to submit requests, to receive automatic, customized responses for building notifications, to reserve community spaces, to post announcements or notices to the building community, should be the exact kind of dialogue, or social media that a property seeks. These discussions or theories of social media marketing strategies will continue in this industry, but we should begin to start opening up what social media even means. If you can find a product that not only promotes your property's brand, aids in resident retention by developing a sense of community, and efficiently streamlines operations in both time and money...well, that IS something to tweet about.