December 18, 2011

"The Social Media Explosion"

In our blog post dated December 4, 2011 70 Years of HBA Communication: "Can You Hear Me Now?" we talked about where NAHB began with communications and what we have available to us today. Conversations about the many social media vehicles are abundant with opinions to match. The 21st century has delivered to humankind 24/7 contact (and I'm not even bringing Blackberries, DROIDS or iPhones/iPads into the mix). Our home builder associations (HBA) have a critical need to reach out to membership and keep them "informed" and more to the point, effectively informed. The major vehicles for social media each have a place in communication and, if each are utilized correctly, will bring a unique type of communication to our members and for our members.

Ray Tomlinson gave society one of the greatest communication tools in history. He invented email back in 1971, eventually transforming global business communication. It wasn't until the 1990's that email became "the new best thing in communication." Emails replaced hand written letters and the "voice-to-voice" communications that gave every conversation a personal touch. It also became easy to send everything and anything (insert your most hated spam here) which created email over-saturation. One of the most effective means of mass communication at a moment's notice became an easy target for the delete button. 
Because of over-saturation, and the ease of deleting, important messages were not being read meaning that the grass roots effectiveness of the HBA was slowly becoming neutralized. Because of this, social media is rapidly becoming a critical aspect of our industry's communication efforts. In a perfect social media world, the message bearers will be able to effectively post messages that are relevant to and through each social media vehicle. Right now a small percentage of members are involved in the first four (listed below) vehicles. So redundancy will be an issue for the time being. If you are a social media junkie you will most likely be on multiple pages and groups as well as emails and other feeds. You will be bombarded with the same messages time and time again unless you take a few seconds and adjust your setting so you decide which messages and from which sources you receive information. This is on you to handle, no one else.

Let's look at the major players of the social media tool belt and it's uses for the HBA (as a note, NAHB has a page or group on the following social media sites);

1. Facebook ~ One word; pages. Facebook is designed for letting people know more about you. When we discuss the business aspect of Facebook we find ourselves talking about pages. Pages are designed to highlight your purpose. Is it a business? A cause? A particular political party? You will find a page for just about anything. While these pages are great for "strutting your stuff" they are not conducive to two way or multiple business conversation due to one particular hindrance; most companies do not allow their employees on Facebook during business hours. So for most people, Facebook is an evening or weekend "catch up." Facebook has its place but for HBA effectiveness I would go with LinkedIn. A few great aspect of Facebook is the availability of posting pictures of your HBA events directly on the page or creating an event posting that gives you an idea of who might be attending.

2. LinkedIn ~ One word; groups. The business person's Facebook. If you have a LinkedIn account you have no doubt created an exceptional profile page that gives the viewers a great sense of who you are and what you represent. That is critical because if you post in any groups that you join others will want to know your background based on the content of your post.
Another plus for the HBA is that if you have your own local or state group you can post information on a daily basis, even hourly basis. Once a member to your group is admitted they can adjust the settings to have a daily digest or weekly digest of information. Or they can opt out of any messaging and visit the group when they want to visit the group. Now the emails you send can be for "calls to action" or other time sensitive alerts.

An example: The NAHB Associates LinkedIn Group has building industry professionals from all over the country. There are topics for conversation that will bring you information, help you with association questions, develop deep conversation about an industry topic and much more. Your "circle of influence" grows considerably and you have taken the restraints of physical travel out of the equation. NAHB Associates group has sub groups designed to be an extension of The NAHB Associate Members Committee's sub committees. These areas are a work in progress but it helps deliver continued committee work outside the three times a year the committee meets in person. It also allows members of NAHB to participate on national projects when they can't attend in person. Exposure and awareness of national volunteerism has never been easier or more efficient.

3. Twitter ~ Quick hitting alerts and updates are the primary focus of having an HBA Twitter account. For the HBA, a call to action or a change in particulars of an event are just two purposes but keep in mind the message goes out to an unlimited amount of people. The one efficient use? Broad exposure of a message for a grass roots ever in an extremely timely fashion  Facebook and LinkedIn have the same uses as Twitter. Twitter is really mass communication going in one direction but doesn't go through your spam filter. You will reach 100% of the members that have signed up for the HBA alerts. 

4. YouTube ~ I love this form of social media; video messaging. Whatever the message is, it won't be in words on an email or post on a page. You will see the person, hear the passion of conversation, place a name with face and voice. I suspect that one day this will be the preferred message delivery system. Skype has taken off and more and more associations are turning to video conferencing. People love to hear AND see what's going on. YouTube is a perfect vehicle to discuss political fundraising or member to member requests. It's a fantastic vehicle for membership recruitment as prospective members can see actual members discussing their reasons for being a member.

5. Google + ~ Newest rival to Facebook, still in its beginning stages, but growing fast. Google + may be the best of all worlds, one day.

My advise; don't jump on everything all at once. Find a vehicle that suits your style and really take the time to adjust your frequency of information feeds. Social media is here and members of the HBA should be working towards embracing the future. If you can type and read you can participate and you will probably enjoy the new world.

Submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman


boone said...

Thanks for this summary of the various social media. @wncgbc we are trying to expand our use of Social media and these are some good generalizations to have in mind.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike! May I repost this on my Daily Blog for the HBA and credit you and link to your site? - Jen Casey

Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP said...

Jen, these articles are for all HBA members and staff :)