Opinion: How should the housing sector use social media?
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing
Facebook urged to act on panic button
Lee Grasby, marketing manager, Resource Housing
Firstly, I don’t claim to be a social media expert, far from it. But I am a strategic marketer and as such I make it my job to understand the relevance of all media and how to get the best out of it. I know potentially what part it can play in housing, for customer service and engagement – to respond quickly and accurately to tenants’ needs and wants, or to simply communicate, educate and advise through what is a timely and often cost effective medium.
So, what about social media? Well, there’s no silver bullet. Some claim to be experts and I’m sure they devote heaps of time and resource to it, so why shouldn’t they be? But the important thing to understand here is that social media is just a channel. Everyone knows that there is no better marketing channel than one-to-one, preferably face-to-face. Well, aside from the telephone, which is becoming under-used and email, which is replacing the afore-mentioned, social media is the next best thing. But it’s still just a channel.
Like all channels, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, Google+ are only as good as the content created and it’s the source of this content that drives these channels. Typically a user will follow, like or link or pin with accounts that have a shared or similar interest or work within a sector. And they’ll like, retweet or forward content to express their nod of approval. But does this make them a social media expert? It does not. So, those who invest the time are the only ones who can possibly claim to have this thing cracked.
And here’s the why. As mentioned earlier, it’s the source of social media content that makes the thing work. Some of those credible sources will undoubtedly be the media groups, as they release their editorial through these channels; providing up-to-the-minute stories that we’re all so quick to like or share to demonstrate that we heard it first. Then there are the PR machines and thought leaders in their respective industries. I often wonder just what PR agencies did before social media, but right now the ones who’ve embraced this channel first will be reaping the rewards, or should be.
Because creating content is a skill, it takes time and creativity and it should never be underestimated. So for all the wannabe thought leaders out there, telling your audience is one thing, but demonstrating it is best and there really is no substitute for good, original content, delivered through social media or any other channel for that matter.
As for social media trends, we pretty much know what’s out there, but they are just a brand of channel. The important bit is how we use and measure them using the plethora of platforms available, be it Sprout Social, Hootsuite, Storify, Topsy and so on. So think about this before you embark on world domination for your respective housing group, ask yourself, what is the outcome you’re searching for? Because ‘doing Twitter’ doesn’t just happen. It takes time, skill, software and planning to make it happen.