Providing Value Through Social Media

Originally published in NAHB's "Recruiting Young Professionals Toolkit"
Title art provided by mkhmarketing

Social media is an ever present part of personal and professional lives of young professionals everywhere. People of Gen X and Gen Y shop, interact with friends, job hunt, and engage in business through a multitude of social technologies. This section will give you the knowledge to understand the big social networks and tools at your disposal to create and foster a digital community of value around your HBA.

Social media alone will not recruit members. It can be, however, a large benefit of membership. According to a survey conducted by McCann Worldgroup, two of the top motivators for young people, worldwide, are authenticity and community. These two motivators should be at the forefront of your social media strategy. Authenticity is not too difficult to achieve – just be honest about your brand. Community, however, is a far more difficult thing to achieve. Through understanding the major social networks, how they function and the nuances between them, you will come a long way to creating a community that young professionals want to belong to.

Before creating and managing a campaign for social media it is important to understand some of the lingo and how to properly use it:

  • Board – A feature of Pinterest that groups together images
  • Channel – An account on Youtube
  • Comment - A thought that is shared beneath a post
  • DM – Short for Direct Message; a feature on twitter that allows for private conversation
  • Engagement – A metric measuring how many times your content was interacted with
  • Favorite – A feature on twitter that shows a particular preference to a post
  • Feed – A listing of all the current postings by the accounts you follow
  • Hashtag – A way that posts are organized by categories, therefore searchable, using the symbol#
    • Ex. #NAHBWantsYou
  • Impressions – A metric measuring how many times your content was viewed
  • Like – A feature on facebook, tumblr, and instagram that shows a particular preference to a post
  • Mention – Attaching another account to a post using the symbol @
    • Ex. @NAHBHome
  • Newsfeed – A feature of Facebook where all the postings of a user’s friends and other connections are published
  • Pin - A video or photo that is posted to a board
  • Post – Text, image, or video uploaded to a social network
  • Reach – A metric measuring how many individuals saw your content
  • Reblog – A feature for tumblr that posts another account’s blog to your own account
  • Repin – Sharing the pin of another user
  • Reply – A feature on twitter that allows for publc communication between users
  • RT – Acronym for Retweet; used to easily share twitter posts
  • Share – a feature for Facebook that posts another account’s post to your own account
  • Tag – Attaching a person’s account to a photo, video, or posting
  • Timeline – A feature unique to Facebook where all the postings are arranged in chronological order
  • Trending – When a topic is being discussed by many people usually based on hashtags
  • Viral – When a large portion of Internet users in a short amount of time sees a post, usually a video

Best Practices

There are a few best practices to first consider when adopting a new social strategy.

1. Engage
Ask questions in your posts, provide calls to action, and actively interact with those who are interacting with you. Like comments, reply to messages and questions and facilitate conversation over relevant topics.

2. The 80-20 Rule
80% of the content should be about other people while 20% should be about you. This is a great way to promote the work your members are doing and encourage collaboration and discussion about techniques, design, and ideas.

3. Time
A proper strategy needs at least 5 hours of work per week dedicated to it. This will include creating and curating content, posting, and interacting. Whichever social networks you choose should, for best results, be used 3 times per day.

4. Images/Video
Images constantly increasing in importance for almost all social media networks. The few networks that employ algorithms to distribute content score images higher than just text and studies have shown that posts with images receive better metrics in all regards

Videos are becoming an incredibly popular tool for conveying large bits of information. Popular video hosting sites like youtube and vine are exploding in new viewers everyday. While vine only allows for a six second video, youtube is a great place to visually showcase what your brand represents. Video, however, can be tricky. Without proper video-editing software and the skills necessary to utilize those tools, your video can attract more negative attention than positive. When working with video make sure it’s done right, and if you don’t have the skillset to make a proper video, don’t be afraid to outsource it. As a rule of thumb, if you find yourself saying “It’s good enough,” then it is NOT good enough.

5. Analytics
It is important to keep up-to-date with the analytics provided by whichever platform you are using. These metrics provide crucial insight to the kind of content that resonates with your audience. They will allow you to know how many people you are reaching, how engaging your community is and how people are perceiving your brand. Using various analytic tools like Google Analytics and the ones that the social media platforms provide, you will be able to tell the kind of content that your audience most cares about. Capitalize on this data and post more content along those same lines. By doing this you will develop into a stronger digital community and the information you provide will be more valuable to your followers. When reworking your strategy for social media, using analytics (when provided) is the only way to measure your success.

Using various analytic tools like Google Analytics and the ones that the social media platforms provide, you will be able to tell the kind of content that your audience most cares about. Capitalize on this data and post more content along those same lines. By doing this you will develop into a stronger digital community and the information you provide will be more valuable to your followers.

The Seven major networks

1. Facebook
By all means, the most well-known social networking site. Almost every company, nonprofit, and organization has a designated Facebook Page. It is a cost effective way to send out your message. However, it is not always the best way. Facebook’s news feed operates on an algorithm. This algorithm, which calculates thousands upon thousands of data points, determines what you will see. The three biggest factors are Time (time since action took place), Affinity (the strength between the poster and receiver), and Weight (the kind of post, i.e status update, photo upload, video, etc.) Because of this algorithm it is not guaranteed that every “like” you have will see your message. Facebook has another feature called groups. Groups is a far more effective way to foster a community around your HBA and provide valuable networking opportunities. A group provides a close-knit network that sends notifications whenever activity happens within the group. It’s easier to see who’s involved and encourage interaction among the members. The downside to groups is that, unlike as a page, Facebook does not provide analytics.

2. Twitter
With 9,100 tweets being sent per second, Twitter is one of the largest, and most active social networks on the scene currently. The largest demographic for twitter are 18-29 years old, making it one of the most popular networks for Generation Y internet users. The biggest difference between Twitter and Facebook is the way information is given to the user. Twitter displays data chronologically as opposed to algorithmically. This makes twitter very useful at getting information that may be time sensitive out at key periods during the day. A tweet can only take up 140 characters of space. If you wish to use an image in your tweet, which has proven to increase engagement, that will take up about 20 characters. Twitter doesn’t have a group feature like Facebook or LinkedIn so fostering a community around twitter can be more difficult. Hosting TweetChats. ( can help with the use of an original hashtag, but can often times be difficult to maintain engagement on.

3. LinkedIn
Similarly to Facebook, LinkedIn’s news feed operates on an algorithm. This leads to many of the same pros and cons as listed below. LinkedIn also does not provide analytics for groups but will for pages. The major difference between Facebook and LinkedIn is the difference between the user’s personal and professional identities. LinkedIn makes it much easier to publish and promote a user’s professional portfolio. Along the same lines as Facebook, a LinkedIn group will help create a professional network that can operate as a community of practice. An added bonus to the LinkedIn groups is it can connect potential employers and employees together, an invaluable service for young professionals still looking for jobs.

4. Google+
One of the largest networks worldwide, Google+ hasn’t quite caught on yet among American internet users. Providing many of the same features as Facebook (only under different terminology), it hasn’t been able to offer anything different, or significantly improved to attract more Americans. That being said, Google+ is an incredibly useful tool with regards to Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The Google search algorithm that determines content relevance takes in to account google+ accounts and will give boosts to companies who actively utilize this platform. has many more in-depth resources about this topic.

Google+ requires a gmail account to operate and provides access to many other google features such as google hangouts, google drive, and google docs.

5. Houzz
Houzz is a very unique social network dedicated to the home building and real estate industries. It allows for easy uploading and viewing of projects of the people you follow. There are sections of the website dedicated for B2C communication and B2B communication through various discussion boards. Despite the communication features being available, the overall user experience is not as intuitive as most other sites. This flaw limits interaction between users. One nice feature, if you register your HBA as an organization, your members can choose to affiliate the HBA. This affiliation is reflected on the member’s public profile for the consumers to view. This affiliation can go a long way when consumers are choosing between builders. Like other networks, a proper Houzz account must be provided with a variety of project photos and “Pro-to-Pro” discussion posts.

6. Pinterest
Pinterest is an incredibly popular photo-sharing network. Demographically speaking, young women are the most active and make up the largest cohort of the population. Although lacking a group feature, Pinterest still makes it easy to interact with users. It is easy to directly message pinners, comment on photos, and follow other users. Pinterest would be a great place to show off finished products of newly built homes, especially of the interior.

7. Instagram 
Another popular photo-sharing network, Instagram is arguably more mobile-friendly. Instagram has almost no desktop computer applications as every other network does. While Pinterest makes it easier to share photos of other users, it’s impossible to do within the Instagram app alone. It is also difficult to drive traffic from Instagram back to a website. These limitations make it difficult to market or foster a community around your HBA using Instagram.