Introduction: How socialmedia works now
By now, most Americans are familiar with social media services likeFacebook, Twitter, MySpace, andLinkedIn, which allow individuals tosocialize with each other online. Usingthese services, people can exchangemessages, share interests, formassociations in groups, or just stay intouch.Until now, businesses have used socialmedia as a general communications toolfor public relations and marketing. But a just-released study,
The Coming Change in Social Media Business Applications
, has now documented thatthis is changing. The rising tide of potential consumers using socialnetworks now indicates a new role for social media: as a primary tool of customer engagement.Could the next leap forward in thedevelopment of social media happen inan apartment community? Recenttrends point this way.Apartment communities could be theultimate test of this new trend because,unlike most social communities,apartment residents share no commoninterests, only a common geography.With no common interest (i.e. hobby,profession, music, technology, politics,etc) community building is harder.Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerbergshared the secret of how online socialnetworks succeed. At the 2007 Davosconference, a newspaper executiveasked Zuckerberg how he could build asocial network for one of his powerfulmedia brands. “You can’t,” respondedZuckerberg. He then explained thatsocial communities already exist, andthat the question the executive shouldbe asking instead is, how he can helpthem do what they want to do. All onlinesocial networks exist only to enhanceand serve previously existinginterpersonal networks.So, how will apartment communitiesplay an important role? Because socialmedia usage has grown so much, manycompanies are now finding that amajority of their customers are engagedwith it. And, according to theaforementioned study, those companiesare beginning to shift their use of socialmedia toward customer engagement.Will this work?One of the first places this new trend willbe tested is in apartment communitiesacross the country. Apartmentcommunities offer a pure testing labbecause they represent a community of people who live in close physicalproximity, and yet have no structuredway of knowing each other. If onlinesocial media can improve communityrelations and become the core tool of customer engagement in the multi-family housing market, other industrieswill follow.