Are you already a social media junkie? Do you tweet your facebook to tell your youtube to get linkedin? If that made any sense at all to you, you can probably skip the tutorial and just go right to the HBA’s social networks by using the icons at the top of the column to the right! But if you’re here to learn what all the fuss is about, then by all means, read on!
Social networking is everywhere. Even this site, the new SpringfieldHBA.com, is built to be a fully functioning social networking tool for those who choose to use it that way. You can leave comments and engage in online discussions about virtually anything you see on this site. There are thousands of web portals out there to accomodate online social networking. And everyone has their favorites. The HBA of Greater Springfield is recognized nationwide as an association on the leading edge of this burgeoning trend (we were even featured in Nation’s Building News as early as 2009 on the subject). Your HBA’s social networking universe centers around three sites: Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. We also use a Youtube Channel to house HBA videos and a Flickr account to keep and organize HBA photos, but those are primarily media managers, not what we consider true social media. Interested so far? Read on…
WHAT IS TWITTER?
Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets.
Senders can restrict delivery to those in their circle of friends or, by default, allow open access. Users can send and receive tweets via the Twitter website, Short Message Service (SMS) or external applications. While the service costs nothing to use, accessing it through SMS may incur phone service provider fees.
Tweet: Text-based post of up to 140 characters displayed on the author’s profile page and delivered to the author’s subscribers who are known as followers.
Follow: Subscribe to receive another person’s tweets.
Re-Tweet (RT): Re-posting of someone else’s tweet. People add “RT” somewhere in a tweet to indicate that part of their tweet includes something they’re re-posting from another person’s tweet, sometimes with a comment of their own.
@replies: A public message sent from one person to another, distinguished from normal updates by the @username prefix. Tweets starting with @username are replies, and tweets with @username elsewhere are considered mentions. Reply publicly to any update on Twitter by using the @username format. Following is not necessary to reply to someone, and all of your replies are visible in the @username tab in your home page sidebar.
Direct Message (DM): Private tweets that can be sent directly to anyone who is following you. DMs can be sent from the web via the “message” link on the profile page. When you receive a direct message, it is saved in your direct message inbox, accessible from the Direct Message tab in the sidebar in your twitter home page. You can set your email preferences to notify you by email if you have a new direct message.
HOW DOES THE HBA USE TWITTER?
Two things about Twitter: 1) Twitter messages are required to be brief, and 2) they can be delivered to and from mobile phones (as well as online). Those two characteristics make it a natural fit for the HBA and its membership. We like to get right to the point, and we live and die by our cell phones. It is a wonderfully simple and useful tool for quick and convenient mass communication.
HBA staff and senior leadership routinely “tweet” live from HBA events and/or meetings where relevant and often time-sensitive information is being made available that could be of use to HBA members. It provides a way for busy HBA members to get the basic information (and often links to more detailed information and analysis), even if they can’t attend every meeting. Following the official HBA twitter account (@SpringfieldHBA) also provides members with handy reminders of meetings and events that are about to begin, or that will take place in the same day. @SpringfieldHBA provides other followers (potential customers) with tweets about trade shows or other events that showcase HBA members & their products & services.
If you are on twitter, make sure to tell someone on the HBA staff where to find you. HBA members can be added to the “MyHBA People” twitter list. Once you’ve been added to the list, watch your tweets show up in real time on the front page (and every page) of SpringfieldHBA.com (just check the lower lefthand corner of any page of the site to see who’s tweeting now)! Put yourself on the HBA’s site as often as you tweet. Having a sale or promotion? Tweet like crazy and link back to your own site.
WHAT TO KNOW:
Twitter users can be followed by other twitter users easily. Twitter users are identified by their usernames, often expressed in the twitterverse as @username. To find and follow a twitter user, simply navigate online to http://twitter.com/username. Then, click the “Follow” button near the top of the page, found directly under the user’s picture & @username. Active HBA twitter users that may be of interest to HBA members include: HBA President Matt Bailey (@baileycompany); HBA CEO Matt Morrow (@matt_morrow); HBA Public Affairs Director Jennifer McClure (@JenMcHBA); HBA Past President Rusty MacLachlan (@rustymaclachlan); You can also follow and/or ask to be added to Matt Morrow’s “MyHBA People” Twitter list, @matt_morrow/myhba-people-9. Members of that list can put themselves on the front page of SpringfieldHBA.com anytime they want, just by tweeting. Of course, don’t forget the official twitter feed of the HBA of Greater Springfield (@SpringfieldHBA), and the twitter feed for the HBA magazine (@HBAmagazine).
Members who have never used twitter may need help setting up their account. Establishing an account is easy and free, and can be done by following the directions at http://twitter.com. The most challenging part is setting up a mobile device to receive tweets from certain users via direct text message (SMS) to a cellular phone. HBA members who demonstrate an interest in twitter should take the extra step to register their wireless device and set it up to receive HBA updates via text message (assuming their texting plan can accommodate messages without extra charges).
Device setup is done online after an account has been set up, once the user is logged in to his/her account at http://twitter.com/devices. To set up a device to send and receive tweets via text messaging, be sure to have the device handy and be prepared to enter the cell phone number on the website in the proper format. For U.S. phone numbers in the 417 area code, they must be entered as +1417xxxxxxx to work properly. Once the device is registered, the user may click on his/her “following” account link and decide which people’s messages will be delivered to his/her phone via SMS text messaging. HBA staff can help demonstrate how to do this by signing members up to receive text messages from the official HBA accounts mentioned above.
Facebook is the most widely used social networking website in the world. Users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school, organization and region to connect and interact with other people. People can add friends to their network and send them messages, update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves, easily share photos and video, chat live online, schedule events and manage RSVPs, and more.
WHY IS THE HBA USING FACEBOOK?
As a professional trade association, one of the central functions of the HBA of Greater Springfield is to provide members with access to valuable networking opportunities. In the past, the definition of “networking” was fairly limited. Today, there are many, many ways people network. Social networking online has become widely-utilized, and is the fastest growing way people are networking today. Online social networking will not replace more traditional networking opportunities. But to provide the best possible membership value, it has been added to the HBA’s mix of networking opportunities.
HOW DO I CONNECT WITH HBA & HBA MEMBERS ON FACEBOOK?
If you don’t have a facebook account, create one for free at: http://www.facebook.com
LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking site mainly used for professional networking. As of May 2009, it had more than 40 million registered users, spanning 170 industries. Think of it as facebook, with a job. In general terms of content and usage, if facebook leans more toward the personal, LinkedIn leans more toward the professional.
WHY IS THE HBA USING LINKEDIN?
As with facebook, the HBA has an obligation to its members to provide valuable networking opportunities of all kinds. With LinkedIn’s focus on professional and business networking, it holds particular potential for members of a professional trade association such as the HBA. It can be used to exchange ideas and perspectives on industry and business trends, follow and discuss recent relevant news stories that affect the residential construction and housing industries, or even to match employers with candidates to fill vacancies in the workplace.
HOW DO I CONNECT WITH HBA & HBA MEMBERS ON LINKEDIN?
If you don’t have a LinkedIn account, create for free at: http://www.LinkedIn.com. HBA members and friends of the industry can join the HBA of Greater Springfield LinkedIn Group at this URL: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=2080983&trk=hb_side_g
WANT TO GO DEEPER?
If you’re looking for a great primer on using social media for your own business, many excellent resources are available. Among the very best available for anyone in the housing or construction industries is Social Media for Home Builders 2.0: It’s Easier Than You Think by Carol Flammer.
This popular resource teaches builders and residential construction professionals how to use social media tools such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and YouTube, to increase their visibility and improve their sales results.
Social Media for Home Builders 2.0: It’s Easier Than You Think is designed to help readers understand social media and construct a strategic plan for attracting more prospects, following up on leads, and closing more homes.