10 Social Media Lessons From Home Improvement

If we’re connected on Twitter or Facebook, you may have noticed me posting a lot about the renovations we’re currently conducting on our new house.

In a brief moment of downtime, I started thinking about the social media lessons you can learn from the process of renovating a house. I came up with ten – let me know what you think of them in the comments:

1. It’s all about the foundation

If the foundation of your home isn’t solid, things will fall apart when placed under stress.

Similarly, while it might seem easy to  launch into a social media campaign, if you don’t prepare properly – nail down your social media policies, engagement guidelines and escalation processes, among other things – then when issues emerge you’ll be in trouble.

2. You need to get the structure right

When we first looked at our new home, one of the first decisions we made was that we needed to re-structure the main living area – the rooms didn’t flow well and didn’t make the most of the space we had.

One of your foundational steps when embarking on a social media program should be to determine how you will structure your activities – centralized? Hub and spoke? Decentralized? Where would the “centre” be? How will you coordinate the functions that are involved?

Failure to determine this can lead to duplication of effort and dysfunctional programs.

3. Most of the work goes unseen

We worked on our renovation for six weeks before we got to the point of addressing the things that people will see once it’s finished. We ripped out wiring, re-routed the air ducts, installed new plumbing and more – none of which is visible but all of which is essential.

Similarly, the vast majority of work that goes into a social media program will go on behind the scenes – strategy, planning, asset design and development, content planning and production, engagement triage and workflow and so on. The piece the public sees is the tip of the iceberg.

4. Success is in the eye of the owner

Whatever your objectives are for your renovation, other people will judge it based on whether their own preferences. We chose to paint our living room red; if you don’t like red, you won’t like what we’ve done with it, whether or not it achieves our goals.

If you run a high-profile social media program, you’ll run into a similar situation – people will judge your activities based on their own perception, regardless of your objectives. Welcome criticism if it can help you become better; if it’s simply based on incomplete information then stick to your goals and don’t let it phase you.

5. The surface level gets all of the attention

As I mentioned earlier, we spent six weeks working away at elements of our house that will rarely, or never, be seen once we’re finished. Despite that, people will judge the results based on the light fixtures, the paint colour, the colour of the counter top or some other finishing detail.

People will judge your social media activities in a similar way – by the content of a tweet, a personal support issue, the wording of a comment or the like. Accept that that’s going to happen, as you can’t stop it. Still, this makes the next lesson all the more important…

6. Attention to detail is critical

Even with all of the work that has gone in behind the scenes, the house just won’t look as good as it could if we don’t sweat the details. So, we’re being obsessive in ensuring that the painting is flawless, that the flooring is level and so on.

People are going to judge you on what they see, so be sure to sweat the small stuff. That monitoring alert you want to ignore could be the post that starts a major issue. That spelling you forget to check could undermine the credibility of the content you post.

Take the time to get things right.

7. It’s a long-term game

We’re seven weeks into our renovations; we’ve likely got a few months left yet too. It was weeks before we stopped tearing things down and started to build them back up. Sure, we could have done a smaller job and had it down sooner but the results wouldn’t be as rewarding.

Social media is a long-term effort. Don’t expect immediate results; don’t quit if you’re not generating instant leads when you first start. Set a long-term goal; set intermediate goals along the road to that main goal. Stay the course.

8. Sometimes you may need help

We certainly wouldn’t be where we are now with the renovations without the help we’ve received from others – from my father and father-in-law through to friends like Eric Portelance and Jeremy Wright who have lent a hand along the way. We also contracted-out the drywalling, which we just didn’t have the time or desire to do ourselves.

You don’t have to do everything yourself. There will likely be elements of your activities that you don’t have the skills, the time or the inclination to handle. Don’t be afraid to draw on internal resources or agency support to get the work done.

9. “Good” doesn’t come cheap

You can get good materials or you can get cheap materials. We went for good – it costs more, but we’ll reap the rewards in the long-term.

The same goes for social media activities. Some of the tools may be free, but time and expertise isn’t.

10. Everything is integrated

We removed a wall between our living and dining rooms. When we did, we had to re-route an air duct, re-wire an outlet and move a central vac point. Everything in a house, you see, fits together like a jigsaw.

The same goes for a good social media program. Your properties and activities should support each other – driving people from one to the other, supporting the messages and working together to support your objectives.

Integration will be a big theme for social media practitioners in 2011.

What else?

These ten lessons stand out for me. Do they make sense to you? What else would you add to the list?

34 Responses to10 Social Media Lessons From Home Improvement

  • Phew! I’m just glad you didn’t post a picture of me in the “Jail Bird” overalls next to #8. Good post, Dave.

  • I think this is a great list, Dave!

    I can’t think of too much to add! Perhaps something around mistakes and the lessons one can find in them… Such as, “now you know how NOT to electrocute yourself. ;)”

  • Great analogy Dave! It really works.

    Cheers, Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

  • Mary Harvey
    ago10 years

    And you are never done! There is always another task around the corner, in the next room, on the roof. The usage requirement will change meaning another reno. What will the next new social media change require of us?

  • Great article Dave! What about the “how much is too much patchwork” idea? Ie, if you doing your drywall downstairs, yes, you can patch it, but at what point do you need to replace the drywall as a whole?

    I think it is a similar argument to being active in SM. Yes, you need to respond to peoples comments and concerns, but if there are the same overarching concerns time and time again, at what point do you sit down and decide that something needs to change? When do you decide that the whole wall needs to be replaced?

    • Very true, Erik. Issues often run much deeper than communications, and interacting directly with people can help to uncover those issues.

  • Yes, a agree with “Most of the work goes unseen”. But sometimes the tip of the iceberg is too small…

  • This is great, and all very true. I once read a post about SEO in the same light, that it is like building a a home and without blue prints, and a structure it is nothing, the same rings true for social media. You cannot go into it blindly, there has to be a plan, and a lot of patience, because if all efforts are executed in a well planned fashion it does work.

    • Agreed. I think that applies to all communications; sadly, many people still haven’t taken heed.

  • Lori Gosselin
    ago10 years

    Great Post! They say we do everything the way we do everything. I wonder how many other things can be compared to social media.

    We went through the same thing when we bought our new place and took it down to the boards. I think, like Nick Stamoulis I would add patience to the mix. I know it took a lot of that to get through our renovations, and just starting out in the blogosphere, I’m thinking I need to remind myself of its value here too.

  • Terrific analogies Dave. Way to get dirty for your art!

  • Good analogy piece. And I don’t think you looked ridiculous Eric. After all orange is a hot color :).

  • This is a nice post that I guess a good agent must know the techniques in marketing..

  • Superb analogies which I have sent at Twitter to bloggers I know who are in the home improvement niche. More people need to understand that it is what you don’t see or notice that makes most of the difference from blog design to SEO fields to promoting blog posts.

    One home improvement related blog that is working seriously to pull Social Media and business blogging together and is interested in collaborating with others is Good Millwork. They’ve done a lot of things right and are continually improving what they’re doing so they make a good role model for other businesses.

  • Thanks for your offer. You have really written a nice blog.

  • Issues often run much deeper than communications, and interacting directly with people can help to uncover those issues. I want to visit again.

  • From experience, it’s #3 & #7 that resonate most with me. There still exists this mentality that Social Media marketing is something that you can assign a company or intern to do, with the mindset of, ‘can you make sure that we do a couple posts on Facebook and Twitter each day?’. They want to know ‘how’ to use social media so they go to events, webinars and what not – only to come back and start engaging in one-way communication. Six months later they consider it a failure because no revenue can be attributed to it. In the end, they don’t understand yet how much work & care needs to be put into it, things that go on ‘behind the scenes’ as well as the time it takes to to it (‘long term’). Eventually, there will be full time staff assigned to these channels in their companies – not the intern or office manager. 🙂

  • Very nice. Agreed. I think that applies to all communications;

  • Great work man… But I think rank 2 should in rank #1

  • I must say that overall I am really impressed with this blog.It is easy to see that you are passionate about your writing.

  • Nice post, many thank you to the writer.

  • Jenpolk1
    ago10 years

    Add #11 Beware the renovation that just doesn’t “fit”.

    Ever see a house totally out if place in the neighborhood or an addition that just doesn’t seem to fit the house it’s attached to. Think about your social media strategy the same way–it needs to fit your brand and fit into the lives of your audience in a way that makes sense and adds value.

  • Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic.

  • Dave, great post, great metaphor – makes the social media strategic plan easy to relate to and helps to demystify it, thanks!

  • Nice analogy … and agree with the previous poster who said it never ends!

    I would also say you need to be prepared to live with a little bit of a “mess.” A lot of companies/organizations feel uncomfortable with putting in the time/resources without seeing an immediate result. Social media isn’t linear or as easily measurable as other tools – and sometimes you have to learn to live with this discomfort.

  • Great information. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Oh these lessons are awesome! These truly inspire many people in making important decisions in their life. It’s normal that you may feel hopeless about certain challenge. Thankfully, through the support of your lovd ones and friends, you’ll able to cope with your challenges and find answers. They said, “No man in an island”. It means that there are times that you’ll need help of other people. For example, the salary is not enough for the important expenses. You may borrow money from your parents, friends, and another option is, to borrow money from instant cash advance service. This is very useful in time of emergencies. There’s nothing wrong about asking for help. You can survive the cycle of life through using the gift of a creativity given to you!

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