One of the many plusses of social media sites like Facebook is the ability to garner mass support around a single campaign, simply and cheaply. Unfortunately, in the real estate development industry, it seems it’s the only the naysayers and NIMBYs that have cottoned on.
All over the world, development opponents are taking a page from birthday party planners and flash mobbers, using Facebook to coalesce their cause. They’re creating and monitoring social media sites to trumpet their beliefs and gather like-minded neighbours, while developers sit back aghast.
Last year, tens of thousands of people joined a Facebook group, “People against the Malling of Wrigleyville, to fight a hotel-residential-retail development in the Chicago town. More recently, here in Vancouver, the group Vancouver Not Vegas rallied together using Facebook – among other things – against the development of Edgewater Casino at BC Place. As is stands now, the casino project is a no go.
The Saint Consulting Group recently conducted a study to assess the extent to which community groups were utilizing Facebook and found that opposition campaigns outnumbered support campaigns by a ratio of 9 to 1.
This is no good.
How can we expect to share good and relevant information about real estate development projects with the people who need to hear it, if we’re not where they are?
As Saint Consulting points out, the greatest challenge of any campaign is targeting your voters and developing lists of supporters. With the advent of social media, there are now plenty of tools out there to help us do this. Let’s use them.
Real estate developers need to realize that they have to be geared up and ready to respond – offline and on.