By Elizabeth Dukes
Facilities managers (fms) in the current era of social media ascendancy must think outside the building and become executive liaisons not just in matters regarding their facilities, but also in the very business conducted inside and outside of them. Customers and employees are using social media to interact with public spaces, and fms are using it to engage new customers, network with employees, and enhance operations.
Since it is so critical, fms should know as much as possible about and consider enlisting social media tools like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and YouTube.
Facebook allows an identifying and dynamic Web presence—a home on the Internet—for a facility management organization or professional. In a decade, Facebook has gained more than 1.3 billion registered users and includes more than 50 million company pages. Fms can stay updated on trends and connected with peers on Facebook sites like those of Facility Executive or the International Facility Management Association (IFMA).
Google+ is similar to but not yet as widely used as Facebook. It boasts 500 million registered users, half of whom are active monthly. Here, fms can quickly form or enlist like minded networks via its “circle” feature. Like Facebook, Google+ can be used by fms to inform constituents (i.e., employees, students) about events like impending construction schedules, power outages, and road closures.
LinkedIn also resembles Facebook, but has a more professional than personal flair. It has become a resumé and official networking site for nearly every professional industry, including facility management. Two new people join LinkedIn every second, and 40% of users check LinkedIn at least once daily.
A LinkedIn presence can engage potential tenants, employees, and employers. There are numerous LinkedIn groups of special importance to facility management professionals, and these include Today’s Facility Manager, the Facilities Management Group, Facilities Management Association, Facilities Management Professionals International, Integrated Facility Management, and IFMA.
Twitter is essentially a community that builds itself by networking “tweets,” or text based entries of 140 characters or less submitted to Twitter.com. Approximately 14,000 facility management professionals tweet everything from upcoming conferences and training opportunities to unbiased industry news to insight on sourcing service providers.
Meanwhile, YouTube enables viewers to access and post videos online including fm-related videos. User can upload and share videos, providing free exposure for themselves and their facilities.
Fms can use as many of these social media sites as they can effectively maintain. Social media is not only a trend, but is also a tool with substantial benefits for fms and the spaces they manage. It is understood that creating cover images for the various social media sites can be difficult, and this resource offers templates that can be downloaded to create effective and impressive cover images.
Advantages of Social Media Tools
“Social media is an increasingly valuable tool for CRE professionals to enhance visibility and credibility in the marketplace.” — Coy Davidson, senior vice president at Colliers International
Social media tools can boost fms’ productivity and impact in several important ways:
Allow Instant Communication. Though it began as a casual forum, social media is now instrumental for corporate communications. Creating web pages, e-mail blasts, and newsletters takes time and people don’t always read or receive them immediately. With social media, fms can reach out instantly to occupants and the workforce with maintenance updates, service announcements, job openings, and other vital information. This faster communication often leads to quicker and more reliable responses.
Improve and Expedite Feedback. When fms engage the people who work in their facilities, these people believe they’re working in the best possible environment, which helps improve performance. Managers gain benefits from designating a social media account specifically for soliciting and replying to feedback from workers, occupants, and the public.
“Legitimize” Communications. The Millennial generation—which now outnumbers the Baby Boomer generation—associates business legitimacy with an active online profile. They suspect anyone without a robust and prominent online presence. Customers and employees trust and respect the fm who creates a “with it” image via social media.
Give a Facility a Face. Social media gives facility management a personality, making fms seem more in touch. A hospitable and inviting social media presence can attract major event reservations and high value tenants.
Enable Easily Updated Connections. Fms can use social media to stay on top of the latest news, emerging technologies, trends, and industry activities. Also, several social network groups mentioned earlier exclusively interconnect fms (as well as commercial real estate executives and office administration professionals), who communicate tips, opportunities, and ideas amongst themselves.
“Social media…Is the most powerful, fastest growing tool on the market that allows you to know what employees and customers need.” — Chris Hubbs, facilities manager for Sirius Computer Solutions
All in all, facility management professionals who grasp the benefits and effectively adopt the tools of social media will lead their organizations and their careers in the new direction that has gained undeniable momentum. They will grow alongside this phenomenon, which promises new and often better ways of getting work done.
Dukes is executive vice president and chief marketing officer at iOffice, a facility management software provider and consultant. iOffice technology works to reduce and eliminate information roadblocks and daily problems that occur in facility management by integrating workplace management systems tailored to meet the needs of more than 1,800 clients worldwide. Dukes will delve into Mobility In The Workplace at the upcoming REAL STREET Expo, February 10-12, 2015.