The Benefit and Bane of Social Media

As the only member of my condo association’s board with construction contacts, I’m typically in charge of all construction work in and around my 15-unit building. Before our masonry walls were repointed last year, severe ice damming damaged drywall in six units and one common area. I was charged with gathering three estimates for drywall repairs, hiring a contractor and overseeing the work.

I found two drywall contractors through my construction contacts. For the third, I relied on one of my favorite online review sites: Yelp.com. Yelp provided 59 results for my search. Sixth on the list was a contracting company near my neighborhood with 24 reviews and an average four- out of five-star rating. I liked what the Yelpers were saying, so I called the company.

After careful consideration, the board hired the firm I found on Yelp, though its estimate wasn’t the cheapest of the three. The drywall crew’s workmanship and service were exactly as Yelpers had shared. Because I coordinated the work for all the damaged units and common area, the company’s owner knew I was satisfied with his crew’s work. When he sent me his bill via email, he included a link to his firm’s profile on Yelp, so I could easily add my own positive review.

I told this story while traveling the country to the Pro Expos by Pella and presenting about how online testimonials can help remodelers sell their expertise to potential customers. During one presentation, a remodeler asked me what to do about someone who was using every social- media site available to libel him.

We all know people generally are more apt to rant than rave about a service experience. And, unfortunately, the anonymity of social media seems to have produced a mean streak in some. I suggested the remodeler respond to his critic through all of the sites on which the critic was posting. The remodeler should offer a solution on the site(s) for all reviewers to see. Showing empathy and making an effort to resolve an issue makes you more human to the site’s visitors and helps them see how you handle problems. It ultimately creates trust.

In addition, it’s highly important you monitor social-media sites to ensure you spot and respond to negative reviews. As you may have guessed, there are a number of services that will do it for you; check out Trackur.com and Radian6.com. However, I advise against hiring companies who offer to wipe out negative reviews all together. Negative reviews actually are an opportunity for you to engage with customers, which is social media’s purpose.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in testing the waters of social media, join QR’s very active and engaging LinkedIn group, Qualified Remodeler magazine. I found John DiPrimio addressing contractor stereotypes, which he writes about on page 24, within the group. You also can learn some tips from remodelers who are actively navigating social media and making it work for them in this issue’s NARI Online Certification article.

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