Innovation

Social spelunking

Social spelunking

Among the speakers at the Pacific Coast Builders Conference was Tara Hunt, blogger, speaker and social media expert. Tara talked to The Real Story about how, in making the decision to buy a home, it’s not about the floor plan or the features any more. People are buying community—the idea that they will find a social network in their neighborhoods that supports their families’ lifestyles. Homebuyers are counting bicycles on front lawns, dog parks and the kinds of cars in driveways as they imagine themselves integrating their lives into the social fabric of a community.

That being said, Tara also has some cautionary advice for the homebuilders who are experimenting with Facebook and Twitter: Think about what you can offer the community first, and build up a reputation for trust over time before you can expect buyers to respond to you.

The takeaway? Just because you can set up a Facebook page quickly and post a message instantly doesn’t mean that response is going to come instantly. Social media mirrors social interaction, not paid media. Ads get your attention the day they run. Relationships build over time.

Building confidence, building community

Building confidence, building community

When Rick Holliday talks about people moving to West Oakland’s Central Station, he relates some of the anecdotes of daily living, urban style: people bicycling to BART and enjoying a door-to-door commute to downtown SF that’s fifteen minutes long…neighbors becoming friends while washing their dogs at a “Laundromutt”.

What he doesn’t mention is the role that the developer can play in brainstorming some of the small, but essential touches that help people feel that they are a part of a community—like converting a janitor’s closet into a dog wash room, or negotiating for thirty used bicycles from a friendly bicycle touring company so that homeowners have instant, easy access to transportation to get them to public transportation. At that point, the discussion about community building has nothing to do with bedroom and bath count, and whether there is tile or laminate on a countertop… building community is all about creating natural places for people to gather, meet and connect, and making use of the resources around the built environment to make more connections possible.