How Facility Managers Can Avoid Social Media Traps

By Naomi Millàn, Senior Editor  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: How Facility Managers Can Effectively Use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedInPt. 2: Why Facility Managers Are Not Adopting Social MediaPt. 3: How Facility Managers Can Benefit From Using Social MediaPt. 4: How Facility Management Can Use Social Media in Emergency SituationsPt. 5: This Page

Social media platforms are free to use and seemingly everyone is using them, which might give the impression that they can be approached lackadaisically, but this would be a mistake.

Part of the strategy that needs to be thought through before embarking on a social media effort is the manpower and resources required to post frequently enough to make it worthwhile. Garret gives this analogy: If you're going to buy a motorcycle, don't let it sit in the garage and gather dust. "If you're going to have a Twitter account, a blog or if you're going to be a member of LinkedIn, you're going to get out of it what you invest in it, in terms of time," he says.

Another area to tread carefully on is how to respond to complaints and criticism. This policy should also be established before setting up an account for your organization. "Responding to complaints on social media takes a special frame of mind," says Altes. It's a mistake to respond either too aggressively or to simply delete the comment.

"The problem with deleting the complaint is that somebody saw it," she says. "What's on the Internet, stays on the Internet. People find out about it." Instead, the strategy should be to acknowledge the complaint and then take the rest of the response offline, much like moving from the lobby to an office with a closed door.

It's a lot to consider, especially for facility managers who might not be directly involved with social media at all. But with the societal shift that has occurred in the wake of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, et al., it is unlikely that the influence and presence of social media will do anything but increase.

"Social media is going to become the company website of the future," says Altes, in the sense that at one point some questioned the need to have a website, a now ubiquitous requirement. "More and more people are conducting their lives on social media."


MyFacilitiesnet is an online community aimed specifically at facility professionals from the publisher of Building Operating Management. It has more than 6,000 members. MyFacilitiesnet is built on the chat board concept. Under industry categories, like HVAC and energy efficiency, facility managers post threads with specific questions, which are then answered by the community. The site also offers a space for blogging and allows facility managers to network with their peers.

Hot topics in the past have included vetting different CMMS, the payback period to go from T8s to LEDs, how to find good outsourced HVAC maintenance contractors and waterless urinal maintenance. Users can subscribe to a thread and allow answers to be sent to their email, if they wish. Check it out for yourself at

Grab Your Name

If you have a building or company name and they're grabbed by someone else, it's difficult to control what is done with it, says Adam Crowe, director of emergency preparedness at Virginia Commonwealth University. "There have been situations where companies have been misrepresented during an event because they weren't present on social media," he says. At minimum, set up accounts using the name of the organization or how it's commonly known so no one else can take that name.

— Naomi Millán

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  posted on 5/7/2012   Article Use Policy

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