Social Media from the Ground Up

Mike MacEachern    March 20, 2017

When it comes to social media marketing it is important, to build a solid foundation to ensure that your efforts have the greatest chance of success.  A solid foundation really is about getting the basics right and remembering the purpose of social media is to engage with people.  Engagement is not announcing carefully crafted advertising pieces to your intended audiences it is about adding value to conversations that are already happening, building your reputation and remembering that social media is about listening and communicating.   Geranium gets social media marketing right.


In an article “Social Media:  The new hybrid element of the promotion mix” Mangold and Faulds argue that you can’t discount the importance of social media in marketing as there are numerous conversations already occurring about your product or service.  You need to be engaging in these discussions through both informing them and listening to them.  To not be involved would leave you unaware of changes in the needs of the marketplace and allow those within the market to shape perceptions of your product or service without your input.  In traditional Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) there was a great deal of control in producing a unified customer focused message.  Social Media takes away that control because as much as it is another tool for speaking with your customers, it also allows your customers and potential customers to talk with one another.  It amplifies traditional word of mouth advertising as it offers the opportunity for individuals not to just to pass on information about your company and its products to a few friends but it allows them to pass that information on to hundreds and even thousands of people.   Together with this increased consumer control of the message, people view social media as more trustworthy than traditional marketing material.  The authors offer the following suggestions:


  1. Create communities of like-minded individuals
  2. Use blogs and other social media to engage customers. Customers are more engaged when they can offer feedback
  3. Use a mix of traditional and non-traditional tools to engage consumers like contests
  4. Provide information as people are more likely to talk about companies when they feel they know about them. This could include how things are developed and made.
  5. “Be outrageous” – it is about trying to spark conversation about your product or service
  6. Make people feel special by providing offers or information to a select group.
  7. Stand out. Make sure the price, value, and quality propositions are simple to understand and communicate.  This will assist your followers in helping to transmit the message.
  8. Support causes important to your customers
  9. “Utilize the power of stories” Personal stories are far more easily remembered by people.


Geranium was established in 1977 and is celebrating its 40th anniversary.  They have built more than 8000 homes, and believe they are not just building homes but adding value and building connections to the communities they are developing in.  Geranium supports a range of community groups from Habitat for Humanity in the GTA and Northumberland, Whitchurch-Stouville Foodbank, Sandgate Women’s Shelter in Markham to the Elmvale Skating Club in Midhurst.  They have a robust presence on social media and in September of  2016, Geranium received an award for the Best Use of Social Media at the Ontario Home Builders Association General Meeting.   As you move through each of the platforms Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and their  Blog “View From the Front Porch” you notice that Geranium is focused on providing knowledge and information.  They support their followers and visitors with design ideas, home do it yourself projects, recipes, decorating ideas, as well as knowledge about the progress of their projects and how their homes are built.  They support sustainable building practices and have planned their homes for the future.  For instance, as sustainable water conservation measures evolve they have made sure that their homes are ready for the reuse of grey water( for example reusing water from showers for flushing toilets).  You can clearly see that Geranium understands the importance of using social media to provide value to its audience and to promote its industry leadership, its sustainable quality building practices and the value it places in contributing to the communities in which it is developing.   It is not about selling, selling, selling it is about the customer experience and creating a sense of community.


In an interview with Stephanie Lane, Manager Sales and Marketing for Geranium, she summed it up saying “The Social Media Strategy is really about establishing a relationship.  We want to provide our customers with all the information they are looking for about their community, about their new home, anything that is going to add to the excitement and ease of their new home purchase.”  She said the focus of their efforts is always on the end user of that information.  They are interested in providing quality content on their site and want to ensure it adds value to their customers and other followers.  Geranium also makes sure that it connects with local government, business, and community leaders to ensure that they become a part of the community prior to any projects being developed.  Their marketing group follows trends and provide updates on their site to keep their followers well informed.  Their blog, “View from the Front Porch”, is aimed at providing information about anything to do with homes whether it is downsizing, home do-it-yourself projects or selling your home.  These blogs link to other professional resources to help enhance the value of the information provided.  Ms. Lane said “It takes dedicated and creative resources to the social media effort.  Content needs to be updated regularly and comments need to be responded to quickly.  It is important in establishing engagement.”


When reviewing the  “10 laws of social media marketing “ by Susan Gunelius the importance of compounding, value, accessibility, and reciprocity are described as being important.  It is clear that Geranium understands that providing quality content, contributing to the conversations happening online, and responding in a timely fashion are keys to their social media success.

Lessons for Others

Content marketing efforts are most important to your social media efforts.  Contributing valuable knowledge to the discussions occurring about your products and services helps to develop you as a valued resource.


Dedicated resources to monitoring and responding to social media posts is critical to establishing and maintaining relationships with your audience.  As Ms. Lane highlighted in her interview responding to posts in a timely manner is most important to establishing and maintaining these relationships.


Word of mouth is typically the most influential way individuals will find your product or service.  This method is amplified by social media.  Social media provides a platform, network, and tools to easily get information out to a large group of people.  It is important that the organization is involved in the discussions happening in order to provide accurate information and to listen for changes in demands from customers in the marketplace.


Reciprocity is a key.  It is as important for you to share other people’s content as it is to share your own.  You  cannot others to share your content if you are not commenting on or sharing theirs.

Organization: Geranium
Industry: Construction
Name of Organization Contact: Stephanie Lane, Manager Sales and Marketing

Authored by: Mike MacEachern, student, SMBP, University of Waterloo

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


Geranium (2016, May10) Construction & Craftmanship (YouTube Video) retrieved from

Geranium Habitat for Humanity Picture.  Geranium Homes Instagram Retrieved March 18, 2017 from

Geranium Official Blog.  Retrieved March from Geranium Homes website

Gunelius, S. (2016, Mar. 3) 10 laws of Social Media Marketing, Entrepreneur (YouTube Video File) Retrieved from–s2sfm9JkI

Gunelius, S. (2016, Mar. 3) 10 laws of Social Media Marketing, Entrepreneur Retrieved from

Mangold, W.G. and Faulds, D.J. (2009, July 15) Social media:  The new hybrid element of the promotion mix, Business Horizons, 52, 4, 357-365.   DOI: 10.1016/j.bushor.2009.03.002

Social Media Marketing Traditional Marketing.  We Play.  Retrieved from

Templeman, S. (2015, Dec. 28).  6 Ways Social Media Will Enhance Your Content Marketing, Forbes, Retrieved from