Social media adoption in disaster restoration industry

Jing Pan (Department of Architectural and Manufacturing Sciences, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky, USA)
Mihaela Vorvoreanu (Department of Computer Graphic Technology: Technology Leadership & Innovation, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)
Zheng Zhou (Department of Computer Graphic Technology, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, USA)

Construction Innovation

ISSN: 1471-4175

Publication date: 1 July 2014

Abstract

Purpose

This research aims to investigate the current patterns of social media adoption for marketing in the restoration industry and analyse the strategies used by those restoration companies that have adopted social media. Social media marketing has been proven as a cost-effective way to engage new customers, and especially useful for small businesses. The disaster “restoration industry” is the special sector of general contracting that serves both commercial and residential property owners in terms of restoring their disaster-affected property. The restoration industry is characterised by small-business domination and constant need of new customers to survive in the market. Many restoration contractors have started adopting social media for marketing. However, goals and social media marketing strategies have not yet been clearly articulated.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected through a systematic content analysis (CA) of sample restoration companies’ Facebook and Twitter posts over a 30-day study period. After a preliminary investigation of the industry, the researchers selected the Restoration Industry Association (RIA) member companies, as the research population. Sixty companies were randomly selected from the 1,165 RIA member companies, which equals to 5 per cent of the population. Reliability was tested statistically using Cohen’s Kappa.

Findings

Three levels of adoption were derived from the data: active users, non-active users and non-adopters. More than half of the sample companies were found to have adopted at least one social media channel for marketing. However, only 26 out of the 60 sample companies were active on the social media that they have adopted. Active adopters showed, on average, relatively frequent usage patterns, with 10 Facebook posts and 37 tweets in a 30-day period. Sampled restoration companies which were active social media users posted mostly announcements and educational information of Facebook and used Twitter for news and direct interaction with customers. The observed companies revealed a mix of business-relevant content and personalised content including personal greetings, sharing of photos about holidays and fun events.

Research limitations/implications

Three levels of adoption were derived from the data: active users, non-active users and non-adopters. More than half of the sample companies were found to have adopted at least one social media channel for marketing. However, only 26 out of the 60 sample companies were active on the social media that they have adopted. Active adopters showed, on average, relatively frequent usage patterns, with 10 Facebook posts and 37 tweets in a 30-day period. Sampled restoration companies that were active social media users posted mostly announcements and educational information of Facebook and used Twitter for news and direct interaction with customers. The observed companies revealed a mix of business-relevant content and personalised content including personal greetings, sharing of photos about holidays and fun events.

Practical implications

The results showed that social media adoption has not yet penetrated the restoration industry – the adoption rate of 65 per cent is significantly lower than the 77 per cent of companies in all industries. In-depth CA of active social media users revealed patterns of engagement on Facebook and Twitter. This paper built on those patterns to emphasise strategies restoration companies can use to build interpersonal relationships and trust, which can lead to increased word-of-mouth recommendations; facilitate customer contact through a cross-linking strategy; and engage in simple methods for search engine optimisation. These strategic recommendations are grounded in existing practices and, therefore, are feasible and accessible for disaster restoration companies.

Originality/value

The research results showed how the construction industry, especially small businesses, has adopted social media for marketing. A snapshot of the industry’s level of social media adoption for marketing strategy can provide a useful reference point about the industry’s practices and potential future directions. This paper provides suggestions about effective social media marketing strategies. The paper also illustrates the use of CA as a promising method for research in construction management.

Keywords

Citation

Pan, J., Vorvoreanu, M. and Zhou, Z. (2014), "Social media adoption in disaster restoration industry", Construction Innovation, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 346-369. https://doi.org/10.1108/CI-03-2013-0014

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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