Social Media Mistake #1: The Mute Button Approach

One key difference with Social Media and other communications like advertising or even websites is the fact that it is a true two-way communication channel and must be treated as such. Why do you think people like social media? Because it gives them a voice. If their voice isn’t being heard, they’re going to ignore your voice - so approach Social Media endeavors like a real, open conversation.

To be successful in Social Media, businesses must not only to push out their message but also listen. Filtering comments is one thing but to blog, post or tweet with comments disabled would be missing the point entirely, and I see so many companies going wrong with this approach. Would you use a cell phone that only had a microphone and no audio? If you can’t hear what’s being said on the other end, you’re not having a conversation - you may as well be in the corner talking to yourself. Might sound silly but so does trying to use Social Media with the mute button on.

You can’t expect users to listen to you if you’re not listening to them so keep settings open to feedback and at least acknowledge the responses you receive. Businesses trying to use social media as a one-way channel to spout their messages are only using Social Media half-way. Why not utilize the opportunities to learn from the experiences of their customers, peers and competitors? Social Media presents the chance to monitor what’s being said, plus it gives the option to immediately address issues, concerns, ideas, demands and feedback to the people who matter to your products and brands.

ted hettick

business development manager
we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations

Architects - Let's Get Together (yea! yea! yea!)

As an architect, a successful project is a combination of your vision and the right product specifications to meet your project’s design challenges and goals. Our first meet-up will be held at AIA 2010 National Convention on June 11 and will be focused on helping manufacturers develop better products to meet your design challenges. Building Product Manufacturers (BPMs) know that architects are the experts, so they are asking you to help them with their product development. We will be touring 10 booths as a meet-up group to see and interact with the products in person and to talk with BPM experts. Our hope is for all of us to come together to share and discuss common needs and successes. Exploring some of the booths in the exhibit hall together will provide much needed food-for-thought in helping us all design and build better buildings for the future. It will also be a great opportunity to network with some of your peers, to discuss industry issues, job searches and new projects.

More specific details about the AIA meetup-up to come (times to be determined). For now, let us know if you will be at AIA and we’ll plan to see you there! This is the first of many meet-ups to come. We look forward to connecting with you at AIA and in the future.

To join us in Miami, register here:

Lessons from an Intern

Things I learned at Function:
  1. Architecture is full of acronyms: AIA, USGBC, AEC, BPM, ALA, CPBD, LEED, RA, etc.
  2. Time flies when you’re live tweeting!
  3. Social Media isn’t just for college students anymore (see also @FunctionAtlanta.)
  4. There’s more than one way to describe a ceiling tile.
  5. PR can stand for many things: Public relations, press release, Puerto Rico.
  6. Pitching articles is not like pitching baseballs; no curves please!
In all seriousness, I have gotten a ton of great advice, great experience and great insight into the world of marketing and PR through working here at Function: that I will continue to draw on as I enter the job market.
If you or anyone you know is interested in applying to be an intern here, email a resume and cover letter to Jody by Friday, April 2:, and check out the flier for more info:

jessi probus

public relations intern
we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations

Know Your Audience

On my computer I have a "post it" note that says "stop marketing to yourself". As professional marketers, we tend to forget marketing should be about the audience and their current needs not our needs. The word audience is ever so important in today's marketing tactics. If you don't know your audience, any marketing can be expensive and potentially harmful. Take social media for example: Let's say the audience is architects, we need to keep in mind how architects think, how they specify products, what building types they work on, what are current issues affecting their design decisions. We have to know the audience to be relevant - to really offer up a valuable conversation. Social media is not about getting out there talking about nothing - it truly is about bringing value to your audience.

dana castle
principal + director of strategy
404 524 3075 x12

we’re into building things through marketing, and public relations

twitter: @FunctionAtlanta

Why I Love Social Media (Personally and Professionally)

You may have noticed that Function: has been talking a lot about social media lately. We blog about it. We tweet about it. And our most recent webinar on March 11th was entitled “Social Media: How Tweets, Posts and Friending Can Benefit the Building Product Manufacturer.”

This discussion of social media is very interesting and exciting to me. First of all, I love social media. Give me a blog, tell me to write and I’ll be happily occupied for hours. Sign me up for a Twitter account and I’ll tweet all day. Set me free on Facebook and I’ll reconnect with everyone I’ve known since kindergarten. I just love it- talking, writing, connecting to people.

But on top of simply enjoying social media from a personal standpoint, I am completely fascinated by its usefulness in business. While there has been (and still is) debate over the purpose and effectiveness of social media, people are slowly but surely beginning to acknowledge that social media is here to stay. What was once a social tool for individuals is now a business tool used by companies across a wide spectrum of industries to increase their sales and broaden their brand image. And this, to me, is exciting. I’m intrigued by the speed of social media’s evolution and amazed at the many ways creative and brilliant people have begun to effectively apply social media to so many different industries.

As a specialized agency, Function: is particularly taking note of social media in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry. If you listened to our webinar on social media in the AEC industry last Thursday, I hope you found it interesting and informative. I enjoyed being on the panel myself and found the opinions of the other panelists to be extremely valuable and insightful. So, I wanted to share some of the webinar discussion here on the Function: blog…

The panelists agreed there are a large (and increasing) number of individuals and businesses within the AEC community currently using Facebook, Twitter and Blogs. It seems that social media is here to stay, so jump on board now. But think first. Creating a strategy is key. Knowing your target audience is crucial. Having a plan to consistently maintain and monitor your social media is necessary too. Social media is a valuable tool in this industry for its ability to provide content, broaden brands, and create dialogue and relationships with a target audience. You will be memorable if you create a personality/online voice. And five social media “tips”: Be unique. Be factual. Post consistently. Be relevant. Have fun!

For more information on the webinar findings, stay tuned for an executive summary. And follow our panelists and their organizations on Twitter: Sybil Walker Barnes (@AIANational), Laura Davis (@hpdArchitecture), Tim Fausch (@edcmagazine), Marcy Marro (@MetalConstruct, @MArchitecture, @MetalBuildDev), and Jody Porowski (me!) @FunctionAtlanta.

Emerging Trends and Technologies in High Performance Buildings

As we move into March of Twenten, we find winter begrudgingly winding down and tax season winding up. This time of year also brings with it one of the my favorite regional conferences, Greenprints. While small in scale in terms of exhibition, this conference consistently has some of the best industry speakers this side of Greenbuild.

I was fortunate to attend a session with one of the most knowledgeable professionals on the latest in energy-efficient and environmentally responsible design trends: BuildingGreen and Environmental Building News' Alex Wilson. You may recall my white paper on Trends in the Green Product Market, entitled GROWING GREEN, which was inspired by Wilson's presentation of the Top Ten Green Products at my first Greenbuild a few years ago.

Being a technology and gadget junkie immersed in the building products industry, I find Wilson's insights highly fascinating, valuable and relevant both personally and professionally. I gobble up his astute awareness and foresight much like our office does chocolate and candy. If you missed Wilson's talk on Emerging Trends and Technologies in High Performance Buildings at the 2010 Greenprints conference, allow me to share with you what I learned.


With the severe country-wide droughts well in our rear-view, the importance of H2O can easily be overloooked in the big picture. If there was a silver lining to the water shortage of a couple years ago, it was a heightened awareness of water as a finite resource, driving innovation in water efficient products and technologies. Wilson predicts that water could become as big a challenge as energy in the future - citing that 23% of U.S. power is generated via hydropower and that 40% of the fresh water in the U.S. is used to cool power plants. It's scary to imagine where we might be without adequate water supply, and I think these statistics put into perspective how valuable this resource is.

Wilson continued to give some examples of cutting edge faucets, fixtures, and rainwater harvesting products that help to conserve water, which I won't plug here because none of them are our clients. However, I was interested in the irrigation control technology he mentioned that predicts the need for watering based on feedback relayed from weather satellites. What a simple yet brilliant application of existing technology. This reminded me of the story from last year about the plant that uses twitter to tell its owner when it needs to be watered, Pothos. I was further impressed to hear from Robyn Zurfluh of Smith Dalia Architects, who has several ongoing LEED targeted restoration projects on Atlanta's own Piedmont Park, that this technology, among other water conservation methods, is being employed in the park.


Wilson says that significant boosts in the productivity of oil and gas extraction has lessened the influence peak oil has had on driving energy efficiency. He expects that the top influencer to reduced fossil fuel use will instead be the threat of climate change, showing scientific models that forecast a drastic increase in temperatures and rising sea levels across the U.S. should we continue at our current rate of consumption. Say all you want about the Jersey Shore or South Beach, but the world would not be the same without them.

Prior to joining Function:, the acronym CHP would made me think of that Erik Estrada guy on a motorcycle. Now I tend to think of the building rating system for schools similar to LEED. Wilson didn't talk about the California Highway Patrol (CHiPs) or The Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPs), and instead discussed something new to me: CHP, which stands for Combined Heat and Power. Apparently two-thirds of energy produced from power plants is lost as thermal waste, which I find appalling. According to Wilson, some European countries like Sweden are taking advantage of this heat byproduct and using it as a resource - to make hot water for circulation to homes and businesses, for example. Also called co-generation, this concept is being propelled by tax policy that incentivizes change, taxing heavily coal-burning plants and pollutants associated with them. If we are to be the leader in new energy technologies like President Obama wants us to be, we need to be on the forefront of these types of advancements.

Wilson continued on, drilling into specific energy conserving innovations across several different product categories, including thermal energy storage, lighting, solar energy and photovoltaics. The most striking takeaway here was a new solar technology that recently debuted in Phoenix, Arizona at the Maricopa Solar power plant. This innovation converts solar energy into grid quality electricity without use of water. What I didn't know is that typical solar power systems capture and apply heat energy to water, creating steam, which spins turbines to generate electricity. Seems kind of archaic "in light" of this new technology, right? Not only is it saving water but it solves the water supply dilemma intrinsic with the location of solar power leading states in the western U.S. Also interesting is the advancement of integrating Photovoltaic (PV) systems into new building components such a glazing.


Did you know that people spend 90% of their time indoors and recent studies have indicated that air pollution levels inside buildings can be up to 100 times higher than those outdoors? There has been so much focus on preserving our environment and natural resources that unfortunately our own health is sometimes an afterthought in creating the structures we occupy. Thankfully, companies such as The GREENGUARD Environmental Institute (GEI) are leading efforts to protect human health and quality of life through programs that reduce chemical exposure and improve indoor air quality.

During his session, Wilson mentioned that President Obama is addressing IAQ through amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act, perhaps encouraging the much-needed shift in the onus of using hazardous chemicals from the public to the manufacturer. As awareness increases of the detrimental effects of the chemicals used in manufacturing processes, fire retardants and other hazardous compounds are expected to eventually be phased out (and hopefully not replaced with a similar but less studied chemical per usual).

Special thanks to Alex Wilson for providing another engaging lecture and to Southface, for your dedication to encouraging green building and design awareness in Atlanta and the southeast.

ted hettick

business development manager
we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations

Growing Up Online

I return home from a long day of school, and take off my shoes. I throw a can of soup in the microwave and check my Facebook. Facebook tells me, “You have one new friend request”; it’s my dad. Since when does my dad have a Facebook, and do I really want to be friends with him? The answer is a resounding “yes” as I confirm his request. According to his wall, he has been a member for 2 days, has 30 new friends, and has uploaded 4 pictures of himself, my mom, and their dogs. Facebook suggests, “Greg is new to Facebook! Help him get started by suggesting some friends!” and I happily comply.

If someone had told me my senior year of high school that I would be e-friends with my parents, extended family, and even Function:, I would have never believed them. I would have said, “Social media is for fun, for talking to friends, for kids in school, not for adult communication,” and I would have been so wrong. As the years go by, social networking becomes less of a tool for fun and more of a tool for communication. Companies target their advertisements to me, using my “interests” to show me specific products. Apple sends me coupons, and STA offers me travel contests. Looking at the evolution of social networking, this only makes sense.

Let’s rewind to my 7th grade year. I’ve got 10 friends, and seeing them everyday in school isn’t enough. I’m starting a Xanga to keep them updated on the minute details of my life. Xanga is an early blog site, targeted to the younger demographics. You could friend people, write about your day, and comment on your friend’s days as well. Soon this became too juvenile, and by 8th grade I was a committed user of LiveJournal. Similar to Xanga, LiveJournal not only gave us our own place to write, but gave us communities where we could write as well. There were friend lists, group lists, and lots of exclusivity (I never got into the “rad” hair group…).

Then came Myspace, and the world of social networking exploded. Anyone who was anyone had a Myspace, and if you were really on your A-game, your page had lots of HTML slowing down the dial-up connection. Tom was our #1 friend, and he would send us updates via bulletin. Combining the journal aspects of earlier sites, Myspace gave you more room for pictures, room for less pointed comments (you could post on someone’s blog OR someone’s page), and room for bulletins (fleeting memos to your friend list, usually surveys about how often you were grounded). And soon, Myspace got too big to be both free AND advertisement free. Oh, the uproar when Myspace included ad banners, which increased ten-fold when Myspace was sold to News Corporation in 2005. Cries of “Tom sold us out!” rang loudly from the rooftops, and people started jumping ship.

Fortunately, there was a more luxurious, exclusive cruise liner floating alongside the Myspace boat for those jumpers to land on: Facebook. Initially only for college students, Facebook offered an easy layout and exclusive networks. Skipping the creepy aspect of Myspace, people were only friends with those they knew IRL (in real life, to use the lingo). The high-schoolers quickly caught on and clamored to be included, followed by the rest of the world. What people initially failed to realize is that Facebook had equal amounts of marketing and ads, they were just cleverer about it. Rather than slowing connections with html banner ads, Facebook first placed innocuous ads on a side panel, targeted to specific users. Next they got smarter, and allowed businesses to make their own profiles, complete with friends and “about me”s. Though there was still outcry, it was much less.

Soon the thought process became “if that business can market itself via social networking, so can I!”, leading to LinkedIn, Twitter, and my dad having a Facebook. As someone who’s grown up with social networking, I’ve enjoyed it’s benefits and lamented it’s downfalls for years. I loved talking to boyfriends on Facebook chat, and cried when break-ups happened through “relationship statuses.” Knowing the whole world’s business is fun, but do I want the whole world knowing mine? There’s a very fine line these days, and as social networking becomes more formal, the information we share and the ways we share it changes.

Users are quickly becoming aware of the “untag” button for those less than pretty pictures, and status updates are becoming bland. Profiles have moved away from people quoting themselves, and toward quoting respected public figures. Interests aren’t “listening to music,” but are instead “developing effective marketing strategies for clients.” Social networking is a way to sell yourself to potential employers, clients, and even friends.

Working at Function: has highlighted the uses of social networking in professional arenas. Since working here, the fun aspects have taken a back-seat to the business front of social networking, and I’ve learned a lot about the importance of using social networking to… well, network. It’s a great way to make contacts that can help me in finding a job when I graduate. Twitter is awesome for seeing when companies are hiring, and LinkedIn is like having an online resume.

While researching for Function:’s upcoming social media webinar, I looked into trends for the upcoming year. Interestingly enough, most of the blogs I saw discussed the de-socialization of social media. With the emergence of lists on Twitter, the “hide” function on Facebook, and the increased specificity of search engines, it’s becoming more and more difficult to get the same “face-time” as in past years. So how to stay on people’s pages, in their minds, and not annoying them with constant status updates? That’s the question everyone’s wondering, and only time will tell. These, and other emerging trends just go to show how important it is to be aware of the fluid nature of these networks, and how necessary it is to be “social media savvy.”

A few days later I check up on my dad, I wonder how his Facebooking is going. I’m amazed, he has 80 new friends and 2 photo albums, chock full of embarrassing baby pictures. As I begin the de-tagging process, I get excited to see where social media is going and wonder when I’ll see my grandma online!

allie sudholt
public relations intern extraordinaire
we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations