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Most of you know that I have been involved with social media from pretty much the start; I always make sure to stay ahead of innovation for both personal and professional benefits. I have also helped many dealerships and OEMs leverage new media and technology to stay ahead as well. I recently decided to leverage this knowledge for a personal issue that I have been dealing with for almost a year now with the city of Orlando. Don't you just love dealing with big, political bureaucracies?
I decided to take our issues to the Internet and see if we could get some response. Being in the technology industry, I felt this would be the perfect social media experiment. Could the Internet really help to call attention to public policy that needs reform? The Internet & Twitter were driving forces in President Obama’s campaign, could it work to help us keep our deck? It's worth a shot.
The situation is simple: we have a deck that doesn’t meet current city deck code. Others in our immediate neighborhood have similar, if not exactly the same, decks and all of them received variance. When it came to our variance hearing, however, we were denied out right. How is that possible? Because the criteria that determines receipt of a variance is completely subjective and is ultimately up to one planner who makes the decision-- without ever actually seeing the deck in question.
Here is the site I created to publicize my plight: http://orlandopermittingsucks.com/
We don't mind paying a fine or signing a hold harmless agreement, but please don’t make us remove our beautiful deck. We still don’t even understand how other Lake Highland residents, including Lake Highland Prep, were able to recently build similar structures, but when it came to our deck we have been denied again and again. For what purpose? Are the Orlando City planners exacting revenge, because we didn’t follow their process correctly? We don't know!
Since the site went live about a week ago, traffic to our blog has been great and we are already starting to see people commenting almost daily. (It really helps to understand SEO best practices when you set up a website! In less than a week our site had top rankings for key search terms.) The real goal is to try to get a message to Mayor Buddy Dyer and our District 3 City Commissioner Robert Stuart: every citizen matters and throwing us through a system that is so slated for the city to win over any case is not justice. I think it is almost criminal.
The point is, use social media to be heard, to get your story out to others. This totally applies to your dealership. Tell your story and connect with consumers directly online. Use social media to let shoppers get to know you and your dealership on a more personal level. And the price is right with social media: free! You must take into account the amount of time involved, because it is significant to do it right. You can't just "set it and forget it" because interactivity is a component for success. Instead of being scared or mystified by social media, get out in the virtual world, learn about it and start levering it for your dealership. Build online communities at your dealership website, on FaceBook and Twitter, for starters.
Will social media help save my deck? I sure hope so! What do you think? Have you had similar experiences?
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