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20/09/2016

Consultation Online Report

Written by George Beard

Account Manager

Social media can no longer be considered new. Both Facebook and Twitter have been going for more than 10 years. In that time, social media has rapidly become a tool for people to read news, gather information and interact with friends and family.

But how does all this relate to housebuilding? Surely social media does not have much of a role to play here?

It does now.

Politicians appreciate the value of using social media as part of public consultation. In a survey commissioned by Remarkable, in association with YouGov, we polled 1,401 councillors across Great Britain asking their opinions on social media, and how they see the social landscape developing in relation to the planning consultation process. 60% of councillors believe developers should be engaging with local communities.

The value of social media as part of the consultation process can be boiled down to four points: strengthening your Statement of Community Involvement; correcting misinformation; mobilising support and; providing an opportunity to identify potential sales interests for the future.

So let’s take each of these points in turn:

Statement of Community Involvement

Using social media throughout pre-application consultation provides another dimension to engaging with local residents and stakeholders. Many councillors use social media to interact with their constituents, so why shouldn’t developers become part of the conversation?

Proving to local authorities and stakeholder groups that you have consulted properly forms an essential part of any major planning application. Almost three quarters of councillors believe responses gathered via social media would add value when reviewing planning applications.

It is important to demonstrate to the local community that you haven’t gone behind closed doors when submitting a planning application, as those most affected by the proposals may not be aware of them. Consulting and informing through social media gives another measure by which the public have been approached, ensuring the Statement of Community Involvement becomes as robust as possible.

Correcting misinformation

Conversations regarding your proposals may already be occurring on social media. Without a proper forum to monitor this conversation, false information and statistics are allowed to be banded about without evidence or correction. Having a presence on social media enables you to correct this misinformation, using evidence from a project website or local authority website to reinforce your message.

Mobilising Support

Social media can quickly become an invaluable tool when targeting audiences that would not typically engage with a planning consultation. The younger population may not have the time to attend a public exhibition, but taking the conversation to them through social media can bear fruit. Calling on this support in the run-up to a planning committee can also be of great benefit as those who regularly use social media will find it much easier to tweet their local councillors than write a formal letter. Those who support an application may also ultimately become interested in buying a property if planning permission is secured.

Driving Sales Interests

Using social media for public consultation should also be considered a valuable marketing tool when trying to drive up early sales interests for a development. Going out to public consultation can often be the first point of contact between yourselves and the local community. As a result, by having a presence on social media you will be able to identify those interested in buying a property before a brick has even been laid.

To find the full findings of our survey, download our free report here.

To find out how social media can improve your chances of securing planning approval, get in touch with the Remarkable team.

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George Beard

Senior Account Manager

Public affairs, social media, Public ConsultatioN, Planning, Consultation Online