Social Media Shortfall Case Study: Summerlin

social media shortfallsSocial media marketing, a newly adopted form of marketing for many companies, has been met with much enthusiasm and planning.  The research to be where your target market is, the creation of profiles that are an extension of your corporate identity and the setting of goals to help manage the efforts has been carefully identified so why do companies fall short?  Execution.  The execution is just as, if not more important than the planning. Determining how social media fits into the overall advertising and marketing plan is easily answered by peaking the curiosity with knowing and understanding that there is a conversation happening whether you participate or not.  The curiosity drives the need for companies to jump in and try and maximize awareness and sales with the positive while being reactionary to the negative.

Las Vegas, the city of lights, the home of non-stop entertainment is known all of the world for its elaborate casinos and sensational nightlife – all contained on one street.  Tourism is a big part of the city’s revenues but ignores a big part of Las Vegas – the community created and maintained by the residents.  As a resident, the glitz and glamor of the strip illuminate the view to the east and is what seems like a world away from everyday life.  As a marketer I cannot not help but pay close attention to  how the local businesses embrace social media and engage within the space.  Recently I noticed that developer and leading master-planned community, Summerlin, was joining the online community with the promotion of their newly created Twitter and Facebook pages. I paid close attention as many years ago I was the AE on this account through their agency of record.  The housing market has been crippled with the economic downturn but as a developer you are not selling houses, you are selling the lifestyle and the community as a whole.

Summerlin promoted their online profiles via a  banners at a busy intersections that spelled out Twitter + Facebook =(thumbs up icon) and also on their website with the respective logos really small at the bottom right.  A larger presence on their website would have introduced their visitors on their website, which is their hub, to their new Twitter and Facebook community.  That is a minor change that will drive awareness of users who they know are already online.

Summerlin Twitter

Their efforts on twitter have been less than impressive. Joining the twitter community in february, they  have not planned nor executed indicating a clear lack of focus and understanding of how Twitter is used for business.  25 followers, following 0 and 7 tweets.  This is not very inviting and is extremely self-promotional.

summerlin twitter

Blaring Shortfalls:

  • Lack of focus
  • No real understanding of Twitter and its benefits for business
  • 0 engagement with the community
  • Self-promotional (80/20 rule???)
  • Lack of concern/acknowledgment of existence for people/businesses/supporters in their local area

There of course are more shortfalls that could be identified but at first glance, these stand out and are first and foremost needed to be addressed.


  • Learn how the space is used for business
  • Increase following by using the people  search to find locals, local businesses and the homebuilders who have built the houses in Summerlin
  • Spend a lot of time with twitter search
  • Increase usage time
  • Increase awareness of existence and follow the 80/20 rule

These should have been done before and immediately after the profile was created.  Being so new and having such a low awareness, there is opportunity to first learn how to use twitter and grow their profile and be an information source for events, happenings of businesses, residents in Summerlin and Las Vegas as a whole. Sell the lifestyle.

Summerlin Facebook

Summerlin Facebook

Their Facebook has been executed much better than Twitter.  This shows that there is a learning curve with twitter and a comfort zone with Facebook.  The engagement levels are dramatically different and while they are on the right track with Facebook there is still opportunity to engage the community further.  Unfortunately, there is still a learning curve with Facebook as despite having the required 25 fans they have not yet  customized their URL.  Dating back to when I was assigned to this account, the people of Summerlin love to talk about where they live, they are incredibly proud and like when people know where they live and what they are doing. The fans on Facebook have not disappointed and continue to talk about how great Summerlin is.  Fans are posting links about happenings for activities, their photos of being around town – a perfect opportunity to start a conversation and share.  They are doing a good job with  acknowledging the fans however some are closed ended answers where if a bit more of  how can we help you and/or how can we make your experience better would provide insight through conversation and increase their engagement levels.

The recommendation here is to first customize the url, learn the ins and outs of Facebook with lists and events as they are promoting events through posts where they can utilize the tools to further increase visibility and share, talk, talk and talk more about your residents and what is going on in Summerlin.

Summerlin Blog

There is not a blog.  Oh my oh my!!  This has to be the biggest missed opportunity as their traditional advertising campaign focuses on residents and uses real residents in photo shoots.  The blog could be an extension of the campaign.  The focus on the residents, the schools, students who are doing exceptional things, new businesses, summer camps, etc. Summerlin is its own community within Las Vegas with public and private schools, businesses, activities for kids – the blog topics are endless.  Time consuming certainly but in order to remain competitive in todays marketplace by building a strong brand identity and get noticed, you have go where your target is.  Example of student doing exceptional things but efforts pushed aside to months in the future. Huh?

Palo Verde Rugby

(Tyler, if you are listening, let’s talk to see where you may fit on this blog or how I can help getting the word out on the first HS Rugby team)!

Shortfalls  happen, crisis happen and how a company identifies and corrects them is what sets them apart and sets the stage for them to emerge as an industry leader. While I am not expecting to hear from the folks at Summerlin or their agency as their lack of engagement and understanding of the online tools just may carry over into their monitoring, I am here to help and right their wrongs. I will be sure to keep a watchful eye to see if they are able to revamp their efforts and really understand why they are here and how they can get the most out of it.

What are you thoughts on what they can do better? Share examples of businesses in your city that have excelled or fell short.

photo credit: Intersection Consulting

  • Suzanne;
    An excellent article, thanks for sharing it with us. You blame most of Summerlin's Social Media Marketing (SMM) failure on “Execution”, and to a Process Bigot like me, what you're really saying is that their problem, which exists in most of our clients, is that they don't have in place a well defined or formal Process for doing their SMM. This formal process would ideally incorporate the concept of Continuous Process Improvements, which launches one down a path towards getting better and better at doing this Process over time.
    It all sounds so theoretical and unwieldy, doesn't it? And it certainly did when we put our clients to sleep trying to describe it in general terms like those above. So we wrote a series of posts to turn it into very specific information on how to do this in practical terms.

    There are 4 posts in the series:

    1) How to Run a SMM Campaign. This is the formal process description on how to run your campaigns according to the Process Mantra of Think, Plan, Do, Measure and Repeat. And because this process specification calls for one to measure ROI as one of the metrics to use in monitoring your campaign, the other 3 posts cover:
    2) How to measure the ROI of your website as a whole
    3) The 10 best free ROI calculators on the Web and
    4), How to build your own ROI calculator so that you can measure the ROI of your SMM.

    Our clients have been delighted with this approach, as it offers significant benefits over the situation you describe – not enough pre-planning, nor enough thought into what effort to do when and where, and then the old bugaboo of not enough measurements (if any) to see how you are really doing, as opposed to how you think you are.

    Hope this helps – here's the link:

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  • Eric

    Thanks so much for the link. This is a classic example of how their intentions to be a part of the SM community were there but their pre-planning was not executed well. This is so very common and what they do now is going to be the tell all of how they are accepting of and plan to utilize social media going forward. Their traditional adv campaign was fantastic (which was created prior to my being employed by their agency) and having the chance to help implement and being involved in their research studies did sell the lifestyle so I would have thought that they were perfectly suited to bring their offline efforts online.

    I do hope that they are able to take the time to learn more about SMM (or they could call me and my agency can help) as when the housing market does turn around in a few years in Las Vegas, they will be ahead of the game.

  • My pleasure, Suzanne. You could always tell them that “slow” times in the market are the times to enthrone yourself as the king. In these tough times, everyone tends to retrench, focus on cost-cutting and thinking defensively. But SMM is a way to attack, win share of mind and spend almost nothing except someone's time to do it. And in the slow times of low-volume sales, establishing your company's role on the throne as the thought-leader (best developer, best houses, whatever…), is feasible and low-risk. Of course, as the person trying to sell them your agency's services to provide some help, you may want to rephrase the part about how it costs almost nothing, but now you can show them the ROI behind their investment, right?
    Good luck with it all.

  • Isha Edwards Brand Mktg. Mgr

    While I believe in using social media as a marketing tool, I do not believe in joining the social media bandwagon just because it’s the new hot thing to do to build awareness or drive sales. One flick of the technology switch can force companies to change gears all in the name of keeping up with the Joneses worldwide!

    Regardless of advances in technology, I believe that some aspects of marketing are classic and should remain: to build awareness, state your purpose, target your audience and narrow your focus, Losing sight of your purpose or attempting to become all things to all people via SMM is the quickest way to compromise AND fall short of brand promises.

    For example, pushing companies to get into social media for the sake of controlling messages will no more curve the chatter about a company than holding a press conference to outline that company’s annual agenda. People are going to talk regardless. The desire to be heard is what gives social media life.

    Certainly, conversations are an opportunity to refine a company’s story, improve service offerings, develop affinity and even become credible or famous. However, the reality is that people don’t relate to things as much as they relate to other people who like the same things. Another reality is that all SM “friends” are not necessarily fans and vice-versa, which can either make or break SM campaigns.

    I agree that it takes a detailed, fully executed plan and process in place to have a successful SM campaign. Either way, of all promotional options, SM is the one tool that can hinder just as much as it can help.

  • Isha

    I agree. It is a tool that if it is the right place for your brand and is planned and executed well it can be a very viable form of advertising through building relationships through awareness. It can hinder especially if the incorrect tool is utilized or is not used to its fullest. Companies hear the good stories, the buzz and feel that they have to jump in. Social media like every other form of advertising has to be the right place. I do however think that brands need to monitor whether they are engaging or not. In this example, there apparently is no brand monitoring as there has been no response from their camp. That is one part that companies do not realize is very important. SM has given us a chance to talk about people companies, products with a listening channel like never before. I can never stress it enough to people that we are in a time where quite frankly we never know what will spread around. We can speculate as we do with some mediums in advertising but there is no absolute and with that having a mention like this one without any form of response is pretty much a sign/lesson to all marketers and even companies. This is not hurting them and tarnishing their brand as it relates to them selling the lifestyle as it is one persons opinion who they may respect or not. That is not the point, it is how the community around us sees this and learns from it.

    Your point about people relating to people who like the same things is a big deal – esp for them as the people make up the community and call it home. They have such a chance to bring these people together through their SM and take advantage of the listening station they could create. We know people love to talk through their association of commonality. This we see with fans of sports teams. think that they should take a step back and really evaluate where they audience would have a chance to talk. Their audience is going to tell them what they like and not like though talking with others.

    Thanks for reading and sharing your $02.

  • Isha Edwards

    So the answer to the question is not what should they do, but do they have the wherewithal to do it?

    Something else to consider: the selling process should be a dialogue. It is one thing for customers to point out or even rant about an issue via the media (including SM) and another to do something about it, i.e. follow through. If a company “can’t hear” via social media because they are not listening, then will they take note via email, U.S. mail, a phone call or even a visit to their office?

    In some regards, using social media as a primary or alternate way to communicate makes communication cowards of many. SM also minimizes the conflict resolution process such that people don’t talk through issues more than they sensationalize them. With SM, a problem is often public knowledge before a company is aware and then they react in a way they wouldn’t without pressure.

    Another takeaway to add to the points you made is for companies to count the cost of engaging in social media—not just financial, time invested or brand awareness, but weigh heavily the type of dialogue to have with current and prospective customers and the means that works best to maintain that dialogue.

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