Facebook Protest Halts $100 Million Construction Project

A $100 million housing development in Long Island came to a halt after local residents protested on Facebook.

Facebook has become the anti-industry standard for protesting businesses, and industries that haven’t gotten wise to social media have suffered. Case in point: a $100 million housing development in Long Island was brought to a halt by local residents’ postings online.

Up until recently, people opposed to a commercial real estate plan used to circulate petitions to submit to local government, then organize on-site protests of projects that make it through a city hall unopposed. Obviously, Facebook reaches a larger audience much more quickly and effectively.

Given the large price tags attached to commercial real estate projects, it’s kind of surprising that the industry is only just now getting wise to social media.

Like Bryan Ellis states on its corporate blog, most Facebook pages having to do with commercial real estate are the work of protesters rather than the industry:

Recently, a band of residents in Huntington Station (located on Long Island) successfully marshaled opposition to and blocked a $100 million housing development. Most experts believe that the counter-initiative succeeded largely because developers were not really aware of the scale or potential impact of the campaign and did not address it through like media.

This incident became a talking point a Nassau County, NY Planning Commission public hearing focusing on economic problems in the area. Losing a project like the one in Huntington Station means not getting hundreds of new jobs and scads of tax revenues.

So that’s why Bryan Ellis blogs that city planners and real estate developers need to get wise to Facebook and Twitter. The industry could use social networks to counteract any negative messaging that the protesters are putting out, the commercial realtor argues.

Readers, how do you think Facebook users would react to this genre of corporate message? What sort of strategies should commercial realty concerns use in approaching social media?