By TAYLOR HARTZ
If you have ever found yourself shouting suggestions to homeowners while watching HGTV, wishing you could give your opinion on their home repair decisions, The House That Social Media Built is the project for you.
Last month, Town Council Chairman Mike Riccio launched the project, an interactive social media account that gives followers the chance to flip a house. By voting on Facebook, followers can influence decisions for the reconstruction, design, and decoration of an Old Saybrook home.
“It’s simple. We present options, you vote,” says the project’s Facebook tagline.
The house is a Dutch Colonial style located at 163 Boston Post Rd., purchased by Riccio to be repaired and resold. As of March 15, The House That Social Media Built has more than 1,400 followers, casting daily votes on everything from exterior paint color to cabinet type.
Together with real estate agent Nicole White, Riccio developed the idea as a marketing strategy for the home’s resale.
“We just started brainstorming marketing strategies one day, and a casual conversation turned into this,” said Riccio.
While he has been working with real estate for more than 10-years, this is the first time Riccio has turned to the public for all design decisions. In fact, until about one month ago, Riccio had never used Facebook.
“It’s been a little bit crazy because I had no idea how to use Facebook or monitor it,” said Riccio, who now posts weekly videos on the page to update followers and encourage votes.
Riccio said they have finished up with demolition and structural supports, and are now starting to put the house back together.
The voting began with followers choosing between kitchen cabinet and island options, selecting white cabinets with a grey island. On Feb. 29, voters were given three choices for cabinet knobs, with 287 votes determining the winner. Later in the week, 305 votes decided on an ocean beige quartz for the kitchen countertops.
Offering even more community involvement in the project, several local vendors have offered incentives for votes and publication of the project. Connecticut Lighting Centers in Southington and Classic Stone Design in Plantsville, have both given out $100 gift cards, and John Boyle Decorating Centers has offered a free quart if Benjamin Moore Regal Select exterior paint to anyone who mentions the project.
“It certainly has blown all of my expectations,” said White, who said she has been thrilled by the overwhelming voter turn out.
White said the community involvement has also been an exciting benefit and opportunity for her and Riccio to give back to their supporters.
“As it continues to grow, it can really be a ‘love your local’ type thing,” said White, who hopes there will be more mutual promotions for companies, the project, and the voters.
To get involved with the project, visit https://www.facebook. com/thehousethatsocialmediabuilt/