July 2011: Legal Issues


Juanita FergusonLegal Issues

Mason contractors are used to soliciting bids, addressing cost overruns and even mentoring apprentices, in order to continue the craftsmanship attributed to different types of masonry. Increasingly, those who work in and teach the masonry trade are embracing the concept of social media as an avenue for interfacing with clients and students alike. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds, blogging and other forms of social media enable masonry professionals to share a large amount of information frequently as well as generate discussion among a greater community.

For a business, the benefits to embracing social media still are being assessed, but it is, nonetheless, clear that social media is a means of marketing your company and strengthening your brand. For example, webcams that allow potential and existing customers to view a business’ ongoing construction projects have replaced the time needed to visit a construction site and assess a mason contractor’s work. Social media also is an effective means of recruitment, project management and creating a community of followers on particular topics.

The advantages of social media have been applied in class settings as well. Our world has become more visually oriented. Having a site on which teachers and students can post photos and videos strengthens relationships among the class participants, and reveals shared interests. It also provides masonry professionals with a valuable resource when faced with industry challenges.


A Twitter account is useful as a business and an educational tool. As a mason contractor, you can share information about your product and received information and feedback from your clients in a short period. As a teacher of the masonry trade, you can connect with your students easily on a one-to-one basis and build a network of masons. However, it is important to remember to monitor your account, once it is established. If there are 50 tweets on your Twitter account, but no twitter followers or replies to your tweets, it is likely your messages are not reaching the masses or generating the interest necessary to compel replies. Don’t be afraid to review and reassess the effectiveness of your Twitter account. Not all forms of social media will offer the same level of effectiveness for your particular needs.


The popularity of blogging, formally known as web logging, is not without high expectations for the masonry industry. Having a blog is useful, but, if it is left untended and posts are infrequent, it is a certainty that fewer visitors will visit the blog site. Nothing is worse than for the visitor to your site to type in a few search terms, only to find that the last update to your site was several months prior. Also, if you are posting regularly and there are no comments, it may be time to review the content being posted for quality and relevance to your target audience.

Social media, used effectively, allows masonry professionals to inform others about particular accomplishments or recent developments within the masonry industry. And, while disseminating information about the trade is a major benefit of social media, receiving information is equally beneficial. If you use social media effectively, it should generate more than a one-sided display of information about you. It also should allow an individual or a business the ability to learn more about what its current and prospective audience wants and expects. As a form of customer service, social media allows a company to increase its online reputation. As an educational tool, social media can heighten the apprenticeship experience.

Communication is what differentiates social media from other forms of disseminating information. An achievable result of social media should be the generation of meaningful discussions between construction contractors and customers. For tradespersons teaching the craft, social media should engage students. The ongoing dialogue ideally will result not only in increased educational and business opportunities, but also in a stronghold digital presence for you among the masonry and the digital communities.

This article is not intended to provide specific legal advice but, instead, a general commentary regarding legal matters. You should consult with an attorney regarding your legal issues, as the advice will depend on your facts and the laws of your jurisdiction.

Juanita Ferguson is an Associate with the law firm of Bean, Kinney & Korman in Arlington, Va. She can be reached by email at and by phone at 703-525-4000.

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