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Need a little feeling of DIY?

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The tool belt – a place for everything, and everything in its place. Your hammer is in the loop, you got your nails in their pouch, toss in a carpenter pencil and a pocket-level.

Oh, don’t forget your smart phone.

It seems like an odd thing to actually need for your next Do-It-Yourself project, except for that time you got a little careless with the circular saw and had to call 911. But now having your phone or computer on hand means instant access to those associates from the home improvement store that you have gotten to know so well: The Home Depot. Within the past year the company turned 25 sales associates into online community managers and made their wealth of knowledge freely accessible.

“We’ll help you turn that computer into a power tool,” Blake, one of the social media store associates said in a promo video.

Having a Facebook page and Twitter handle is far from unique, but who is doing the community management certainly is. These are not fresh “social media guru” hires, they are company veterans that were hand selected, personally interviewed and chosen to monitor the platforms. Their orange aprons were used to hold staple guns and measuring tapes long before they ever carried a Flip camera. They still fulfill their regular jobs three days a week, but spend two days a week doing online updates to the accounts, monitoring, and soon they will be blogging.

It’s an interesting move. Many companies, especially small businesses, are trying to man their social media platforms themselves or having employees do it in addition to their regular duties. It’s usually a larger task than they imagined. Home Depot not only gives employees time to do the updates, they provided training. The result has been genuine interest from users, who have generated thousands of questions on the Facebook page.

The page has nearly 355,000 fans, many of whom are asking for specific community managers to answer questions because they have built a rapport. Most of the posted questions seem to be getting answers, and according to the Vice President of Corporate Communications, the content being generated is coming from the social media managers. Ready for the impressive part? This effort started seven months ago.

It seems that the DIY social media is working well for Home Depot, and the biggest reason is that it’s genuine. Users want that interaction they get from an in-store visit, so whether you do your updates on your lunch break or pay a whole team to monitor your page 24 hours a day, it must be authentic with that DIY feel.

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