There’s a right way and a wrong way to execute a social media strategy, especially in the business of home building and new home sales. I see many builders apply the wrong marketing methods to this relatively new medium. There are some universal concepts that can be successfully applied to this form of communication.
Yes, “communication”. Facebook and Twitter are not just platforms for a one-way monologue where you can push your message out. We should strive for back-and-forth communication. And we should be creating content, sharing interesting ideas and useful information with the world, and soliciting feedback to keep the conversation going and growing.
I don’t believe the platform matters as much as some people think. Platforms will come and go. In fact, a recent survey revealed that more than half of Americans thought Facebook was a passing fad.
A look in your social media mirror
Fad or not, regardless of the social media platform, we know that great content that is easily shared on the platforms we all use will always get you the results you want!
If you are like many builders I work with, your strategy looks something like this:
- “We have a blog, but we rarely post new content. When we do, it’s not great.”
- “Our Facebook fan page got off to a great start, but our engagement is down and I’m worried that customers are either going to stop coming or post bad things on it.”
- “We don’t do much on Twitter. We just link our posts from Facebook.”
- “We’re now on Pinterest (or insert the name of the next shiny new social network here) because everyone is talking about it. Geez! I can’t keep up!
- “We don’t encourage our sales people to use Facebook, because it’s a productivity killer.”
- “I heard about Google +. Do I really need to sign up for that?”
OK, I may be going to the extreme here, but I’ll bet some of these statements resonate with you. I’ve seen builders have success with these tools when used correctly. So I keep asking myself “Why?”
Why is it still such a struggle for some builders? Why is it such a struggle for our industry? Why aren’t more customers willing to engage here?”
If you ask yourself “why” often enough, the answers will become evident. We make it harder than it has to be because we go after the wrong things in the wrong way.
Start by pursuing the right people. The wrong ones will have no desire to “Like” or retweet us. Reach out to the real estate agent community and your current customers. These are people who already know you and will listen to what you have to say with little prodding. I’m not saying you should ignore the rest of the world, but focus on the right target for the best results.
Real estate professionals—the good ones—are invested in their careers. They are reading books on social media (hopefully, my book, “Social Media Guide for Real Estate”). They go to seminars, read blogs, and participate in webinars. These pros are happy—no, ecstatic!—to connect, engage, build their connections, and join in conversations. What you share with real estate agents could have a direct impact on their success, so go after them with a vengeance!
Now let’s look at your current and past customers. Assuming they love your product, you should do everything in your power to encourage them to share their great experience—photos, testimonials, feedback—with their own networks. Many of them might already be doing this but because you haven’t connected with them online, you don’t know. Encourage them to check in at your Facebook business page, post pictures of the building process, brag about their favorite features, and participate in contests. Yes, reward them for these actions. Use basic “gaming theory”, like “check in to get a free ______.” Younger generations are hard-wired for rewards. Hey—we’ve been playing Super Mario all our lives, completing level after level because we don’t feel complete until we have rescued the Princess from King Koopa.
If we are really going to inspire customers to share our information with their connections, we need to train our staff on how to make this happen. If your sales team doesn’t know how to leverage these social media platforms, teach them. Be sure they are active on their social networks with two-way communication. Remind them to encourage their prospects to “Like” and “Check in” on your pages. Institute a trackable program to monitor progress. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Once everyone understands the “why” and “how”, the “social media” effect will be tremendous.