Social Media Advice for Builders & Sales Execs

Posted by
Mike Lyon
Date
 January 15, 2009
Comments
28 comments

“Better to ask for forgiveness than for permission,” is how the old saying goes. We’re going to come back to that later. I wanted to rant a little on the social media thing.

It seems that builders are reluctant to release some of the control to their local agents. Understandably, they are concerned about controlling the message. When I present the idea about creating a community blog, Active Rain account or community specific email campaign and then follow that up with the recommendation that the sales person create the content – the response usually goes like this:

Whoa, whoa – hang on….We don’t want our sales people writing for us…they’re not the best writers…I’m worried about:

  • What they will say?
  • What kind of pictures will they use?
  • Will they get permission?
  • What if they get fired?
  • What if they are a disgruntled employee that we may want to let go…that might be better running through corporate…we have to keep the brand consistent…

ad nauseum.

And here is my bottom line response: By trying to control the message too much — builders will miss potential connections and very good customers that are craving a little transparency. (Side Note: Your sales execs are already sending out 100’s of emails and communicating with customers every day – are you controlling that message?)

These new home buyers don’t want the story from “corporate”, they want it from the guy on your team that knows them best, which is probably the sales executive who actually knows the families that just moved into the neighborhood, why they moved, what their concerns were, how the schools are, whether the neighborhood is safe and on and on.

They don’t want to see stock photography of kids at the park. They want to see actual photographs of families unloading their moving truck and eating pizza – bad hair and all!

A customer nowadays will typically prefer to see rough video shot on a camcorder and uploaded to Youtube – because it is real, not “produced.”

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for a more polished product – in fact, that usually needs to happen first to build credibility and attract the consumer. But what happens after you attract — how do you engage? I mean really engage online.

The internet has provided us the tools. It has shifted the power to the consumer; no longer do we control the whole message. As many of the larger builders have realized, it doesn’t take long for user generated “bad press” to get out there (in fact, Jim Adams has a great article about that here>>).

It’s about time that the building industry steps it up. Sales agents must start creating their own user generated “good press”. Tell the positive stories about your communities. Take the sales presentation to the web. Engage locally with your prospects, and with your Realtors!

Real estate is becoming hyper-local. The great Realtors are creating a local presence and becoming the experts in their niches — and they are seeing the results! Shouldn’t a new home sales agent have the same opportunity?

So back to the saying, “Better to ask for forgiveness than for permission.” Fly under the radar. Exercise your ninja skills and create something outside of “corporate.”

Already doing it – leave a comment and show off your stuff.

  • RT @builderonline: @mikelyon RT: Social Media Advice for Builders & Sales Execs http://tinyurl.com/a9ylvw

  • RT @mikelyon: Just Published: Social Media Advice for Builders & Sales Execs http://tinyurl.com/a9ylvw

  • @mikelyon RT: Social Media Advice for Builders & Sales Execs http://tinyurl.com/a9ylvw

  • RT @mikelyon Just Published: Social Media Advice for Builders & Sales Execs http://tinyurl.com/a9ylvw Great Job, Mike. Much Needed advice!

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  • Thanks Mike,
    Your message is desperately needed by our industry. You’re right about the hundreds of email agents send out weekly. Blogging and other social media is not that much different and the consequences are the same – only with public discussions, the upside is far more powerful.

    Here are my rules for public discussions.
    Implement corporate policies that say that:

    1. Employees can’t sexually harass anyone
    2. They can’t reveal company secrets
    3. They can’t use inside information to trade stock or influence prices
    4. They shouldn’t talk ill of the competition in any way or via any media.

    We can’t back down from this. Consumers are rapidly expecting a human relationship with companies. We don’t want to be ‘just transactions’.

    Jim Adams – CEO

  • Thanks Mike,
    Your message is desperately needed by our industry. You’re right about the hundreds of email agents send out weekly. Blogging and other social media is not that much different and the consequences are the same – only with public discussions, the upside is far more powerful.

    Here are my rules for public discussions.
    Implement corporate policies that say that:

    1. Employees can’t sexually harass anyone
    2. They can’t reveal company secrets
    3. They can’t use inside information to trade stock or influence prices
    4. They shouldn’t talk ill of the competition in any way or via any media.

    We can’t back down from this. Consumers are rapidly expecting a human relationship with companies. We don’t want to be ‘just transactions’.

    Jim Adams – CEO

  • GREAT post. This is exactly the type of news that builders and developers need to hear. http://www.mrelevance.com/01/mrelevance-creates-social-media-success-for-highland-homes/ Check our our recent social media marketing success!

  • GREAT post. This is exactly the type of news that builders and developers need to hear. http://www.mrelevance.com/01/mrelevance-creates-social-media-success-for-highland-homes/ Check our our recent social media marketing success!

  • Mike, you’re right on the money. Almost every builder in our market is missing the boat (all but about 2) on this, and until they remove the veil and get out there and show the consumer what they’re REALLY about, good and bad, the consumer won’t connect with them on a level that produces not only new business, but lifelong clients who will push their brand for them. Stay after ’em buddy!

  • Mike, you’re right on the money. Almost every builder in our market is missing the boat (all but about 2) on this, and until they remove the veil and get out there and show the consumer what they’re REALLY about, good and bad, the consumer won’t connect with them on a level that produces not only new business, but lifelong clients who will push their brand for them. Stay after ’em buddy!

  • Wow – great feedback guys! This article struck a nerve…Twitter has been blowing up.

  • Wow – great feedback guys! This article struck a nerve…Twitter has been blowing up.

  • Mike,

    Great advice and post! I have been working on implementing social media into my builders marketing plan for quite a while. We just went “live” with our social media page on our website.

    Take a look and let me know what you think.

    http://costapacific.com/socialnetworks.php

    Andy Green

  • Mike,

    Great advice and post! I have been working on implementing social media into my builders marketing plan for quite a while. We just went “live” with our social media page on our website.

    Take a look and let me know what you think.

    http://costapacific.com/socialnetworks.php

    Andy Green

  • Great post Mike – Home builders truly are missing opportunities by not encouraging agents to “get online”. I’d imagine the pros would significantly outweigh the cons if a builder’s agent owned search results in their local market. It would only require some ground rules (like Jim’s above), a little regulation and tad bit of money to get the ball rolling.

    I always wonder why one would hire someone to represent a company if they were afraid of them actually representing the company.

    Do you know if Lennar has experienced an increase in sales from their online efforts?

  • Great post Mike – Home builders truly are missing opportunities by not encouraging agents to “get online”. I’d imagine the pros would significantly outweigh the cons if a builder’s agent owned search results in their local market. It would only require some ground rules (like Jim’s above), a little regulation and tad bit of money to get the ball rolling.

    I always wonder why one would hire someone to represent a company if they were afraid of them actually representing the company.

    Do you know if Lennar has experienced an increase in sales from their online efforts?

  • Andy, I checked out your Costa Pacific blog, and the one suggestion I’d like to make is that it become less of a place to post traditional sounding press releases in favor of more engaging pieces – like the post about the unusual snow storm your area experienced and how the community’s residents responded to it.

    I don’t mean to say that the info in those other “press releases” is not valid or even interesting; it’s just that the way it’s presented is no different than a “News” or “Press” button on a website. Think in terms of telling the same stories in a more casual and personal way and I think you’ll have even better results from your social media efforts.

  • Andy, I checked out your Costa Pacific blog, and the one suggestion I’d like to make is that it become less of a place to post traditional sounding press releases in favor of more engaging pieces – like the post about the unusual snow storm your area experienced and how the community’s residents responded to it.

    I don’t mean to say that the info in those other “press releases” is not valid or even interesting; it’s just that the way it’s presented is no different than a “News” or “Press” button on a website. Think in terms of telling the same stories in a more casual and personal way and I think you’ll have even better results from your social media efforts.

  • Jayson – thanks for the comment. I don’t know on there results. Definitely a lot of activity.

    Linda – Thanks for joining the conversation and the feedback for Andy.

  • Jayson – thanks for the comment. I don’t know on there results. Definitely a lot of activity.

    Linda – Thanks for joining the conversation and the feedback for Andy.

  • Thanks for the feedback Linda! I agree with you and appreciate you taking the time to take a look.

  • Thanks for the feedback Linda! I agree with you and appreciate you taking the time to take a look.