If you are like most business people, you probably find social media daunting. Creating and managing content for YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook can be a serious time drain, without a clear payback. Yet most business consultants say it’s important to do. And it can be a critical, inexpensive tool for small businesses.
There is a payoff, even if it’s not an immediate sales increase. Builders have never had a better opportunity to communicate directly with potential customers and people who have an opinion about their brand. You can create loyal followers. And there can be a welcome sales upside if boosters take to social media and start singing the praises of your homes or community.
Thankfully, social media has been around long enough that some best practices are apparent. First, the end-game should be driving potential customers to your website.
But it’s a mistake to push a never-ending series of ads through Facebook and Twitter. The idea is to build a community, and you can only do that through two-way communication. If you do implore your social media fans to come to your model center, make them feel important by giving them a special code to enroll in a drawing.
Otherwise, when it comes to social media, “the idea is to put control in the hands of the buyer,” says Mollie Elkman, vice president of Group 2 Advertising, who did a webinar on social media for us last week. (It is available on demand.) The idea, she said, is to engage potential customers in conversation.
Elkman says that Facebook has proven to be the most effective form of social media for builders. The companies that do the best job with it manage to create a large and loyal fan base by fostering dialog with questions such as—What’s your favorite room in the house? What should we name our next model?
Your company’s personality needs to come through on your Facebook page. What are you known for? Building green homes? Luxury homes? Homes for active adults? The company’s personality should guide the content added to your site over time.
One participant asked the inevitable question: What if people say negative things about your company? There is an opportunity to turn complaints into heroic actions by doing something about them. If you look on builder websites, you’ll find plenty of examples of builders asking unhappy customers to call customer service numbers, or setting the record straight on unpleasant situations. It really does make a company look good.