Social media tools gaining acceptance among builders ? Professional Builder survey

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Seven in 10 building industry professionals now use social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for business purposes, according to new research by Professional Builder.

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Seven in 10 building industry professionals now use social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter for business purpose

September 10, 2011

While most home-building professionals remain skeptical of social media as a viable sales and marketing tool, the adoption of websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube for business use among builders continues to grow at a healthy pace, according to a survey of Professional Builder readers.

Seven in 10 (70.2 percent) building industry professionals that responded to our survey last month said they use social media tools for business purposes at least once every few months — up from 59 percent in 2010. Furthermore, the percentage of builders who visit social media sites daily for business use increased from 9 percent in 2010 to more than 15 percent this year (Chart 1, below).

Which sites are they visiting regularly for business? LinkedIn and Facebook are by far the most popular tools. More than half of respondents (52.9 percent) said they use LinkedIn for business, while 42.2 percent use Facebook. YouTube and Twitter were also cited, as were BuzzTown, Contractor Talk, Flickr, Google+, Plaxo, and Yelp (Chart 2).

Builders are using social media for a host of reasons — including for conducting market research, improving customer service, and managing their online reputation — but brand building and engaging new and existing customers are seen as the most viable business applications for social media (Chart 3). As one respondent put it: “Our customers expect us to be on social media. They don’t necessarily buy because of that, but if we’re not on these sites they believe that we’re somehow not up to date.”

Return on investment, or lack thereof, remains the biggest complaint among builders with regard to social media. Understandably so, builders are hesitant to dedicate staff time and resources to monitor and update numerous social media accounts, especially if there’s a slim chance of it leading to sales or potential sales.

But as one respondent stated, builders shouldn’t view social media as a silver bullet, rather a piece of the marketing puzzle. “Social media is only one component of a comprehensive marketing plan. How much a part of a company’s marketing efforts should go toward social media is directly related to whether their target demographic is active in social media. Ours happens to be the primary demographic for active, engaged, knowledgable users.”

Methodology and Respondent Information

This survey was distributed on July 6, 2011, to 86,054 Professional Builder readers. No incentive was offered. By the closing date of July 20, a total of 206 eligible readers had responded. Sixty-nine percent of respondents identified themselves as a single-family home builder; 11.7 percent designer/architect; 3.4 percent multi-family builder; 2.9 percent systems builder; and 13.5 percent “other.”


1. ADOPTION OF SOCIAL MEDIA
How often do you visit social media sites for business purposes?
    2011    2010

  • Daily    15.1%    9%
  • Several times a week    15.6%    17%
  • Once a week    10.7%    8%
  • Several times a month    11.7%    9%
  • Once a month    4.4%    6%
  • Less than once a month    12.7%    10%
  • Never    29.8%    41%

Base: 205 (2011), 335 (2010); Professional Builder, July 2011

 

2. POPULAR SOCIAL MEDIA SITES
Which social media sites do you use for business purposes?

  • LinkedIn    52.9%    
  • Facebook    42.2%    
  • YouTube    16.7%    
  • Twitter        14.2%    
  • Plaxo    5.4%    
  • Contractor Talk    2.9%    
  • MySpace    1.0%    
  • Other    12.8%

Base: 204; Professional Builder, July 2011   

 

3. TOP BUSINESS APPLICATIONS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA
What is your primary business application using social media?

  • Build our company brand    34.3%
  • Engage new customers    29.4%    
  • Engage existing customers    27.0%    
  • Market our homes/developments    18.6%
  • Manager our online reputation    18.1%    
  • Conduct market research    14.2%    
  • Follow up on leads    11.8%    
  • Improve customer service    10.3%    

Base: 204; Professional Builder, July 2011

 

4. USE OF MEDIA-MARKETING TOOLS
Yes, my company utilizes the following media tools:

  • Website    74.0%    
  • Facebook fan page35.8%
  • E-newsletter23.4%    
  • Twitter account19.8%    
  • Company blog    17.7%    
  • Print newsletter14.4%    

Base: 204; Professional Builder, July 2011

 

5. DRIVING BUSINESS WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
How much of your business do you estimate is coming from buyers you’ve reached through social media efforts?

  • More than 50%    2.1%    
  • 26% to 50%    3.7%    
  • 11% to 25%    9.9%    
  • 5% to 10%    13.6%    
  • Less than 5%    70.7%    

Base: 191; Professional Builder, July 2011

 

6. SOCIAL MEDIA AS A SALES TOOL
Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with this statement: “Social media sites are critical tools for marketing and selling our homes.”

  • Strongly agree    12.3%    
  • Somewhat agree    23.2%    
  • Neither agree nor disagree    35.9%    
  • Somewhat disagree    12.8%    
  • Strongly disagree    15.8%    

Base: 203; Professional Builder, July 2011

 

7. BRAND-BUILDING POWER
Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with this statement: “Social media sites are critical tools for building our company brand.”

  • Strongly agree    15.2%    
  • Somewhat agree    21.1%    
  • Neither agree nor disagree    30.9%    
  • Somewhat disagree    12.3%    
  • Strongly disagree    20.5%    

Base: 204; Professional Builder, July 2011

  

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