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Should homebuilders blog?

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Should homebuilders blog?

Here’s what homebuilders should mull before they blog.


By By Erin Erickson, Group Managing Editor March 31, 2008
This article first appeared in the PB April 2008 issue of Pro Builder.
Sidebars:
These guys blog, too
Blogs by the numbers

Thanks to self-publishing blogging platforms, anyone with opposable thumbs and an e-mail address can share their opinion about your company. Sound like a public relations nightmare? It doesn't have to be; in fact, you could consider it a blessing in disguise.

Corporate blogging expert Debbie Weil says the current market condition is the perfect time to start blogging because home builders can position themselves as industry experts, particularly at the local level.

 

In "The Corporate Blogging Book: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know to Get It Right," Weil offers a 20-point inspection on the world of corporate blogging. There's a lot to keep in mind. Resources

One of the biggest roadblocks home builders face is resources with time, people and money.

Don't let dwindling resources keep your company from blogging. Consider the following:

  • Time. It takes as much time to write a blog post as it does to skim the industry news. In an ideal world, blog posts would be written daily; realistically, at least once a week should suffice.
  • People. You don't need to hire a writer to craft your blog posts, nor should you rely solely on your marketing department to do the job. In fact, the more people who write, the more authentic it sounds. Weil advises builders "to be authentic and credible in what they're talking about." Need an example? When The Wall Street Journal talks trash about your market, don't tell your customers everything is rosy; instead, have someone in sales write about how they're reaching out to the community.
  • Money. Consider a blog the cheapest marketing dollar you've never spent. The most notable blogging platforms are free. They come pre-installed with templates and don't require you to have any knowledge of computer programming.

Dealing with negativity

If you're as tired as we are of the mainstream media picking on the housing industry, a blog might just be the proactive solution you're looking for. Ditto that sentiment when responding to the hate mongers who publish sites like "Ihate[insert home builder's name here].com.

Unfortunately, says Weil, there is no black and white answer to responding to negativity. She does recommend builders use the corporate blog to take control of the conversation.

When it comes to homeowner blogs, "Absolutely respond in some way; just don't be silent," says Weil. Combat negative remarks with a customer-friendly resolution; offer an apology and means to remedy the problem.

Weil also advises builders to take a good look at what the commentators are saying about your product; be sure you're really willing to hear critical feedback.

Overall, Weil says, make sure there's a strategic reason for starting a blog. Blogs shouldn't be an afterthought or last ditch effort to cull customers.

 

These guys blog, too

Still not sure how — or if — your company should blog? Check out these corporate blogs for inspiration:

Dell > http://direct2dell.com/one2one/default.aspx

Johnson Controls >

Owens-Corning >

Google > http://googleblog.blogspot.com 


Blogs by the numbers

According to Technorati, a Web site that considers itself "the authority on what's happening on the World Live Web, right now":

175,000

The number of new blogs created every day

1.6M

The rate of posts per day that bloggers make as a collective group

18 sec.

Those 1.6 million posts are updated at a rate of 18 updates per second.

112.8M

The number of blogs Technorati is currently tracking in the world

39%

According to a Pew Internet & American Life Project Tracking survey, that's the number of adults surveyed who read someone else's online journal, Web log or blog.

22%

The percentage of adults, according to a Pew Internet & American Life Project Tracking survey, who post comments to an online news group, Web site, blog or photo site

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