Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn. Many of us had never heard of these names a couple of years ago. Today, our president posts his speeches on social networking sites, and you're most likely trying to figure out if these sites can actually help you sell more homes.
So are they a waste of time and energy, or are they a serious marketing tool in which early adapters are cashing in? Like so many new technologies, the answer is in the execution.
Leighton Collis of Liquid Advertising has this opinion:
"At first blush, marketers think that social media is just a new source of free leads — a way to replace expensive lead acquisition advertising. It's not, and if you treat it as such, your organization will get burned almost immediately. Social media is about the power of friends: your prospects' most trusted source of information. There are proven techniques for getting your prospects to broadcast their experiences and plans with your community, but it takes an entirely new way of marketing."
Begin by understanding that visitors to social sites are looking to learn, understand, provide feedback and connect, but not to be sold. Hard selling, price discounts and "limited offers" are turnoffs. Turn-ons focus on ways to get the visitor engaged in the discussion. A simple example would be to offer weekly prizes for the best picture posted by visitors to an individual community. Another successful contest involves visitors' rating models within a builder's offering and then awarding a monthly winner who ranked models in the same aggregate order as the contest visitors. These unbiased comments are what drives traffic and delivers sales.
Also understand that social networking sites can assist in search rankings. One measure for tracking the effectiveness of blogging is the number of different referring URLs and keywords to your Web site, says Mitch Levinson of mRelevance. It also pays to have an effective blogging campaign.
Finally, it has been said that, "the Internet allows the big to look small and the small to look big." No truer words have been spoken when dealing with social media sites. With many sales professionals looking for productive ways to spend their downtime, well-executed video casts, blogs, updating content and responding to topic discussions provides meaningful ways to drive traffic and build rapport with potential buyers.
|John Rymer is the founder of New Home Knowledge, which offers sales training for new home builders and real-estate professionals. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.|