The social network phenomenon has taken the world by storm. You can't even order pizza without being bombarded with the request to 'like the parma ham topping' or 'tweet for really good service'. Gimmick or gold mine? Worth it or a giant waste of time? These are good questions when considering the marketing and management of secure residential communities, estates and developments.
What are social networks?
Social networks in their simplest form are a way of connecting people together. These people can be Facebook 'friends', LinkedIn colleagues or just people interested in following what you have to say using platforms like twitter. Whilst purely ‘social’ use is founded on the idea of a constant connection with people of your choosing or interest groups, the business applications radiate out wider, including networking, brand development, viral marketing and, most importantly, relationship building. The services generally cost you nothing, but can be intelligently leveraged to outstrip traditional marketing channels and paid-for advertising. For the sake of this article we are going to have a look at twitter, but these principles hold for any social network.
Is to run out and sign-up to every service and network in sight, but it is very important to carefully and strategically consider the substance of your tweeting and/or posts. A marketing bombardment is sure to get you un-followed in seconds, never to be heard from again. Real estate professionals are turning to social networks in ever increasing numbers, but well considered social media campaigns are still hard to stumble upon. Whilst offering free beer is not an altogether bad idea, a slightly more sophisticated strategy is within your grasp! Read on...
Try make it interesting, engage them
So if not marketing...what? Online trends seem to indicate that almost two thirds of the information people actually consume originates from someone they ‘know’. In other words, the clients you want to reach do not trust the sanitised and laminated marketing that is typically dished up by large corporations or their carefully crafted websites. The unpolished opinion of a real voice carries more weight than a media release or beautiful email campaign. In fact, nearly half of the email sent to your mailing list is never opened.
Make sure you add value to your customers/followers - it's not about you, it's about them.Michael Thorne from HelloComputer
The bottom line? You have to provide unique, valuable and engaging content that will, over time, gain you credibility and a loyal following. Provide an open and honest face to your development company. If you have an existing estate or apartment block, ask this community what they enjoy about living there. Where could you improve? What could be better? Your willingness to admit mistakes (and engage topics which may become uncomfortable at times) does not only gain the trust of your audience, but will also help you to tailor and improve the offering to your eager new buyers.
Things to watch out for
- Over sharing: If you are at the helm of a social network control, please resist the urge to mention what you had for breakfast. Think about why people have followed you and ruthlessly keep your tweets and posts on topic. If you really want to share those holiday photos, create multiple accounts which separate your skiing mishaps from development progress information.
- Frequency: Too many status updates could be viewed as spam. Posting once per day will keep you connected, but do not feel obligated if you don't have something valuable to contribute.
- What you say: Social networks broadcast your words online for everyone to see. Since there is no going back, never post anything that you would not be willing to shout at the top of your voice in a crowded room filled with people of all races, classes and sexual preferences. Needless to say, a negative following will accomplish exactly the opposite of what you are striving for.
- Vigilance: Keep tabs on your account, if somebody asks a question or makes a statement about your development, ENGAGE them and respond appropriately. If it's a complaint then deal with it in a professional manner, but never ignore it, regardless of how petty the issue may seem.
Suggestions and examples
- Announcements: phase on of the development broke ground today
- Opinion: which problems or annoyances should we address on the estate?
- Feedback: we've dealt with the security issue at the left fence, thanks to @resident for letting us know!
- Information: have a look here <link> to see the minutes from the latest home-owners meeting