When you engage in social media your ability to reach others is greatly expanded through the power of RSS and online networking. You may be reaching anywhere from one to one million with well crafted, relevant messages and a strategic social media marketing program.
Corporate brands are now built and sustained online. Just look on the bottom of your next pair of Nike shoes. You won't find the address for their Web site. You'll see a permanent impression of the URL for their blog. Social networking is just that important.
Major corporate involvement in social media doesn't stop at corporate blogs. Businesses are also active in micro blogs such as Twitter; social networking including Facebook; video sharing on sites like YouTube; and photo sharing. Look online for corporate giants such as Target, Macy's, Home Depot, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines and many others.
Manufacturers of building products are starting to take notice. Nora DePalma of Building Profits says, "Rheem Water Heating now has a microsite to narrowcast water heater information to a specific trade audience: kitchen and bath dealers, designers, remodelers and architects. We developed the campaign based on search trends, and generated several hundred subscriptions for newsletter. Of those leads, 65 percent also requested sales literature on the brand, and 5 percent requested an immediate sales call." With LNC Communications, Building Profits is currently building a blog to educate builders, building inspectors, plumbers and homeowners about a recent decision by the California Building Standards Commission to adopt PEX tubing into the California Plumbing Code.
Social media marketing, social media optimization and social networking are all individual components of an effective Internet marketing program, and today they are just as important to the success of your Web site and Internet marketing program as search engine optimization (SEO) was previously.
New home builders are also now learning how to utilize Social Media for a competitive advantage. Central Florida Homebuilder Highland Homes recently experienced social media marketing success. Kathie McDaniel, Broker, MCSP, MIRM, and director of advertising and marketing with Highland Homes states, "On average we sell around 35 homes per month; however, we sold 56 homes in December 2008 and 69 homes in January 2009 after cutting our marketing budget by 50-percent and launching a social media program." mRELEVANCE launched Highland Homes' social media program in November 2008 and immediately saw tremendous increases in referring URLs and keywords for the builder's Web site.
"Everything you need to know to be successful online is in your Web site tracking report" said Mitch Levinson, MIRM, CSP, MBA and managing partner of mRELEVANCE, the company that helped Highland Homes profit from social media. A presenter on Web site tracking and analytics at the 2009 International Builders Show in Las Vegas, Levinson likes to challenge seminar attendees to find the answers they seek within their analytics. He states, "We saw a tremendous opportunity to increase search engine traffic to the Highland Homes Web site through social media optimization. Not only did it pay off in terms of key tracking metrics, it paid off in terms of contracts and qualified traffic for the builder as well."
Named the "Community of the Year" in 2005 by the Greater Atlanta Homebuilders Association, and awarded the 2006 Grand Award for Outstanding Development by the Georgia Urban Forest Council, Minerva Properties' Heron Bay Golf & Country Club is a master-planned community that is not only setting new standards for development in the Atlanta marketplace, but it is also leading the way in social media marketing. The interactive campaign launched by Heron Bay won an OBIE award from the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association in the Best E-marketing – Best Interactive Application category for 2008.
"With the current state of the housing market, the Heron Bay marketing team was tasked with the goal of creating a cost-effective, impactful campaign," said Lisa Brutvan, President of Focused Market Solutions, the real-estate advisory firm that manages the marketing program for Heron Bay Golf and Country Club. "One of the greatest challenges in marketing a master-planned community is that marketing efforts must target a broad market, appealing to all price points and different life stages. This initiative was designed to reach a broad audience through a low cost high return on investment medium. We achieved this with web 2.0 tactics to drive traffic to our Web site."
One specific component of the Heron Bay strategy is www.HeronBayBlog.com. Developed by mRELEVANCE, the Heron Bay Blog is the perfect place to go to find events in Henry and Spalding counties. It shares Heron Bay Golf & Country Club news, as well as happenings in the greater community. During a four day time period over the holidays (12/28 - 12/31), The Heron Bay Blog experienced 225 visits for a single blog post. What attracted so much attention from consumers and the search engines? The Chik-fil-A Nugget Drop. Those searching online with any variety of keywords for this family-friendly New Year's Eve activity found the news they were searching for on the Heron Bay Blog.
Don't think that you have to launch your own blog to be successful at social media. Kelly Kenton Fink, Broker, MIRM, CSP and Regional Marketing and Internet Director for Bowen Family Homes states, "During four days of our Dollars for Dreams Home event, the Atlanta real estate blog www.AtlantaRealEstateForum.com was Bowen Family Homes' number one referral source due to strategic posts promoting our sales event."
"Finding the right external blogs to post content on is just as important to your social media marketing strategy as having your own blog," states Levinson. "To make your social media program effective you will need to discover the right mix for your product. Just as key words are unique to your building company or new home development, your exact social media mix will be unique to you and relevant to your audiences."
Still not sure about your return on investment? Recent research by Cone finds that 60 percent of Americans engage in social media. And of those, 93 percent believe that companies should be present in social media. Of huge importance, 85 percent think that the company should interact with their customers through social media.
So you are ready to get started in social media, but aren't sure what to do. Here are six simple tips for getting started.
- Blog – even if the blog is "just" your Web site's news page
- Social networking on Facebook – launch a personal profile and a corporate page
- You Tube – post all of your virtual tours online
- Online Public Relations – repurpose your PR for online distribution
- Email marketing – include social media in your email marketing strategy
- Cross promotion and netweaving – link it all together. Your social media marketing efforts will be more powerful if properly promoted and linked together.
Carol M. Flammer, MIRM, CAPS, CSP is Managing Partner of mRELEVANCE, LLC, a firm that combines the power of Internet marketing, social media and public relations. She is creator and publisher of Atlanta's favorite real estate blog, www.AtlantaRealEstateForum.com. Flammer speaks nationally, conducts workshops and creates strategies on social media for home builders, developers and others in the construction and real estate industry. You can find all of her social networking sites at www.CarolFlammer.com or visit www.mRELEVANCE.com for tips and tactics for engaging in social media. Follow her on Twitter @AtlantaPR.
mRELEVANCE has promoted a wide range of projects including single family, master planned, townhomes, active adult, condos, retail, commercial, mixed- use projects and a variety of green and LEED certified projects. Services include strategic public relations, media relations, writing awards and newsletters, social media marketing, Internet marketing, email marketing and a full range of search engine marketing and optimization services.