The odds are you or someone you know has searched for a home recently. Something magical happens when you find the right one. Your heart starts racing, your palms get clammy. Are you about to buy a house?
You may not realize it from the consumer side of this deal, but there is an enormous amount of heavy-lifting that comes from the homebuilder side, especially with the availability of social media at consumers’ fingertips.
Imagine the complexity behind drawing in people from all walks of life who are about to make one of the largest purchase decisions of their lives. Maybe they’re newlyweds, looking for their first home purchase ever. Maybe they found out their family is growing and they need a bigger home, but they’re conscious of the energy efficiency and want to be near particular landmarks. Maybe they’re retiring and are looking to downsize or buy a vacation home in another state.
How can homebuilders speak to all of these people at once effectively? Social media done right.
Houzz is an increasingly effective tool to speak to home buyers
There are several aspects of Houzz that allow a homebuilder to communicate directly with interested home buyers. For example, homebuilders can post pictures and statistics of projects they are working on or have completed. This gives the home buyer a taste for what a project could look like when the idea of building a new home seems very daunting.
Homebuilders can also use what Houzz refers to as Ideabooks, allowing them to collaborate with home buyers online. They can post images of their own designs, décor, or floor plans allowing a potential client to transition from collecting their own ideas to actually seeing what options could be viable.
Pinterest can be used in innovative ways to aid homebuilders in selling
At conception, Pinterest seemed to be the land of fitspiration, recipes, crafting, DIY ideas, and other visually motivating ideas. Now, Pinterest is accessible to anyone, including people like me who end up with dyed skin or glitter stained clothes just by looking at a crafty project. For homebuilders, Pinterest is an avenue to reach those who are searching for specific keywords related to their industry and then engaging this audience with related boards.
Pinterest allows for users to invite other users to share a board and “pin” ideas to it together. While similar to the Houzz Ideabook function, Pinterest takes this interaction to the next level by allowing “pinners” to add their own information, including images and blogs from their website.
Pinterest also creates the opportunity to build boards and pin trending topics, catching any viewers who may be interested in related topics but are currently searching trends. For example, plenty of home-makers could be interested in remodeling their kitchens, but as the holidays are approaching they are more interested in searching for “creative table settings for Christmas.” By building a board around “decorating for the holidays,” a homebuilder could catch the eye of anyone who is looking for ideas on how to decorate their own homes for the holidays.
Instagram offers more than just pretty pictures for homebuilders and home buyers
Instagram has a lot more to offer than initially meets the eye. Its initial use was as a platform for pushing pictures with relevant and trending hashtags to sort conversations. Those discovering these pictures through hashtags can then like the pictures and, in a sense, organize the feed they subscribe to with certain images that they want to see.
Now, Instagram is an opportunity for homebuilders to follow up on those who are interested in their posts and then to follow them and see what else they are interested in. Using information like this and collecting personas can be very helpful data in the long run. Discovering, from lead to customer, what a typical BUYER persona is on social media can greatly alter the strategy a homebuilder can use to target the right audience.
Instagram also offers the unique opportunity to post short video clips. For example, new home builders can use this option to give a tour of a new build or a walk through a construction zone as led by the president of the company herself. These kinds of insider looks help build integrity and emotional connections with those who are serious about their home buying search and are evaluating their options of brands. It is a well-known fact that “[people] are not thinking machines…[but] are feeling machines that think” – so cater to the emotional side of a big decision.
Are you more likely to buy a new home from a builder who has a 10 second video of a woman buying a new house, getting help from the builders to make it just right, and then ending with a soldier in uniform walking up to the door finally seeing his new home or from a brand that isn’t even on Instagram?
These three social media channels have changed the strategy of selling over the past couple of years. Cold calls won’t cut it when your competitor is researching buyer personas based on trends on their own social media sites and is interacting directly with interested consumers from the comfort of their own homes and smartphones.
It’s time to change your strategy and find what works for you. The biggest risk you can take in 2016 is to keep doing what you were doing in 2015.
Originally published Dec 3, 2015 3:00:00 PM, updated February 01 2017