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Dec

11

2015

Social Media for Homebuilders: 10 Great Brands to Follow

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As Marketers, we strive to write valuable content, stand out from our competitors and target our audience in a unique and creative way. Leveraging social media is a great way to achieve all three of those goals. 

However, if your client is a homebuilder, or a similarly unique brand it may be challenging to know what exactly to post, and how to differentiate yourself from other brands. Check out these 10 homebuilder brands that found creative ways to leverage social media.

1) Lennar Homes – Facebook

Social media is best for just that: being social. Lennar Homes is the perfect example. Their Facebook page is personal – it’s not just beautiful pictures of amazing homes. They share pictures of first-time homeowners and other big milestones.

Not only can this increase their reach by tagging people and accordingly showing up in more relevant newsfeeds, but it also increases engagement. Neuromarketer Martin Lindstrom is willing to bet that “90% of all decisions are made subconsciously” with our emotions and seeing pictures of happy families elicits emotions way more than a picture of a beautiful spiral staircase ever will. 

2) David Weekley – Instagram

Social media offers companies the unique opportunity to give behind the scenes looks and sneak peeks to those who opt to follow them. This is an incentive, initially, to follow the company. The more a user views this social media platform, however, the more the company gains a sort of brand leadership relationship with the potential client.

David Weekley Homes does a great job of utilizing not only images of the homes they build but also scenery of the area and a quick video tour of a recently built home. This adds another level of helpfulness and intrigue to potential clients viewing their profile.

According to Social Media Today, “online video has proven to be the most engaging and compelling form of content for social media users who watch and share thousands of them every single minute” – you don’t want to be missing out.

3) Fischer Homes – Houzz

Another advantage to social media is the ability to connect with potential clients on a more meaningful level. On Houzz, for example, a homebuilder can follow anyone who is following them. This creates an opportunity to gain insight into what other information that user has available on Houzz and also to open a dialogue.

Fischer Homes, for example, is following not only design studios and construction companies. They are following homeowners. With this simple strategy, Fischer Homes is able to collaborate on projects with people who are openly creating project boards on Houzz – practically begging for a remodeler or homebuilder to reach out to them!

4) Habitat for Humanity International – Twitter

Looking for a great example of how to engage on Twitter? Check out Habitat for Humanity International. It’s easy to shoot out a couple tweets and cross your fingers that you’ll become an overnight sensation.

But unless you’re Lady Gaga, this probably won’t get you very far. Habitat is great at using hashtags to draw already interested viewers in, posting correctly sized images for these viewers to connect with and relate to, and then a link to their blog to pull people to their website.

According to Buffer, “tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets.” The ultimate goal of social media is to pull a potential client to your website to learn more about you and why you are the right decision for them. Habitat for Humanity International does just that. 

5) Pulte Homes – Facebook

Another great way to engage with people through Facebook is by responding to their comments. Think of it this way: each person who engages with something you post on social media is the same as someone engaging with you in person.

If someone told you they loved a fireplace you designed to your face, would you reply? Treat social media as an opportunity to have conversations with people you may not reach on a daily basis. Pulte Homes does a great job of interacting with anyone who comments on their Facebook page, developing relationships and trust with each touch.

6) Wallmark Custom Homes – Pinterest

Pinterest is a largely untapped platform that offers the opportunity to reach an estimated 100 million users searching for pictographic ideas, inspiration, and information. In the homebuilding and remodeling industries in particular, this is the perfect place to showcase some of your finest work.

Beyond just posting your own work, however, Pinterest is an excellent way to interact directly with users who are “pinning” on boards for their own upcoming projects. You can also remain relevant by pinning images of upcoming holidays (for example, Thanksgiving decorations or recipes).

Keeping up with what’s trending will help you get noticed by those looking for trending topics. Wallmark Custom Homes does a great job of creating relevant boards with trending topics and resonant boards with their own images from projects.

7) Reed Design Build – Houzz

Another way to interact with users on Houzz is through responses to comments. Houzz is like the love child of Pinterest and Facebook – it lends itself to building interactive projects with users as well as comments and rating.

Reed Design Build does an excellent job of responding to comments and garnering reviews. Both show not only how much they care about their potential clients by answering their questions but also how much they care about their past customers by collecting several 5-star ratings.

8) Shea Homes – Pinterest

Pinterest can be a tricky platform to remain sticky. Without someone directly seeking out your brand in the search, it can be a challenge to put out content that will be found. Take a page out of Shea Homes’ book.

This home builder produces several boards pertaining largely to relevant and trending topics in an effort to remain top of mind for those searching for related topics. Once they draw someone to their profile, however, they have several powerful boards outlining their brand. One board is even filled with pins to their own blog, spanning over 75+ topics of interest for home buyers.

Shea Homes is harnessing the power of external links to build their SEO and increasing the number of places they can be found by potentially interested customers with their Pinterest strategy. According to Moz, “Top SEOs believe that external links are the most important source of ranking power,” so this is not a strategy to be overlooked!

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9) Toll Brothers – Instagram

Instagram might not be your top-product-selling platform as a Marketer, but it just may be your top-brand-selling platform. This app gives you unique experience of connecting with your audience in a visually captivating manner.

Toll Brothers is particularly strong on Instagram, utilizing not only a hashtag (#TollLife) but also the regram capability to discover when people are talking about them and to then highlight these shared images. This brand cleverly takes the hashtag to the next level; when someone posts a picture on Instagram with their hashtag, Toll Brothers reposts (“regrams” for all you fluent Insta-tongues) the picture on their own profile as a feature.

This strategy generates excitement around the brand and around producing powerful photography surrounding the brand. Some might call this free marketing and publicity, actually, by letting those utilizing the brand speak for themselves.

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10) Drees Homes – Twitter

So, I mentioned hashtags. Let’s talk about them. Drees Homes is hitting this strategy out of the park! By inviting anyone who encounters their brand to use the hashtag #LivingTheDrees, Drees Homes is not only showcasing their creativity in hashtag development but also their commitment to starting a conversation around their brand.

With continual upkeep, Drees Homes manages to keep their hashtags relevant and fun, including #HappyHollyDrees for the holiday season for example. I wish I lived in a Drees home just so I could interact on their online community with all of their fun hashtags and customer features! And, according to Sprout Social, “Seeing as how they’ve been integrated into most of the popular social media platforms, and social media has entered almost every facet of our lives,” hashtags are here to stay. So #EmbraceTheHashtag!

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Social media strategy is not something that works alone in a vacuum. Each platform has a unique audience and should accordingly be treated as a different opportunity. In building your social media strategy, keep in mind that it takes continual upkeep and honing, and that it works best with a comprehensive marketing plan to get the most out of each touch point.

Starting a social media strategy for your own homebuilding or remodeling business? Check out this free eBook:

Social Media Checklist for Homebuilders and Remodelers

Dec

3

2015

How Homebuilders Can Leverage Houzz, Pinterest and Instagram to Generate More Business

homebuilders.jpgThe 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 

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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.

Houzz also allows  the home builder to accumulate comments and reviews, encouraging past customers to engage with potential clients who are in the process of looking. According to a Zendesk survey, 90% of customers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews, making this aspect of Houzz undeniably critical.

Pinterest can be used in innovative ways to aid homebuilders in selling

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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.

While building SEO through social media and gaining credibility for resonant and relevant posts a homebuilder can greatly increase traffic and potentially sales on their website. In a world where 88% of pinners purchase something they have pinned and 49% purchase 5 or more products they pinned, homebuilders must join the movement.

Instagram offers more than just pretty pictures for homebuilders and home buyers

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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.

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