Image Management On Social Media: A Top Priority For Developers
There is no limit to the number of real estate groups, handles, listings and discussions on social media channels. In today’s age, few businesses can survive, without having their presence on social media. While social media has, for long, been a platform for leisure, it has now given voice to anyone who wants to make a point. Given that homebuyers need to spend a lot of their savings on property, no research about a property/project can be deemed complete, without research on social media.
SOBHA Ltd, for example, secured the first position in the Track2Realty BrandXReport 2018-19, in the category 'Image Management’, which includes the measurement of various metrics from media perception to digital presence. JC Sharma, vice-chairman and managing director, SOBHA Limited says, “The real estate sector, which was dependent on cold-calling and traditional marketing methods, has now transformed into an industry that relies heavily on social media marketing. Consumer insights are available, not only on structured platforms like review sites and forums but throughout social media networks.”
Eyes on the target
Sunil Sharma, VP - marketing and CRM, Mahindra Lifespaces Developers Ltd, says that 20-30 per cent of sales of the company, come from digital channels. “In an increasingly digital world, social media is an important source, to gain insights into what part of the product/service is working well or can be improved. Information gathered here forms an important part of our overall improvement plans,” says Sunil Sharma.
Working on visibility
JC Sharma emphasises that it is very important to know the audience. “As we plan our social media strategy, we also understand the pulse of our target audience through various analytical tools. This is supplemented by research done by our sales and pre-sales team. We monitor social media channels to capture mentions of our brand, properties and relevant keywords. An analysis of these, enables us to plan ahead,” he elaborates. Being active on social media, has also enabled SOBHA to understand the community better and roll out programmes such as SOBHA Connect, he adds.
Refresh your strategy
Sunil Sharma explains some of the important formats that companies should bank upon.
- Carousel ads: To showcase multiple facets of their projects, so that customers can conveniently scroll through and view several images or listings at a time.
- Video content: Video-based content to build on the brand proposition, by breaking it into smaller pieces.
- 360-degree and mobile-optimised formats for project marketing: These, for example, can be project walk-through videos or in-depth look and feel of the properties.
- Customer testimonials: We believe in the importance of letting our customers do the talking for us, he says. Hence, we are continually in touch with our customers across the country for testimonials and reviews, which we leverage effectively for social media, explains Sunil Sharma.
- Tweet chats: Hosting public discussions on Twitter for select events, using specific hashtags. This can drive community engagement on topical issues.
Nevertheless, an overload of content has made it increasingly difficult, to keep coming up with ideas that work 100 per cent of the time, observes Sunil Sharma. “Important decisions revolve around quality vs quantity and what should drive social media planning; multiple tools, each with its own means of measuring and reporting on the impact of campaigns; drawing a balance between intrusive vs restrained marketing; reducing the time needed to gain customers’ attention; keeping pace with the ever-changing algorithms of social media platforms; and understanding metrics beyond engagement scores to measure brand impact,” he elaborates.
Social media is also prone to spamming, cautions JC Sharma. “Spam can include other businesses promoting their offerings on one’s pages. Additionally, sometimes bad reviews on social media sites can be put with ulterior motives to malign a brand image,” he explains.
What does information on social media mean for sellers?
Most firms reserve about 20-25 per cent of their capital for marketing alone and social media is fast becoming a focus area for promotion campaigns. According to a research, over two billion users globally use social media. Hence, by creating social media profiles, sellers can identify themselves as accessible and acceptable. Online platforms can help organisations, to disburse information easily and effectively and also track the metrics and rate oneself, based on the reach and response. It also lets companies track their competition.
What does information on social media mean for homebuyers?
Going online to research about the developer and project of your choice, means that you get to network with an entire community of prospective buyers who share your choice of a home. You can ask for reviews, check on the track record of the developer, know whether a particular project has been a subject of any kind of litigation, etc.
Developers with a clear track record, prefer to keep buyers updated with easy access to information about the progress of construction, documents that support the legality of the project, etc.
It is a good practice to get a 360-degree feedback about a project you are going to invest in. For example, if you are looking at resale projects, these already have an established social infrastructure and there are settlers in the neighbourhood. Many realty portals also have discussion forums, where you can look up details about the neighbourhood, infrastructure issues and others.
News and views
Several real estate companies have their own blogs that are quite popular. These not only interest the buyers but also add to the credibility of the company. You can make decisions, based on the many articles that run on these platforms. However, you should always do your own research and use discretion.
Since most of these platforms are free for use, a whole lot of opinions pour in. Some may even be biased. It is up to you to decide how much you can assimilate or overlook. While selecting a property, do it because it suits you and your budget and not because someone else feels it is fit for you and your family.
A joint study by Google and National Association of Realtors, North America, found that 90 per cent of home buyers search online during the process of buying a home, while agents bridge the gap between viewing these properties and actually buying them. In the last 4 years, searches on Google have gone up by 253 per cent. Online reviews and YouTube are also immensely popular among prospective buyers.