homebuilders are getting social…

Last time, we discussed how people use social media channels in real life …AND that by “going with” the culture & purpose of each channel, companies can build valuable relationships, brand equity and ultimately revenue.  (click graphic to enlarge)

The following builds on that concept. Enjoy!   ———

Below are a few of the brands in real estate that really “get social media” and why they are so engaging.  (To find these inspiring examples, the following were reviewed:  public builders, 2010 JD Powers listed builders for Southern California and their top regional builders and more.)

some social homebuilders…

LENNAR (National) – Hard to imagine that anyone would deny that Lennar leads in social media for this category. Over 87,000 people ‘Like’ them on Facebook and 94,000 follow on Twitter. However, that’s not why the nation’s 3rd largest homebuilder is listed here (but it sure doesn’t hurt!)

Responsive.  Be polite and even gracious. With 94K Twitter followers, Lennar still makes a point of always acknowledging when their content is shared. That’s huge and it increases sharing tremendously.  I have not found this consistency with any other brand managing this size of a following. Sure – Lennar has resources, but the fact they choose to invest here speaks volumes of their commitment to social media.

the test… I ran a small, highly unscientific Twitter test this past Saturday of 14 major homebuildersLennar responded first in an impressive 20 minutes (78% of the sample never responded…a social miss).

The Twitter stream below shows their “thank you” to me and others for sharing Lennar in some way. (Note: the first “tweet” is at the bottom). In 5 minutes, 3 people happily responded back. This brief, polite and likable exchange…resulted in Lennar’s name being positively shared with a network of 9,311 people in just those 3 tweets.  Lots of small positive gestures add up in how people feel about your brand and it’s perfectly on-culture for Twitter. 

[Hint: By grouping people together, Lennar acknowledges people, while courteously minimizing the impact on followers.]

Transparent. Don’t hide from the negative. On Lennar’s Facebook page there are some good comments & some that make me cringe. The point is – they don’t take down the bad comments, they work with them. Building a home is much more complicated than say making a shirt. There will be a few really unhappy customers at all times. It is the nature of the industry.   How those customers are worked with – is the difference.

Also, Lennar allows people to post directly to their page and inserts personality.  With your page open to the masses, you lose some control – but “control” has been gone for some time now. Let people have the option to take the conversation where they want to and your page will be more interestingly real. 

National & Local.   “Corporate” and local profiles can be synergistic. These dual levels of profiles can “play off each other” in the social space and make the brand feel like a team.

This shows really well on Lennar’s website. [Their social media listing page feels more “personal” to me, than the traditional text listing.]  

Also there is a subtle unity of voice among the divisions (some much more successful than others) and they are able to draw content from the work done at the national level, which is substantial.

Bottom-line:  The divisions expand reach tremendously and provide real LOCAL context and personality. After all, homebuilding is a local business. [Lennar is active on: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Multiple Blogs…and more.]

—–

PARDEE HOMES (Regional CA/NV) – The first time I really took note of Pardee was years ago when I saw one of their demo rooms on ‘green’ features in a home (aka their SmartLiving platform). I believe they were one of the first homebuilders to seriously integrate sustainability into their brand and with social media the innovation is continuing.

Innovative Programs. Create valuable content for target audiences. Pardee has developed some strong support programs for Realtors and homebuyers working through the challenges of this market and qualifying today. The programs play out nicely online and are positioned well when shared in social media.

[Hint: By crafting  a variety of  tools to help their target audience, Pardee’s offers provide real value – not just the opportunity to be marketed to.]

Integrates Content Type. Blend your content & don’t over-sell in social media. Pardee does a good job of blending their promotional content and helpful resources – with interesting items related to their business or the social channel they are on.  It’s a nice combination.

Educate. Have a complex product? ‘Show & Tell’ works great on YouTube.  Pardee does a great job of “lifting back the curtain” on what it takes to build a home, what to expect from customer service, etc. This is about helping customers and shoppers with their research, rather than going for the entertainment angle.  [Pardee Homes is active on:  TwitterYouTube, Facebook, Blog]

——

A few more impressively social builders that I’ve come across are:

KB Home (National) – KB is transparent on Facebook, innovatively uses real-time event streaming and brings celebrity & education to YouTube.  [KB Home is active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube]

Charter Homes (Regional/PA) – From being mobile friendly, personal, integrating content well and testing niche platforms like Instagram, Charter Homes is always innovating. [Charter Homes is active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blog]

Lennar Atlanta (Division) – First I really tried not to include Lennar again, but this division is so good at being personal, responsive on Twitter & Facebook, creative use of YouTube, and great integration of promotions across channels…well here they are. [Lennar Atlanta is active on FacebookTwitterYouTube ]

bonus: a social place…

VALENCIA (CA) – Valencia by Newhall Land re-launched into the market about two years ago with a “vibrant” campaign that has been playing out primarily on Facebook and in real life promotions (As of October, it appears they are now starting to focus on Twitter too.)

Bold & Interesting. Valencia’s ‘Awesometown’ campaign was a big, bold, and unapologetic “high-five” for life in Valencia. Engaging, fun, sort of obnoxious and crafted to resonate with families in social media, which it did.

“Awesometown” started off as a HOT neighborhood (& industry) controversy that actually made the news. Today local residents & businesses have added “Awesometown” to their vocabulary, as seen in the local Ralph’s cola display and all over social media.

On Facebook various contests and colorful content keep Valencia from fading into the background and the engagement high on their page.

Embrace the Local Area. Blur the line of who your audience is to capture synergy on the channel. A community doesn’t end at the developer’s property line. It’s the schools, businesses, the social groups – it’s everything.   Valencia allows people to post directly to their Facebook page and fosters synergy for all aspects of community. As a result, they come across as an active participant in the fabric of that area.  [Valencia is active on:  Facebook, YouTubeTwitterBlog]

FINAL KEY POINTS:   Be Responsive • Be Transparent (no editing the uncomfortable) • Match Content & Communication Style to the Social Channel. 

So…Who did I miss & what makes them great?  Do you have a different opinion? Would love your comment here – or over on Twitter @HollyHM2

————

*DISCLAIMER: “Years ago I worked at a Lennar Land division, have done business with Newhall, and have connected somehow with each of these brands – & hundreds of others – on social media and in real life. The comments are solely my candid assessment of activity in the social space only and uncompensated. ”   

7 thoughts on “homebuilders are getting social…

  1. Hi Holly – We most definitely appreciate you noticing our Lennar efforts nationwide and thank you for your kind words. We have a great team at Lennar and we have done what we have done on a shoestring budget and with no additional resources to date.

    Have a great day!

    Kay Howard
    Director of Communication
    Lennar Corporation

    • Hi Kay – Thank you for your comment! Lennar’s program is an amazing accomplishment and sincere kudos to your team. It’s inspiring to think this program developed from all in-house resources & (I would guess) a lot of determination. Best wishes – H

  2. Hi Holly – thanks so much for your acknowledgement of the Awesometown campaign. We are amazed every day at how it lives on via social media, and especially with how the local business community has and continues to embrace it. As Kay indicated above, it’s been a great way to reach out to an overwhelming number of people and in some cases a whole new audience, while staying within budgets that are certainly much slimmer than what we’ve seen in years past.

    Always enjoy your insights, and look forward to your posts.

    Caryn Spencer
    Director of Strategic Marketing
    Newhall Land

    • Hi Caryn! Happy to acknowledge such an “awesome” effort in the social space and I’ve enjoyed seeing it play out.

      As you eluded to, our industry is in an incredible challenging time and your comment on budgets is top-of-mind for everyone. The take-away from both you & Kay may be that social media can be very cost-effective. That said – it has to start with a strong strategy and persistence. Less than that commitment and a company could easily simply be wasting time, or at worst slightly damaging their brand. As they say “Social media marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.” Bottom-line, I hope the examples shown above
      inspire people to explore the possibilities of strategically adopting social media into their marketing mix.

      Thank you for the comment Caryn and keep up the great content. Cheers, Holly

  3. As always, Holly, your insights are spot on and your posts interesting to those of us in the building industry. Hope to work with you on another project again soon!

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