The marketing and business scenario is undergoing a radical change with the rise of social media and the ‘socially connected consumer’. Businesses are slowly accepting how social media can be the right platform to engage the customer by providing valuable content and to experience the brand themselves. Previously, social media was only seen as just another marketing channel to drive sales. However today, social media is a meeting space, where the consumer first meets your brand. With over 72% of online adults being active on social media platforms like Facebook, it is only obvious for every business to be present on the online space, and the real estate segment is no exception.
Since social media is still a relatively new field for many businesses, including those in the real estate business; companies are still experimenting on how they can engage their consumers best with this platform. Real estate in India till date was going by the traditional marketing methodologies using brochures and their sales representatives as their only marketing tools. However, off late companies who have adopted newer ways of functioning, are focusing on improving customer experience by opting for newer technologies including social media.
Modern real estate companies and developers are trying to get in sync with the social media revolution trying to capture their presence on the Big 3s of social media namely Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Whether it is a small real estate business or a big developer, being on social media is the best way to make your brand’s presence felt and connecting directly with potential clients at one go.
For the consumers also social media has made home search and buying more transparent. Right from searching a property to getting reviews and feedback about the builder, or participating in engaging content on Facebook, social media helps Real Estate companies build a one on one communication with the consumers. Through social media, consumers today are connected with Real Estate Companies’ information that is genuine and that really matters. Social Media has become a go-to source for prospective & existing customers to connect, converse & arrange for a walk-in to the properties by undertaking research and downloading marketing collaterals of property brochures.
Facts Highlighting the Importance of Social Media For the Realtors and the Buyers
1. 80% of home buyers are searching houses for sale online rather than looking up the traditional methods like newspapers and magazines. A brand’s presence online only helps the consumer in their search.
2. 83% of the home buyers look at pictures and other visual media before making their purchase decision. When a real estate brand hosts their project photos, videos and virtual tours online it influences the consumer in a positive way giving them a better idea of what to expect.
3. 42% of the home buyers used online search as the first step in their home buying process. Earlier real estate agents or the local newspapers were the first step to home search process, which is now replaced with online search engines.
4. 33% of the home buyers do their research online about various topics pertaining to the real estate in India. When real estate developers provide industry related information through blogs and social media updates, it helps home buyers to get information that may be relevant to them.
Premium residential properties use social media in a big way to attract the right target audience by not only placing their ads but also putting up engaging content. If you are still toiling over the idea whether your real estate business needs social media or not, here are reasons that will leave you convinced.
1. Brand Showcase: Being active on social media can give your brand and company its own share of limelight. It is one of the most cost-effective ways of building your digital presence and showcasing your brand to millions of social media users. By constantly engaging audiences with updates of your business can help your brand to be up in the real estate space creating awareness in the minds of the consumers. Consumers are more likely to remember your projects when exposed to it frequently on the social media circle. A research conducted to test the influence of digital marketing on home buyers showed that about 83% of the property buyers found project photos and videos very useful when making a purchase decision.
2. Building a direct connect with the builders: Whether it is real estate or any other business, people active on social media like to connect with brands that are working towards building a community. Studies have shown how a brand’s fan page plays an important role in building its credibility in the minds of the consumers. When you have a fan page that engages consumers to give their reviews, share opinions and come out with their grievances in the open, you are setting up new consumer relationship standards, which today are of great importance and easily achievable with the help of social media channels.
3. Better access to information: Social media is a very powerful tool by way of which you can share information to consumers that matter. When you share information about the industry that directly impacts the consumer interest, you build your brand credibility as a company that cares. For instance, the latest reform in the real estate segment in India called the RERA act, was a great move to protect the interest of the real estate consumers. Companies such as Indya Estates are actively involved in creating a presence across Social Media platforms to offer updates on project construction status, Customer Meet Events, to disseminate relevant information to their discerning audiences.
4. Better digital presence: If you want your brand to show up in the million searches that people make every day when looking for property investment options, then having a social media presence is inevitable. Social media helps the brands to get optimized exposure due to its worldwide reach and presence. With the advent of smartphones, the reach has only widened, giving businesses the power to reach out to discerning target audiences beyond geographical limitations. As per social media studies and research, when as a brand you interact on the social media platform about 2-4 times a week, you can significantly up your chances of increasing the online presence.
5. Building Brand Credibility: Real estate in India is still undergoing a transformation and getting more organized. With online presence, real estate companies are only getting more and more transparent in their operations. This is not only beneficial for the company, but also helps in instilling a sense of confidence in the consumers. Not only by way of the likes and shares but also with the help of content that is published on your social media circle helps in generating trust and brand worth which is very important for every business. By communicating on a one on one basis with your consumers on the social media platforms, you generate trust and goodwill which is a huge asset in building brand reputation of a company. Social media is also seen as an important tool to provide customer service and grievance redressal on an open platform. Since customer satisfaction is an important tool in every business, using social media to address queries and complaints by your customers becomes an important marketing tool in the hand of real estate marketers.
6. Boost Sales: Real estate in India is undergoing a transformation where people look for reviews and opinions on social media before going ahead and investing in a project. While earlier only the developer’s word was treated as final, today consumers check out various real estate websites and social networking sites before investing their hard-earned money in any project. If you are prompt enough to answer your prospective client’s queries on social media, you definitely have made a place in their consideration list. Apart from this if you have good reviews on your social media page with active interactions, then the consumers are certainly more inclined towards trusting your projects compared to the traditional brochure methods. While the traditional companies may still not understand the significance, the new age real estate companies are certainly taking social media more seriously to boost their sales and marketing activities.
7. Cost Effective: Social media marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways of marketing due to massive reach across global audiences, ability to target and connect with relevant audience segments. Social media is still one of the cost-effective modes of marketing that is effective in terms of both investments as well as eliminating wastage. Real estate advertising in the past few years has largely evolved and moved from the traditional brochure and print collaterals to social media platforms that is far more creatively engaging. Promoting your projects on social media is certainly one of the best ways to get an increase return on investment as compared to any other medium. Social media is also a better way to boost our PR and drive in potential traffic to your website and social media fan pages.
Challenges of Social Media Marketing for Real Estate Marketers
While social media is the need of the hour when it comes to new age marketing, the segment is still relatively fresh and new for the marketers to experiment with. Due to lack of much exposure, there are certain challenges that the segment throws before the marketers, some of which are:
• Building a customer centric digital marketing strategy: With a burgeoning internet penetration across Tier 2 & 3 cities, smartphones getting more affordable & #DigitalIndia initiatives announced by the Government, the infrastructure to access Internet is contributing to a heightened interest from businesses to undertake Digital Marketing. The business objectives realised from Digital Marketing initiatives by Real Estate companies would not be accomplished unless there is a customer centric approach adhered to: from establishing presence on Social Media or creating a user friendly website, to organising a visit to the Developer’s sample flat, Digital is set to case a high impact/influence towards a seamless customer experience.
• ROI of Social Media marketing: Social Media, today has evolved into a channel that enables businesses to complete the loop of Marketing: from Awareness to Conversions. However, the real estate sector in India, still relies heavily on the traditional marketing approaches that have delivered. While e-mailers and sms options have been successful, social media is still at a nascent stage as far as integration with innovative avenues such as Virtual Reality or Artificial Intelligence is concerned. A large part of social media budgets by real estate companies is being put into gathering customer reviews, which are certainly trusted and known to help in influencing purchases pumped into driving Organic growth, Content Marketing initiatives & addressing Social customer service. It is critical that each initiative undertaken by Real Estate companies on Social Media are aligned with business objectives, in order to unlock the value derived from Digital Marketing.
• Organic growth of fans across social media platforms: The Facebook likes was earlier seen as a parameter for measuring the success of a company page. However, with declining organic growth, which now remains less than 1%, there is a challenge to engage the target audience to connect with the brand on an on-going basis. There is a heavy reliance on paid media to enhance the fan growth of the page and to connect better with the target audiences for the ultimate achievement of marketing objectives.
Change is inevitable and social media is the much-needed transformation in the marketing space that has not left the real estate segment too. Consumer satisfaction and engagement goes to another level with social media marketing and advertising becoming a key mantra for most of the new age real estate companies today.