By Jessica Green, Director, Cursive
In 2011 alone, YouTube reported more than 1 trillion views. That’s 140 views for every person on the planet. Facebook’s following of 750 million users is nothing to scoff at either. Having more than doubled its number of Canadian users to 6% to 14% since 2009, LinkedIn is no slouch. And you know that networking site that forces you to craft a thoughtful statement in 140 characters or less? It’s called Twitter and it hit more than 140 million users last year, so stop pretending that you don’t know how to pronounce it and start getting chatty.
Social Media by Numbers:
According to Ipsos’ most recent Canadian Interactive Reid Report special feature on Social Networking, half of Canada’s population, or 17 million people, is involved in some form of social networking. Since 2010, the number of Canadians who visited a social media site at least once a week has climbed from 35% to 50%. And it’s not just pimply teenagers getting their kicks while mom and dad are out: The majority of 35-54 year olds and more than 40% of those over the age of 55 are pinning, posting, liking and re-tweeting Honey Boo Boo lines in real time. That number is only expected to increase—dramatically.
Step it Up:
Steve Mossop, President of Ipsos Reid’s Western Canada practice, explains that social media users have spent the last several years building brand awareness. Now, it’s time to commercialize this awareness by engaging consumers. But there’s a right way to do it. The first step is determining whether social media is right for your business. Let’s rephrase that: Are you a B2C company that wants to expand your reach, bring people to your website and nurture leads into sales? If you answered yes, then you’ve completed the first step.
Do: Due Diligence:
Next, take some time to research what other companies are doing. What platforms are larger developers using? Are boutique firms doing it better? How are they engaging potential buyers? Whether they’re running contests, microblogging or posting basic building updates, the competition is already ahead of you. So find out what they’re doing, read some tutorials and do it better. Just make sure that the platform fits the purpose, which is to reach your intended audience with frequent, practical, relevant information that initiates conversation.
Put in Some Face Time:
Build a Facebook business page by using the step-by-step instructions and user support provided right on the site. In addition to built-in statistics, which help you monitor the efficacy of your campaign, Facebook is a great way to connect with current and prospective buyers for several reasons. For one, it builds community: Feature a site super or a photo of the board; post photos of owners who have made interior changes and enhancements to their units; launch a balcony garden contest and showcase images of the winner and runners up. Remember, Google takes cues from social media votes of confidence, meaning that the more people share content from your website, the more your search engine ranking will improve. \
Find Your Voice:
After Facebook, Twitter is the ultimate social tool. With its own vernacular – hashtags, DMs, re-tweets – it’s daunting on first click. But perhaps it’s the forum’s simplicity that’s throwing us off. What’s so difficult about crafting one or two targeted sentences a couple of times a day? Not much, if you have a plan. That is, what you want to say and who you want to listen will determine your tweets, so mix it up by striking a balance between promotional content and general interest content. The more you tweet, the more your account will be viewed, thereby increasing the probability of more followers. Once you have created your account, promote it via newsletters, email signatures, corporate website, property website, Facebook—everywhere.
Does your property have a video? If not, it should. Online marketing firms like Rentseeker.ca can produce a property video for about the same price as one print ad. The difference? “Video is a one-time investment and the second it’s online, it’s there to stay,” says Chaim Rivlin, Rentseeker’s CEO. Once you have the video, make sure it’s hosted on YouTube. “Every video posted on YouTube can be optimized with titles, descriptions, keywords and tags,” Rivlin adds. “The payoff can be immense, particularly when it comes to driving traffic to your website and increasing your brand’s search engine visibility.”
While traditional corporate videos are informative, light and entertaining behind-the-scenes videos can be particularly influential. Creating videos on topics like amenities, pride of ownership, financing options and price ranges is a relatively easy undertaking. Uploading the videos to YouTube is even easier, so have fun with the process. Interview residents and staff who are willing to be spokespeople for your property. Just ensure the message clear: You must live here.
Like many people, you probably think LinkedIn is only for promoting yourself. However, LinkedIn now has Company Pages, which are becoming increasingly popular marketing tools. The fastest growing demographic on LinkedIn is recent graduates, many of whom are looking for places to live. Try engaging them by encouraging the participation of condo owners, who can talk about operations, property types, prices, locations, sizes and amenities available.
LinkedIn also has a useful feature that allows users to recommend a product or service, which is then sent out to all of their connections. Talk about an organic and efficient way to promote your company! Among its many benefits, LinkedIn functions as its own search engine for finding companies and jobs. As an added bonus, all information posted publicly shows up in search engines.
Finding your niche, stimulating conversation, and converting leads to web traffic and, ultimately, sales can take up to a year. It’s time consuming and utterly demoralizing when you can’t find that “thing” that bridges the gap between your brand and your market. However, with time, persistence and some trial/error, you’ll start making friends. You might even start using social media to provide online property tours and schedule showings—through an app.
In the meantime, don’t retire those glossy print ads, towering storyboards and backlit signs just yet. They’re all a part of today’s marketing matrix and each piece is just as important as the next. And those once-pimply teenagers? They make up the 48% of the population that checks Facebook the second they wake up. They’re also the ones in suits looking to buy.
Cursive is a Toronto-based communications consulting firm. For more information, email [email protected]