Did you know that:
- Facebook is now the fourth most visited website in the world. (TechCrunch 2009)
- 75% of US on-line adults are active on-line social participators. (Forrester, 2008)
- Users put great trust in their social networks. One-half of respondents said they considered information shared on their networks when making a decision. (eMarketer, October 2009)
- 90% of buyers now start their home search process on the Internet. (NAR Nov. 2009)
If you are not using online social networking tools, I understand. They can seem confusing and complicated, but in today’s world, they are creating too many great sales opportunities to ignore.
Not that long ago there were only a few ways to contact potential home buyers – you could send out direct mail, have on location sales events, use very expensive classified or display newspaper ads, or even start cold calling and “dialing for dollars.” All are expensive and time consuming. The beauty of social networking is that it allows you to connect with potential customers easily, again and again, and at a very low cost.
Social networking is defined as any web service that “promotes interaction between people who share a common interest.” Examples include chat, instant messaging, email, video and photo sharing, blogging, electronic newsletters and so on. It allows people to share information electronically, (including sales promotions, open houses, recent listings, special offers and more) with prospects who are already interested.
Social networking is much less expensive and far more targeted than traditional marketing. For instance, what would you pay to be able to open the newspaper to your circled classified ad and put it right on the kitchen table of someone who you knew was already interested in buying a manufactured home? Using social networking sites and tools you can, and at almost no cost!
The key is to use social networking tools to link all your individual marketing campaigns into one large marketing net in order to capture as many prospects as possible from as many angles possible.
One example is to add a link on your company’s website inviting prospects to join your Facebook page. You do have a Facebook page, right? Then use the tools on MHVillage to quickly and easily post all of your listings to your Facebook and other social networking pages so that those prospects are regularly notified when new listings become available. By the way, the MHVillage Facebook page receives messages just about every day from prospects interested in manufactured homes. It really does work!
If you’re still using classified newspaper ads, make sure to add a link to your online home listings. Classified ads are expensive, but at least they can send prospects to your full page MHVillage listing, which includes much greater detail and all your color photos. Once at MHVillage, your prospect can then easily view and track your listing with our new Social Networking tool called “Watch This”.
“Watch This” allows buyers to track and follow homes on MHVillage with just one click by becoming “Fans” of your listings (or your community or company). We’ll automatically notify your “Fans” of any changes to your listings such as new photos, open houses, or price reductions, and you can send emails directly to your fans as well – all at no cost.
Another great example of creating a marketing net is a community manager who holds a weekend sales event with open houses on five homes in his community. He does all the traditional open house signs and takes out ads in his local paper. However, in his ads he goes one step further and includes the MHVillage listing numbers of his homes so that prospects can easily view the additional color photos and detailed descriptions of his homes and his community. In addition, two weeks before the event he posts the event and the listings to his Facebook page, and he places MHVillage Open House notifications on his listings, so they display at the very top of web search results. This also triggers MHVillage to instantly notify all of his “Fans” of the big event. He even follows up by sending a reminder email to those Fans the day before the open house.
The results are outstanding. A record number of prospects show up on-site. Not only locals, but several families from well over 100 miles away who are planning to relocate to the area and already searching on the internet. Three of the five homes are actually sold that weekend, and he’s personally met five additional qualified prospects. Coordinating all the marketing activities and tying them together with the Social Networking tools was the key to success.
Our prospects are using the Internet and they’re using their Social Networks to shop for homes. Our competitors in the site-built world have adapted and have a large head start on us. Social Networking tools are effective at increasing sales and are available at costs far less than traditional print advertising. Ignore them at your own risk.