Real estate professionals are exploring creative ways to overcome the real estate crisis including the recent phenomenon of use of social media. Sapna Srivastava speaks to some prominent developers, digital marketing expert and international property consultants to find out more.
There are about 243.2 million internet users and 106 million active social media users presently inIndia. Higher number of social media followers tend to improve trust and credibility in the brand. It also helps reduce marketing cost, improve conversion rates and when done right, can lead to more customers. Sobha’s marketing strategy for online promotions is three pronged – drive traffic to the website, leverage social media platforms both for engagement and advertising and presence on relevant real estate portals.Surajit Chanda
In today’s age of technology, social media has become an obvious choice for most businesses to build their brand. By recent statistics, the use of platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are increasing rapidly and close to 61% people research products through social media sites. An extensive research about the real estate industry has only proven that use of internet for spreading awareness about various festive offers, sales fairs creates a huge impact on the sales figures of the realty firms. Zafar Rais – CEO, MindShift Interactive Pvt. Ltd., a digital marketing and research company says, “Real estate industries are extensively using social media to create brand value, recall and create a preference for their brand versus the others. Through social media, builders are able to target the exact demographics, far and wide and build a relationship with them. With the right mix of social media and digital strategies, they are able to tap global consumers looking at properties as well.” Arvind Kapoor, Director, Indian Operations, Residential Services, Colliers International concurs, “With growing internet usage and people becoming tech savvy, digital marketing and social media has become a very important tool for the distribution and marketing of projects various projects online, study the area & amenities offered by the developer and choose their dream home.”
According to Sandeep Ahuja, CEO, Richa Realtors, ”With the consumers opening up to making big purchases on the online platforms, social media has emerged as one of the thriving tool to boost the visibility of real estate projects. Developers find it more effective to spread the awareness about various offers, waivers and discounts, in turn enhancing the sales and virtual presence. There is a stiff competition between the developers to reach out to the target customers; social media aids the developers to reach directly to the customers, eliminate the brokers and establish a direct connect.” Offering another perspective, Joy Kapur, Managing Director, Woodlands Housing states, “Real estate sector has transformed into a consumer centric industry where social media acts as a vehicle to reach out to the targeted audience to display the value of the project in a highly competitive market. Real estate industry has adapted itself to fit in the social media world which can influence the buying decision of young people with high disposable income and higher propensity.”
We, at Ahuja Constructions use Facebook, twitter, YouTube, Instagram to promote the projects be it our luxury properties or township projects. Even in the promotion of the Ahuja Regal Club which encompasses our loyalty program Ahuja Advantage and the referral program Ahuja Genie, these social media platforms play an important role.
Ways to engage customers online
Aggressive and persistent social media traction is an important aspect to draw the attention of the consumers. There are varied online social media platforms available which are used by real estate developers to market their projects. To name a few of them- LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, You Tube, Flickr as well as real estate specific platforms, like Magic bricks, 99 acres, India Property, housing.com etc. Arvind Kapoor says, “In addition to websites & social online sites, we have seen developer participating in the real estate online sales festivals.”
There are many ways through which the marketers can engage their customers online. Posting quality content, sharing customer testimonials, live chats, building a story around the brand and driving high outreach campaigns are a few ways to stay top of mind towards recall and drive return on investment. Share ability of content can have a huge impact in the real estate space. FAQ’s section to address the customer’s queries too increase the responsiveness. Zafar Rais gives examples of apps like FlatChat and websites like Zocalo that help people find roommates and apartments on rent locally, a trend that is gaining momentum. “The popularity of housing. com and magicbricks.com is also not hidden from the public eye and lends itself excellently to other social media marketing efforts”, he says.
A Facebook page and eye catchy website which facilitate real time interaction with customers are must for developers where the photograph of new projects, updates on company, events and luxurious home decor can be showcased for audience. Along with promotion of the property, these channels also serve the purpose of customer service, where the complaints and suggestions of customers are received and solved. Joy Kapur mentions Foursquare, YouTube, online forums and blogs as other tools of promotion. As per him, videos and images grasp attention and hosting games & contest bring enthusiastic audience who could be the brand evangelist for the project. The two majorly used social media tools across various age groups are Facebook and Twitter.
Hiral Sheth finds contests run on FB and Twitter beneficial to the brand as they are consumer engaging. “When a contest is run effectively it is a great way to build a strong following, she says. Though every company/brand may devise a unique strategy/tactics to engage customers on Social Media, there are some definite ways to keep the audiences engaged Surajit Chanda suggests, creating unique content, interesting headlines, understanding the peculiarities of every platform, being Visual, sharing tips & advice and responding to comments.