Building a Brand Using the Power of Social Media

In the pre-launch days of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, we were very limited in how we could communicate with the industry at large and what we could say. This blog became one way to let people know who we are and what we think about things.  It didn’t take long to figure out the important role social networking and social media in general is playing within business, and how it will become even more powerful in the future.

A Fad That Will Pass?
Some people would say that social networking is simply a group of people talking to each other.  That is partially true – there is a large group of us on Facebook all connected to the same “friends,” and the same goes for LinkedIn. Ditto for Twitter, and some might say the same for Active Rain and even YouTube.

I believe this is much more powerful than any of us may realize.  Rudy from Trulia suggested earlier today in his post that your company’s presence on the social media front is a very important component of the face and personality of your brand or company, and how you manage it is key. I couldn’t agree more. The numbers are simply astounding. According to Wikipedia, LinkedIn has a total of 24M registered users that span 150 industries, Facebook has over 100M users who upload 14M photos each day and the site gets 132M unique visitors each month. The newcomer microblogging site, Twitter, has 2M individual accounts and is growing daily.

That is a significant “somewhat” captive audience out there that will drive the real estate market in the years to come. They will be our customers, our broker owners, our real estate agents, and they will be looking for us on all of these social networking sites and on others that haven’t yet been conceived. What we say and how we present ourselves, and whether we are even participating will be a large factor in our business success. In the past several weeks, I have received franchise inquiries from Twitter, comments on YouTube videos, employment inquiries with resumes and franchise inquiries from LinkedIn, suggestions, meeting requests, comments, friend requests, links to products we might be interested in and general messages from Facebook.

Business Concerns
One of the early fears from a business point of view about social networking is that companies might be embarrassed or put at risk by an employee’s behavior online. That is a valid concern and most companies, including ours, have a social networking policy in place. It is very important. We never post a blog without others looking at it first. The pictures we post are always in good taste. We treat social networking as an important business tool.

Competitive Fun
There is a certain competitiveness around social networking. Who has the most “friends,” who has the most “contacts,” the most “recommendations,” the most “followers.” And yes, we are competitive here at BH&GRE. Wendy has the most followers on Twitter, Nicolai has had the most comments on a single blog post, and while I will never reach the almost 1,000 friends my 20-year old nephew has on Facebook, so far I am the winner on that site at BH&GRE. But that could all change… next Tuesday our very own web content and social media manager will begin his first day of work.

Let the fun begin!

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