Q&A with Steve Shoemaker
Social media a useful tool for homebuilders.
Published: August 6, 2010
Social media can be useful tool for homebuilders, expert says
Q: The Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association held a panel discussion Thursday on using social media. For homebuilders, why social media?
A: Well, it gives us a chance to have a genuine dialogue with our homebuyers, people that live in our homes. We're an industry that relies a lot on referrals. You know, a third of our business at Ideal Homes comes from referrals. I know a lot of other builders and Realtors that's their business. And it's a social network, an opportunity to visit with people, respond to them, not just talk at them, but to talk with them and to really humanize your organization a little bit. You know, we're in a noble business in home building. It's a neat business, and the more we can humanize our business and talk to homeowners, the better. I think, also, it gives us a chance to monitor our name out there and to respond to things we see going on in the market concerns that consumers have about what they might be hearing nationally, we can respond to and talk about what's going on locally.
Q: How does Ideal Homes use social media?
A: There are a variety of ways. First and foremost, it's a way for us to stay in touch with all of our audiences, whether that's the homeowners that live in our homes, or Realtors who sell our homes, or potential prospects that may live in other states and are potentially moving here in a year or two years, and they want to learn more about us. It's also a way for us to talk about our organization, some of the neat stuff we're doing. Little things. Our director of community development got engaged the other day in one of our communities, and we put that on Facebook because we think that's cool and we want to share that. Whenever we have an exciting story to tell, that people are excited about besides us, it's a great way to communicate. With our "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" build, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube were vital components of that, blending traditional media with social media and new media. We had 22,000 views on YouTube of our daily video updates that we put on there. It's a way for us to let people in on what we were doing that couldn't be there with us.
Q: Upsides and downsides?
A: Upside is definitely you can have a dialogue, you can respond to people. The downside: We have to corporately let go of a little bit of control. The best genuine dialogue happens when our people in the field, we turn them loose to talk to their homeowners and to mix their personal and business life and everybody's different. We just have to let go of some of that anxiety. It's a pretty easy thing to do when you start seeing the benefits of connecting with your homeowners.
Q. For a builder, or any businessperson, standing on the bank, thinking about whether to jump in, what do you tell them?
A: Start. Just start doing it. I think the big obstacle people have is they don't know what they're doing, and it's like anything else: Until you start doing it, you don't know. It's OK to start and to be a lurker, to hang around and watch what other people are doing. But I encourage you to do that. Jump in and start a Facebook page if you don't have one. Reconnect with people in your personal life. Start a Twitter account just to get some of your news, to see what experts are saying out there. A lot of people are getting their news from Twitter. There are an awful lot of opportunities out there. You don't have to jump in all at once. You can just stick your toe in the water. But you have to start. And you have to start today. Because every day you wait, you're more behind, and it ain't going away.
Richard Mize, Real Estate Editor