Given that it is impossible to move beyond the fact that there will be an ever-increasing focus on the social environment, what are some of the key issues that the leaders in this field suggest we need to engage?
Firstly, there is the clear need to appreciate that marketers in every field, and that includes ours, will need stop trying to manage and lead the social conversation. We need to be a participant adding to the value of the conversation.
As social media begins to grow in its relevance for project marketers, we need to understand that with the unprecedented content being generated by people and business, the need for engaging content, relevance and appealing content is now greater than ever.
Social media empowers the consumer
As business continues to play its part in social media, one trend will continue and that’s the empowerment of all consumers. It’s well accepted that consumer reviews are already very powerful, and our challenge is to win and earn the loyalty of our particular markets.
Social media is very appealing to consumers because of the ability to easily share information. If you like to share a yarn it’s a reality that we need to be comfortable with, direct and understand.
As consumers become more and more active in their use of social media, every project we work with will need to make a value call to create a social media platform along with other digital activity, or not. The size of a project and the funds available to produce content will be important, but clearly there is a downside if the job is poorly done.
Focus more on building your email list
I am sure that one area we all have in common is the desire to have more potential buyers subscribe to our communications feed by email.
Studies have shown time and time again that if you want to engage and audience including buyers, they are most likely going to come from your email lists. And I’ve found that to be very true – and your email list is truly the only list you own. It’s yours.
I also suggest that with so many social media options – Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram – that have to be considered, we must still be active in the way email lists are managed and valued.
Which social sites to use
As social media users become increasingly savvy, they will focus their social media time on fewer sites. As project marketers we will need to follow their lead and understand the best options for our projects.
Facebook and Twitter are both well established with consumers, as is LinkedIn with the business community.
Google+, Pinterest and other platforms continue to grow and so the reality is that users and marketers will have to decide where to spend time, money and energy. There’s only so much time in a day, and the level of activity is on the increase, and so we need to keep asking what gains attention?
For a majority of projects a solid presence in one or two channels looks to me to be the best option, chasing to many options could be a waste of energy. With the help of consultants we will have to make some choices as to where our social media and digital expenditure will have the maximum impact.
The central role of content marketing
More of our clients and projects will need to realise that unless they embrace content marketing soon, they may well lose traction in their market sector.
We are already seeing businesses racing to make up for lost time on the web. While this may have been a concern for some local retailers, we need to take a close look at our own backyards.
I suggest that some effort needs to go into quality project blogs, eBooks, videos and social media content and that good solid and workable content plans will be the name of the game if we are to reap the full potential of social media options.
Social media advertising
As we need to reach a larger audience and build up an engaged community then planning future budgets that use social advertising may become more common across project marketing.
As we deal with time more targets, with access to so many media options our ability to grow organically is going to be limited and so wider engagement across all media options looks appealing.
Consider the use of podcasts to increase engagement
With more than 1 billion smartphone users and hundred of millions more just waiting to be sold, the consumer demand for quality podcasts is growing, and it is an area that might be worth considering.
It takes me back to another way of storytelling, and now with the power of social media behind us anyone with a (good) story or yarn to tell can broadcast it to a big audience and with planning target the right audience.
Conclusion – at least for now
The results of this will always have the potential of being good and bad. Consumers will continue to be better informed than they ever have been in making a purchase, and this clearly applies to property.
In our market competition will grow fiercer and in order to meet the expectations and experiences of today’s ‘connected consumer’ we need to make sure we are ahead of the curve.
In the immediate future more industries will get serious about social media as they go about building their digital portfolios. We will all need to provide proof of how social media marketing as a whole is benefiting clients through the use of various analytics programs.
With the spread of digital marketing it is easy to expect to see an increase the use of social media and related content marketing. When we look at Project Marketing budgets, this may be at the expense of other forms of advertising to attract prospects, generate leads and sales.
Well-managed content marketing can be a very cost-effective media, but to do this it will be necessary to tick of all of the key topics we have been discussing and to continue to explore the options.
If you’re keen to do some more personal research have a look at socialmediaexaminer.com. It’s a source I use, but as always keep in mind the particular needs of our industry.
With professional help and market awareness, we must continue to take a more integrated approach with social media becoming an extension of key channel strategies and marketing functions, while we meet the needs and expectations of our clients and customers.Peter Chittenden is managing director for residential of Colliers International.