By Maria Patterson
Engaging and Informing through Online and Social Media
“Our younger consumers are looking to us to provide insight and information that they cannot find anywhere else,” adds Matt Rand, managing partner of Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty. “We are increasingly relying on an array of new technologies, such as social media channels and our mobile website, to stay in tune with these prospective buyers. More than a nice home, we understand that young buyers want to live in a community that matches their lifestyle, whether that means close proximity to mass transit, the best schools, access to great dining and entertainment or a mix of all of these things. Our agents truly become market professionals.”
When Chris launched Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate in 2007, she immediately recognized that social media would be an essential communication channel in engaging the next generation of consumers. Her team conducts seminars with brokers and agents to educate them on how to best utilize social media platforms to engage new homebuyers. Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate pioneered social media effectiveness by supplying their brokers and agents with compelling lifestyle content that can be leveraged through social media. These videos, articles and tips help them communicate with their consumers.
“In the next 30 years, the methods and tools that homebuyers use to learn about the housing market will continue to evolve, and we’ll always strive to be one step ahead of the trends to meet the needs of our agents and consumers,” says Chris. “Right now, social media is one of the most direct channels for consumers to access relevant information about home prices, communities and the financial implications of owning a home. Real estate professionals not only need to be using these platforms to communicate with homebuyers, but need to understand how to use these channels effectively, efficiently and confidently.”
Chris’ successful approach to real estate marketing using social media was recently recognized by Raymond Pirouz, marketing faculty at the prestigious Richard Ivey School of Business at The University of Western Ontario. In December 2012, he released a comprehensive case study about Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate’s strong social media strategy to help grow the company and empower its agents and brokers to reach consumers directly. Chris is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and a 2001 EMBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business.
“For Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate to have mastered the art of social media where others have struggled, is in itself a lesson,” says Pirouz. “We are pleased to have had the opportunity to work with Sherry Chris to learn firsthand the strategic and tactical business-to-business social media initiatives and consumer-based marketing objectives necessary to deploy technology to address real-world challenges in modern marketing.”
Leighton Dees, broker and owner of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Generations in Mobile, Ala., is reaching more consumers through social and online media, and recognizes the importance of developing online consumer resources to help educate them about the home-buying process. “The Internet plays a big role in the home-buying process,” he says. “We have a multitude of articles online that serve as invaluable sources of information for prospective buyers, many of which are provided to us by the brand. While younger homebuyers come to us knowing the necessary steps of buying a home, they recognize they need our help to facilitate the actual execution. From our standpoint, this makes the younger generation very relatable and enjoyable to work with.”
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate has taken significant steps to supply brokers and agents in their network with educational online marketing materials and strategies as well as industry-exclusive market research to successfully engage consumers online.
“Across the industry, many agents have difficulty communicating with younger homebuyers, but it is essential that they develop the skills to work with this generation,” adds Chris. “Just as these homebuyers take the time to educate themselves about the home-buying process, we need to do our homework too. Brokers and agents who take the time to embrace the concept of the informed consumer and learn and apply new technologies, such as social media, content sharing and mobile business practices, to their marketing strategies are a step ahead. Real estate professionals who couple this with the understanding of how these homebuyers feel about and approach the home-buying process are much more in touch with this demographic…and will continue to be into the future.”
About the Survey
The Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,001 nationally representative Americans, ages 18 to 35, between July 18, 2012 and July 26, 2012.
For more information, please visit www.BHGRealEstate.com.