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by • 14 April, 2008 • CRITERION GLOBAL, MEDIA, REAL ESTATEComments Off on Property Marketing and Social Media1680

Property Marketing and Social Media

Last week, Criterion Global attended an event on digital media hosted by GEMA, the Georgetown Entertainment and Media Alliance. The discussion took the pulse of a bifurcated digital community: on one side, analysts trying to monetize new social media, and ambivalent old school advertisers on the other. Succinctly, Michael McCracken of UGO Networks said, “Advertisers do not know where to spend their dollars,” they are overwhelmed by new offerings, and lack criteria to make effective choices.

In the property sector, real estate, hotel, and casino marketers have little time, budget, or patience to experiment in new media when the bottom line is, well, the bottom line. We’ve all seen the consumer marketing success stories; Gray Worldwide’s “German Coastguard” Berlitz ad, the Smirnoff Raw Tea Campaign, and other new media viral campaigns that, overnight, became ingrained in the pop culture consciousness of their target demographics. But ever-cautious property developers are right to wonder: can new media replicate its successes predictably, reliably, and cost-effectively? When will new media be reliable as an investment in our brands, rather than an experiment?

The more marketers contemplate these issues, the more it is clear: in the paradigm shift from traditional media to the new, old school marketers are asking all the wrong questions.

Social media can only be a reliable investment if the strategy behind its use is sound.You wouldn’t have a billboard in Brazil for a resort in Bahrain: only by asking the right questions can developers and marketers make the most of social media.

Unprecedented Access

It takes skill, and perhaps a bit of skepticism to confidently decipher what makes consumers respond. When implemented correctly, social media can make properties come alive for potential buyers. Social media can also help your sales team overcome obstacles in the sales process.

Social media, as we define it, is interactive, and nearly always digital. The Criterion Global definition of social media is any form of interactive media where users also create content, i.e. social networks (users create and browse profiles and community-generated content), wikis (where users populate wiki content), blogs, or for the property industry, even portal sites where brokers worldwide can post properties via global interactive platforms like PrimeLocation or Properazzi. Social in their utility, these media allow property brands to engage buyers and investors where they seek information and interact.

But social media can only work its magic when your marketing advisors know its capabilities and limitations. This is problematic for a generation of real estate marketers inexperienced in online advertising on the whole. Additionally, incorporating social media into your marketing mix demands a precise understanding of your audience, their behavior, and your projects goals for conversion. All media must strategically cohere to justify investment.

The Right Questions

To sharpen your online and social media strategy, we recommend asking the following questions to refine choices and discover possibilities for collaboration and synergies within a campaign. Remember, social media is a platform for advertising as well as content, and by integrating both you can cover more ground.

Q: Where does my audience ‘live’ online?

A: The answer requires mathematics as well as imagination. Based on the price points of your project, as well as the soft finishes and marketing of its amenities and location, have your marketing consultants to generate a socio-economic profile of potential buyers. Are you seeking affluent consumers that might belong to a private online social network? Investors using Bloomberg terminals? Do they use a Mac or PC? Criterion Global will then paint a picture of the digital life of your buyer, and cross-reference media usage data to identify professional, geographical, and social content networks to identify appropriate platforms. For global campaigns, languages spoken, local broadband speed, mobile media usage, and preferred search engines should be taken into consideration. Applying a general “profile” of the buyer to online media is vital to gauging the appropriateness of social media.

Q: How do I track visitors/viewers from social media?

A: This is a common question for new marketers. First, as a general rule, be brief. The eye travels faster online than in print. Think about it: it takes longer to turn a page in a newspaper, than to click a link to another web page. Ads should always have sharp graphics and cut-to-the-chase, no frills language. Content such as articles or blog posts should also be brief, and link to your site at the beginning, middle, and end.

Social media generates click-through traffic from ads as well as links embedded into content. Whenever possible, content-embedded links should note the click sources, i.e. “www.projectsite.com/youtube”, to provide tangible traffic data. Keep this tracking separate from display ad tracking to compare click-through ratios.

Generating traffic is the obvious goal of online media. It deserves to be said that proper analytics and tracking is necessary for property sites to supplement visitor registration data. Ask the interactive experts at Criterion Global about cookie re-tracking to target “drive-by” or repeat visitors that don’t register their information.

Q: How can social media complement my current online media plan?

A: The more strategically-placed exposure, the better. Definitely look for opportunities to use content in multiple platforms. For example, promotional video is one of the most versatile forms of media, and can be used in rich media display positions, video showcases (such as NYTimes.com’s new one), appropriate blog postings, and property portals.

A now-famous example of is Adrian Zecha’s Nizuc, a private resort destination in the Mayan Riviera that commissioned a film by Alejandro Gonzalez, of 21 grams and Babel. The film had viral success for its artistry, and was a conversation-starter for innovative sales group SHVO.

Q: Is everyone on board?

A: Since social media incorporates content as well as display advertising platforms, it is case-critical that public relations and marketing work in tandem to maximize exposure and distribute a unified message. Timing is also important. Don’t put the chronological cart before the horse, or PR might lose opportunities to release news on an “exclusive” basis if information is leaked to, say, blogs such as Curbed.

By asking the right questions, property marketers can leverage social media in a holistic, cohesive way to engage key buyers where they socialize and seek information.

See also: http://www.xnetrealestate.com/articleview.aspx?id=2605

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