Have you ever been scrolling through your Facebook feed and been captivated by a clip of a guy riding his mountain bike along a very narrow ridge line, or a really cool Instagram photo of a skier chest deep in powder? It's captivating isn't it? The use of GoPro cameras and social media have allowed many outdoor industry brands to leverage their user-generated content and to connect with Generation X and Millennials. Showing someone in the moment of pure joy is far more powerful than showing a product with all it’s specifications. When it comes to down to it, people want the experience more than they want the product. The same can be said for buying or selling a home. A home is just a box with four walls and a roof, it’s the experiences that happen inside of that home which are truly valuable. So how do you ramp up your real estate marketing plan by promoting the experience?
Wikipedia defines Customer Experience (CX) as the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction includes the customer's attraction, awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy, purchase and use of a service. It is measured by the individual's experience versus their expectations through all points of contact. But Customer Experience can be a double edged sword. If you or your product is performing well or providing great service, the customer experience can be rewarding to both the customer and the company. If the experience is not meeting the customers expectations it can be negative. Either way it can be eye opening. The strategy is to steer the relationship to benefit your marketing goals. You can do this by looking for engagement on a specific subject or aspect of the real estate experience. Maybe it is a new home owner getting keys at the closing table, maybe it is celebrating the holidays, or maybe it is a DIY project. There are plenty of experiences you can capture to promote homeownership.
User Generated Content
Social Media has become a key tool in the way we communicate with each other. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have become so ingrained in our daily lives that we can't imagine what we did without them. At the same time it seems that smart phones have become an extension of our body and we are constantly engaging with technology. Many outdoor companies utilize a variety of people and strategies to create content for them so they don't have to send camera crews all over the world to promote their brand. Some of this content is free for them to use and sometimes they use someone known as a "brand ambassador" to create regular content for a fee. User-generated content is a great way to collect content and to promote a social discussion about your brand and industry. So how can you get users to provide you photos and videos? Hashtags and/or a hashtag contest.
Hashtag Campaigns & Hashtag Contests
People post to their social accounts all the time so why not give them a little incentive to tell about a topic or an experience that relates to your town or owning a home? When a post has hashtag, you can click on it and see all of the posts from users who are using the same hashtag. It’s a virtual discussion and it’s a great way to find people who have similar interests. In real estate marketing, you can create a hashtag campaign to initiate the conversation. For example, as I am writing this blog, I searched for #newhome on Instagram and 1,106,532 current posts came up to view.
For a hashtag campaign you will want to create a unique hashtag, maybe something specific to your office or your town. If you use a generic term like #newhome there is so much content around it, it does nothing to highlight your specific brand or business. Choosing something that represents your goal is crucial to a successful campaign. You will also need to create awareness by telling people how to contribute and what hashtag to use. To provide incentive to get your campaign rolling, it may be worth offering a gift card or some type of prize that can be earned. Maybe select one winner a month. If you are running a campaign using something like #FirstHomeAtlanta to promote first time homeownership in Atlanta, remind your clients at closing to snap a picture in their new home and use that #hashtag to enter your contest.
You can also promote the campaign through your social media channels. Try running an open house campaign and invite buyers using something like #SmithRealtyOpenHouse. Each agent at your weekend open houses can encourage visitors to snap some pics while they are touring homes and then use that hashtag on their own social media channels. There are a lot of possibilities so you will need to create a goal, determine the strategy and then execute your plan.
If you need inspiration or want to see what the outdoor industry is doing, check out some companies like GoPro, Smith Optics, REI, or The North Face. They have figured out some great strategies to reach Millennials and leverage user-generated content.