How are your real estate customers using social media?


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Forrester research has recently updated its social media customer profiling tool to include data from 2008. Many of you in the real estate business have probably been hearing about blogs, Twitter, FriendFeed and other social media technologies for some time now. Some of you are even using social media tools to enhance your real estate business.

But the questions always remain: Are my customers using social media? Am I speaking into a void? I thought only teenagers used blogs

The Forrester Technographics Profile Tool

There seems to be a lot of information, both anecdotal and research-based, that talks about what specific tools or even kinds of tools people are using online. This makes sense because technology vendors need to demonstrate their relevance. There’s less information, however, about why people are using technology.

And the “why” question is important because it helps us to determine which technologies are relevant for our customers. Identifying why people use technology helps us all develop better services and products. Understanding why people use technology brings us closer to understanding how they self-identify.

The Forrester tool helps you understand why people are using social media technology segmented by age, country and gender. Now granted, this is a pretty broad segmentation and I’d sure love to have more psychographic than demographic information. But even so the tool is great to get a start on clearing up misconceptions about what types of people use social media technology.

The identities that the Forrester Tool breaks down are (from most-active to least-active):

  • Creators: The people who make social media.
  • Critics: The people who respond and comment on social media.
  • Collectors: The people who organize social media.
  • Joiners: The people who sign up and connect on social media sites.
  • Spectators: The people who look at and consume social media.
  • Inactives: They don’t do any of this stuff.

For a better understanding, here’s a slide show:

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Using the Technographics Tool to Improve Your Real Estate Marketing

Alright, you’ve gone over to the site, played with the pull down menus and seen the pretty charts. Lot of fun right? Well fun isn’t enough (especially these days) so let’s see what we can do with this kind of information to make your internet marketing more successful. Here’s a nice numbered-list to get us started

  1. Identify your best audience demographic
  2. Discover what your audience likes to do via the Technographic Tool
  3. Make changes to your internet marketing that reflect what you know about your audience

Identifying an audience demographic

Hopefully you already know something about the sorts of people you tend to work with in your real estate business. If you don’t, then perhaps you might want to use MSN’s demographic prediction tool. This will at least give you something to get going if you can’t hire a demographics consultant just yet.

For this example, I’m going to use the demo prediction tool to look at the demographics for people searching for “Vermont Real Estate.” The tool tels me I’m looking mostly at a Female demographic aged 35-49.

Discovering what your audience likes to do

Using the information from step one, I fill out the Forrester Technographic Tool. The age demographics don’t match up perfectly so I choose the one that fits best: 35-44.

Turns out that, according to the Tool, my audience is using technology fairly average. They are most below-average as Joiners. They’re most above-average as Critics.

That’s nice. Now what?

Make changes to your marketing based on what you know

Ok, so the audience is unlikely to be Joiners and more likely to be Critics. Perhaps I will reserve some of the resources I would be spending on social networking sites (advertising and participating). Then I can take those resources and re-allocate them to online marketing initiatives which encourage feedback, ratings, comments and other participatory technologies.

Would I make changes to an entire business model based on data collected using MSN’s demo prediction tool and the Forrester Technographic Profile Tool? Nope. But I would use this to make tweaks and start deeper research into my audience.

The Tool is Updated: What are the trends?

Now that you have a sense of what the tool is and how you might use it to help out your real estate business, maybe you’re curious about trending of this sort of data. I heard about this tool being updated from Josh Bernoff (via Twitter of course) and he mentioned that the growth of social media adoption is in the 35-55 year old demographic.

Bernoff has a blog post outlining the changes between 2007 and 2008 in the use of social media. It includes a bar chart showing the changes in each of the categories. The biggest jumps are in Spectators and Critics. There is very modest growth in the Creators category. Here’s what he says about age demographics in his post:

Social activity is way up among 35-to-44 year-olds, especially when it comes to joining social networks and reading and reacting to content. Even among 45-to-54 year-olds, 68% are now Spectators, 24% are Joiners, and only 28% are Inactives.

This is important for anyone who continues to believe that their social media strategy should consist entirely of a Facebook “fan” page and should be run by the college intern. There are some great opportunities ahead using social media as part of your real estate online marketing plan. Do like Bernoff does and use data as your secret weapon.

2 thoughts on “How are your real estate customers using social media?

  1. Pingback: Online Marketing Data: Which social networking sites are your customers using? | Real Estate Internet Marketing by Union Street Media

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