WASHINGTON, May 2, 2014 — In today’s competitive housing market, it is vital to remain progressive and maintain a real-time awareness of what consumers want.
This is where utilizing social media and other technology sources become extremely beneficial. Businesses can use technology and social media to stay ahead of trends including Pinterest, Houzz and HGTV as well as the more traditional Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.
There are still many construction firms that are hesitant or skeptical when it comes to social media. To the very connected millennial, that may seem absurd. For an established firm that isn’t struggling for market share, though, it’s easy to defer to an “If it’s not broken, why fix it?”mentality.
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However, a struggling firm rarely makes social media a focus. Many others marketing on social media still treat it as a one-way channel. They release company news, statements and the occasional photo of food from the break room. Organizations that invest in social media like Brookfield Residential does are attracting new and loyal customers.
At its best, social media creates engagement and loyalty. This is done by interacting with fans or customers, giving them a voice, asking for their feedback and responding to their questions. The Construction Marketing Association conducted a survey of professionals in 2013. Of those asked, 97 percent use social media for business purposes. It’s a sharp increase from even 2012.
Thinking ahead of the curve can give a firm an advantage. Platforms are constantly shifting. “Only 40 percent of businesses use Google Plus. Yet, it saw the biggest increase in users last year,”said Brookfield Residential. “As that platform grows there is an opportunity to find and attract new customers and contacts.”
Beyond social media, construction firms also have to look at new technology and sustainable methods to create an advantage. LEED and ENERGY STAR certifications were trendy three years ago. What once created a competitive advantage in construction has now become commonplace, almost a prerequisite. However, there are new sustainable trends that are both beneficial and can help create differentiation in the market.
In a piece on sustainable trends, Melissa Zimmerman suggests to start with water. There is a potential water supply crisis both in the U.S. and globally. Better fixtures and innovative ways to conserve water are generating high demand.
Water.org is a great resource for new innovative technologies and solutions. Their New Ventures Initiative and Fund is pouring investment in to the next wave of great ideas. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation already funded a California Institute of Technology project to reinvent the toilet. Kohler has partnered with the inventors to bring it to market. The toilet contains its own water purification system and does not require wastewater disposal.
Net-Zero Energy buildings are in high demand in both residential and commercial developments. These buildings are designed to create renewable energy on site equal to the amount of energy the building uses annually. Brookfield Residential is in the planning stages to construct a Net-Zero single family home this year at one of its Northern Virginia developments. Construction is no different than any other industry.
It comes down to meeting demand in order to attract new customers. Keeping up with both social media and sustainability trends helps builders to cater to customer needs both now and in the future.
Jeff Barrett is an experienced columnist and digital public relations professional. He has been named Business Insider’s #1 Ad Executive on Twitter, a Forbes Top 50 Influencer In Social Media and has contributed to Technorati, Mashable and The Washington Times.