Bottom Line: Social media is the key in real estate but over-reliance on social media alone without strategy won’t work.
Recently in the wake of a sting of bad press, a leading real estate developer handed over its crisis management to the PR agency which suggested the exclusive social media solutions, since in their understanding the target audience has been net savvy.
The developer was so harassed that he never bothered to introspect as to whether the social media is fast taking over the prime time or there is a strategic PR dilemma which is leading to over reliance on this new age medium.
No practitioner of brand management would today refuse to be a proponent of social media, but the role of social media is effective only when one makes use of a prudent media mix, including the traditional media, television and social media.
PR continues to be the weakest link in the value chain of communication in real estate
Over reliance on social mediareflects strategic PR dilemma in the sector that is more concerned with ‘how to do it’ than ‘why to do it’
Misleading the audience with advertising and other forms of communication, including planted news, is a global phenomenon
Unfortunately, what is happening is that like in the early days of Web design, SEO, PPC, email, and banners before it, there is too much swooning and not enough thinking about social media right now. PR professionals are so engrossed in ‘how to use it’ that they often do not even think ‘why to use it’.
The philosophy of relying on the exclusive use of social media under the pretext of the target audience being net savvy is actually an anti-thesis of communication for branding. This is because the very ethos of branding suggests that the brand is built by audience far greater than those who actually use the product. But at times such quick-fix solutions seem to be a win-win situation for both the agency and the client, since this agency also quotes the least price in the competitive pitch.
It seems a few positive stories about big-ticket real estate deals happening over social media has made the developers across the country vouch for the use of new age technology to spread the awareness campaign. The PR profesionals are also not just obsessed but also suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder as far as the use of social media is concerned. Of course, it makes their job easier when they do not have to deal with the traditiona journalists who demand a news copy and not all that crap in the name of news.
The role of social media in the Indian real estate becomes all the more critical in India since there have not been very many scientific studies to understand the audience’s concern which is always critical to the success of any PR campaign.
Public Relations strategy is all about the process of identifying what is top of mind in a community and relating your brand, product, organisation or campaign to what is most relevant to your community. That process is really all about listening to your audience and making what you have today relevant to their concerns.
Many of the PR practitioners today are trying to convince the developers that social media is ready for prime time and that they should forsake all other forms of publicity. That is probably a wishful thinking which is too ahead of its time. While consumers clearly want to engage with brands in social media, the number of social media users, though growing fast, is not yet overwhelmingly large.
Moreover, the fallacy of ‘we’ll engage with our customers and let them do our publicity for us by telling their friends’ reads well in a marketing plan, but is exceptionally difficult to execute unless the brand value of the developer is compelling in a way that most simply are not.
What has become fancy but unavoidable today is that more for the proactioners’ own convenience than any strategic reasons they often try to convince the clients for the use of social media. This saves the agency from the dirty job of dealing with the journalists who belong to the traditional media. Social media channels can be highly effective public relations tools, but they can not replace traditional media entirely. Successful public relations programs meld social media and traditional media with other communications tools and techniques.