The real estate marketing community is going through a difficult, but stabilizing series of changes. This new normal has shifted the way we do our jobs and execute campaigns (good luck to anyone spending on print-ads right now). This article will cover a “newer” channel focused on building online communities that actually connect with your tribe. Real estate is different from most companies, and we’ll cover how, why, and what you can do to get started.
What We Mean by Building Communities (and Why It’s Not So New)
A community is a group of people in the same place (physical or virtual) that share characteristics and connect over shared interests, goals, cultures, etc.
Marketers may add that online communities include opportunities to discuss, collaborate, and learn from one another. The subject matter can be anything. There are communities for taking care of houseplants, designing logos, selling services, and “hacking” software companies together.
In business, this is often about bringing together people who share the above in alignment with a company’s values, mission and/or business proposition. There’s a connection with the business that lasts beyond a purchase. Examples include Sales Hacker, Indie Hackers, or any Facebook Group that teaches you something new.
There are many business benefits to building online communities as well. Improved SEO, better connections with potential clients, a bigger recruiting pipeline, and more.
Amazing Communities From Companies We Love
These are some broad strokes, so remember: we mean these generally. You can love Nike and not be an athlete, or Patagonia and not be an environmentalist. You get the idea.
Examples (company -> their community):
- Nike -> athletes
- Aritzia -> their employees
- Restaurants -> patrons & suppliers
- Indie Hackers -> company builders
- Sales Hacker -> salespeople
- Patagonia -> environmentalists
- Lululemon -> you already know.
You’ll notice in the above examples, the communities are almost always customers. It’s not a coincidence. This is where we feel real estate will be different.
Why it’s Different (And Easier) for Real Estate to Build Online Communities
A real estate development company’s “community” is not home-buyers. It might be investors, but that’s also rare. You see, people buy homes once and move on. They might call the developer to complain about something. Nonetheless, it’s not an active, engaged group of people with shared interests and values.
You might think this makes things harder. Not true. Let’s look at the real estate ecosystem and pinpoint who has the greater real estate industry as part of their day-to-day life.
Groups who care, every day:
- Local businesses where you’re building
- Local politicians, city councils, boards of trade, etc.
- Agencies, studios, etc. companies like ours (and our partners)
So, if a real estate development firm launched a “community” as a marketing initiative, what would it look like?
How to Build a Community
Step 1: Create Space for Conversation
Discord, Slack, and any forum software can create this for you. The tech world has many options. Like many innovations, tech picked it up and systematized it first.
Remember: a community starts when the members speak with one another. That engagement is a leading indicator of community success.
Step 2: Programming
If Periphery were to create a community, we would focus on clients or on potential employees (we’ll use the latter in our example).
Our programming might involve a weekly Ask Me Anything (AMA), in Slack or Discord with different “influencers.” Recruiters answering how to get a job through COVID, or marketers sharing what they look for in candidates today. Perhaps members of our team described what we’re looking for in new candidates.
Added to this may be weekly icebreakers where community members can meet each other. Building a network is huge for potential job-seekers. Creating this regular programming might push them to build their networks, practice their conversation skills, and make future connections.
Regardless of the programming, the intention is always for community members to continue the conversation with each other, not with us (as facilitators).
Step 3: Knowledge Sharing
Dropping great books, podcast episodes, youtube videos, and insights helps boost the community’s confidence. This creates a shared connection, especially among job-seekers, on learning, improving, and growth.
The last thing to note: this is never about a company hoarding a community to fill its own recruiting pipeline. That’s a bad look. Better to share talent, postings, and opportunities.
But, should Periphery have a posting available, who do you think would apply?
Thanks for reading this post on building online communities.
In case it’s not obvious, it doesn’t take much money or time past the first month (90% of this can be automated). What it takes is one dedicated person, some support, and patience.
In real estate, you just want to make sure to watch out for a few pitfalls:
- Your community is rarely home-buyers.
- It’s the real estate business ecosystem.
- Members have to hear from experts on subjects they care about. Your job is to book it.
- It’s not about members connecting with you. It’s about how they connect with each other.
Feel free to contact us with any questions.
Thanks for reading!