Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate hits social media jackpot

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Canada has only been around for less than two years, but the property seller has become the top real estate fan page in Canada on Facebook.

Network services vice-president Nelson Goulart says it started with building on the success of the realtor’s U.S. parent, which adopted social media right out of the gate. “They understand that the future of the industry is innovation and change, and how we converse is changing and social media plays a big part of that,” he told
YourMississaugaBiz.com.

A long-time Mississauga resident, Goulart said the real estate broker was one of the first brands to adopt Facebook when the social media site launched. It was also one of the reasons the Canadian operation was attracted to the brand.

“We’ve done the same thing in Canada to great success,” he said, citing the page’s current No. 1 status on Facebook among Canadian real estate brands, based on their 11,823 ‘Likes’. “And we still maintain that position right now.”

But Goulart said getting there took a lot of work, including help from public relations firm Veritas and digital agency Decipher to help boost the company’s social media profile.

Still, he said the endeavor has been instrumental to spreading the brand’s reach across Canada. “It’s a consumer-focused fan page,” Goulart said. “So it’s geared toward consumers that we feel we have to target the products and services we provide as a brand.”

The Facebook fan page offers contests and discussions as well as suggestions of articles and products that would be of interest to the company’s target audience.

Goulart compared the approach to many of the marketing tools used in the real estate industry that are often targeted towards agents rather than consumers. “We believe that a lot of what we provide should be consumer facing and that’s why we focused on creating this type of page,” he said.

The company executive said this is part of a larger strategy that will include other promotional efforts to be rolled out later this year.

While the company operates a national page, Goulart clarified that every brokerage in the franchise network has its own social media strategy for the local market. “Our position as a national brand is to convey a solution for the Canadian marketplace that reflects anything that’s lifestyle oriented on that page that consumers would want to
see,” he said.

With that in mind, the national page also features market reports from across Canada, content from the well-known U.S. magazine and community information. “It’s what consumers want to see,” Goulart said, noting very few negative responses so far. “We’ve been impressed with the number of people that have come to the site. It also reflects an
amazing recognition of the brand in the Canadian marketplace.”

Goulart said Better Homes Canada has a Twitter page and plans to expand its social media reach as well to Pinterest, a pinboard-style photo sharing website. “Anyone can set those up, but we want to fully be able to put resources toward it that it requires,” he said.

Real estate agents and brokers are encouraged to explore social media as a way to reach potential new clients, advertise services, discover industry news and increase brand recognition.

It may be tempting to sign up for a Facebook Fan page, as well as accounts on Twitter , Google+, Instagram and Pinterest all at the same time. However, it’s better to isolate your time, content and focus on to a few or even just Facebook to maximize the success of your efforts. In an industry as competitive as real estate, you don’t want to be a jack of all (social media) trades but master of none.

Started in July 2008, Better Homes and Garden’s real estate brokerage division is an extension of the U.S. magazine’s brand founded in 1922.

The company’s Canada head office is located in Mississauga on Robert Speck Parkway near Square One and employs five people.

The company plans to expand its network across the country, especially in the rapidly growing western provinces, where the housing and real estate market is healthy because of the strong energy and resources economy.

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