Yesterday, I did an analysis on the top 15 construction companies and how they utilised their social media profiles to enhance brand perception, improve customer service, educate and engage with the rest of the construction market. This analysis follows the same format and criteria but this time focuses on the top 15 house builders within the UK. Again, I used the data produced by The Construction Index.
I analysed the Twitter profile for each house builder and checked to see if they were actually Tweeting and engaging with their followers, LinkedIn profile to see if they had a company page and had set up their own groups to build little online communities and finally Facebook to see if they were targeting and engaging with consumers who were looking to buy a new home. I also viewed their corporate websites to see if they had links to their social media profiles from their homepage, had analytics installed, incorporated a blog within their site and finally if they had an RSS or email feed available for keeping up with the latest news.
Firstly, those of you who are following me on Twitter will know that I am in the process of buying a new home in Milton Keynes and have tweeted on many occasions about buying a new home, going house hunting, viewing houses, making offers and selling my own property. I was surprised that none of the house builders were listening to me through Twitter. Are they actually monitoring their brand mentions online? How about keywords such as ‘buying a new home’ or even just monitoring conversations which include the keyword ‘new home’? Now, if I was a marketer within a house builder, I would be listening into conversations online and then targeting geographically and directing them to a website where they could then showcase the latest homes in a particular region, offer home buyers special offers and arrange appointments to view show homes. Yet, I got nothing. Maybe I was expecting too much or maybe these multi-million/billion pound turnover businesses could do a little more. What a wasted opportunity to get new buyers in hey?
Twitter – Do they have a presence? Are they Tweeting? Are they engaging? I based engagement on the ratio of outgoing tweets to incoming (mentions) tweets.
LinkedIn – Do they have a company profile? Have they setup any groups?
Facebook – Do they have a fan/like page? How many fans/likes do they have?
Website Links – Do the websites have clear visible links to their social media profiles?
Analytics – Do they have the ability to measure the success of their marketing initiatives and their social media activities?
Blog – Do they have a blog to inform home buyers of any developments or offers?
Outbound Feeds – Do they include RSS or E-Mail feeds for people to subscribe to?
Findings (presented in Table at the end):
11 out of 15 top house builders have a Twitter presence.
7 out of 15 on Twitter have only registered the handle.
4 out of 15 top house builders are actually Tweeting. and do nothing more.
1 out of 15 house builders are engaging with their followers.
11 out of 15 house builders have a LinkedIn company page.
None of the top 15 house builders have set up LinkedIn groups for people to join.
10 out of 15 top house builders have a Facebook fan/like page.
1 out of 15 have more than 4 fans or like for their Facebook fan page.
1 out of 15 top house builders has a blog
2 out of 15 house builders have an RSS feed
Out of the top 15 house builders, 11 have a Twitter profile, of which 7 have only registered the handle and do nothing more to engage with people on Twitter. 4 house builders (Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon, Miller Homes and Cala Homes) are using Twitter to broadcast messages which is encouraging but more could be done, for example taking my story above and doing more listening. It was interesting viewing the Twitter profile for Bovis Homes. They have 136 followers and are on 10 Twitter lists and yet Bovis Homes have not tweeted once. A simple acknowledgment to those who follow or include them within Twitter lisits would not go a miss. It’s a similar situation with Redrow Homes too, they have 132 followers and find themselves on 13 lists and yet again….not one tweet. The most shocking find is only 1 out of the top 15 house builders are actually engaging with their followers and that one house builder is Miller Homes. I was impressed by Miller Homes. Why? Well firstly, what a difference a wonderful corporate Twitter page makes and secondly, their tweets are actually kind of fun too. I like that because it gives a sense of personality behind the brand and I think a lot of other companies should be developing a personality. In my opinion, building a personality is a fundamental element of creating a positive, strong and engaging brand. Hats off to the Marketing chief at Miller Homes. More on them later.
LinkedIn provided some great insights into how the top 15 house builders are going about targeting their target market. 11 out of the 15 top house builders have a LinkedIn company page with only 1 house builder going the full length and adding a company logo. Yes, 10 of the top house builders have not even added in a company logo on their LinkedIn company profile page. None of the house builders had gone onto creating any groups either but I can probably understand why. A key insight is that LinkedIn is a professional networking site and contains ‘business talk’ with very little conversations on buying new homes or moving home so I can understand on the very little uptake by the top 15 house builders on LinkedIn. 3 of the top 15 house builders do not have a LinkedIn company page and they are Berkeley Homes, Countryside and Miller Homes.
Out of the 15 top house builders in the UK, 10 have set up a Facebook company profile page and only one of those house builders have more than 4 fans/likes. Miller homes have 200 fans/likes on their company profile page. Miller Homes have taken the time to build a community across two networks, added to the 949 followings on Twitter, and I think we have the sweet smell of success here. Miller Homes carry the same fun, light hearted and engaging personality across from Twitter through to Facebook. Nice bit of integration and I’ll say it again…hats off to the Head of Marketing at Miller Homes.
All the other Housebuilders who have a Facebook profile failed to even put on a personalised welcome message or a description for their business and alternatively opted for the ‘standard company description’ from Wikipedia. Lazy.
I wrote a little bit yesterday about ‘comment and discussion moderation’ and the mere lack of it shown by the top 15 construction companies using social media. I showed you the example of Mitie and the negative discussions employees (yes their own staff!) were having on the Mitie Facebook profile page and how it can be damaging from a brand perspective to have your own employees pointing out negative comments about their employer.
Bellway Homes are ranked as the 4th top house builder in the UK based on turnover in 2009 according to The Construction Index and are well represented across the country. I take this quote from their website “A personal service from reservation to completion”. I checked out the Bellway Homes Facebook page and was greeted by the standard Wikipedia overview of Bellway Homes….I then looked further down the page and staring at me on the page was this:
As you can see the message was posted on Tuesday and it is now Friday. The fact that 2 other people also ‘like’ that comment is disturbing. Where are the Bellway Homes moderators? Why is there no response by Bellway Homes? Why are they allowing for these comments to stay on their Facebook profile page? Not only is this damaging the brand perception but anyone who was thinking of buying a home from Bellway may now think again. Going back to the quotation “A personal service from reservation to completion” on their website, need I say any more?
Right, moving onto their websites. It doesn’t get any better I’m afraid. Only one housebuilder has any form of clear visible links to their social media profile and that one housebuilder is, you guessed it, Miller Homes. I’ll say it again…..hats off to the Head of Marketing at Miller Homes. None of the other housebuilders clearly displayed any form of social media links on their websites. There is only 1 housebuilder who is not represented on any social media channel and that is Countryside Homes so they have an excuse but the others have none. All the others all have some sort of social profile somewhere so why not include it on the homepage of their websites?. The key here is ‘integration’ and I pointed this out as major concern yesterday too with the top 15 construction companies.
All but one company (Barratt Homes – yet they are running PPC campaigns!) has Google Analytics installed on their websites which is good indication that there is some form of interest in web measurement and effectiveness. I just hope they are making use of the insights analytics can deliver. Housebuilders could gather data on which properties have had the most interest by viewing visits and also how long people stay on the site or segmenting those who view houses in a particular region and see how many went onto book an appointment. If any of the housebuilders are reading this then please call me…I am more than willing to help you on this.
Ok, I’ve now run out of hats. Miller Homes were the only housebuilder to have a blog and what a cracking blog it is too. A really nice clean, well presented and informative blog. Again, the personality and light hearted topics made the blog such a pleasant place to be and read the information presented. The blog has been running since February 2009 so it’s not even like they have just started out. Well done Miller Homes!
Outbound Feed Analysis:
3 out of the 15 top housebuilders provided the facility to subscribe to an RSS feed for the latest news. They were Crest Nicholson, Countryside Homes and (yep you guessed it)……Miller Homes. Woo hoo!
So to summarise, I could definitely see some patterns from yesterdays post to today’s post. The lack of focus on integration and treating Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as individual channels is just shocking. What marketers must learn is to integrate everything…email, website, social media, print advertising and direct mail to work together. Brands must learn to develop and show the same personality across all channels and if the channel is not appropriate, like Miller Homes and no LinkedIn profile, then just don’t do it. It is better to not do it then do it and do it badly.
I want people to take a note of Miller Homes. Whilst conducting my analysis I was left really pleases with the way Miller Homes had gone about the entire social media process and the personality that had been developed. Some companies can and should take a leaf out of their book. Its not perfect (yet) but its very encouraging. Remember, I also pointed out that Miller Homes did not have a LinkedIn profile page and my opinion is that LinkedIn was not relevant for who they are targeting and the personality was not right for the audience on LinkedIn. How brave!
Below is the table showing the full analysis and I want to point out that by integrating Twitter, Facebook, Website and Blog you can achieve huge success just as long as you integrate, moderate and build a pleasant brand for people to engage with.