The latest Sammy Awards, given by Digiday, showcase excellence and breakthrough achievement in social advertising, media and marketing. As a member of a team that won a Sammy (in 2009), I’ve always been partial to those winners. The Sammy Awards were the first award-type recognition for work in the field and still hold some cache in my mind, at least.
Realtor.com was a winner this year in the category of most innovative business using the social medium to build its company culture and brands. Yes, Realtor.com. The website for real estate.
I had the pleasure of serving on a panel with Audie Chamberlain, Realtor.com’s and Move, Inc.’s social lead, at an event not long ago. So I caught up with him to talk about how his organization built an award-winning program.
SME: What was your main goal or objective in implementing the campaign in question?
CHAMBERLAIN: Realtor.com wanted to transform the process of consumers finding a real estate agent – from a process that sometimes feels like a leap of faith to an in-depth intelligent matching experience – by leveraging social search and rethinking how recommendations and professional qualifications are shared and consumed.
SME: So how did you land on this approach?
CHAMBERLAIN: We believe people prefer to do business with people they have mutual commonalities with — school, location, mutual friends, etc. Consumers sometimes feel unsure when they start a search for a real estate agent. Our research showed us consumers are more likely to rely on the opinions of those that they connect with through Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and LinkedIn than other sources.
SME: So how did you use that insight to put together a strategy?
CHAMBERLAIN: We built our “HyperSocial” feature that provided additional transparency in the Realtor.com experience through recommendations and social connections. Real estate is a social business and we believe mirroring the conversations agents have with prospective clients in real life is an effective way to build stronger connections between Realtors and potential home buyers.
SME: So, what does that mean, exactly?
CHAMBERLAIN: The connection feature on the website empowers users to find real estate professionals already in their social communities online (though Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and LinkedIn) using agent search tools. By leveraging the social graph, Realtor.com instantly layers your social network with a participating agent or broker’s mutual connections to instantly surface common networks, affiliations, friends or family and online communities.
What Realtor.com tapped into is the available technology (the Social Graph — a map of everyone’s public connections online) and the consumer desire (finding qualified and trusted recommendations from people I know) to produce an easy connection point from the customer to the need. This is not just good social marketing. This is good marketing. Period.
What’s perhaps most compelling about the innovation is that it’s not (with no offense intended to Chamberlain or Realtor.com) a giant leap in thinking. Customers respond better to A. We’re giving them B. Let’s figure out a way to give them more A.
Well done, Realtor.com and Audie. Well deserved.
What about your customers? Do they want something you’re not currently giving them? Could you? Tell us your story in the comments.