A few years ago, having your voice in the discussion about this industry meant delivering the right marketing lingo in advertisements and answering customer concerns promptly.  It was generally a one way conversation—that is, until social media proceeded to explode over the last few years.  Today, consumers expect that the companies they are interested in will have a presence online—something beyond a website.  In Arizona, we see social media as a great opportunity to create a low pressure, two-way dialogue with our home owners and potential buyers.  

Social media outlets like our blog, Facebook, and Twitter allow us to drive the conversation about Shea Homes Arizona and open the door for building community. 

From the start, we considered our blog a great way to give direction to the conversation.  We knew that consumers wanted useful information, and that they would quickly jump ship if they sensed us being too pushy or sales-y.  In order to keep this careful balance, we chose topics that reflect our company culture and provide practical information for consumers.  Some of the topics our readers expect to see are: Shea Building Standards, Shea Values, Energy Efficiency, Customer Experience and Shea Design.  

However, we knew that we couldn’t stop there.  To get the other half of the conversation going, we created a Facebook page.  Here, our primary goal wasn’t just a lot of “Likes,” but to get people interacting with the brand.  We wanted to go beyond the numbers and create a real community. 

To keep fans coming back to the page, we include a lot of multimedia content.  For example, every Tuesday, we post a “photo trivia question” and offer some Shea Homes prizes (water bottles, backpacks, etc.) to the first person to answer the question or guess the object in the photo.  We’ve also started a new series of Building Science and Energy Efficiency videos.  Our goal with these videos is similar to the blog: offer useful information and distinguish the Shea Homes brand in a low-pressure package—but they’re also pretty entertaining.  Check out some recent videos on our YouTube Channel

Since we began using Facebook, we’ve had a number of successful fan interactions.  In August 2010, we had over 100 people send in pictures of their pets for our “Cute Pet Photo Contest.” Each contestant lobbied their Facebook “friends” to go and “like” their photo in order to win the most votes.  In the end we gained about 300 “Likes” to our page and a lot of interaction between fans. The winners each received gift cards to PetsMart!  And, starting next week, we will be holding this contest again to see which 3 furry friends will take home the prize.

After our success with the pet photos, we launched another photo related contest in February. This time, we partnered with Schmitt Jewelers, a local business in Phoenix, to give away $1000 in jewelry and a private shopping experience!  We asked our fans to post a photo of a “heart” somewhere in their home in order to enter a random drawing to win.  With just over 50 entries, everyone had fun seeing all of the creative photos.   The winning couple had a great time shopping too! Check out the video here.  After the contest, we got wind that a few Facebook fans discovered that they live in the same Shea community and decided to throw a block party!   

No matter what we post on Facebook, whether it’s a photo, video, or text, the goal is always to open the door for relationship—even better if that extends beyond the online world.  As we’ve experimented, we’ve found that the key to developing the kind of community we want to have online is being consistent and giving the people what they want.  So, when a Facebook fan visits our page or our blog, they know what to expect—great information and a vibrant community.   

Shea Homes Arizona is also on Twitter. Follow us at @SheaHomesAZ!

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