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Used carefully, Pinterest can help homebuilders and real estate agents

Homebuilders, real estate agents, interior decorators and others know the value of social media. Facebook is so committing. Twitter is not very visual. And MySpace is.... well.

So what do home busybodies want? Pictures. Pretty pictures. Thus, Pinterest!

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a wonderful tool. The site allows you to “pin” pictures you like from any website, and sort them onto boards that you can create. The purpose of Pinterest is to share beautiful photos. The pictures you pin go up on common boards as well, and can be “repinned.” The most popular photos go viral, getting pinned thousands of times, maintaining the source link the entire time.

One of the most popular subjects of pins is homes. Be it photos of beautiful exteriors, decorating ideas or intricate built-ins, Pinterest has it all. This creates a pretty unique opportunity for people in the business of building and selling homes. 

This holds a lot of potential for homebuilders, who as Lily Leung of U-T San Diego points out, are already flocking to Pinterest.

What Pinterest Can Do for You

Matt Kleinick, a marketing assistant at Sterling Custom Homes, got his company on Pinterest on Dec. 9. Since that time, 9% of the company’s website traffic has come from Pinterest — beating out both Facebook and Twitter.

That’s pretty impressive when you consider that Pinterest isn’t really a custom homebuilder’s target market. By and large, Pinterest is the 20-something crowd, interested in pretty things but probably not in the market to buy an expensive home. 

“They may not be our target audience, but they have parents. Maybe those parents want to move to Austin, Texas, and build a custom home,” he said. “We really feel like it will benefit us in the long run.”

And it may benefit them in more than one way. In addition to attracting traffic, Kleinick said they use Pinterest to find new ideas to better their own business.

Using Pinterest

There are ways for homebuilders and real estate agents alike to harness the power of Pinterest. 

For builders, sorting pictures into specific boards such as “beautiful porches,” “great built-ins,” “rustic homes,” and “modern homes” will reach specific audiences who are more likely to follow a board that consistently pins things they love, rather than pins everything under the sun.

Builders can also offer do-it-yourself suggestions, and while that might seem counterintuitive, will get people on your site and get them coming back for continued instruction.

But, like every social media tool, there is a limit. And unfortunately, real estate agents and brokers are the ones most likely to hit it by overselling themselves and using Pinterest as pure self-promotion.

Kimberly Dotseth, broker and owner of Green Box Homes in San Diego, went so far as to encourage real estate agents not to get on Pinterest at all.  She loves its beauty, and thinks it’s not a place to sell.

In a blog on U-T San Diego she said, “So real estate agents, please do not clutter up Pinterest with your ‘new’ bright idea to sell houses at the site. Sheesh, keep that to yourselves! If you do bring that to Pinterest, I promise you won’t find clients.”

And I agree. Realtors who go about it that way won’t find clients. But who says you have to use Pinterest like that?  

Instead, why not make yourself a community expert? Don’t just pin pictures of homes you are selling, pin great meals you had at restaurants in your city, pin a great picture of a running trail or a great nighttime photo of downtown. And when you describe the photo, don’t say, “Great running trail right down the street from a home I’m selling in Cleveland!” say, “Cleveland’s best running trail. I run here all the time.” 

Make yourself the person to follow in your town. So when follower pinners think of your town, they think of you. Build your brand by building your city instead of trying to build your brand through self-promotion. 

The value of interest is yet untapped, but it holds potential for the housing industry. Just use it carefully.

 jhuseman@housingwire.com
@JessicaHuseman 

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