Recession-struck real estate developers pitch clients on Facebook, Twitter for buyers

MUMBAI: For many real estate developers one good thing about the recent slowdown in demand is that it has helped them find a cost-effective medium to sell housing projects: social media.

Tata Housing, Puravankara Group and Godrej Properties are among a rising number of builders using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to market their projects at just about one-tenth of the cost of mass-media marketing.

And they say it is effective among well-to-do smartphone users and non-resident Indians who are showing increasing interest in buying homes due to the rupee’s steep fall against the dollar in recent times.

Tata Housing, for example, was able to sell one-fourth of its La Montana project in Pune through leads generated by a Facebook campaign that offered buyers a chance to experience the La Tomatina festival in Spain this August. “With 25% of our annual budget focused on social media, the company is aggressively ramping up its digital presence,” a spokesperson of Tata Housing Development Company said.

The firm – which boasts of more than 90,000 Facebook fans, a YouTube channel, and active presence on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest – said almost 20% of its Innora Park project in Pune was sold through social media.

Bangalore-based Puravankara group, which has hired specialist agency Yrals to manage its online activities, too plans to significantly increase social media share in its marketing spends from the current 10%, its CEO Jackbastian K Nazareth said.

The company recently executed a social media campaign, Breakfree, where the booking amount, pre-EMI, floor-rise and loan processing fees were waived – adding up to Rs 62 lakh – for people who booked through their social media platforms.

Godrej Properties executive vice president, marketing and sales, Girish Shah says many non-resident Indians and people living in other cities book apartments through solely digital interactions.

Hareesh Tibrewala, joint chief executive officer of Social Wavelength, which handles the digital presence of Tata Housing, said social media has grown to around 15% of the marketing mix of realty firms from just about 1-3% three years ago.

Companies such as Mahindra Lifespaces, Lodha Group and Shobha Developers also use social media for brand building, employee engagement and to address enquiries from potential buyers.

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