Increasingly, businesses have been blogging as a way to stay connected with both existing and prospective customers. So it's no surprise that some home builders have embraced blogging as a way to bolster their relationship with home buyers.
Monte Hewett Homes  in Atlanta uses its blog  to highlight company news, showcase the builder's expertise, offer homeowner tips and draw prospective homebuyers to the main Web site. The blog became so popular that the builder had to move it in July to a server that could better handle the increased traffic.
Short for Web log, a blog typically consists of journal entries in reverse chronological order, with many entries containing links to other Web sites. Most blogs allow readers to post comments, making them a great way to “dialogue” with readers. Blog services (such as TypePad, Blogger and WordPress) are available for free or little money, making it possible to launch a blog with no Web programming skills.
Whereas blogging is an easy way to show home buyers the personal side of your corporate culture, it is also a useful way to:
• Create a sense of community. For example, Schiavi Home Builders  in Oxford, Maine, has a blog  that covers a variety of topics. Recent posts address the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, how to build a bat house, green building and creative ways to incorporate an office into owners' homes.
• Develop your value proposition. Let's say you have a passion for green building, which is the unique value you offer home buyers. Use your blog to attract buyers with similar interests.
• Keep customers informed. A blog is an easy and efficient way to keep home buyers abreast of seasonal maintenance needs, building schedules, social functions and community events, says Carol Flammer, president of Flammer Relations  in Atlanta. Flammer also manages TopBuilderBlogs.com , a blog designed to help builders develop blogs.
• Strengthen your brand. A blog can help you optimize search engine results, thereby driving more traffic to your site. There is potential to develop stronger relationships and brand loyalty with your customers as they interact.
• Increase referral business. If a happy customer doesn't have friends or family in the area to refer, their online testimonials might convince others.
If you can master the relatively new art of blogging, you could enjoy greater brand awareness, customer delight, home buyer loyalty and referrals.
|Paul Cardis is CEO of Avid Ratings , a research and consulting firm specializing in customer satisfaction for the home building industry. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org .|