The following is a guest post by Leslie Mann, a real estate agent with Gibson Sotheby's International Realty of Weston, MA.
Most real estate agents have a social media presence, but are they really giving home buyers and sellers what they want?
Buying or selling a home is an important financial (and emotional) decision. Most people are full of questions when they undertake this endeavor.
Your clients want more than someone with a real estate license. They want an agent who will protect their interests and help them navigate the complexities of property ownership. It's important that the agent they choose is someone they'll feel confident having by their side throughout the process.
That's where social media comes in. If applied correctly, it can be a great way to open a dialogue, share advice, and forge an ongoing relationship with buyers, sellers, and renters. Here is a handy list of social media do's and don'ts for real estate agents.
Real Estate Social Media Marketing
- Promote the town, not just the house.
- Be yourself.
- Educate your buyers.
- Chat with your followers.
- Respond to comments, good and bad.
- Avoid simply shouting about your home listings.
- Don't forget video.
- Never assume you're only connecting with first-time buyers.
- Talking to yourself on social media doesn't do your page any good.
- Don't ignore your existing clients.
Tips That Agents Should Embrace
1. Promote the town, not just the house.
Home buyers want to know the good, bad, and ugly of each town to which they're considering a move. Yet most real estate blogs simply give buyers basic demographic statistics and perhaps some flowery language about the area. Use your social media channels to give potential clients a far richer understanding of the markets you serve, letting them know the pros and cons of each neighborhood.
Many cities have a “@CityOf …” Twitter handle, which you can mention directly in your own tweets. Use these handles to promote properties you have listed in that city. City accounts on Twitter tend to be receptive to these shout-outs, and might retweet you — increasing your post's reach to their followers.
Instagram Business accounts are also prime real estate (no pun intended) for you to post beautiful photos of the town in which your properties are listed.
2. Be yourself.
I've heard of many realtors who pay a ghost writer to write their marketing copy, yet this approach has its shortcomings. The copy simply doesn't ring true; it fails to give clients a sense of who you really are. Studies show that consumers want to make a personal connection with those whom they do business with, and there's no shortcut to writing your own authentic social media content that resembles who you are as a real estate agency.
Let your personality shine through across each social network you're on. It's a great way to open a dialogue with a client before they ever pick up the phone.
3. Educate your buyers.
Some of the most trying days as a real estate agent prove to be great lessons we can share with our clients. Talking about common real estate pitfalls makes your buyers smarter, giving them a smoother browsing experience and qualifying them to work with you.
Social media is the perfect outlet for this. If you have a blog, consider writing articles about home-buying tips, and use social media to promote them. Perhaps you can tweet a “Real Estate Fact of the Day,” hashtagging #realestate while you're at it.
4. Chat with your followers.
Home buyers today expect instant responses to their questions, but where they ask those questions has changed.
Home buyers are calling real estate agents much less than they used to with questions about a property or neighborhood. They're going online, using Facebook's Recommendations feature, and tweeting at real estate offices on Twitter. Be ready for this outreach, answer them, and use these questions as an opportunity to start dialogue with followers who might be in the early stages of the buying process.
5. Respond to comments, good and bad.
Respond promptly and courteously to engage readers who post comments on your social media sites. One caveat: Don't feel compelled to respond to those who post abusive comments. Social media does lure its share of online bullies, and not every remark aimed at your is worth your breath.
Resist the temptation to get into battle with your harshest critics, and acknowledge those who praise your service. A lot of people who reach out to you are simply looking for more information about a listing — or a listing they might've thought was still available, but has been sold or rented. Absorb their frustration and use their comment as an opportunity to pivot their interest to other properties.
Practices That Agents Should Avoid
6. Shouting about your home listings
It's fine to let people know about the homes you're marketing, but don't make the house itself the primary topic of your conversation. Think about common questions home buyers and sellers ask you, and turn these into posts. Provide valuable content and you'll keep people coming back.
7. Forgetting video
Today, 45% of people watch more than an hour's worth of Facebook or YouTube videos a week.
It's tempting to skip the expense of shooting and editing a video, but online video is an important element of home marketing. Think about it: Home buyers are visual buyers, and if done well, a video creates an emotional connection with them that they might not have from just a photo-based listing.
YouTube videos also improve your website's ranking in search engines like Google — a common place where home buyers and renters start their search for a new home.
8. Assuming you're only connecting with first-time buyers
According to a recent PDF by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 36% of home buyers in America are 37 years old or younger. About 66% of them are first-time buyers. Now here's an even more intriguing statistic: More than 80 million Facebook users today are 45 or older.
If you think you think you're just talking to first-time home buyers on social media, think again.
Social networks like Facebook are great places to engage “fans” and learn what they're looking for from their agent, but keep in mind they're not all new to the buying process. Have content suited for all levels of home-buying experience ready to serve up to your fans and followers — you never know whom you'll be connecting with.
9. Talking to yourself
A post, link, photo, or tweet on your profile might look nice to you, but it means very little if it doesn't resonate with the people who are following your page.
Social media is more about listening than about talking. Pay attention to what people are saying about you and your brand. Solicit and gather feedback through informal polls or via free survey services like Survey Monkey or Google Forms. This will ensure each and every piece of content you share on social media reflects the interests of your customers.
10. Ignoring your existing clients
Invite your previous buyers and sellers to join you on social media. That way, your sites becomes richer communities of shared experiences and objective advice from those who recently completed the home buying/selling journey.
At the end of the day, your followers might prove themselves to be your strongest property advocates.