We don't have to tell you that the last decade has been a roller coaster ride for the real estate industry. Things have picked up since the economic meltdown of 2008, but it's still hard out there, and real estate agents continue seeking new strategies to find and engage with potential home buyers. Newspaper and TV ads are slowly disappearing and are being viewed as especially prehistoric to the 25-40 crowd - a crucial demographic for the industry. These potential buyers instead are glued to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr, and believe it or not, they are posting about homes - trying to find them them, sell them, fix them and make living in them better.
The challenge facing real estate agents is to land on future and current homeowners' radar, get involved in these online conversations, and set the stage before they need to choose a real estate agent. Many have already dug in: a recent study from the Home Buying Institute noted that 78.6% of agents who used social media as a sales tool outperformed those who weren't using it, and more than 40% of the agents surveyed said they have closed between two and five deals, as a direct result of social media marketing.
Sounds great, but how to best use social media to fuel your business? Here are four things to keep in mind when establishing your social media strategy:
1. Use the Right Social Media Platform for Your Message
Social media is a beast that in nearly all cases is best tackled with a multi-pronged strategy. While you may be more personally familiar with one network than the others, all of the major social networks have a feature or angle that can be exploited for real estate purposes, and it's important to differentiate them. What's the point in having multiple social accounts if they're all spitting out the same content at the same time?
A Facebook page can be used exclusively to spotlight new releases; an Instagram feed can showcase gorgeous exterior photos of the latest available houses in the area, a Pinterest page can focus on interiors, a Twitter account can feed in relevant local news and housing updates. But consistency is key, and if you don't have the time or resources to run 4-5 social media pages with different content on each, a consistently updated one with all of the above is the next best thing.
2. Local, Local, Local
Whatever network you use, there is nothing that says "We really get this area, so we get you" as well as a steady stream of hyperlocal news flashes and comments. There is more to buying a house than the house itself; the restaurants, cafes, schools, and shopping opportunities all play a role in the decision. Call out residents of specific neighborhoods and let them know about a great new pizza place is opening nearby, the scholarship winners from the high school, a new open mic poetry night that's having its first show, or a yoga class that's seeking new members.
Additionally, with the housing market in so much flux and so much interest and reporting dedicated to it, it's crucial to showcase localized industry data that could be key to someone seeking a new place to buy or rent. This data can include where the highest or lowest rent can be found, current mortgage rates, highly rated developments, and even the area stores that might have the best sales on patio furniture or home decorating goods.
3. Establish Trust
Although many will be personalized, sharing content from outside sources can be just as effective as original content. Curating from a wide range of trusted third-party sources -- whether it's Realty Times, New York Magazine's real estate section, or the local paper -- will garner as much attention, respect, and engagement from your followers as most original content.
But the human voice can't disappear completely. Social media is still all about people, and while technology can assist in discovery and curation, it can never replace the nuance of a brand's voice. Successful marketers present the shared story as only a portion of the big picture, adding the "why" or "how" to show that this makes a difference for the reader and highlights you and your business as a trusted source of information.
The human voice aspect extends to relationships as well. A recent California Associations of Realtors study showed that 67% of agents using social media said they use it to keep in touch with clients. Making yourself open and communicative on social media - publicly responding to buyers' inquiries, highlighting staff and recent clients, commenting on clients' posts, etc. - goes a long way in establishing trust and faith. And remember that faith and trust in you will lead to repeat business or that referral you need.
4. Actively Seek Leads
Social media is a great source for sales leads. For example, if you're a real estate agent in the Denver area, keep an eye on tweets in which users ask for recommendations or houses that recently went on sale. If you don't have the time, utilize a service to find them for you. Realtors ignoring this ongoing stream of comments and inquiries on social media platforms also may be turning their backs on countless new customers.
Fortunately, technology can help you oversee all of these social media conversations in one place. Your business may already have a platform you can use, such as Rallyverse, our social platform, and there are similar ones on the market with different price points and features. Sure, it might take an hour to set up your account the first time; follow your relevant area outlets like local TV, papers, and radio stations; and input your key search terms for city areas, neighborhoods, etc. But once you're up and running, checking in a few times a day for five minutes should be enough. It's much simpler and less expensive than filming a TV ad or even building a website.
Social media is growing into a more valuable and cost-effective tool to bring home-buyers to your door, so those minutes spent developing your skills there ultimately may become the most valuable investment you can make to succeed in the real estate business.
|Joe Doran is co-founder and CEO of Rallyverse , which helps companies discover and share great content on social media, is a seasoned and accomplished senior executive with 15 years of experience managing digital media, advertising, and social media solutions in high-growth companies such as Microsoft, General Mills, and Media6Degrees. He is a sought-after expert in interactive advertising, advertising technology, and social media, and an active investor and advisor to a number of social and advertising companies.|