Most real estate agents have ventured into the world of social media to promote either their client’s properties or their own brand. However, many efforts have fallen by the wayside, as people discover that creating a social media following and generating leads is not as easy as it first seems.
There’s certainly been a lot of hype around social media in the real estate industry in recent years. Real estate coaches, CEOs and industry spokespeople continually promote social media as the best way to raise your profile and generate leads. But for many real estate agents, it’s not been as easy as they’d been led to believe. Here are eight fundamental reasons that are holding most real estate businesses back.
1. You’re missing the ‘marketing’ part
Believe it or not, being ‘social’ on social media is not a strategy for generating leads for your real estate business. There’s an important keyword missing from the phrase social media, and that word is ‘marketing’.
Social media is; conversing with your friends, family, and people you’ve met in real life, with the purpose of staying up-to-date with each other’s happenings. So, social media is about ‘friendship’.
In comparison, social media marketing is; finding and connecting with people who could benefit from your real estate services, who don’t yet know you or haven’t yet worked with you, with the purpose of attracting future vendors or clients to your brand.
“Social media marketing requires content, not just commentary.”
Social media is; a channel through which we communicate. It connects people to people.
Social media marketing is; the act of sharing regular information, insights and advice, or answering questions and engaging with people about a product or service. Typically, you’ll do these activities through a multitude of social media channels and provide your information in different curated formats – such as written (blogs or posts), visual (images) or motion (video or graphics).
Social media marketing is therefore heavily reliant on content, not just commentary.
You need a social media marketing strategy
Taking an active approach to social media is an excellent starting point but marketing your real estate brand in a succinct, attractive, and engaging fashion requires a lot more attention to detail and decisions than the way we use social media for fun with friends. You need a social media marketing strategy.
Your prospects need to know that you are an expert in your field, so your social media marketing strategy should be;
– entertaining to a degree, but
– educational to the max.
Your social media marketing should include a call-to-action, i.e. what do you want people to do once they engage with your post or your social media advert?
Most importantly your social media strategy should be;
– measurable, and
– making you money!
It may seem strikingly obvious now but for most real estate professionals, there’s still a disconnect and an inability to see the difference between the two.
I often hear real estate agents say “I’ve tried social media and it didn’t work”. Well, they’ve not tried social media marketing.
Look at it this way; just because we live in a home, doesn’t mean that we know how to sell a home (I’m sure you come up against this thought daily with your own clients). Well, the same applies to marketing your real estate business on social media.
“Marketing is a skill that you learn and earn over time.”
Merely posting updates about your work-life, home-life or the properties you sell is not an effective real estate marketing strategy and won’t generate a consistent flow of inbound leads. You need to understand the entire social media and digital marketing ecosystem in order to set your real estate business up for success.
2. You’ve forgotten to grow your connections
Here’s the next challenge. In fact, I recommend that you make this a literal challenge within your real estate business to ensure that your real estate sales agents don’t drop the ball.
At Hoole.co we’ve helped hundreds of real estate agents get their social media accounts and online real estate profiles in order, as this is fundamental to your digital success.
But what do you do with these shiny new profiles once they’re up-to-date?
Firstly, you need to connect with people. And when I say people, I don’t just mean any Tom, Dick and Harry. You need to establish connections with people that live in your neighbourhood (if you are dealing with homeowners) or people that own rental properties located in your area (if you deal with property investors).
In fact, this step is as crucial as your weekly call-backs, but a lot of real estate agents stumble at the first hurdle because they accept requests to connect from with a fake profile, Russian bot, or ‘bad actor’ (as Facebook likes to call them). So, I’ve said it before and will repeat it, don’t pay for fake social media followers.
Steadily building your own ‘real life’ connections is the key to increasing your visibility on social media. Most social media channels want you to make at least 20 new friends or followers each week, because that indicates you and your brand are active and of great appeal.
The type of people you connect with helps the social media channels determine who your ideal clients are, particularly if you use your page followers as the basis for paid social media advertising.
So, when you’re on the phone to people, making those callbacks, look up that person’s social profile and follow them or send them a friend request.
3. You’re inconsistent with your content
To remain visible on social media, you need to post consistently, rather than sporadically. Each social media channel has their own idiosyncrasies, but a general rule of thumb would be to post something at least once a week.
It’s important to note that I’m not talking about sharing other peoples content, it needs to be your own insights or pieces of advice. This strategy equates to 52 chances a year for your social media marketing activities to be seen.
Agents often ask me whether their social media followers will get tired of seeing so many updates from them. But the reality is that your followers are unlikely to see every post you send out, especially if you’re not promoting your content with paid advertising.
4. You’re not using paid advertising
With so much online activity and content being created and shared across social media today, it’s becoming more and more challenging to ensure your messages get seen.
Gone are the days of good ole’ free organic love. Today, you need to advertise your properties and brand messages across the social media channels.
Think about it – screen sizes and the amount of time we have available to spend looking at our devices is finite, but the amount of content created and posted is increasing exponentially.
I love this visual that’s been circulating the web, showing how much content is created in a single minute. Have a read and you’ll start to get some perspective.
Source: this infographic is from Lori Lewis and Chadd Callahan of Cumulus Media.
With the social media algorithms needing to make a call as to whose content gets seen on our screens, some channels (such as Facebook) have now become ‘pay to play’ social media platforms.
5. You’ve not installed the pixel
A pixel is a piece of tracking code that you install on your website to help Facebook capture information about your website visitors. Once installed, it also helps Facebook track people engaging with your Facebook page.
Why’s the pixel important?
People that engage with your social media posts, or more importantly social media ads, won’t always be in your email database. So, you won’t necessarily know their names or contact details. By tracking people that are unknown to you, but known to Facebook, a database of contacts can be established in your Facebook advertising account. You can then retarget these unknown’s time and time again, cementing your ‘know, like and trust’ factor. Then, when they are ready for professional help, these people will make themselves known to you and get in touch.
Hence, the audiences that you build on social media are as important as your email database. You just don’t necessarily know who all the people following you are until it suits them.
6. You’re too protective over your accounts
This scenario pop’s up from time to time, with many of our larger real estate clients, where we manage not only the real estate agency’s digital footprint but help elevate the real estate sales agents’ profiles as part of the same program.
Generally, we find that real estate agents in their 20’s (Generation Y) hold their social media accounts close to their chests, and are less likely to allow someone other than themselves to manage or add content to their social media accounts.
Thankfully, not all Gen Y’s think this way, just a rare few, and I put it down to a lack of understanding around the difference between social media and social media marketing, as discussed above. The key here is to ensure that the private accounts that you use with your friends and family remain just that, private, and you set up a separate set of social media accounts for work purposes.
Interestingly, real estate agents that fall into the Generation X and Baby Boomer age ranges are more than happy to have someone else manage their social media accounts. Most of the time their social profiles have remained dormant with little to no business marketing activity, so they are relieved to have someone else keep them active and help generate leads.
After all, as a real estate agent, it’s better to be in someone’s lounge room listing and selling than stuck in front of a computer screen.
7. You’ve tasked the receptionist with managing social
Now, I’m all for upskilling staff and giving people a new career path, but please don’t make the mistake that social media marketing is an area of your business that requires no previous experience or qualifications.
There are certainly some aspects of your social media marketing that could be handled by a more junior member of staff or an administrator, but if you want your social media marketing efforts to generate leads for your real estate business (I’ll repeat that again, leads) then you’ll need to engage a professional marketer (either in-house or outsourced).
Quite often I hear that a uni-student has been employed to work on a real estate business’s social media activities. Ideally, those individuals will have studied social media or digital marketing at university.
With professional guidance from a qualified and experienced social media marketing practitioner, staff in your business can be trained to undertake some of the less technical activities of your marketing strategy.
Just like engaging a bookkeeper to help with day to day accounts, you’ll still need a fully qualified professional i.e. the accountant to produce your tax return. Hence, it’s a smart idea to get professionally qualified digital experts in from the start.
8. You’ve been relying on free advice
Not all social media marketing experts are created equally.
As a profession, we’re a relatively young bunch, but anyone worth their weight in gold will have been working in online marketing for several years and hold complementary skill-sets from digital disciplines such as search engine marketing or online advertising.
What I see happening, however, is people with no marketing qualifications or advertising expertise promoting themselves as social media experts and offering to share their secrets for free.
Now, there’s a saying that “nothing in life comes for free”, or easy for that matter, so if someone is offering free advice in a particular field, I recommend checking out their past experiences and marketing qualifications. You may also choose to ask them for testimonials from existing clients and proof that they manage accounts for businesses similar to yours, with great results.
Time and time again my team and I are contacted by agents and real estate principals who have allowed an unqualified person (or company) to trial services on their social media accounts, seemingly at no cost to them or their business.
Reference check and scrutinise companies that offer you free help. They are most likely hoping to learn a new skill (utilising your account, time and budget) or they have another service to sell you, where they will make money.
Listen to what they have to say, but apply some common sense and ask yourself what’s in it for them? Because your time is valuable and also equates to a dollar amount. So, letting someone unqualified learn the ropes or make their first blunders on your social media accounts holds you back and allows your competitors to forge ahead.
So, be diligent, be smart and stick with professional help!