Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen an increasing number of companies offering social media marketing services for real estate agents. But do all these companies have your best interests at heart or are some of them merely selling snake oil?
Google the term ‘social media snake oil’, and you’ll see I am not alone in highlighting that there’s bad social media advice offered on the internet and worse still companies selling ineffective social media services. These companies will happily help you spend your real estate marketing budget with no real return on investment, on services that won’t help you reach your prospective audience or generate new vendor leads.
Posting for posting sake
It’s now relatively easy to find a company that will post regular content to your Facebook page for you (for a few hundred dollars a month) but most of these posts go unseen and unread. How do I know? Because many real estate agents that come to me for help share their stats, which all tell the same story – little to no social media reach.
Look back two years ago, and there was only a handful of companies offering social media help for real estate. But over time more companies have jumped on the social media bandwagon.
Social media – what real estate agents want
In truth, it’s hard to blame the traditional real estate marketing companies for providing services that don’t work because most of the time they’ve not been asked the right questions, or had their social media activities held accountable.
Here’s what agents tell me on a regular basis – does this sound like you?
1 – You have limited time
As a real estate agent, you are time poor. It’s more important for you to be in a clients home, listing and selling, rather than in front of a computer screen.
2 – Lack of social media marketing know-how
You don’t know exactly why or how social media will help you grow your real estate brand, but industry experts (and in many cases your manager or principal) tell you that’s its an essential part of real estate marketing, and that you must put aside time to be active on social media.
3 – Social media get’s deprioritised
Social media marketing and real estate marketing for your personal brand, in general, drop to the bottom of your to-do list. There are so many other more important tasks to complete, such as call-backs and servicing your current vendors home sale.
4 – You’d prefer to outsource your social media updates
You’d like to pay someone else to help post real estate related updates to your social media accounts such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
5 – You don’t want it to cost the earth
Ideally, you’d like an affordable social media marketing solution that you can set and forget.
Getting the social media help you asked for
All the above statements seem like reasonable requests, so how are some social media agencies or marketing companies selling agents snake oil?
a) Your daily real estate posts on Facebook are the same as your competitors
It becomes evident, to most agents soon after they have signed up for some social media services that their daily post is the exact same post sent out on other real estate agents accounts. This is fine as long as your direct competitors are not using the same social media agency as you.
Why do the social media agencies do this? Well, quite frankly it takes a lot of creativity and human resource to come up with different content for each individual client, curate that content (whether visual, written or a link) and then schedule it to be posted out across your social accounts. So they’ve streamlined their processes and found a way to turn your budget into a much bigger revenue stream for themselves. And while you’re not questioning this tactic, they’ll keep doing this.
b) The content shared will link to 3rd party companies – great for them, costly for you
Many of your posts will link to other real estate websites, typically home-related content publishers or the real estate portals. The posts shared in most instances link to articles by the likes of Realestate.com.au and Domain.com.au, or websites such as Houzz and Apartment Therapy, alongside many others. This is fantastic news for these real estate websites, as they receive more clicks through to their pages, which increases their website traffic, and in turn, allows them to raise media rates to advertisers.
This free advertising is something that I would have personally jumped for joy at when I was Domain.com.au’s product manager. These real estate websites reap the rewards for producing great content, but the downside is that it comes at your cost – your marketing dollars are sending leads to their businesses rather than your own.
It’s a far better idea to create your own content in the form of blogs, video blogs (vlogs) and downloadable guides and have them housed on your own real estate website. You’ll then send your social media connections to your real estate brand, where they will become more familiar with you, and in turn, you’ll build that all-important word – trust. I.e. prospective home sellers will feel that you really know what you are talking about.
But “that’s hard work” I hear you say. And “isn’t it good enough that we are sharing real estate related content and keeping ourselves front of mind with our social connections?”
Yes and no, which leads me on to the third point:
c) In most cases, nobody or very few people will see your post
The lack of accountability for your marketing results is the part that I find most disappointing, in fact, I’ll go as far as to say that it irks me!
By now you should be aware that organic (or free posts) on Facebook and the other social media channels are reaching fewer and fewer people within your connections, as the amount of content shared across social media has increased, year on year. I cover this topic in my post about organic social media reach and how you can reach more people for free on Facebook.
If you are not putting advertising dollars behind each Facebook post or including additional activities to build your Facebook page followers, you’ll most certainly reach next to nobody. Then all that marketing spend has been wasted in my view. Read my article on why you have to Pay to Play on Facebook to improve your understanding of paid social media advertising.
If someone visits your social media profile or page to check you out, they will no doubt see that you are active. But those people will be fewer and farther between if you’ve not put in the effort to build your social media connections and have an effective social media marketing and content marketing strategy in place.
So, the moral of the story is to dig a bit deeper when interviewing your social media marketer, whether they are a uni student, local or internet focused marketer or national technology provider – make sure that they care about you, your real estate brand and the people you are trying to reach.