As a real estate agent, switching agency brands can be the kiss of death for your online profile. Here’s how to make sure you still exist in the digital realm after you move – so you can hit the ground running.
The Australian government’s Job Outlook website shows a positive outlook for the Australian real estate industry over the next few years, with plenty of new roles expected to come onto the market. Because of this, it is not surprising that many agents are moving quickly up the career ladder and looking to gain experience with different brands.
Image source: Real Estate Sales Agents – Job Prospects
projection to 2020 from joboutlook.gov.au
Starting a role with a new agency is challenging and exciting. However, if you’re not prepared, this strategic career move has the potential to set your personal brand and online reputation back a few paces.
Many agents don’t realise that a lot of the information relating to them on the internet is ‘owned’ by the agency they work for, not themselves. Leave that agency and your online profile can go up in smoke!
This was the experience for Sydney lower north shore agent Nicole Grady-Combes, when she transitioned to a new role at McGrath from Raine and Horne in mid 2016. Seven years of real estate sales history simply vanished.
“I didn’t really think about the fact that my entire digital footprint would get wiped. My online presence was all associated with Raine and Horne and annoyingly I wasn’t able to transfer my past listings to my new McGrath accounts.” says Nicole.
Image source: Nicole Grady-Combes, Licensed Real Estate Agent
Finding herself with a new email address and a new telephone number as well, Nicole’s priority in her new role was to get the word out about her change in company, to McGrath. The frustration she felt also drove her to decide to establish a more robust personal profile moving forward. One that she has full control of, so that her personal brand and career achievements will not be digitally deleted again.
So, if you are considering changing real estate agencies, heed Nicole’s warning. Take action now to ensure you have a glitch-free switch in the digital realm. Here’s how …
Keep a record of your best real estate sales
Other than Open Agent and Rate My Agent which will maintain, as best they can, an online list of all your sales transactions, most listing records aren’t permanent. It is up to you to make sure you have a record of your own property sales captured indefinitely on the web.
Strictly speaking, your old agency owns your listings history, including the information about the properties you have sold that is shared on popular websites like realestate.com.au and domain.com.au.
Nicole found that realestate.com.au would release information and restore her past listings if her previous employer signed a waiver. However, she understood that in the competitive real estate industry, this was not very likely.
“Fortunately, I’m a strict record keeper and had plenty of information regarding who I have sold for”, says Nicole. On leaving Raine and Horne, the motivated agent started her own Facebook business page, where she uploaded photos of past listings in order to rebuild her selling history.
Here’s a screen shot of Nicole’s page. Make note that it’s important to attribute the sale to the agent through whom you sold. Which can be done on the image details screen.
By setting up personal accounts on social media, you are able to maintain an ongoing relationship with your clients, no matter what agency you are working for. These accounts are free and do not take up too much time to maintain.
If you are diligent, social media also gives you a means to stay connected to every contact you have made in your CRM database. You simply start making it best practice to send a ‘friend’ or ‘let’s connect’ request to new people you meet. So, start making this a daily habit or weekly task for either yourself or an assistant in your team.
Nicole shares that the past few months have been a steep learning curve when it comes to social media. As well as Facebook, she regularly updates her LinkedIn and Instagram accounts. And, to cut the time spent on social media marketing, Nicole uses Hootsuite, adding photos and messages to each account from the one screen.
“Social media is where the digital world can be a massive help,” says Nicole, “You don’t have to rely purely on the marketing efforts of your agency. You can take control of your own personal real estate brand. Ensure you build it for yourself. If I were to move agencies again, my social media profiles will now continue to support me with only a small number of updates.”
“You are the owner of your social media accounts. Leverage them to build your personal brand.” says real estate agent, Nicole Grady-Combes.
As a real estate agent, you need to take a long term view of your digital presence. There’s no quick result here, you must invest time and commit to being consistent in order to nurture and grow your connections. It’s important to understand that by moving your offline relationships on a continual basis into your social media accounts, you’ll create more touch points with which to stay front of mind with past clients, key contacts and prospective vendors.
Have a personal real estate agent website
Boost your personal brand and social media presence by launching a personal agent website.
With an address like ‘your-name-real-estate.agent’, (or by purchasing other suggested domain name options that we’ve covered on this blog previously) you can have better control over your digital presence as well as a permanent showcase for your listing history. You can promote your personal brand profile, attract vendors with regular blog posts and share galleries of your best real estate listings.
A personally branded website is inexpensive to set up and maintain as it doesn’t require a lot of bells and whistles. Just think of your real estate agent website as an online brochure of your very best work. It’s also a key strategy for you as an agent to improve your discoverability via Google and other search engines. Especially if it is built to be mobile friendly, because Google favours websites built with mobile viewing in mind.
Be easy to find
As those who are active in the internet realm know all too well, Google works in mysterious ways. Even if a page from the internet is deleted, it can still surface highly in search results.
“When people google your name they want to be able to find you,” says Nicole, explaining that she put a lot of work into pushing her deleted but still visible Raine and Horne profile further down the search results page.
By quickly posting a new McGrath profile with a smart and up to date photograph, as well as staying active on social media, Nicole is now very obviously a McGrath team member, with the search results for ‘Nicole Grady Combes real estate’ reflecting this.
Check out what comes up when you search for yourself online. If it’s not ideal or as expected, start creating content and take control of your digital presence.
Stay in touch
As well as keeping a record of her listings, Nicole had all her clients’ email addresses and phone numbers on file. “Clients will follow you if they like you, irrespective of the agency brand under which you work”, she explains.
To lessen the impact of a new phone and email number for herself, Nicole notified her past clients and key contacts of her new posting straight away. She also continues to maintain her digital marketing strategy by sending out text and email updates to all her clients at least once a month.
An automated CRM or digital marketing platform can help you to do this. Just make sure you segregate your lists so that you are sending appropriate and personalised messages to different groups, e.g. potential vendors verses active buyers.
Invest in personal marketing
Nicole’s advice to anyone thinking of switching agency is to have some visual tools up your sleeve. “In my first couple of weeks at McGrath I couldn’t even show prospective vendors one of my own brochures because they were branded incorrectly,” she explains. “If I had thought about it earlier I would have had a lookbook made up so that I could hit the ground running.”
If you want to be smart about your move – organise a fresh profile photo, a personal agent website and some non-branded brochures in advance of your move. These will help to bridge the time gap and make the transition from one agency to the next smoother.
By building an audience of your own, it won’t matter where you work. You will be respected, remembered and looked upon as the agent of choice due to your prevalence both on and offline, within your local community and specific sales area.
See Nicole in the flesh, in this video, and hear what she had to say at the end of our digital marketing training sessions. [And special thanks to Nicole for participating in this article, too].