Should you manage your paid ads inhouse or outsource to media experts? 

Some people think that paid advertising on social media is easy and that anyone can do it, including a junior member of your staff. However, most marketing professionals have spent several years in training as well as gaining on the job experience under the guidance of an experienced marketer. 

Listen in as Valentina Borbone and I discuss why it’s a little ridiculous to compare like for like. 

We share our thoughts on why an assistant or running paid advertising yourself is not the best use of your time or going to yield the best results for you or your clients. 

Click below to watch the video.


Following is the video transcript.

Melanie Hoole

Valentina, I’m so glad to have you here because I really want to debate with you – paid advertising. Do you think that as a profession, the real estate industry has got it? Are we doing enough paid ads?

Valentina Borbone

No, the answer’s no. So what I’ve seen is people are dabbling, they’re trying their best. It’s not their expertise, their expertise is selling property, and now they’re trying to put all this effort into social. 

Paid ads is the best way to gain brand awareness and reach, end of story, across any medium, it’s always been that way. Do we need to invest in paid ads to drive that brand awareness in the first place, and their ad reach? Yes, we do.

Melanie Hoole  

Is organic worth the effort? When you do plan content, and programmes for your clients, how much emphasis goes in purely organic with no paid ads versus always having a paid ad budget.

Valentina Borbone

We definitely have both going on at the same time. But organic on its own is just not enough. The algorithms have changed to the point where the reach is next to nothing to organic growth. 

So yes, if you’ve got a decent following, you can still get a decent amount of reach. But if you’re really trying to start from scratch and grow something from very little, it’s really not going to get you very far. 

I do think that you need a strategy that doubles in both, but having a purpose behind the sponsored activities is really important. You should really look at your organic feed as a brochure, and people looking back into your history, as opposed to being here and now and something that I need done.

Melanie Hoole

What about skill sets? Do you think in the typical real estate agency, they have the right skill sets to run paid advertising? 

Valentina Borbone

No. Unfortunately, what’s happening in social is because we’ve got so many users on there, and a huge understanding about what it is, there’s still no real correlation with a lot of young people in admin roles, to apply all of that knowledge to business. 

I’ve come from 20 years of experience, it’s why I get results, and I’m sure it’s why you get results too – because we’ve grown with this and adapted and learnt along the way. Whereas, a lot of agents are coming in at this point and going, I should know all of this ‘20 years of experience’, but I don’t, and I’m trying to apply that knowledge, but there isn’t knowledge there to be applied. 

Do I think having one person or an admin person run their social? I don’t think that’s great without some formal training. There’s lots of training opportunities available, I offer some of that, you offer some of that. It’s really a case of saying, you can’t just take on something brand new without the training and skills to do it. Otherwise, I’m going to be a real estate agent! Haha.

You know, there’s a lot of skills that go into socials that I think get overlooked, where you need to know things like; image composition, colour composition, we need to look at sound quality, we need to look at framing, we need to look at consistency. 

Don’t forget to overlay branding, don’t forget you’re now a copywriter to put on top of that, and a media buyer – and I have been a media buyer for a good part of my life, so I have those skills. 

Did I forget the design? So what we’re now asking for is that a sales person or an admin support, who has these skills coupled together for success? And that’s actually setting someone up for failure.

Melanie Hoole

That’s a very good point, and a lot of agents or admin people are simply still using the boost button, right? Or are they using Google Express to spend money with Facebook and Google? 

What are your thoughts on these ‘do it yourself’ options that are offered?

Valentina Borbone  

I think firstly, that the ‘do it yourself’ options are geared for one main purpose, and that is to make money for Facebook and Google, and for the social media platforms. 

The easier they can make it for you to spend your money, the easier it is going to be for them to make their money. So if those self service tools are available, and you’re using them, and Google and Facebook can see that that’s what’s happening, they’re going to continue to roll them out, because you’re not skilled enough to actually identify that it’s perhaps not working. 

It’s also very attractive to see a post that says, this post is performing 95% better than any other post that you’ve posted all year and we think, I’ve done such a great job. No you haven’t. 

Facebook’s just giving you an option to spend some money really quickly, and it’s going to use emotion to be able to do that. 

So I don’t think those tools work particularly well. There is a time and a place for a boost button. But understanding the difference between boost and sponsored is actually really important because they are different.

Melanie Hoole 

And you’re definitely doing your clients a disservice because you’re not spending their money a lot of the time. It is the vendors’ money that gets put into these paid ads, and the vendors out there are getting quite wise to the fact that there’s sites and channels like WeChat and Facebook that you can advertise on these, and then what happens is you’re basically wasting other people’s money. 

Do you hear what I hear? I get a lot of people say to me, I’ve tried social media and it doesn’t work.

Valentina Borbone

Yeah, I tried social media because they didn’t do it properly, and that’s why it didn’t work. 

So I feel really confident, and I’m sure you do too, that we have a level of expertise to bring to the table to say, if you’re going to be in social – at least to a properly, at least don’t waste your time, and that can be from organic or sponsored, in my opinion. 

If you’re going to do really poor organic content, actually, you’re better off going to the pub or having a meal with your family, because it’ll give you a better return as a human being than it will be for your business doing it poorly. 

So I think we can apply that to really any industry or any category to say, yeah, I can give everything a go, but at some point, I have to leave the experts to the expertise, and that’s exactly why I don’t do numbers. I have an accountant.

Melanie Hoole  

That is my analogy, too! 

I love that, I use the accountant example too because I talk with my tax accountant, once a year, and he goes, yes, I said that five minutes ago, and I go, yeah, but I only look at these once a year. So I need him to keep repeating what he is showing me for me to understand. 

Valentina Borbone 

I know what my skills are, and I focus on those skills and I think agents need to at some point say, you know what my skill is to sell property and to enthuse vendors, and to leave marketing to marketers.

Melanie Hoole   

Yes, and they’re the negotiators, they’re not the photographers, the videographers, they’re not the experts on the levers that we have to pull behind the scenes. 

Valentina Borbone  

Absolutely, and I think technology’s got a lot to answer for it all, in that respect. 

We’ve got these smartphones, which have got pretty amazing pixel cameras in them, and we automatically think that we’re photographers, and that’s where the success of Instagrams come from, is to say, oh, look, I can add any filter and I look like I’m a genius. 

To some point that’s infiltrated the industry and actually worked against us as marketers to say, well what do you mean photography costs X amount of money, because I can just do that on my iPhone. But that can only go so far and I think we need to wake up to that.

Melanie Hoole

Definitely, and even if you can do it, and you are a hobbyist photographer, or you like video editing, should you be doing it? 

If you’ve chosen to be a real estate agent, is it the best use of your time?

Valentina Borbone

Absolutely, and you might work out very quickly that it’s not the best use of your time.

Melanie Hoole

I just want to ask you about, you know, making use of internal resources that you already have – admin and marketing staff – to help with elements of marketing, and also having a combination with professionals that you seek assistance with, from an outsource perspective. 

How do you believe that works best?

Valentina Borbone

I think it’s good to outsource when you don’t have the skill, the resource or the energy. There’s only so much people can do in a day, and we’re asking more of our admins and our support staff daily. So to then put social (a whole marketing channel) on top of them without any marketing skills or training, is a recipe for disaster. 

I think outsource when you really can’t manage it, and need to focus your attention somewhere else. In house is really great if you have all the opposite. You’ve got the skills, and you’ve got the resource, and you’ve got the energy. 

Some people have the skills, and they have the resources, but they might not actually have the energy, and just because people do have that doesn’t mean that that’s actually what they want to be doing. 

So I think pigeonholing people happens really quickly, rather than saying, well hang on, is this a strength, is this something that you actually enjoy doing, because the passion really does come out in people. 

It’s a pet hate word for me, passion, but I love what I do, and I’m sure you do, too, and I love seeing the results that come from that. So, I think it’s got to be a mix, and don’t forget that if you don’t have those social media or digital marketing skills in house, you can train people to do this. 

You just have to give them enough time to learn how to do it and apply the skill and allow them to fail as they learn.

Melanie Hoole

As you say, they need the time to actually do the social media or brand marketing posts as well, because so many people assume because they’re not production people and they haven’t sat down and tried to do a post themselves. 

I had a client who said she’d spent an hour that morning doing one Instagram post, and I was like, yes, I know. That can happen. 

So when you hand it over to an admin person, or the receptionist or a marketing person, they already have a full time job right, and then you’re putting this extra layer of workload onto them without really always appreciating what’s involved.

Valentina Borbone

Completely, and I look at that from a video editing point of view as well. A lot of people think well, you can take the video on Instagram, so I should be able to edit it quite quickly. But they want a professional edit without the skill of actually knowing how to edit. 

So you’re starting to learn new tools. To only work out that it’s not quite what you want to do, you need to download another tool, you might need to try three or four different tools to find the solution, and that’s the value of outsourcing to an agency. 

A lot of agencies like you and I spend a lot of our time researching, playing with, deciding if we like it, seeing the pros and cons of certain things. We could spend a good 10 to 15 hours a week researching marketing tools to simply come out with the answer, that none of those were any good. 

And that’s the value of the outsource is you don’t have to spend your 15 hours getting to the same point.

Melanie Hoole

Exactly and I do. My Saturday’s and Sunday’s are usually spent researching stuff. 

Thank you so much for talking with me about paid advertising and resources and using internal stuff and outsourcing. It’s been an absolute pleasure having you here today. 

About this video series

Hoole.co’s video series brings together the best digital and social media minds in the real estate industry, to share the wonders of the web and the magic of mobile. Subscribe to Hoole.co or follow us on social media (below) for free tips and tricks to grow your reputation and attract prospects, digitally.

Written by Melanie Hoole

My team and I specialise in helping real estate and property professionals perfect their personal brand, build a first-class digital profile and implement inbound marketing activities to attract leads. If you are unsure which direction to take with your digital marketing contact me for help.

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