As life speeds up again and we head back to some resemblance of “life before COVID”, Sydneysiders and New South Welshman (and women) are back on the proverbial treadmill with life whizzing by in a flash. Time is suddenly our most valuable commodity again.

Let’s face it, most people today very rarely have time to answer their phones to friends and family, let alone take a call from a local real estate professional. And with caller ID, it only takes a fleeting glance at a phone screen to be ignored. So, how do you build rapport and a well-rounded reputation in other ways and through different mediums, such as social media?

At Hoole, we work with real estate agents, buyers agents, property managers and commercial sales professionals to help them grow their personal brand and build a stellar reputation within their communities. The best way to fast track your online presence is through curated social media content that’s consistent, builds credibility and that all-important ‘know, like and trust’ factor, long before prospects are ready to pick up the phone to talk with you.

Ask, what makes you unique?

Before promoting our real estate clients on social media, we ask them to look beyond property and consider what makes them a more rounded individual. What makes them a stand-up member of their community, someone of interest who can express more than just what sales or leasing success they’ve achieved?

We then consider how we can bring forth their personality and non-real estate pursuits. We encourage clients to share some background into their own longevity living in the area. We ghostwrite content for them and weave in a few personal stories that’ll help build connections with their community in new and unique ways.

Get to grip with groups

Your local community is active on Facebook in groups. Have you searched to find the largest Facebook groups in your neighbourhood? If not, do some research and work out where everyone’s ‘hanging out’. The advent of the pandemic throughout 2020 only intensified the online chatter in active Facebook groups and the quality and kindness of conversations.

Facebook groups offer a fantastic avenue, not only to be seen by large numbers of local residents (with one post or well-considered comment) but to find out what your community thinks, or has questions or opinions about. So before you wade in and engage in any form of conversation, it’s essential to do some ‘social listening’ and become familiar with your neighbourhood’s culture and the commentary that’s shared in Facebook groups. Put your ear to the group (so to speak) and listen!

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Band together with local businesses

Community groups are an excellent way to have ‘soft’ interactions with local homeowners. You can share interesting insights about your area and support fellow business owners and remind residents to ‘think and buy local’. And if nothing else, the pandemic has taught us that community and buying local is essential to our wellbeing.

According to the latest research results from Xero’s Forrester study: ‘Almost a third of small businesses feel their personal connections with locals give them an edge over bigger competitors. Being part of a community has a genuine commercial benefit that can’t even be broken by a pandemic. Xero concludes that working hard on the personal side of relationships will be a business trend of the coming year.’

And with 93% of consumers reporting they’d buy more from (and recommend) a business that showed empathy toward the community, you can understand how important it is for you to build strong community relationships as a real estate professional.

Think broader home and lifestyle pursuits

I love helping real estate professionals with brand marketing because everyone needs a home, so it’s super easy to find conversation topics that spike engagement. A good starting point is to listen to what people chat about around their Aussie barbecues.

To keep your name and face in local homeowners’ peripheral vision (whilst remaining synonymous with homes) think outside the box. Since the pandemic, the best performing topics are home- or lifestyle-related and inspire people to rediscover their neighbourhood and see it in a fresh light.

Remember, your knowledge and ability to sell the area’s virtues (to incoming residents) is part of your appeal when it comes time to sell or lease a home. And with people often unsubscribing from property alerts once they’ve bought or sold, social media becomes a better way to remain front-of-mind, subliminally.

How other agents tap into their communities

How do other NSW real estate agents leverage Facebook groups to serve their local communities better?

Being in the moment with Mosmanites

Million-dollar agent Jonathon De Brennan follows several community groups that focus on life in and around Mosman. Groups like Mosman Living (with 3,800 members) enable Jonathon to understand the desires and interests of Mosmanites better. He can then share helpful and timely information on topics like the rising trend in cycling during the pandemic, returning ex-pats, designing a home theatre room or ways to enjoy a staycation through a lockdown.

People are attracted to Mosman for the prestige water views and the rich variety of heritage architecture. Posts about different architectural styles (such as the ever-popular California bungalow) or revisiting Raglan Street’s French ancestry always attract interest from residents who are proud to have lived in the area for several decades. These insights not only unearth exciting facts but also demonstrate Jonathon’s sense of belonging.

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Finding the pulse of the Balmain Peninsula

Co-principals Monique Dower and Lynsey Kemp of Belle Property Balmain have a different flavour of community banter to follow in groups such as Lost Balmain (with 5,000 members) and Balmain Living (with 8,600 members), where locals have conversations about what delights them about living on the peninsula.

As yet another older suburb with a rich industrial past, Balmain attracts people who want to connect with their suburbs history in new and modern ways. Monique and Lynsey make ‘soft’ connections with local residents and pay homage to fellow businesses simultaneously. They discuss home-related topics such as heritage home renovations and interior design ideas such as maximalism. They highlight great bookstores to visit and stock up on your holiday reading list, local rowing clubs to join or talented pet photographers (as there are almost as many furry residents as human residents on the peninsula). Tagging these businesses with the social media @mentions tag encourages mutual admiration and content sharing to more followers.

Living life to the ‘luxe’ on the Central Coast

If you live in the area where you work, so much the better. A great example is principal Cathy Baker of Belle Property Central Coast. A powerhouse of ideas and energy, Cathy not only sells homes and rents holiday houses but also runs community events, publishes a lifestyle magazine and has an Instagram page with 60,000 followers. Starting her career as a professionally trained interior designer, Cathy also has a wealth of home styling expertise.

I’m pretty sure Cathy knows everyone who’s anyone on the Central Coast – and it isn’t just through selling and managing properties. Her Central Coast Life & Style magazine has given her a new way to connect with both residents and local business owners who live on the coast and help attract Sydneysiders to either visit this coastal region regularly or migrate to the coast.

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Through her social listening, Cathy is tapping into a growing trend (accelerated by the pandemic) to stay local, making the Central Coast the perfect destination for Sydneysiders who desire a weekend escape or a permanent move from the city. This trend has filtered up rather than down, and wealthier individuals are investing in the Central Coast, helping Cathy reposition the Central Coast as a luxury destination equal to the enticements of, say, Byron Bay.

As Cathy appreciates, you must know your local business owners well too; from the local cafés to clothing or furniture boutiques, retailers, artists, and even celebrities who’ve chosen to make the Central Coast their home. You need to be physically visible as well as visible online.

Remember emotion drives connection

Before you wade in with insights on social media, keep the following in mind. Whatever the topic, it is vital to dig deep and find a fascinating story or angle behind every thought, piece of information or insight you share about your community ‒ with your community. What you share needs to have substance but, most importantly, emotion as it’s the emotion that drives connection.

Melanie Hoole

Written by Melanie Hoole

Melanie specialises in helping real estate professionals perfect their personal brand, build a first-class digital profile, and implement inbound marketing activities to attract property owners planning to sell. If you are unsure which direction to take with your digital marketing – contact Melanie Hoole for help.

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