According to Postling, approximately 84% of real estate professionals are using social media for their business, yet only 55% of them are comfortable with it. So roughly 30% of RE professionals using social media still struggle using it in ways that provide value to their customers, as well as their business.
Being on Social Media, and being effective in it, are two very different things. In this article we’ll focus on how to use Social Media in your Real Estate business, and highlight some great resources from across the web to help you in your efforts. Let’s get started.
What it Means to Be Social
Social CRM is one of the buzz words of 2013. In last week’s article - How to Use Chatter for Real Estate - we gave a quick explanation of what Social CRM is in a nutshell.
Culturally, Social CRM is a response to the shift in consumer behavior that the hard sell is no longer appreciated nor appealing to customers. One extremely pertinent example, is the introduction by Google of the segmented inbox into Gmail to create a mailbox that users can curate and customize, giving them more control over the saturation marketing communications have into their main inbox. Customers want to control their experiences, and they are being given increasingly more tools to do so.
Although our blog post on Email Marketing proved that Email Marketing is still very much alive and kicking in Real Estate, having an active social media presence is key to creating a sphere of influence, and engaging with potential customers that aren’t on your mailing lists … yet.
Recent figures estimate that people consume 11.8 hours of information daily. So if that one consumer is focusing a majority of their time and energy in finding their perfect home, you can bet they are more informed than any customer that has come before them, and have a huge amount of information at their disposal.
Some argue that access to all of this information, and such disruptive technologies should be where the realtor becomes a redundant figure in the real estate world. So with all these resources at buyer’s (and sellers) finger tips, exploiting social media to spread relevant content, can be a great way for realtors to maintain relevance in an information overloaded world.
What Customers Want, When They Want It
Customers are searching for value, and they engage with Social Media channels to find information relevant to their interests and needs. Buying or searching for their home has become an extremely social activity. From the time that a potential customer starts pinning their ideal home on Pinterest, to having you stand in front of them for the showing, they are actively engaged in their journey to find their home, and this journey could potentially last years.
We’re quite sure you’re aware of the number of social networks that exist, but in case you needed any reminding, check out this detailed (and downloadable) graphic from Overdrive Interactive.
STOP! Before you start trying to sign up for every one of those networks, make sure you read the rest of this post.
Basics of being Social
Although social media is a fast moving space, there are some basic principles to developing and nurturing your presence that you should follow.
Be the expert
You may not know it, but you already are, and this is how you provide value to your audience. Are you a local in your town/city? Do you have experience in your market? Then to your customers, you possess the sort of information they want.
You are the ambassador of the community they want to move into, the one who can tell them everything they need to know. No one likes anything more than some good curation. They are hungry for your expertise, so provide it to them in a relevant and informative way using social.
In their article 5 Hot Tips for Using Social Media in the Real Estate Industry Memeburn advises to take advantage of ‘hyper-local targeting’.
When planning your content strategy make sure to include things that only locals will know — like the best pizza place or coffee spot. Buying or selling a home is so much more than a house.
Think about what your buyers need for their move; advice, help, information. Developing this type of content will mean you have a whole stockpile of content for someone moving to your area, making your sales approach that much easier and relevant to them.
Don’t Spread Yourself too Thin
A part of being the expert is not spreading yourself too thin across too many networks. Think strategically about how much content production you can handle, how much resource you have to follow through on your social activities, what networks best suit your purpose, and where you already are.
A guiding principle comes from Magnet Media that suggests you think about where your audience lives, and not just assume that they are everywhere. Do your research, measure engagement on where you currently are, determine your target audience and engage in a valuable way with those select networks. For example if you want to regularly share listing photos and videos via your feed, you may opt for a visual heavy site like Facebook, if you are making a lot of interesting industry commentary, then LinkedIn and Google+ may be suitable. Some networks overlap a bit, some are very focused, but by putting a little thought into your social strategy will help you have a more sustainable, and consistent level of engagement.
If you are online, but producing no valuable content, your customers will just as easily choose your competitor before you. They are there to find information, consume it, and use it to improve their lives. Prove your value as a business whose services they should engage, through quality information that benefits them.
… people engage when they want something, have a need, need service or want to have a problem fixed” (Source: Customer Relationships and the End of Online Communities).
The influence of social media on purchasing decisions is well documented, however buying a house is not your average impulse purchase. Don’t just use techniques that work for the ecommerce industry, but engage in ones that work for real estate; be creative!
Propertybase the Social CRM
Propertybase users can engage with social media platforms, and conversations relevant to their market, all via the social integrations within the system.
By using the ‘Conversations’ tool in Propertybase you can
- Publish, post and respond to your networks
Logging in and out of your networks, with a dozen passwords is time consuming. Set up your network feeds, and post directly from Propertybase
- Monitor your feeds in one place
You can’t sit monitoring social media all day (even Social Media managers don’t), so aggregate your feed for at-a-glance accessability, and you can check up on any major updates in a few minutes.
- Create contacts direct from your networks
Trying to remember that Twitter handle from that lead who was interested in relocating? Pull them straight into Propertybase, and create a contact. As you get more data you can add to their profile in Propertybase, but you’ll make sure you don’t loose them along the way.
- Search and listen for keywords or phrases via Twitter
The social web is a big place, so keep an eye out for mentions of keywords that matter to you. Set up listening for everything from general terms, to specific phrases, and be the first to enter the conversation, and capture that lead.
- View activities with social contacts and companies
Stay in the loop with what your current contacts are posting in their social networks. View their posts at a glance from their contact record, and gather talking points before you reach out to them. For a detailed tutorial on how to use ‘Conversations’ in Propertybase, take a look at the video tutorial, and get it setup, today.
Resources and Related Articles
There are thousands of resources on the web to help you learn more about Social Media. We narrowed down a list of 13 terrific links to help you out with your learning curve, or make you aware of bad practices you may be engaging in. Although this list is hardly exhaustive, it should give you a great start in understanding and using social Media better.
Becoming Social - This white paper from Coldwell Banker is designed to answer all of you biggest and most detailed questions on different aspects of social media and generating social content, just for Real Estate. It’s a teensy bit dated these days, as it was published in 2009, but if you have a lot of questions about the basics, this is still a terrific guide to look at.
Social Media Tips for the Real Estate Industry - Written from the perspective of social media consultant for real estate, this article reminds RE professionals of the cornerstones of good social behaviour: Build trust, provide relevant information, regularly update, keep closed customers engaged, don’t be afraid to sell.
Social Media Do’s and Don’ts for Realtors - Need a quick list of things to tell what you should and shouldn’t be doing on Social Media? Then this is for you. Get all of your misconceptions sorted in one easy read, from Hubspot.
[INFOGRAPHIC] Real Estate Industry Social Media Use - A graphical resource to help you visualize where a majority of your industry is already interacting in social media. This graphic is also slightly dated, but indicative of industry trends towards particular platforms.
10 Tips: How Not To Use Google Plus - There is a real estate specific example in this article, see if you can pick it out. Don’t feel too bad about your sins in the past, but if you’re making these G+ mistakes, you may want to correct them ASAP, and look into what mistakes you may be making on other networks.
The Small Business Guide to Social Media Mastery - This amazing visual guide from Placester gives some great insight into where social media usage can take your business, and some actionable insights about when to post, and how.
Busting Your Social Media Misconceptions - This review of a popular white paper on Social Media for Real Estate, gives you the main myths surrounding using Social Media in Real Estate, in an easily digestible list.
The Rules of Engagement: Staying Connected to Your Audience - This article is not real estate specific, but has some great basic pointers to think about when having to regularly engage with an audience, and some inspiration on true engagement, not JUST content ideas.
Three Questions About Your Social Media Strategy - So if you’ve taken a look at the resources above, you’ve probably done a fair bit of reading by now. Here is a short and sharp video from Magnet Media, with three question you should be asking about your social media strategy. Not real estate specific, but a refreshing reality check about social.
30 Terrible Pieces of Social Media Advice You Should Ignore - At one time or another we have all been walking around with mixed up ideas, that have often times come from bad advice. Here, Hubspot give you a quick lowdown of all those things you may never have known here actually terrible ideas, until now.
Getting Started with Google+ for Real Estate Part 1 and Part 2 - This is a recording of a webinar put on by Inman News. You may have been using Facebook for years, but if your Google+ page could do with some love, check out this Webinar.
6 Quick Ways Real Estate Pros Can Boost Social Media Engagement - Rebekah Radice of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, offers some tangible tips on what will spark your readers interest, and engagement. With over 17 years of experience in Real Estate, Rebekah is definitely one of the top authorities for Social Media in Real Estate.
4 ways to create your social media strategy and wipe out 80 percent of your competition - The Author herself admits the title of this article is pretty dramatic, but if you need help bringing a strategy to life, then this post will give you some good tips. Heavily commented and consumed by industry professionals such as yourself, it’s a great resource to read.
Still have a lot of questions, or want more info on certain topics? Let us know in the comments, and tell us if you found the links useful to developing your strategy for social media. Please share our articles if you found it useful, and spread all of those terrific resources, around the real estate community!
Check out Propertybase’s social capabilities for yourself.