By Mark Zilbert for Forbes.com
Real estate agents love social media. They post to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, showcasing themselves and their properties, with the hope that these posts will generate business. Yet, many real estate agents receive little or no business from social media, and they don’t understand why.
What many real estate agents don’t understand is that social media is not meant to be an advertising platform, and people using social media don’t want to be sold to. They want to engage with the people or brands they follow, which means their main interest is you and what you have to say to or show them. A successful social media channel isn’t too different from having your own reality show for all the world to see. Can you handle that kind of exposure? If you can, you may just find that clients seek you out and hire you to help them buy or sell properties.
Zilbert put together some of the social media basics that every real estate agent should know. If you learn and adopt some of these, you may just find yourself as the next big social media sensation.
Your Life On Display
In social media, you are the brand -- not what you’re selling or what you’ve sold. Followers want to see you at work, at play and even making them laugh from time to time. Since you control your content, you can choose how deep into your life followers get. Have fun with your pictures or posts, and make them as natural as you can.
Name Yourself As The Brand
While Facebook identifies you by your name, Instagram and Twitter allow you to name yourself (your “handle”) more creatively. Always use your name in your handle, and stay away from kitschy ones. Use simple, identifiable variations on your first and last name. Let potential clients get to know you by name, and they will remember you.
Like And Be Liked
Since social media is all about engagement with others, remember that engagement is a two-way street. Follow others and “like” posts that are interesting to you. Make comments on others’ posts. When someone comments on or likes your posts, thank them sincerely. The more you engage, the more people will follow and like you.
Don’t Be A Real Estate Agent Cliché
Your followers know that you are a real estate agent. Don’t constantly remind followers to call you if they are looking to buy, sell or rent a property. Don’t ask for the business, and don’t push your services on them. Just present yourself doing what you do, and people will find you. Also, try to avoid posting "Just Listed" or "Just Sold" announcements. If you do, be humble about your accomplishment.
How To Showcase Properties
Since your job is to sell properties, it’s fine to use some of your posts to showcase what you are selling. Rather than posting an ad for the property, however, find something interesting about a feature of the property — its view, an interesting staircase, an amazing water feature, etc. Then, write something about it that your social followers can enjoy. They will understand that this is your exclusive listing, and they will let you know if they want to know more. There’s no need to oversell it if it’s already interesting.
The Content Rule Of Nine
Since your posts should reflect your day to day life, you'll want to include a variety of posts over the course of each day or two. Follow the rule of nine on Instagram. For every 9 posts:
• At least two should have you in them, either as a selfie or as taken by someone else (which is always preferred).
• You should have three to five related to a specific property or one of its features. Ideally, you will post your own exclusives, but it is also fine to post other interesting properties (with the permission of the other broker).
• You should have at least one about an area, neighborhood or landmark where you operate. Let your followers know that you are truly local.
• Post a photo or meme that will make others laugh. Clean, inoffensive humor is always well-received. Occasionally toss in a cute animal photo for greater engagement.
• If there is a notable event (food and wine festival, charity event, new business or shop opening), post about it to demonstrate that you're "in the know" of your community.
Use Platforms Differently
You should have specific and deliberately distinct uses of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
- Use Facebook this when sharing existing content from yourself or others with your followers. Link to your exclusives on your personal or company website, link to articles published on news sites or blogs and create photo albums of properties, neighborhoods and people. Always write a few sentences in your own words to introduce the article.
- Follow the rule of nine on Instagram, and create an ongoing rotation of images that cover different topics — and don’t forget to make people laugh from time to time.
- Use Twitter to speak up when something is happening at that moment, such as a newsworthy closing of a property. This is also a good place to post thoughts and ideas that would be of interest to your followers.
The Big Taboos And Don’ts
If you want to be successful in social media for your business, you must at all times avoid topics that may cause people to become offended, annoyed, angered or insulted. Steer clear of politics, religion, dark humor, sex and vulgarity in your posts.
The world of social media is a place where real estate agents can shine. We can get business from using social media in these effective ways. And, as long as we act less like advertisers and more like knowledgeable members of our communities, people will find and work with us. Here’s to your next thousand likes.