The real estate industry has been relatively slow to embrace technology, and a few years ago, agents could more easily get away without a strong social media presence. Social media is no longer optional for real estate professionals.
Consumers expect any and all the businesses they work with to engage on social media. The Pew Research Center estimates 72 percent of all online U.S. adults visit Facebook at least once a month. Millennials, who are the most active Facebook users, also happen to be the largest group of homebuyers. The good news is that social media marketing isn’t rocket science. Here are five easy steps any professional, even those who don’t consider themselves tech-savvy, can take to ramp up their social media game.
1. Create a Game Plan
There are a lot of social media sites out there—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Pinterest, and more. Simply having a page or account on each isn’t enough. Agents need to be active and consistent about posting. The reality is that a Facebook page with three entries from 2015 could actually do more damage to your business than no page at all.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed at first and lose momentum over time. Creating a plan helps you stay focused and organized about your social media marketing efforts so you don’t get sidetracked, give up or burn out. It holds you accountable and forces you to be thoughtful about your strategy, so when the time comes to post, you aren’t grasping at straws.
2. Pick and Choose
To make the best use of your resources, you need to be selective about the social media channels you invest in. Every social media network reaches a distinct demographic and is suited to different types of content. What works on Facebook won’t necessarily work on Pinterest; if you are trying to reach older audience, Snapchat is probably not worth your time. It’s better to excel at marketing on the networks that align with your goals than to be mediocre at them all.
As part of your plan, identify the social media sites that fit your business objectives. Who is your target audience? Are you trying to expand the reach of your brand? Establish yourself as an expert on a certain topic? Cultivate relationships within a community? Be targeted about your campaigns.
3. Learn How to Use Each Site Effectively
Each social media site has unique “cultural mores” that are important to keep in mind. You can’t share the same content in the same way across every network and be successful. For example, Twitter is a great resource for sharing articles and participating in topical conversations. Pinterest is where many people go for visual inspiration, so it’s an opportunity to share a broader range of content, like design ideas and home repair advice.
When posting, follow the 80/20 rule, meaning that 80 percent of your posts should be on topics of interest and 20 percent should relate to your business and listings. People are not on social media to be sold to, and being overtly promotional can hurt your brand. Social media marketing is not the place to hit people over the head with advertising.
In addition to sharing images and text-based content, like articles, embrace other forms of media, as well. For example, users love and respond to videos and animated graphics. Live-streaming is another opportunity. Multiple social media sites have live-streaming capabilities and there are apps that enable you to push a live-stream to social media platforms. Live-streaming can be a great way to, say, attract attention for an open house.
Also remember that social media is a two-way street. If you want people to engage with your content, you have to engage back. Don’t be shy about liking, smiling and commenting. Responsiveness goes a long way.
Posting consistently and strategically is key. Without careful management, social media could either take up way too much of your time or fall by the wayside. The best way to manage social media is to use a management tool, such as Hootsuite, which enables you to schedule all your posts in one place, or RISMedia’s Automated Content Engagement (ACE), which automatically posts great real estate and lifestyle content, such as articles, videos, infographics and more to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter daily. Keep in mind that while you shouldn’t repurpose content wholesale, you also don’t need to create content from scratch every time. It is okay to repurpose content between sites as long as you keep their “personalities” in mind.
Marketing should always go hand-in-hand with measurement. Social media marketing is about long-term goals, so in the short term, identify metrics (such as number of likes or followers) that demonstrate progress until eventually those statistics turn into more leads and sales. Many of the social media management sites provide analytics to help track growth. Measuring will help keep your motivation up and give insight into what works and what doesn’t.
Being active on social media is a powerful—and necessary—way to establish a strong online presence, position yourself as an expert, connect with your clients and prospects, and build relationships. It can also be fun. Most real estate agents get into the business because they are passionate about helping people find homes they can be happy in. Social media is an opportunity to share that passion, and boost your business along the way.