Before I get started talking about social media strategy, I want to make it clear that I can’t give you advice on using social media in a vacuum -- because that’s not how social media for business works. Your social media efforts need to be part of an integrated marketing strategy mixed with your other marketing efforts — both digital and offline. In a minute, I will get into what exactly that means for a land professional, but first we need to talk strategy.
So, let’s talk marketing plan. We are going to assume that you have already done a SWOT Analysis identifying your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (if not, this is a good exercise to do at least once a year). We are also going to assume you have already identified your target market and done some research about them. And now you are looking to identify the main objectives, set your strategic goals, and define and implement the strategies of your overall marketing plan—including figuring out how social media fits in.
Social Media Marketing Objectives + Your Marketing Funnel
Below I’ve pulled together some common social media objectives that land pros often have (or should have) to get us started:
- Position Yourself As The Expert in Your Market
- Create Top of Mind Brand Awareness
- Build Relationships and Trust with your Core Target Audience
- CLOSE MORE DEALS!
You’ll notice ‘close more deals’ was last on the list (and not just to save the best for last) because by doing the first three, it makes achieving the fourth goal much easier.
Now before we jump into using social media, first I want to start with the foundation – your marketing funnel.
When you are creating awareness in your marketplace, by using things like social media, placing paper or digital ads, sending email blasts, guest blogging on industry sites, pitching properties at haves and wants sessions, etc., it all needs to drive traffic back to your website.
Why drive people to your website?
Your website is (or should be) the place that hosts anything and everything a prospect needs to turn them into a loyal client who can later become an advocate in the marketplace of your services. Which therefore means your website will be the place to make reaching your goals happen.
In other words, your website is where you start turning prospects into leads and leads into clients and clients into advocates. We all know word of mouth is one of – if not the most – powerful referral sources. So if we can achieve having advocates touting your services, this will hopefully then drive more prospects to your website – prospects who will then start at the consideration stage. Now, keep in mind that since they skipped the awareness stage, this saves you marketing dollars in getting them to the consideration stage. That doesn’t mean they won’t interact with you on social media or that they won’t see your social media and advertising though, it just means that when they do, it will be during the consideration phase. During this consideration stage, you will still need to have that in place to continue nurturing and building these newly budding relationships.
But you need to start building that relationship and nurturing it somewhere, and your website is the perfect place to do that! In order for your website to help you achieve the goals we outlined earlier, you need something that pulls people in and keeps them coming back – something you can put out on social media or your other channels that brings them to your website. Once they are on your website, you’ll want to find a way to capture their contact information, for example an email pop up, so you can continue to connect with them via email or targeted ads.
Then, and this is the golden ticket, find a way to re-target them with your marketing. Whether through Facebook and Google Ads, email, or a combination of both, use the information you collected through the pop up or cookies on your website to re-target them. There are a lot of great benefits to re-targeting, but the biggest is that you get a bigger ROI on your ad dollars because (since they were already on your site and got there because they were interested enough in what you posted to click on it), you already know they are a hot lead that likely wants to hear more from you because they see you as providing value. Be careful here though, don't go straight to selling -- check out the 80/20 rule below and make sure to follow it when re-targeting.
How do you get people from social to your website?
The best way I have found to do this is using blogging. Now before you tune me out, I know, blogging is time consuming and just like social, it can be counterproductive to have a presence and then let it fall flat by not posting for weeks on end. However, I am going to ask you to reconsider committing time to creating a blog. Thanks to SEO and social media, blogging is not only the best (and possibly cheapest) way to get people back to your website, but it is also the best (and possibly cheapest) way to achieve the first three objectives, which we defined as:
- Positioning Yourself as The Expert in Your Market
The Social Strategy here is that by writing pieces both for your own blog as well as for other industry blogs (and sharing them on social) you are not just telling people you are an expert but you’re proving you are an expert! For example, keeping your audience updated on the latest legislation or land market trends affecting them as landowners or even just the hot new ice cream shop being built on that old vacant lot at the crossroads, will position you as the expert on all things land in your market – making you the go-to agent. Don't have time to write up a post and just looking for great content to share that landowners would find valuable? Check out RLI's THIS IS YOUR LAND Blog with content specifically written for landowners/potential landowners and share away!
blogging also helps you achieve goal number:
- Creating Top of Mind Brand Awareness
The Social Strategy here is that by posting regularly on your blog and then on your social sites, you get your audience in the habit of seeing your content on certain days at certain times in certain places -- so that soon you’ll have them coming to you!
and, finally, blogging will help with goal number:
- Building Relationships and Trust with Your Core Target Audience
The Social Strategy here? What builds trust and goodwill more than someone giving you something (like expertise) for free!? By giving out small bits of free, useful advice, on social media through your blog posts you’re serving your clients and potential clients without asking for anything in return and showing that you care about letting them know the things that they find valuable. So when they do need to list or buy a property, you’re the first one to pop into their mind.
-- and by achieving all of these three goals, as we mentioned earlier, it leads to achieving the fourth goal of:
- CLOSING MORE DEALS!
Even if you are posting about a listing on your social sites, you need to be driving anyone who is interested back to your website to learn more about the property and how you can help.
The Big Social Media Don't
While we are talking about listings, I want to mention the biggest downfall most businesses make when trying to use social media for business. If you are a land pro looking to use social media to achieve your marketing and business goals, do not make your social channels solely sales channels. Do not only post listings or company news. Social media needs to be social in that you create a community and network of sharing valuable and engaging content. If your posts are strictly promotional, you will lose your audience before they have a chance to get to know how amazing your company and your listings are.
Only talking about your business and promoting listings on your social channels is to your audience the same as turning on the TV and finding out the only thing ever on is commercials – even if they are super bowl-level-awesome commercials. You’ve all heard of the 80:20 rule? You need to be doing at least 80% engaging and informational content that is valuable to your audience and that positions you as the expert in your market and then 20% sharing property listings or company news.
Now, you may be thinking – but this is a company page and I need to get my clients' properties out in front of as many eyeballs as possible. But think about this, if you’ve driven your audience on social media away or don't have an audience – or worse have an audience that isn’t engaged and has become trained to tune out your posts – is that really helping you get eyeballs on your clients’ listings?
I’m not saying don’t post listings, absolutely do! Facebook and Instagram are wonderful places to showcase all those high res property pics and drone videos. Just makes sure you are doing a mix of posting listings and showcasing yourself as an expert – and always do both of these in a way that drives your audience on social media back to your website where you can guide them through the rest of the marketing funnel you’ve (hopefully) put in place.
Now that we’ve talked about the big Don’t, let’s look at a few Dos of social media:
Do Tell A Story
You may need to put a little PR spin on it but every piece of land has a history – and even if that isn’t known, it has a future. Find an angle and try to create a story around your latest listing that people will want to read. This is a great way to still get eyeballs on your clients’ properties without coming across as like you’re trying to sell, sell, sell. Write that story up in a blog post on your website, link to the listing from in the post, and share the link to the blog post all over social.
Do Keep It Local
The best way to create share-worthy content is to make it relatable to your audience. Write (or at the very least share) pieces that inform your audience about what’s going on in your local market. Whether it’s telling them the top places to enjoy the land while hiking locally or new legislation that affects local landowners – be the source of all things land in your market. If you can add your expert take on that post as well – even better!
Do Use Video
In case you’ve been living in a closet the last few years, social media sites and users love video. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth ten thousand. Whether it’s you touring a property, sharing expertise on a topic, or a listing promo video clip, get it on social. To extend your videos reach on Facebook, keep in mind they are more likely to show your video to people if you upload it directly to their site or 'Go Live on Facebook' (versus say uploading it to YouTube first and sharing the link to the video).
One of the best ways to build trust and keep yourself top of mind is to post regularly. Give your audience something to look forward to and a reason to stop by your page every day. There are some great tools out there to help you schedule posts – hootsuite is a personal favorite and its free -- but nowadays most social sites including Facebook and Twitter, have ways to schedule your posts through their site directly. Set aside 30 minutes a week to schedule all your posts for that week. Now, that doesn’t mean you should set it and forget it though. Check back and engage with those commenting on or sharing your posts. Pro tip, check out Canva for creating graphics and Pixabay to get free stock photos to use in your social posts.
Also, be consistent in your voice. The tone and voice you use in your communications is as much a part of your brand as your logo. You know better than anyone your clients, what tone would they relate to, what voice do they want to hear?
Finally, the most trustworthy people are those you know are being genuine. Help people get to know you and your company’s values and personality through your posts. Be yourself, have fun, and do what you do best – help people!
To wrap it up, being on social media is not as simple as starting an account and putting up a few posts. For your social efforts to be effective, they need to be strategic and integrated into your overall marketing plan (which should be integrated into your over all company strategic plan). Make sure to check out the full Unleashing Your Social Media Strategy webinar recording for some great tips from my co-hosts Drew Ary, ALC, and Wendy Johnson, ALC. If you guys ever have any questions for me, you can also find my contact info on the staff page.
About the Author: Jessa Friedrich, MBA, is the Marketing Manager for the REALTORS® Land Institute. She has served in her current role in the land real estate industry since March 2015 and has since fully rebranded the organization, developed and optimized their new website, and created and implemented a new strategic marketing plan that has a heavy focus on social media and content generation. Jessa has a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a specialization in Social Media Marketing from Lewis University. She has seven years of experience developing and implementing digital and social media marketing strategies for small to medium sized businesses and a proven track record of success. As Marketing Manager for RLI, she has seen the power of using both paid and organic social media growth strategies as a part of the organization’s bigger picture strategic plan to help grow their annual National Land Conference by 44% and to help sell out its annual LANDU Education Week for the first time in history. Since 2015, the marketing strategies being implemented have increased the organization’s organic website traffic by over 145%, which includes a 941% increase in social traffic to the site. As Marketing Manager, she has also played a large role as part of the team that has led the organization to see over an almost 40% increase in new members in year one and a 47% increase on top of that in year two so far. Copyright Jessa Friedrich 2018.