This article originally appeared in the REALTORS® Land Institute’s Summer 2017 Terra Firma magazine.
I’ll be straight with you all: If you haven’t figured out how to use Facebook or Twitter – and built a sizable audience by now – don’t worry about it. The saturation of sameness of real estate social media is palpable and, frankly, your audience might not be there. However, from beginners to advanced users, there are ways to leverage social media in your business. Here are some tips:
First, audit your audience
Before you use social media you must know whether or not you even have an audience there. Go online to your social media accounts, subtract all your friends and family. Now, is your target audience for your marketing there? If you’re an agent dependent on referrals from residential agents, are your partners there? How much time do they spend there? Researching what you have will determine what you will do on social media, so do a deep dive into your audience.
If you’ve started accounts on Facebook or Twitter, is your website, contact information and status as a REALTOR® or ALC obvious? Too many agents don’t take the time to complete their profile and add a current picture of themselves to the public elements of their social media, which is akin to not having a profile at all. Whether you choose to use social media actively or passively, make sure a potential client can get ahold of you should they stumble upon your social media accounts. Chances are, your social media will outrank almost any of your other web presence, so it’s just plain good business. Use a Google Voice number generic email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) to track the effectiveness of your accounts and to keep the spam emails and phone calls to a minimum. Don’t forget about your website. Does it have the “Like” and “Tweet” buttons anywhere on it? Make sure your website is shareable on social media, especially if you’re creating content on your site that’s WORTH sharing. More on that later.
Review and recommendation websites are social too!
Cementing your reputation by starting profiles on Google (google.com/business), Yelp (biz.yelp.com) and LinkedIn is something everyone should do. LinkedIn, especially, is made for business-to-business relations and is the most business-centric social platform online right now. Complete your profile with a current pic, and don’t forget your contact information and website!
In an effort to keep business away from personal lives, Facebook groups have become a major source of networking among professionals. Most local and state associations, real estate designations and certifications and offline networking groups have a presence on Facebook. “Search” on Facebook’s search bar for your local association or group. NAR has a national group that can be joined here. Make it a habit to go through groups – especially real estate groups – to see if an agent has a need. The more active the group is, maybe post in it once a day.
Use Twitter like a media resource
Twitter isn’t for the meek and takes an active commitment to make its use worthwhile. One of the best ways to quickly build an audience to engage with it is to follow local journalists, television news-people and pay attention to what they have to say. Are they talking about real estate value? Are they looking for stories on community development? You can have meaningful conversations with people who move the needle in your local markets and grow your sphere while doing it. Follow the more active residential agents in your area who are almost always looking for land and commercial real estate partners, as well!
Use video as a marketing platform
In my mind, the most relevant social platform available to a land agent is video, preferably on YouTube. Whether you’re speaking on camera about tips to buy and develop land, using it to convey the size and scope of a land offering or re-envisioning what that land can be via digital mock-up recorded on video, the options are many. The one thing about video that makes it stand out against its brethren is that it’s not viewed as a “toy” and a time-suck like Facebook and Twitter can be, plus YouTube’s little red “play” button has universal – and multi-lingual – appeal. To wit, look no further than this video, created to be a vision of a potential mixed use development. Parking videos like this on YouTube and then your website ramps up your organic search engine optimization. They are “social” in that anyone can share it to their social media if wanted, plus they can be viewed on a laptop or a smart phone alike.
Pay-to-play with social media and Google ads
Residential real estate is experiencing a bit of a paid marketing renaissance when it comes to effectiveness online and on social media due to the business models of online media and their need to make money. The key to optimizing paid media, however, is to have content worth the click – from the internet browser’s point of view. As mentioned above, a social site with social content turns your website into an online destination, regardless of where the ad is placed – social media, Google, or otherwise.
Did you audit your audience? Also mentioned above, that audit will determine where you should spend your ad money. If it’s social media, direct your ads to those who have “liked” elements of your local market or even your city’s social media presence, or other businesses in the area complimentary to yours. If it’s Google, explore the search trends of your market here: google.com/trends/ and direct per-click ads to the relevant audience. Ads are not for the meek. It takes investment in a high quality website and content to really leverage it properly. Talk to a local small business online expert in your town for details.
So whether you are actively or passively leveraging social media in your business – or doing something in between – be social. Think about whether or not what you’re doing – marketing-wise – is worth someone sharing it on social media. Have a visible, social profile and reputation and be “out there” if someone needs your expertise.
About the author: Nobu Hata is the Director of Digital Engagement for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). As a real estate technology and new media expert, he brings value-added information to NAR members, brokers and associations. Nobu regularly present at the RLI National Land Conference on the latest technology for real estate agents.