Social media marketing can be an invaluable tool in your promotional arsenal, but it has to be done strategically, implemented thoughtfully, and crafted with finesse. To help you get it right, we asked several real estate experts to share their tips and strategies for getting the most out of their social media marketing efforts.
The Real Estate Experts
Here's who we talked to:
- Blayne Pacelli, Rodeo Realty
- Cat Smith, a digital marketing professional who specializes in the real estate industry
- Daniela Andreevska, content marketing director for real estate data analytics company Mashvisor
- Eric Sztanyo, Team Sztanyo/Keller Williams Realty
Why Do Real Estate Agents Need Social Media?
As a real estate professional, you know how important it is to be memorable to potential clients. It’s no longer enough to simply put out a plate of cookies and call it an open house.
Enter: Social media marketing.
Social media marketing is a highly effective way to stand out to your audience — basically for free. But unlike traditional marketing channels, your goal on social media isn’t to sell homes: it’s to connect, build trust, and engage with an audience that might one day buy or sell their home or recommend you to a friend.
Look at this as an opportunity to inform and inspire your audience. It's also a chance for you to establish yourself as a thought leader in your local real estate market and give potential customers a taste of your personality. So have some fun with it! Engage with people, start conversations, and talk about what you know best: homes.
Which Social Media Platforms Should I Use to Promote My Real Estate Business?
In short: Use the social media platforms that you know your target audience uses regularly.
Remember that the primary goal of your social media marketing efforts is to connect with your audience and build trust. The only way to do that is by "being where they are" and being active on the platforms they use the most. Although there's a growing number of social media platforms to choose from, the core five are always a safe bet for real estate professionals:
If you decide to use more than one platform for your social media marketing efforts, just make sure your content is different for each audience. Here’s how our experts suggest you use each platform.
Use your professional Facebook page to show off your clients’ successes, build your authority as an expert in all things “home,” host live videos, and post open questions to spark debates.
This site was made for fabulous photos. Interior and exterior shots featuring impressive decor are perfect for this channel.
Consider Twitter to be your soundbite channel. Post alerts and interesting facts about real estate and neighborhood insights. Make sure to retweet those shared by others, too.
This platform is focused on professional networking, so you’ll want to tout your professional accomplishments here. Stand out as an industry leader by sharing partnerships you’ve had and goals you’ve hit, and your network will see how accomplished you are.
Create inspiration boards for all home-related topics, as well as houses for sale. Make sure all boards are separate and properly labeled.
13 Real Estate Social Media Strategies Experts Swear By
We asked our group of experts to share their advice on effective social media marketing strategies. Here’s what they came up with.
1. Position yourself as an expert.
Create opinion- and tip-focused content. You can do this in a blog and post it on social, or just add images with tips in the captions, videos with informational text, and live chats to emphasize your authority.
2. Remember your purpose.
You’ve probably heard people mention “algorithms” when it comes to social media. But what does it mean for you while you’re trying to grow your business? In a nutshell, each post you put on Facebook or Instagram only goes out to a handful of your followers, as decided by the platform’s algorithm. Your post gains momentum the more people like, share, comment, or watch it. But, if the post falls flat, your next few posts will go out to a smaller pool of people. So you need to use marketing skills to find ways to boost your post’s audience.
3. Think 'aspirational.'
Post beautiful images of things your followers wish they could have: large closets, spacious kitchens, master bedrooms, mud rooms, grand fireplaces, and lovely outdoor spaces. Add tips or pose questions to create purpose and a call to action for each post.
4. Go outside your network.
Don’t focus solely on the homes you’re selling. Post video tours and photo collages of homes for sale that your audience might watch virtually. (Think: A live tour from the broker open house.) Share posts and tips from design sites, professional organizers, or cleaning service companies. The beauty of the home-buying niche is that there are so many related topics to grab people’s attention.
5. Create quick video tutorials.
Use a quiet room with good lighting and nothing distracting behind you (e.g., light switches, people walking by). Then place your iPhone on a tripod or turn on your webcam, focus it on you, and hit record. Experts suggested making one-minute tutorials on any home-related topics — everything from organizing a shoe closet to locking in a mortgage. The trick is to make these only one or two minutes long.
6. Make a series.
Become known for certain topics. You might do Monday Mortgage Lessons or Tuesday Home-Buying Tricks. Create a rhythm so your followers can look forward to the next one.
7. Feature guests.
Invite people in corresponding businesses (e.g., mortgage brokers, insurance agents, home stagers) to do a video tutorial with you, or share a family’s home-finding journey. Focus on partners who have a decent number of followers themselves so you can tap into their audience.
The best way to grow your following is to use a bit of advertising budget to market your ideas and expertise to a specific audience of home buyers. Use your most engaging content (not a for-sale listing), put money behind it, and see if more followers engage with you.
9. Toot your own horn.
It’s OK to brag a little. Celebrate your clients' successes by posting photos of those who have just sold or bought a home — with their permission, of course). Happy home buyers can be a very effective marketing tool.
10. Be a good neighbor.
Show your expertise in the areas where you typically sell by posting about local events, debates, and store openings. Is the local town council going to vote on banning leaf blowers due to noise control? Ask your followers for their thoughts without taking a side. Heated debates create great engagement.
11. Create a balance.
Even with all the unique social media content ideas above, you’ll still want to post the homes you have for sale — just don’t use your feed as a billboard. A good balance might be one “For Sale” post for every 10 inspirational or educational posts.
If people ask you questions via comments, replies, or direct messages, make sure you respond within a few hours. You’ll also want to validate their comments with the like or heart button.
13. Tap into trending topics.
Whether they’re national or local trends, you can use these as an opportunity to inform your followers or add to the conversation. Say it’s National Cat Day (Oct. 29). Post pictures of cats in some of your homes with a question like: “Should you remove a sleeping cat from an open house? #NationalCatDay” Here’s a good list of all social media holidays to prep for.
Real Estate Social Media Best Practices
Smith shares real estate social media best practices that pertain to all platforms.
5 General Social Media Best Practices
- Stay professional. Maintain a warm, non-controversial persona. Never use profanity, and avoid sparring with audience members — this includes political confrontations.
- NEVER WRITE IN ALL CAPS. It’s construed as YELLING.
- Use tools to stay consistent. Aim for posting on each platform at least two times a day, no matter what. Social media management products like Buffer and Hootsuite can help you schedule posts ahead of time if you’re away. Look for tools that can also tell you the peak times your target demographic is active on different social media channels.
- Analyze your data. Monitor your engagement with the business tools that are offered on many of these platforms, such as the Facebook Business Manager. Look for trends of what your followers like best and then add more of those topics.
- Don’t dabble. Only use social media platforms that you’ll be consistent on. You’ll probably find the most success on Facebook or Instagram, and it’s fine to stick with just one if you don’t think you can keep up with multiple platforms.
Best Practices By Social Media Platform
- Facebook rules prohibit one person from having multiple accounts. If you wish to separate your personal profile from your real estate business page, you can do that, but you will have to establish your business as part of your personal account.
- It's against Facebook's terms and conditions to post real estate listings on your personal page.
- Instagram is all about appealing and engaging imagery. Make sure you include unique visuals to illustrate the services you provide. Also remember to keep your family and personal photos to a minimum on your business page.
- #Hashtags make Instagram easier to navigate and can help attract potential clients. (Users can search using hashtags.) You can use hashtags abundantly, but make sure to keep them short, sweet, and hyper-targeted. Before using a hashtag, research its use on Hashtags.org or on Instagram to check out how it’s been used before.
- When done right, hashtags help generate targeted topics to cover that can then help your account appear in more relevant searches. (Think: #LuxuryBeachfrontProperty.)
- If creating your own hashtag, keep hashtags short and original.
- Avoid the sales-y approach. When perusing your potential contacts on LinkedIn, send personalized invitations to people with whom you genuinely have a connection, and avoid sending canned invites to those you don’t know. You’re trying to find buyers and sellers, but only reach out after you’ve actually met in the real world or by referencing a mutual acquaintance in the network. This way, you’ll be able to focus your LinkedIn identity on being an industry expert and authority.
- If your invitation to connect is accepted, don’t make your follow-up a sales pitch. Not only is this annoying, but it can also get you banished from the site as a spammer.
- Ask for recommendations on your work when warranted. Don’t reach out to everyone you are connected to for a recommendation. This powerful tool becomes diluted and meaningless when it isn’t backed up with real-life positive experiences.
- People forget that photos are more than just photos — they’re also someone’s intellectual property. Always make sure to source your images back to their original link.
- If you’re creating a board of gorgeous kitchens, for example, don’t link back to your site’s homepage. It’s disingenuous. Instead, include a link that sends people to the blog post you wrote on your site that featured these kitchens and gave tips on creating an open floor plan. There, you can link to homes you’re selling that have similar kitchens.
Image courtesy of iStock.com/everythingpossible