- Social media is an extremely powerful tool in the modern digital marketing world. There is no shocking news here.
- However, some industries can leverage social media and its benefits better than others… or so you may think.
- Find out whether social media is beneficial for the real estate industry. And if the answer is yes (spoiler alert), learn how to do it best.
There’s a dilemma that’s staring us in the face. There’s simply no getting around it: for many of us, social media doesn’t really seem to have worked…
2007 saw Facebook really take off in Australia. So, in reality, the biggest social media platform is only 10yrs old. Since then it’s evolved and so has consumer usage. Nowadays, it seems that everyone sets up a Facebook and Instagram page and is on Twitter and/or LinkedIn. And they all have golden expectations about what it’ll do for their business. Why is it then, that the results just don’t seem to be there?
Does social media even work for the real estate industry? Yes, it does! The problem is, you’ve most likely had unrealistic expectations of what it should achieve, or you may have been going about it the wrong way, or both. Social media is indeed a powerful tool if it’s used correctly.
Transactional Marketing vs Relationship Marketing
Firstly, you must identify what type of marketing you are doing, i.e. is it transactional or relationship marketing. Transactional marketing is things such as traditional letterbox drops in a neighbourhood showing a home that’s sold on a nearby street, and it includes a call to action.
When we talk about Facebook advertising, we must recognize that Facebook is a social platform. Facebook users are in a social head-space, not a buying one (for more information on this, check out our blog Keeping Media Social). So, when we post a message on a social media platform, it must fit in with a social head-space if it is to be successful. That doesn’t mean a ‘no business claim’ policy either - it simply has to be balanced with the appropriate social claims.
Buying or selling property is probably one of the biggest and most stressful decisions a person has to make in their life. That’s why you, as the agent, need to foster positive relationships with your potential customers, i.e. they need to know, understand and like you before they make any decisions. Confidence is a plant of slow growth, and that’s why initially approaching your client through Facebook with a ‘contact us for a free appraisal’ type message simply won’t cut the mustard. You may possibly get some readers that buy-in, but in the main, you're likely to be bitterly disappointed with the results.
Facebook advertising needs to be done in a friendly, helpful but not pushy manner. It’s a case of offering the customer genuinely valuable information, building up the relationship, creating a positive connection with your brand and then offering the appraisal.
How to make social media work in the real estate market
As a real estate professional, there are several things you can do to make social media work for your business.
1. Develop a long term social strategy
Relationships aren’t created overnight. Rather, you need to consider a 12 month - 3-year focus. Generally, CTA (call to action) marketing is thought about in a 3-month time frame, so if you approach your Facebook campaign with this in mind, you’ll likely be disappointed.
2. Offer helpful information
If your Facebook feed is full of stuff about you, i.e. ‘view our latest property’ or ‘contact us for…’ it's highly likely your audience will tune out. Instead, offer them chunks of real value in the real estate content you share - information that’s likely to catch their attention, build trust and is genuinely useful.
3. Be prepared to invest time
If you are planning a Facebook schedule of 1 post per day, that’s a total of 7 posts per week. If you intend to write, schedule, check on and respond to any comments on the posts yourself, realistically, you need to allow 2 hours/week to do it. If you are planning to employ a PPC strategy (which I highly recommend), you’ll need to spend about 2 hours/week managing the campaign. It won’t require a lot of capital outlay, but your organic reach on Facebook isn’t very strong, so you need to push the posts to the right people.
If you are writing the blogs and creating original content that is genuinely helpful to your customers, you need to allow 2 hours per blog. If you write 1 blog per week, you’re looking at 6 hours per week, and if you are intending to duplicate that over multiple channels, you’ll need to allow more time. Posting something on Facebook isn’t a 5-minute task. To do the job properly, you need good images, interesting and original content and it needs to be structured strategically.
4. Increase your reach by using Facebook Advertising
Today it’s estimated that the organic reach of a single point on Facebook is about 2%. That means that only 20 out of 1000 of your followers will likely see what you post. Then, if it gets likes or is shared, more than that will see it. So, with these stats in mind, you can increase your reach using Facebook PPC.
So, you need to work out your target audience. And for real estate, it’s likely to be those who are facing big changes in their lives: the tree-changers, the ‘empty nesters’ and the growing families. Use Facebook to identify and target these people.
5. Understand the sales funnel (the phases your client goes through on their buying journey)
- Awareness - initial contact with you and/or your company.
- Interest - the potential customer is thinking about selling/buying.
- Consideration - actively looking for an agent
6. Create an engaging customer-focused video (awareness phase)
A video can be a powerful tool here. There are many ways to create your video. You might choose to focus it on the story of one of your clients, and feature their success, emotions, and feelings about their property sale and/or purchase. Present your company as the guide that facilitated the move. Keep the video short - 90 seconds is a good length.
7. Create genuinely helpful information (interest phase)
Have a content plan and keep offering the potential client items of genuine value in the form of useful information. For example, you may choose to focus on practical tips for everyday living, highlighting charities or other good causes - anything that facilitates a positive connection with your company.
8. Give away high-level content in exchange for an email address (consideration phase)
This is really using the concept of a lead magnet. Offer the potential client a chunk of genuine value in exchange for their email address - they feel good about what they’ve received and you’ve then gained another means by which to maintain further contact.
9. Offer a free appraisal (purchase phase)
Having spent the time to build the relationship and given them a lot of free information, you have now earned the right to ask them for their business.
Maybe it seems daunting, or simply a lot of work, but believe me, it’s worth it. Social media offers the opportunity to reach potential clients, grow your brand and foster positive relationships, well ahead of time. And all this is achieved by keeping your name in front of them in the right way, at the right time.
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