Maximizing Your Social Media Presence
As many REALTORS® already know, social media has become a vital part of the real estate industry. In fact, according to NAR's 2014 Member Profile, 61 percent use social or professional networking sites – a 5-percent increase over the previous year. Although many are aware of the importance of using these tools in their day-to-day business, are they really maximizing their social media presence?
Find the Site That's Right
There are three sites that are the most used and talked about in social media: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Each has a different set-up. However, and real estate agents should be aware that each has a different audience with a different set of expectations as well.
Twitter users are limited to 140-character tweets, and they expect short and sweet information. Be helpful and be brief; tweet articles that may be of use to potential homebuyers, not just links to your personal listings.
LinkedIn is a professional network, and users expect it to stay focused on business. The site offers a variety of groups to join, which will help you interact with colleagues. Not only can you offer your insight to aid your peers, but you also may find valuable information that helps with your work.
Facebook allows for a wide array of media, from text to photos and video, and it gives you plenty of space to play. Facebook also offers the largest user base at 1.3 billion active users this past December. This may be the most social of social networking sites, and the goal here is to develop real interactions on your page.
Depending on the market segment you're trying to engage, you may also want to consider other social networking sites, such as Instagram and Pinterest. Instagram is dedicated to photos – small, square photos, to be exact – although the site also allows for short videos. Some find that Instagram targets a younger audience, so if you’re looking to connect with millennials, this may be a good place to start.
Pinterest is also focused on the visual, and allows users to "pin" different images or articles to virtual boards. The majority of Pinterest users are women (80 percent by some accounts), and many are looking to not just buy a house, but create a home. Be sure to pin articles and images that speak to the entirety of the home-buying experience, from interiors to neighborhood news and school district rankings.
REALTORS® should determine where they want to focus their time and social media efforts, however. Using all these sites – and using them well – is near impossible for the average agent. Unless you utilize a dedicated social media marketer, pick one or two social media outlets that give you the target audience you desire. Be sure to also pick one that you enjoy; if social media postings are a chore for you, your readers will pick up on it.
Maximize Your Posts
Although all these sites offer different types of interaction, what they all have in common is the need for consistency. You can't expect to post once a day and develop a following. Social media is best used for social networking, which means engaging with other users. Part of that engagement is tailoring your postings to the particular site you use. Don’t just drop your listings into the social media void.
If you're a Twitter user, instead of posting about your latest listing, link to articles about neighborhood revitalization or new mortgage offerings. Provide information that will be useful to anyone buying or selling a home – now or in the future. It's also important to be a part of the conversation, so be sure to follow different accounts, favorite other users' tweets and reply to their posts.
On Facebook, you can combine a variety of media to engage your audience. Offer tips on buying or selling a home from your own wealth of experience, perhaps something like, "5 Things to Do Before Your Open House." Of course, if you have a new or unusual listing, feel free to post about it, but make it part of the conversation. If it's a short sale, for instance, consider mentioning the listing along with tips for successfully navigating a short sale. The key is to provide useful information to your followers, regardless of whether they’re buying or selling a home currently.
If you prefer Instagram or Pinterest, don't just post pictures of your listings. Post photos of beautiful interiors, well-done landscaping or interesting neighborhood details. These types of images may net you followers who are just beginning to think in terms of real estate acquisition. And when they are ready to start looking in earnest, they will think of you.
Social media and social networking can help REALTORS® boost their business. After you determine the proper channel for your posts, then tailor your message to best reach your target market and maximize your social media presence. If you provide helpful information, the audience will find you. And once people are accustomed to turning to you for information, they will be ready to turn to you to help them buy or sell a home.
Wendy Forsythe is Executive Vice President and Head of Global Operations for Carrington Real Estate Services.
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