Leveraging Social Media
Few REALTORS® today can succeed without a robust social media presence. After all, nearly half—44 percent—of homebuyers start their property search online, according to the 2017 report by the National Association of REALTORS®, “Real Estate in a Digital Age.”
“Social media is a prime way for REALTORS® to connect with potential customers,” says Rachael Samuels, social media manager with Sprout Social, a Chicago-based provider of social media management solutions. An effective social media strategy can help REALTORS® cultivate interest and build a pipeline of future clients, she adds.
At the same time, the speed with which posts and tweets can circle the globe make it critical that REALTORS® develop a thoughtful social media strategy, and then carefully execute it.
Among social media platforms, experts point to three that have demonstrated staying power: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Facebook is easy to use and popular with many in the forty-to-sixty age bracket, says Johanna Grange, a co-founder of Chicago-based Oak Street Social, a social media marketing firm.
Moreover, for a modest investment, REALTORS® can target Facebook ads to key clients and prospects, says Carolyn Jarrett, also a co-founder of Oak Street Social. When they do, they can easily include videos and photos that show off their properties. “Facebook allows properties to jump off the pages,” she adds.
Instagram’s focus is visual storytelling, and known for gorgeous photography. It’s an effective way to showcase both properties and neighborhoods, Grange says. One shortcoming: a REALTOR® can’t simply include a link to, for instance, a property’s website within a post. Instead, the link must be included in his or her bio.
Finally, Twitter is effective for sharing and offering news. Because of space limitations, tweets need to be “short, fun, interactive,” says Andrew Friedenthal, content analyst with Software Advice, a company that helps businesses navigate the software selection process.
Oak St. Social says posting on social media at least three times a week is ideal. However, “consistency is more important than frequency,” Grange says. Better to offer thoughtful, quality content once or twice a week, every week, than to post more frequently, but fail to engage—or even worse, turn off—your audience.
A number of companies offer tools that help companies schedule their social media posts, streamlining the time commitment required to execute most social media plans. They don’t, however, eliminate the need to monitor social media accounts and posts. For instance, you’d want to halt a scheduled humorous post if a tragedy or natural disaster unfolds at the same time. In those situations, it’s best to either go silent, or offer a simple, appropriate, and heartfelt message, Jarrett says.
Keeping the Social in Social Media:
Also key to quality content is keeping in mind that social media is supposed to be, well, social. While that doesn’t mean REALTORS® can never post their listings or sales, they’ll want to offer both promotional and editorial content. Friedenthal recommends posting one-third promotional content, one-third editorial content, and one-third shared content.
You also want to “showcase your personality,” Friedenthal says. Your audience should be able to distinguish your posts from others.
At the same time, you’ll want to limit posts that focus on your personal life. “As much as I love my puppies and kids, I don’t post about them on the Oak Street feed,” Grange says.
Posts that intentionally disparage or are cruel also should be off-limits. That doesn’t mean, however, humor is forbidden. Many people enjoy a “cheeky, edgy” approach, on social media, Jarrett says. Just know that such an approach can prompt pushback. You’ll want to be able to respond with professionalism, to anyone who disagrees.
Indeed, one of the biggest social media mistakes REALTORS® can make is failing to engage with their communities. “Social media started as a public conversation,” Grange says. “You’d never walk into cocktail party, ask someone what they do, and then walk away.”
No matter how carefully you craft your posts and tweets, social media entails some risk. A viewer might take offense at a post that wasn’t intended to offend, or a client might decide to complain on social media.
Honesty and transparency are important first steps in repairing trust, Samuels says. Assume responsibility for any mistakes and apologize when appropriate.
It often makes sense to move such discussions offline. “You don’t want to get into an aggressive conversation” on a public social media account, Grange says. Thank the individual for the feedback, and indicate you’ll send a direct message, she adds.
The effort invested in a social media plan and execution can pay off. “As with any business today, REALTORS® need to use social media if they want to seize every possible opportunity,” Friedenthal says.
Andrew Friedenthal - Content Analyst
Alicia Downard - Senior Public Relations Specialist Gartner Digital Markets - firstname.lastname@example.org
Rachael Samuels - Social Media Manager
Aisha Quas - email@example.com
About the Contributor
Karen M. Kroll is a freelance writer from Chanhassen, MN.
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