As a real estate agent in today’s Internet-connected world, it’s hard to ignore the fact that home buyers and sellers are an online savvy bunch. And many Realtors have already jumped online, networking with potential clients through blogs and social media. Then there are the laggards.
Through managing the social media network and blog for a real estate brokerage, I’ve come across many individual real estate agents who know the importance of using social media and blogging to reach new homebuyers and sellers, reconnect with past clients, and to overall build their own personal brand online. But they are daunted by having to choose among the many different networks out there, knowing how to set them up, and the idea that they have to add yet another task (or multiple tasks) to their already busy schedules.
To alleviate the difficulty in choosing which social media networks to use, how to set them up and optimize them, and then start posting, curating and sharing content, as well as monitoring everything, my team and I at Crackerjack Scribe will be posting guides in the next several months to help you, the Realtor, get started and get connected.
This guide gives a basic overview of options for a strong real estate social media network. We also provide useful tips and advice when optimizing your social pages, and links to detailed instructions on how to set them up.
Future posts will cover what type of blog sites are best for real estate, including taking a look at online websites like Trulia and Zillow, and how to go about setting up a complete network, linking your blog, website and social media sites.
So for those who are not connected online yet, get on the band wagon, and increase your productivity and sales with your own awesome real estate social media network.
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Social Media for Real Estate Guide
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As a real estate agent busy managing listings and hopefully prospective clients, you may not have the time to devote to more than one or two social media networks. So I’ve listed these sites in an order that takes into consideration the number of users, ease of use, and the ability of the social platforms to target your real estate demographic by specifics such as location, gender, age, and interests.
If you can only manage one site, that’s fine. This will give you the ability to fine-tune your posts to reach your target demographic for that particular social site. But keep in mind, while one site may have a certain number of users, not all consumers in your target market may be on that social media network. At minimum we suggest one social media site. At best, we recommend at least three of various types: one image oriented, one video oriented, and one where more in-depth content will attract the type of prospective home buyer or seller who wants as much pertinent information upfront as possible.
Facebook is still the most popular site regarding the numbers of users, so it may seem like a given that it would be the first social media site to utilize. This is true only if you are willing to invest more than your time in setting up the page and managing it.
Facebook use to be a free platform for businesses, but now in order to reach consumers, you will have to not only work, or pay, for people to “like” your business page, but you must also pay to reach those fans. Facebook has just about completely eliminated organic reach of social posts. For the uninitiated, in the past when a business posted content on their page, fans would see it in their newsfeed. Now, businesses must pay to “promote” posts, or pay for ads on the network.
But I list it as No. 1, because if you’re willing to pay, and, really, by advertising standards the cost is low, the targeted reach is great. You can target your posts or ads to the exact demographic you want to reach.
There are also many useful real estate tab apps available, free or paid, that you can install on your page for people who don’t like to leave a social media site to check out information.
While news of late says Twitter’s popularity may be declining, the numbers--255 million active users, according to the company’s latest quarterly report--warrant its use in your real estate marketing strategy. The social media microblogging site is easy to use, and Twitter recently redesigned its stream to feature images more, perfect for announcing new listings.
Setup is relatively simple on Twitter as well. Make sure you get the most out of your profile by telling followers who you are, what’s your business--i.e. [Location] real estate agent specializing in luxury properties – and putting a link to your real estate blog or website. The company also has a great outline on how to get started building a follower base and using the site.
Twitter also has ads that can target users with specific demographics and interests.
Tip: Using Twitter Cards for your blog or Website will allow a richer sharing experience. Normally when someone Tweets a post or page from a Website, you just have a link with a headline or description. By installing Twitter Card coding on your pages and posts, when someone clicks to Tweet your article or listing, an image, summary, product images, gallery and other options, can be included, depending on what Twitter Card layout you choose. This Forbes article gives you an overview, and step-by-step implementation for Twitter Cards.
With 300 million active users, a brilliant platform that showcases photos in a large format, the ability to target followers through what’s called Circles (equivalent to Facebook’s Friend’s lists, except Facebook pages don’t have access to lists), and the fact that it ties in with search rankings makes this social media site a top of the list must in your marketing plan. Google Plus, in addition to all the other social sites except Facebook, is still free to use for business owners, so use it while you can to save on your advertising budget.
If you want to maximize your reach, Google Plus now allows those with 1,000 or more followers to use +Post ads.
Keep in mind, if you have a physical location for your real estate office (outside of your brokerage’s), choose the “Local business or Place” option when first setting up your page. It will connect to Google maps, and show up in searches in a more noticeable format. Google also allows you to use a home address as an “online” listing. The exact address can be hidden in search results.
To set up a Google Plus page, you must open a Gmail or Google account first. You will be prompted to set up a Google Plus page after signing up. The company recently announced that this “forced” signing up for all its products will soon be a thing of the past. But I find that Google’s products--from Gmail and Google Plus to YouTube and Blogger--are excellent, and free to use.
Tip: When posting images to Google Plus, the recommended size is a minimum of 800 x 600 pixels.
This social media site may not have the numbers of the bigger sites, with only 70 million active users. But 80% of its users are women, and if this survey by the Pew Research Center is any indication, women most likely are the main decision-makers when it comes to buying a home. Couple that with the fact the social media site is image-rich, making it a perfect place to showcase listings, and anything else to do with home living, I would highly recommend Pinterest to Realtors.
Malibu real estate agent Mike Gardner claims that he had two showings within minutes of posting property photos to his Pinterest page. The article on the result in Inman also quotes Gardner stating he used Facebook and Google ads to drive traffic to the Pinterest page rather than to a traditional property site.
Pinterest provides a downloadable how-to guide with tips, tricks and best practices.
Tip: Images and videos from social media sites can be intertwined with such applications as Pinvolve, which combines Pinterest and Facebook photos together in a tab on Facebook, or the YouTube Tab on Facebook app.
Finally we come to YouTube. Now if we go by the numbers of users, plus the possible virality of videos, this social media site would be at the top when choosing what site to use in your online real estate marketing plan. But making videos may seem like a daunting task to many, and will require more intricate production than writing posts for your blog or social sites (although that’s not as easy as it appears either), that’s why I listed it last. But I strongly recommend the site. With a one-minute video, you can give a prospective home buyer a virtual walking tour of a home. This article Why YouTube Marketing is Important for Real Estate Agents and Brokers gives some important statistics on how home buyers are utilizing video, and specifically YouTube, to do their research before buying a home.
Download our Free YouTube Slideshow Tutorial for Beginners to get a fast and easy start in setting up a YouTube channel.
For videos, there are many affordable companies out there that can create slideshow videos of your home listings. Or, if you’ve got the big bucks, you can hire a professional director and have a sleek mini movie made for your listing, and have it delivered on free iPads to prospective buyers like this agency in the below video did.
For a step up from slideshow movies, but much less expensive than a Hollywood film, Crackerjack Scribe offers home property video services. Call 323-205-6436 for details.