What Does Social Media Marketing Have to Do With Real Estate?
Social Media has been in existence for most of us for less than a decade. Remember 2004? That was pre-Facebook. Pre-Twitter. Infancy of LinkedIn. In a few years, social media sites have attracted so many users that they rival large nations. [Check out this amazing YouTube video: Socialnomics, by Erik Qualman] Added to the mix, the mobile ability of tablets and smartphones make social media accessible 24-7, from virtually every corner of the globe.
Social Media Marketing
It didn’t take long for marketers to jump on board. Social Media Marketing is the buzzword for all types of businesses today, including real estate. Wherever you find a collection of human beings…marketers will be there too.
Social Media Marketing was a $6.1 billion business in 2013, according to UnifiedSocial.com. Naturally, real estate marketing is going social.
But how does social media really fit into the real estate space? I’d like to explore some myths about real estate and social media marketing, as well as some of the truths as I see them.
Myths About Real Estate and Social Media Marketing That Sellers Should Know
Promises I’ve Heard from Real Estate Agents:
- “I’ll share your listing on all my social media platforms…Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…”
While sharing your listing to their social media contacts sounds like a good way to broadcast your home, let’s stop and examine that for a minute.
- Facebook: The average agent has 172 likes on their Facebook business page. Of those, only about 10% ever see the posts, due to Facebook’s push toward monitization.
- With advertising and sponsored posts, your listing can be seen by specific demographics who might be actually interested in your home. But the jury is out on whether people come to Facebook to look for real estate. While 92% of homebuyers are looking online, most are looking on real estate specific websites, like Zillow, Realtor.com and Trulia.
- Many agents are friends with other agents, those who already see your listing on the Multiple List Service. It’s also safe to say, as with most people on Facebook, high school friends and friends of friends from other parts of the country probably aren’t interested in your listing.
- By tweeting your listing on Twitter, again, the average agent will get your listing in front of 10% of their 200 contacts…for about 18 seconds. If they are savvy about using hashtags your listing will stand a better chance of being found by someone who is looking for #realestate in #yourcity, but that will most likely be another agent.
- Oversharing a listing is worse than not sharing at all. Oversharing leads to “unfollowing”.
- Posting a listing on Social Media sites is something that should be done, but it is part of an entire strategy, not an end in itself.
2. “I’ll blog about your listing and get it in front of thousands.”
- Just because a real estate agent blogs, doesn’t mean that thousands are seeing their content. Blogging is an important part of the overall social media strategy of a real estate agent. Producing consistent, helpful content on a website will get that website found in local searches that homebuyers are conducting. Be sure to check out an agent’s blog to see if they are consistent. Do your own online searches to see who shows up in your geographical area.
- A blog alone is not enough. To be successful, the entire online presence of a real estate agent must be multi-faceted. Social media, video, mobile optimization, and some SEO, or search engine optimization… all these elements must be in place, because the competition in the online real estate space is probably the fiercest of any industry.
3. “I’ll do sponsored posts to get your listing in front of thousands of buyers.”
- Paying for sponsored social media posts can be a great way to get your listing in front of would-be buyers. Just make sure that is what is really happening. I’ve seen real estate listings from all over the country, even from foreign countries, come across my social media streams. I’m pretty sure that is a waste of advertising dollars. Sponsored posts need to be targeted to actual buyers, in accurate geographic areas, as well as in accurate demographics.
- Ask your agent to explain the strategy behind their social media advertising. Getting in front of the right people is more important than getting in front of thousands.
4. “Video isn’t important in marketing your home.”
- There are so many statistics about how important images and video are in today’s online marketing world. Like this, or this, or this extensive white paper.
- YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine. Its the third most visited website in the world.
- Video shows up on page one of a Google search.
- The average website visit without video is 50 seconds. The average website visit with video is 5 minutes.
- I could go on about the growth of the “Visual Web“. Real estate agents need to get on board, to be able to offer the best real estate services for their sellers.
Truths About Real Estate and Social Media Marketing
Using Social Media Correctly… Social Media is primarily about building relationships. Marketing is secondary… or in better terms, it’s not marketing if there are no relationships being built.
Social Media Marketing is not like traditional marketing. It’s not simply about getting your sales message in front of people. It’s not push marketing, it’s pull marketing. It succeeds when you can create content that attracts attention and encourages readers to share it across their social networks. The content needs to be helpful, informative, relevant, valuable, and even entertaining, to be the kind of content that attracts and encourages shares.
Let me share some great advice from some of the agents I know who are doing a fantastic job at social media:
“Social media is about building relationships with people that can potentially help your business grow…The best way to make social media work is to be social. The first instinct with most real estate agents on social media is to share their listings. Unless you are in the REALTOR®’s geographic locale and are interested in buying a home, you are probably not going to have any interest in a real estate agent pushing listings in your face. So many REALTORS® just don’t seem to get this and fail miserably at social. People don’t go on social networks to find real estate listings.”
*For a thorough read on real estate and social media, check out Bill Gassett’s post on Search Engine Marketing Group
“When planning my podcast, I ask the most important question that anyone using social media should ask: “What are people interested in hearing about?” I’ve had as many as 22,000 listeners because it’s information they want to know about. The great thing about podcasting, besides the fact that someone like me can get away with having “a face for radio” lol (emphasis mine) is that I can give shout-outs to other real estate professionals, I can link to their content, and I can give value first. That’s the true use of social media, giving value before you ever ask for someone’s money.”
Debbie Drummond is a Luxury Real Estate Specialist in Las Vegas, someone whom I first met on social media, then met in real life, and consider a friend. (proof that social media is about making relationships!)
“I see a lot of Realtors who are pushing their listings or offering to help you get your home bought and sold on social media, but they don’t offer anything helpful. Sharing useful information and answering questions is where it’s at in social media, and in marketing in general today. I’m using it to share great articles that home buyers and sellers find useful. I’m also using it to talk about things that pertain to Las Vegas.
I’ve met a lot of people on social that I later met and became friends with in real life. You are an example. Another friend is a RE/MAX Broker from Kentucky. Another one isn’t even real estate related…Diane lives in Alaska and comes to Vegas once a year or so. We met at one of the conventions and became Facebook friends. She’s a character, and now we exchange messages all the time. We’ve gone out to lunch and even went to see a show at Bally’s when they were in town the last time.”
Social Media Marketing…A Declining Industry
At the risk of sounding a like an industry wonk…the term “social media marketing” is already a dying phrase. The job of Social Media Manager is a declining position. I know, just when we were getting used to it! The new buzzword is Content Marketing.
Consumers are in control in today’s technology rich world of marketing. They can shut off advertising any time they want. TIVO and OnDemand give the power to the consumer. Content Marketing involves creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract customers.
And we’re back where we started at the beginning of this post.
Dear Seller: The best thing a real estate agent can do for you with their social media efforts:
- They need to consistently create valuable, helpful content
- They need to be SOCIAL in their social media spheres
- They need to be collaborative in their social media spheres
- They need to use video and professional photography
- They need to understand and use social media advertising correctly
Sellers, don’t be fooled by soundbites and marketing mumbo jumbo. Ask your prospective real estate agent to explain their marketing strategy for your home. It’s only just the most expensive investment most of us make in our lifetime.