As I have said before, social media marketing is really relationship marketing. It stands to reason, of course, that it should be used for relationship-based businesses like real estate.
When I first started researching the real estate industry, I was shocked at the fundamental lack of successful, prolific, and strategic use of social media (and inbound marketing, at all) by real estate professionals.
Listen, folks, this is not rocket science. This is business science.
Real estate professionals should be using inbound marketing, especially social media, to build relationships with people ready to make the largest buying decision of their lives.
Why is this not happening more?!
Here are 7 ways real estate agents should be using inbound marketing to build their business:
Twitter is an excellent listening tool. Further, it is an untapped gold mine for real estate agents, mortgage professionals, and builders to find prospective customers. Use search.twitter.com to find people in your geographical area tweeting about house hunting, looking for a new home, looking to move, dream house, etc. These people are out there. They are actively seeking advise from an expert and many of their questions, concerns, and inquiries go unanswered.
Smart, forward thinking real estate agents should be replying asking about their budget, the number of bedrooms, the desired neighborhood. What school district do they want?
Please, do not EVER. EVER. EVER go for the hard sale this way. Use the tool to establish trust; build a relationship; and be helpful. The authenticity will be such a stark contrast to the normal real estate interruptive marketing that prospective customers will literally flock to you.
Pinterest is a visually-driven website that attracts woman who are statistically more affluent (when compared to Twitter or Facebook).
I mean, seriously, who wouldn’t want to see this house with photos like this?
Custom builders/developers and real estate agents, use Pinterest to market your product! Staged homes are beautiful! Hire a professional photographer to capture the imagination of your prospective buyer. Not only will the creative elements of your stager/interior designer’s work lead to re-pins, but a well-written description of the pin (for example, expressing that the property is for sale) will drive traffic to your listings.
Bonus: this is also search engine optimization juice because each Pin is a link back to your website.
Like I said, the purchase of a home is, often, your customer’s largest purchase in their life. It is also a transaction they are not familiar with. It stands to reason that they will have a lot of questions, reservations, and concerns. Use your knowledge to shed light on this daunting process by tackling common questions you hear on a regular basis. This does several things:
- Alleviate your customer’s fear
- Positions you as an expert
- Creates multiple entry points for future customers
Create a list of the top 10 most frequently asked questions and answer them in everyday language, terms, and examples that your audience will connect with.
At the bottom of each of your blog posts, include a Call-to-Action – marketing speak for “what do you want your visitor to do?” Examples of good call to actions are:
- Request a free demo today
- Join Today! It’s Free
- Post a Listing
- Schedule a Tour
- Browse Current Listings
- Sign Up
- Learn More
- Buy Now
- See Plans & Pricing
- Sign Me Up
- Try It Now
- View Features
The list goes on and on – the point is, tell your visitor to do something at the end of your blog. If you have a newsletter, a downloadable offer (see next point), meet and greet, wine social, or whatever- you need to tell your visitor what you want them to do next. Otherwise, your newfound boost in web visitor traffic will be for nothing.
Create an Offer
Above, I talked about sharing your knowledge in blogs. You can take this a step further by creating a downloadable offer – a whitepaper (.pdf), ebook (also a .pdf), or worksheet/checklist for your visitor. By understanding who you are targeting, it is easy to identify their needs and painpoints within the sales process.
If you are writing a blog about first time homeownership, for example, offering a downloadable fact sheet on questions to ask a real estate agency when viewing a house would be very appropriate, timely, and contextual. Remember, these are first time home buyers. They don’t know what to ask, what to look for, or even what the next step is of their own buying process. The key here is to capture their contact information (at least their name and email address) in exchange for the worksheet. Guess, what, now you have a lead.
Social reach is the number of people who saw your material online; often this is accompanied by a referral from a trusted friend. When you create happy customers, you can ask them for referrals via social media. Imagine the reach of their following paired with a happy testimonial.
People don’t trust advertising, they don’t trust marketing, and they don’t trust sales. They do trust their friends. Use this to your advantage and wow the friends of your next customer.
As another bonus, here are some quick tips on how to improve your social reach:
- Put social sharing and follow buttons on all of your collateral
- Make sure social sharing and follow buttons are on your mobile-friendly website
- Tailor your content to the social network
- Tailor your content to your targeted persona
- Respond frequently to your fans and followers
- Interact and engage with people on social media that you are not following (yet)
- Keep your social media profiles up to date
- Target your audience through paid advertising (Friends of Friends is a very powerful feature)
- Consider the time of day you post on social media
- Newsjack on social media
- Adopt new social media “stuff” as it rolls out
- Create visuals to use on your social media channels
- Host Twitter chats
- Create a hashtag for your events (don’t forget to tell event attendees about it)
- Initiate a guest blogging program
- Partner with other organizations to reach their social media list
- Host a content or gamily your social media presence to incentivize followers
- Post something new every day
- Create high-quality content
It’s Hard Work
Stay with me here. Yes, this type of marketing is hard work. And it takes time. Therein lies the absolute best opportunity ever afforded to you. Your competition may try all of these same things, but they will give up in search of a magical silver bullet filled with unicorn dust and coated with glitter (For real. No one seems to have the time or patients to build their own success model any more).
In a recent challenge to other real estate agents, more than half of them created a reason that this method would not work. Their excuses ranged from:
- My Twitter and Facebook are connected, this is not a good example of branding (my reply: unconnect them)
- No one is explicitly asking for help (my reply: neither are the people who stop by your open house)
- I tried it, it didn’t work (they tried on 4 people)
- Nobody cares what I have to say (my reply: stop talking, start listening)
My experience tells me that, of the remaining 50%, fewer than 10% will actually try it. Of that, half will stick with it to see their investment return to them. This is where the opportunity lies for you.
Your Perspective: investment vs expense
One of the absolute most common mistakes I see business owners making is looking at inbound marketing (like we have been talking about) as strictly a business expense. It isn’t.
Purchasing a billboard, newspaper ad, radio spot, community newsletter piece, or little league sponsorships are marketing expenses. Once they have run their course, they are done. Those marketing dollars will never again work for you. Compare that with an inbound marketing approach, where you are investing your time, knowledge, resources (and yes, money) into blog posts (which live online forever), downloadable offers (used over and over), and webinars (you could repackage to sell and create your own e-course for prospective buyers). These entry points will always be working for you and build the foundation for a very stable online presence.
These are just seven simple inbound marketing ideas for you to build your real estate agency. If you would like help implementing these into your business, I would love to help. Reserve a consultation where we will talk about your goals and how to reach them. I cannot wait to hear from you.