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Social media in the lives of real estate agents

By Lori Weaver | January 16, 2017

Whether you consider yourself a veteran of social media marketing or are a reluctant user, the sheer number of prospects coming down the pike who have grown up using it daily should be enough to garner your attention. There is growing focus in the broader business community on social media marketing, particularly as a way to reach millennials.

And for good reason. This new generation of adults, roughly ranging in age from their early 20s to mid-30s, numbers about 75.4 million people. Millennials are expected to have an even greater impact on the marketplace than the previous mammoth generation, the Baby Boomers.

Incorporating social media into marketing not only helps real estate agents reach this critical demographic, but also the growing number of adults aged 40 and above, including seniors, who use social media on a regular basis.

Turning social media into a lead generator

With over 1.3 billion members worldwide, Facebook leads the pack among social network sites. It’s not surprising, then, that National Association of REALTOR® research found nearly 80 percent of agents use Facebook in their real estate business.

Because it is so widely used, Facebook can serve as a powerful lead generator for agents. How you use Facebook can also serve as a model for using other social media platforms, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube.

Real estate agents who are most successful in using social media, whether Facebook or other platforms, understand a few very important principles of successful social media marketing. To start, they know that it isn’t about the number of followers they can attract, but about how effectively they are able to engage their audience.

Real estate agents are identifying their own niche real estate markets, such as first-time home buyers, retirees, or new construction clients. Then, they have carefully developed their social media marketing strategy to provide the information they know these targeted clients are seeking. They use a mix of links to outside content and links to their own blogs and websites to satisfy the many questions these prospects likely have. The content they post across social media sites incorporates video, audio and text to provide a rich experience for users.

The second principle followed by real estate agents who successfully use social media is to include a call to action on a regular basis. Whether offering a free home buyer’s guide or a comparative market analysis, or simply asking visitors to opt in to an agent’s email distribution, these real estate agents are using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms to drive traffic back to their website where they are capturing leads by asking for contact information. Having a thousand followers will do nothing for your real estate business if you are not engaging them and offering reasons for them to share their contact information.

Adopting new social media marketing tactics

One of the biggest challenges in reaching prospects through any type of marketing is to bust through the immense digital clutter that has become a part of everyday lives. While Facebook is the most popular social media platform used by real estate agents, many are also making use of other platforms on a regular basis, including newer platforms like Snapchat. A favorite of teens and twenty-somethings, Snapchat is also attracting a growing number of 30- to 45-year-olds to the platform.

Snapchat enables users to add captions, drawings and filters to photos and video clips, known as “snaps.” What sets Snapchart apart from other social media sites primarily is that recipients only view snaps for a maximum of 10 seconds before the snap disappears. This has brought some obvious challenges for its use in real estate, although it also meant more intense engagement.

But Snapchat also has a useful feature known as “stories,” which enable photos or videos to be sent that are available for up to 24 hours and can be replayed. More recently, Snapchat introduced the concept of “memories,” which allows snaps and stories to be saved for viewing over and over, without any disappearing act. This has provided real estate agents with a variety of approaches to grab the attention of Snapchat users.

Building engagement and interaction

Shooting a video of your latest listing makes sense, but it’s expected and every agent on social media does it. Mix in some use of videos, photos and blogs that engage targeted prospects, but in a less direct way than posting about home buying and selling. For example, do some restaurant reviews near targeted neighborhoods or promote a local community event to round out your content offerings.

Whether you make use of Facebook only or have added other social media sites, growing your number of followers shouldn’t be your goal. What will build your real estate business is engagement and interaction. That means providing engaging content through your social media posts on a regular, frequent basis. But it also means improving the content on your own website to increase search rankings, and help drive traffic between social media platforms and lead-capturing pages on your website.

Lori Weaver is a writer and licensed real estate agent in Lexington, Ky. With over 25 years’ experience in communications and marketing across a number of business sectors, she provides content marketing, writing and social media services to a variety of B2B and B2C clients, with a focus on real estate., real estate investments and new construction. In her spare time, Lori enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.
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