Social media is no longer an offshoot of a real estate marketing strategy. It's a full-fledged, proven business-builder, carving paths to fresh crops of leads online with every share.
Finding time to make the effort? That's a whole 'nother story.
According to a new survey by RISMedia, the majority of real estate professionals (57 percent) say social media is a "time suck," compared to 43 percent who say it is "time well spent." Forty-five percent of respondents say they spend 0 hours-1 hour per week on social media for their business, while 32 percent spend 2-4 hours. Thirty-four percent say they post to social media 2-5 times per week, while 33 percent post 0-1 times per week and 17 percent post 6-10 times per week.
"I have a business to run," one survey respondent commented. "Time is important."
"The majority of Americans now get their news and information from social media, and that’s exactly why real estate professionals are using it to influence their prospects and consistently keep their services top-of-mind—but the reality is, most simply don't have time to make a concerted effort," says John Featherston, CEO & publisher of RISMedia.
The notion of a "time suck," however, can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Of the respondents who say social media is time well spent, the majority post between 2-5 times per week; of the respondents who say social media is a time suck, the majority post 0 times-1 time per week. Social media is actually more time-consuming for those who say it's time well spent, and less time-consuming for those who say it's a time-suck—suggesting that those who make time, even posting just two times per week, could realize a worthwhile investment.
Facebook is the most popular platform, used by 91 percent of respondents, followed by LinkedIn at 72 percent and Twitter at 46 percent. Facebook by a wide margin is the most popular platform for real estate marketing at 79 percent, with LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat at a distant 39 percent, 31 percent, 25 percent and 21 percent, in order.
The respondents who post to social media tend to focus on sharing listings and open houses (63 percent), and homeownership and home improvement tips (62 percent), as well as community and neighborhood news (57 percent), photos and videos (50 percent), and local or national real estate market information (46 percent).
Those posts fill out the overarching strategy. The No. 1 reason respondents say they use social media for their business is to promote their name and brand (67 percent)—on par with the results from RISMedia's 2015 social media survey. Sixty-five percent use it to advertise listings and open houses, and 62 percent use it to keep in touch with clients.
"Most of my business is referral or repeat clients," commented one respondent. "Facebook helps me keep in touch with them."
"Social media keeps me in front of friends, clients and followers," another respondent commented. "I get leads and referrals through neighborhood Facebook pages and threads."
Time isn't the only investment real estate professionals are making in social media. Fourteen percent of respondents allocate 11-20 percent of their marketing budget to social media (including advertising), with 27 percent spending between $100 and $500 per month. Because the majority advertise listings and open houses, the cost is often directly tied to the amount of business at a given time.
"I pay $40 per listing for a sponsored post advertising open houses for new listings," according to one respondent. "Total cost per month varies based on number of listings."
Overall, real estate professionals are seeing their social media efforts impact their bottom line for the better; in fact, 21 percent of survey respondents attribute 2-5 percent of their annual sales to social media, while 12 percent attribute 6-10 percent.
"[Social media] keeps me on my clients', friends' and family's minds," commented one respondent. "Typically I get 1-3 sales per year from someone I am Facebook friends with. The open house advertisements also bring additional interest to the listing."
"[We get] direct interest from [social media], plus other online leads checking out our brand there before deciding to work with us," another respondent commented.
"Social media gives real estate professionals the ability to connect with their prospects like never before," says Featherston. "For the majority of real estate professionals who say it's a time suck, outsourcing the task can make all the difference: more exposure and more leads."
Discover more findings from the survey in this infographic:
Is social media a time suck for your real estate business? Explore an affordable, time-saving solution at ace.rismedia.com.