Social media marketing offers real estate agents a powerful tool for their business. Most REALTORS® have at least considered creating a Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account, and many more already have accounts where they try to draw in potential clients. But there's a learning curve to using social media, especially when it comes to bolstering a real estate business. It's a learning curve that many real estate agents struggle with.
Most agents think of social media as a free billboard where they can throw up an ad (their listing) and sell homes. Unfortunately, this strategy is one of the worst you can employ.
These agents quickly discover that no one is interested in seeing their listings, and, in fact, many people are actually irritated by them. In many instances, you can even get banned from social media groups when you post real estate listings.
Any REALTOR® that wants to use social media effectively needs to understand that using these platforms begins with building relationships. You don't walk into a party, introduce yourself with a handshake and immediately ask if someone wants to buy a house you're selling.
The same goes for social media. You're there to build relationships, and, ideally, potential sales will come as a result. Real estate social media mistakes are far too common among agents. There should really be required curriculum in place for learning proper social media etiquette.
Savvy agents understand how to use the top real estate social media networks to their advantage. They don't make advertising listings the focus of their social media efforts.
Relationship-Building on Social Media—Being Useful While Not Being Pushy
There are many REALTORS® who have established successful social media presences across a range of different platforms, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest. While each of these platforms have different rules and communities that expect different things, they all revolve around the social experience.
You connect with other users and share content—either your own content, the content of other users, or content you find online. It's in the sharing of things like articles, pictures and videos—and the conversations you have with other users about this content—that leads to strong relationships.
A perfect example of how to show off your expertise on social media is by answering common questions asked by consumers. Paying attention to what they're looking for, and then sharing this type of information on social media, will go a long way toward showing off your real estate expertise.
When you open a social media account and start off by pushing listings, you often come across as if you're only interested in selling a product. Your listings may be very important to you—which makes sense, since selling homes is how you pay the bills—but you have to realize that your listings are rarely important to anyone else on social media.
In fact, a listing is about the least interesting thing you can share with someone who isn't interested in buying a house. Even if they were interested in buying a house, what are the odds that they're looking for a home like the one you're selling? And even if the home is something they would want to buy, why would they buy it from you—the person on Facebook that posts nothing but house listings?
You want people to come to you to buy a house, but you have to give them a reason to. Without establishing relationships—by building trust, being helpful and being knowledgeable—you will not draw in clients.
People want to work with those they feel have a deep understanding of their craft, not someone who believes their new three-bedroom home on Main Street in Some Town, USA is what everyone wants to see.
Making People Like You and Becoming an Authority
As a real estate agent, you have a lot to offer. These are the things you want to focus on. You probably spend a fair bit of time exploring the internet, reading about real estate-related issues, learning how to be better at what you do, etc.
All of the things you read and look at can be shared with your friends on social media. Even better is having your own real estate blog where you can share your local and national expertise. With a blog, you're providing the answers to questions people are looking for. Creating your own blog is a great way to potentially win business, as people always like someone with superb knowledge in their corner.
Additionally, you can share the things you discover while providing informed commentary that's uniquely yours. You can share home decorating tips on Pinterest, or take photos of a cool landscaping project you did at home and post them to Instagram. The options are endless.
Beyond sharing things you find, you can create content that's all your own. You may have ideas about the best way to buy or sell in your particular area, or tips that you give every first-time homebuyer.
Maybe you enjoy educating buyers and sellers about controversial topics such as dual agency that don't necessarily benefit the consumer. With a real estate blog, there are so many things you can write about.
Each idea and subject that you're interested in talking about can become a piece of content that you can give to people to help educate them about real estate.
The more you share content and establish yourself as an authority in real estate, the more people will think of you when they want to buy or sell a house. If and when they decide to find a REALTOR®, they may seek you out. After all, they've been studying all the information you've been giving out for months.
Interacting With Others to Build Stronger Relationships
Creating and/or sharing real estate-related content is a big part of building relationships on social media, but there's an additional aspect that many REALTORS® fail to appreciate: Interactions with other users are key to building real relationships. You have to do more than just post a bunch of stuff, even if it's interesting and useful.
You can join real estate groups and interact with people around certain subjects you're knowledgeable about. The more you talk to people in these groups—commenting on their contributions, sharing what they've contributed—the more people you will find that you enjoy interacting with.
Fostering these stronger relationships is a critical piece of the puzzle as it will entice folks to be more likely to talk to someone else about you. Even if your favorite member of your Pinterest real estate group isn't looking to buy a house, maybe his or her friend is. Because you've shown yourself to be a cool, friendly person with a useful skill set, your social media friends may think of you first when it comes to real estate, and even refer people to you.
Don't be afraid to build relationships with other real estate agents, especially if you're a blogger. By building a tribe of people who reciprocate the sharing of content, you're able to exponentially expand your online reach. "You rub my back and I'll rub yours" works amazingly well with real estate social media.
My blog, Maximum Real Estate Exposure, would not be where it is today without the help and support of other people I've built relationships with.
Practice Makes Perfect
As a REALTOR®, you need to think of social media as a fun and interesting way to expand your circle. It's a long-term endeavor that may yield financial benefits. Even if it takes a while, you can enjoy yourself while potentially improving your business.
Can you share a listing every now and then? Sure, but don't make sharing your listings the main reason why you participate in social media. Have a spectacular property that you want to get out there? By all means, post it, but don't make it your focal point.
Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people move in and out of the Metrowest Massachusetts area for the past 31 years. He has been one of the top RE/MAX REALTORS® in New England for the past decade. In 2017, he was the No. 6 RE/MAX agent in New England.