Estate and Letting Agents .. Facebook is a waste of time

Social media has been the next big thing for several years. Letting (and estate) agents are increasingly throwing lots and lots of money at it. CEO’s and MD’s have said to their marketers, go buy me some of that social media stuff.

Regrettably though, most of estate agents investment in social media is going down the drain.

Why? Because many letting agents treat social media like a shiny new toy on the run up to Christmas: everyone has one so they need one,  it’s different and it’s a bit of fun.  However, the problem is that social media rarely has any strategy or business purpose behind it. What is it with you agents (both estate and lettings .. you are both as guilty) about your constant drive to get as many likes on Facebook. Likes don’t get landlords to swap letting agents and like’s don’t get Mrs Miggins on Acacia Avenue to use you to sell her house (or even ring you for a free val).

If you think getting as many Facebook likes as humanly possible is good social media strategy, you are so wrong .. it’s nothing more than vanity. In many ways, social media has become the latest status symbol for agents. Letting and estate agents seem obsessed with their mission to achieve social media success, continually trying to outdo their letting and estate agents competitors and maintain their social media No.1 position.

You agents .. you spend money on this social media thing and you need to measure yourself with numbers.

All you are doing is creating false pressures on your letting agency (or estate agency) business on the quest to achieve social media fame. All social media is what you and I would say face to face, but over a computer screen … (that’s all it is). You don’t measure your business and friends relationships by numbers, so why measure social media? If you as a letting agent and estate agent tend to focus on certain success metrics, such as Facebook likes or Twitter followers, then my friends these things will not get you more landlords or vendors. (And you are wasting effort, time and money!)

So why is this happening? It might simply be ignorance but I think many letting (estate) agents do not really understand social media. Whilst they try to achieve social media stardom and get their Facebook likes up, they really don’t have time to step back and learn about its true power. Their lack of understanding often produces an underlying fear that all they know is that all the other agents are doing it (it being social media), so they damn well better do it as well. More often than not, their pursuit is fuelled by some big boss rant: “London Lettings has one thousand Twitter followers and we only have 300!  This is poor we musy do more!!!” This mentality forces agents to throw the kitchen sink at social media while completely bypassing strategy.

But before I talk about how I think you, as a letting (or estate) agent should use social media specifically for lettings and estate agency (and remember, I don’t sell social media), rule one of lettings is Facebook should come nowhere near your business. Twitter in moderation and Linkedin yes, but not Facebook.

As a agent, what is more important.. more landlords / vendors to give them property to let /sellout or more tenants / buyers?

Answers on a postcard to  “Stupid Question Landlords / vendors of Course Competition”, PO Box 1234 …….

Landlords and Homeowners tend to be more middle aged, even mature (so say around 45 to 70 years of age) .. especially when I am talking about the majority here of your landlords. They are middle class and probably have important high powered jobs or run their own companies … how many middle aged, middle class 45 to 75 year men have a Facebook account and use it? Square root of zero divided by zero.

True 15 to 24 years olds are on Facebook every hour .. but these aren’t our potential landlord clients .. yes they are potential tenants, but does someone go onto Facebook to search for a property to let or Rightmove .. Rightmove of course ( and yes I have heard of the one story of someone letting a house through Facebook because the agent listed on Facebook) .. but it is the exception to the rule believe me.

So if you are an agent and you use Facebook, if all you are doing is chucking out listings and writing the odd article about top 10 tips for landlords, you are wasting your time, because your audience (potential landlords) won’t read it – they don’t even know it exists.

It’s like writing articles for Beef Wellington or meaty sausage casseroles (I love sausage casserole) recipes for only Vegetarians to read it.

If you want your social media efforts to pay off, you need to realise that it is a marketing channel,  not a shiny new toy. My fellow letting and estate agents, you need to take a step back and ask yourself why you want these likes or followers in the first place. Besides having more than your competitors, what is your objective? More likes doesn’t equal more business. If you don’t know what your strategy is, that’s not a good sign. You should have a clear answer, just as you would for any other media you use.

For example, as a letting agent or estate agent, you wouldn’t advertise during Britain’s Got Talent just because the number of viewers is huge.  If you were spending £100,000 on a 30 second slot, you would be looking to get a return on your £100,000 advertising spend, wouldn’t you? Whatever advertising you do, you still need to have a message and a clear objective. That’s where real strategy comes into play, and where many so called social media experts don’t have a clue.

The clear objective is to make landlords walk through your door or make contact with you (because once they come through your door, every letting agent say they will convert that landlord) . You need to grab their attention and give a message that is interesting to LANDLORDS and Homeowners … and they have two huge big buttons

1. How much is my current property worth (including the rent and the yield for landlords)
2. Where is the next property that I want to buy

They don’t care about s8 vs s21, they don’t care about deposit schemes, they don’t care how cheap your fees are or are not, they don’t care what ARLA exam you have passed or what award you have won and they don’t care how much more “professional” you are than the next agent (because as you and they know professionalism should be paramount) they know they are wanted as landlords and they certainly couldn’t give two hoots about.

If you disagree with me or want to pick my brain .. pick up the phone on 07950 147 572 or email christopher@christopherwatkin.co.uk  … and before you go, FB can be used as an exceptional listing tool if done well. I am not anti-FB .. ia m pro using FB smartly to actually get you the business you deserve

kind regards

Christopher

PS I will however say one awesome thing about Facebook … Facebook is amazing for estate agents if you can find a suburban area i your town that has a facebook page/site .. then if you write articles about the area’s housing market .. then it will take off like a rocket. Trust me .. do that and you will fly .. Facebook is very very powerful .. you just need to know the best way to use it

PPS Linkedin is awesome for lettings .. proved soooo many times. It can get you the emails of lots of landlords if you do it right .. pick up the phone and i will tell you how .. tell you how to get the email addresses of landlords on Linkedin .. and the best bit .. you don’t need a Premium Upgraded account to do it

Christopher Watkin

I teach, guide, support, mentor, consult, counsel, partner many hundreds of UK Estate and Letting Agents in their quest to grow their estate and lettings agencies business. Old school techniques of touting, landlords wanted leaflets, ring us for a free valuation, we have sold this in your street leaflets don't work anymore. There are too many competitor agents .. meaning cheap fees are epidemic, overvaluing is almost a norm to get the stock and don’t even mention about the online/hybrid threat. So a few years ago, I set about looking around the UK and spotted that certain agents (not many mind you) in certain towns were still seen as the ‘go to person on property’, the person the newspaper editor rang up every week for a comment and I looked at what they did and they were doing some thing quite remarkable…. Only one thing but they were doing it so well .. and reaping the reward in terms of decent listings and decent fees, happy staff, decent sales pipeline and exchange income, managed lettings portfolios in the many hundreds .. but more importantly, they really enjoyed the job… they enjoyed getting up in the morning and people looked up to them Over 400 agents around the UK are on a mission to change the way our Estate and Lettings agency profession is perceived and looked upon, doing it town by town, city by city. I guide these 400 agents, teach them, mentor them and support them to be seen in a different light, to be seen as the ‘go to person for property’, actually be the ‘local property expert’ and prove it. Christopher Watkin 07950 147 572 christopher@christopherwatkin.co.uk

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