Top industry professionals share their thoughts on Social Media for Estate Agents.
We are very pleased to bring together some well known and respected names in the world of marketing who each take a look at social media for estate agents. We set out some questions below:
Sam Ashdown: Answers in RED
Andrea Morgan: Answers in GREEN
Christopher Walkey: Answers in PURPLE
Michael Day: Answers in BLUE
Christopher Watkin: Answers in BLACK
Is there a place for Social Media in UK Estate Agency?
Yes and no! I don’t think social media is right for every estate agent; for example, Foxtons have really struggled with their brand image over recent years, and social media for them would represent one long struggle against the haters. Until they have repaired this relationship with the public, any attempt at social media would probably cause more damage than advantage to the brand. Then there are the agents who approach social media as if it were a chore: stick update on Facebook – check; tweet our newsletter – check; blog about our testimonials – check, check. The agents who should be using social media are the ones who recognise they need to create and build relationships on a one-to-one level with their audience. The agents who value and respect the privilege of being in someone’s newsfeed or inbox are those for whom social media will never be a chore; only an opportunity to really get to know their community, and seek out ways to help wherever possible.
Absolutely, if used correctly it’s a powerful tool for any agency. It allows potential clients, and a wider audience, to get to know their agency, it gives a human side which is warm and appealing. It is not a sales tool, although it can generate sales. Social media is about building and creating relationships, do it well and you have brand ambassadors willing to promote your business to their family, friends and networks. There are many success stories of agents using social media but you have to look at it as a long term strategy.
Most certainly yes. I hear more frequently success stories from estate agents using social media over those questioning if social media is really worth the effort. It brings the whole industry together I feel as I do see friendly banter between estate agents and service providers which gives the wider audience a positive view that the industry has a warm and respected atmosphere. I also say that it is free to use, so take up this offer and find out how social media can help your business.
Definitely! Social media is where a huge volume of an agent’s contacts, clients and potential clients are and therefore an agent should be sharing the same space. Social media used well is like attending a dinner party but without having dinner. It provides a great opportunity to engage and get to know people (and for them to get to know you), build trust and relationships. Different channels have different audiences and an agent should have a social media plan as with any other part of their business.
It depends what you want from social media. As an estate agent, one side of the fence are buyers and tenants – if you have too much stock and not enough buyers, then your social media messages must reflect that to attract more buyers and tenants to buy/rent your property. If your issue is a lack of stock, be that property to sell or not enough rental properties on your books, then your messages must attract and engage with landlords and vendors. The messages you give to tenants and buyers are completely different to landlords and vendors. Create the right messages for the right audience and deliver them in timely and persistent manner.. and your estate agency will flourish and bloom, not overnight, but after 9 to 18 months, you will see a significant uplift in business. Only by knowing what you want from social media, can you decide if there is place for it in your agency.
What is the most common error you feel that is made by Estate Agent using Social Media?
Social media is not about you: it’s about them. Agents who simply broadcast their own content all the time will very quickly lose followers. They are like that bore at every networking event who only want to talk about themselves. Be interested, and at the same time, interesting, and you’ll win the hearts and minds of your audience.
There are two main errors, the first is really damaging to their business and that is having social media but not using it. The message it portrays is that you can’t be bothered and, rightly or wrongly, it subconsciously tells the follower that this is a theme within their business. Secondly, is not understanding how to use social media, I see so many agent profiles only sharing properties, again this is not allowing the follower to get to know the agency. You need to be sharing a mixture of quality content that is interesting and engaging, as well as insights into your office and team.
Not sharing good enough content as I do feel that it plays such an important part of online marketing. It needs to be taken seriously, social media, and adding quality blogs, videos, images etc to your updates really does increase your chance of success from using it and the amount of people that are likely to engage with you.
Treating the medium as a one way broadcast only sales channel. Boring! Agents need to distribute relevant interesting content (ideally linking back to their own website) and need to engage with those that take an interest, are their target audience, the local community etc. Being generous to others is important. I believe that we can all achieve whatever we want in life if we just help enough other people achieve what they want.
Social media will not directly get you one property to sell or let. The truth is this – social media is really just a type of marketing and this is where most estate agent go wrong with social media – they see it as listing tool. The work you do using the social media is all about IDENTIFYING your potential landlords and potential vendors. It’s about LISTENING to your potential landlords and potential vendors. It’s about SHARING things that you think potential landlords and potential vendors believe are important TO THEM (not you, them). That’s why they don’t care you have sold 30 houses this month but they do care about stuff like how much their house has gone up in value this year.
Do you think there is a Social Media platform best suited to Estate Agency?
I think the most underused and undervalued platform is LinkedIn. LinkedIn has so many great features, and it’s where your very best clients – vendors and landlords – are almost certain to be.
There are two main platforms agents use Twitter and Facebook. We manage social media for a number of clients and we’ve had successes on both platforms, it really depends where your audience is and the quality of the content you share. Twitter does have the edge, but I am slightly biased on that front.
This is probably down to both personal preference and also the target audience you are looking to attract. From my side, I see that Twitter really does grab people far better over Facebook, YouTube etc as it is seen as a live channel that people are more likely to be responsive straight away.
I see LinkedIn as a B2B medium and ideal for knowledge sharing, business networking, recruitment etc. Twitter sits nicely between B2B and B2C and I personally like the short, punchy approach. Facebook is more B2c orientated and is a great channel for images (as is Instagram and others).
The majority of homeowners and landlords tend to be between 35 to 70 years of age and middle class. How many middle aged, middle class 35 to 70 year old people have a Facebook or Twitter account and more importantly use it; day in, day out? Not many .. let’s be honest! True 15 to 24 years olds are on Facebook every hour, but these aren’t our potential landlord and vendor clients .. yes they are potential tenants but a lack of tenants isn’t an issue in this market. So if you are a agent and if all you are doing is posting your listings on Twitter and Facebook and judging your success by the number of Facebook likes you have, you are wasting your time, because your audience (potential landlords and homeowners) won’t read it because they don’t care what you have put on the market or how many likes you have. If you want your social media efforts to pay off, you need to realise that it is a marketing tool, not a shiny new toy. As an agent, you need to take a step back and ask yourself why you want these likes or followers in the first place. Apart from having more than your competitors, what is your objective? More likes does not equal more business. If you don’t know what your strategy is, it won’t matter how many “likes” you have. You should have a clear objective, just as you would for any other media you may use. Whatever advertising you do, you need to have a message and a clear objective. The clear objective is to make vendors and landlords walk through your door or make contact with you (because once they come through your door for a free valuation/appraisal, every agent says that they will convert that vendor or landlord). You need to grab the attention of the vendors and landlord population in your town and give a clear message, a message which is so interesting to vendors and landlords, that they will want to make contact with you.
Run the Social Media internally or outsource to a Management Agency?
Social media is something you really have to take ownership of. Would you outsource a series of adverts to a media agency and allow them to be published without your input? If you outsource completely, that’s in effect what you’re doing. Putting the reputation of your brand on the line in front of hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of people, is something you need to take an active role in. Only once you’re absolutely happy that your strategy is created and working, should you consider outsourcing.
This is down to time and willingness. Of course the ideal solution is always to have someone within the business doing their social media, you’re able to obtain ‘real time’ information an agency never get but most agents don’t have the time or willingness to do it. Willingness is more often than not that they don’t fully understanding how to use social media for their businesses so they tip toe into it but never dive. If you can’t give it the time, care an attention it needs on a daily basis then I would certainly suggest you use an agency.
Budgets would really decide this though I do say that if you are able to accommodate social media internally, then there is no better place to run it as you, the estate agency, are in the thick of things over an external management agency. If you manage the social media in-house you can get content out quicker and even report live at events / open houses with the likes of Periscope for live video streaming.
If the resource can be dedicated in house then this is likely to be best as the users can be right “on the money” with the day to day activities of the business. Having said that and as someone who provides outsourced SM services, the advantage of using an external resource (providing they understand the industry and business) is that it gets done and can provide a strong platform with good content. In reality my most successful clients are using a combination of both; internal for the “a funny thing happened on the way to the office” type stuff and myself for a holistic content and account management approach that puts their website at the centre and uses SM to drive traffic and engagement.
It comes down to time and money. There is nobody better than you, but running an agency is hard work, so maybe you can source some or all of it. The choice is yours.
What would be the single most important tip you can give Estate Agents when using Social Media?
Be yourself! Type like you really talk, help when you can, and make your audience the hero, one person at a time.
Don’t Sell, Engage. As I have said, social media is about relationships, you don’t start a relationship with a sales speech, you nurture that relationship, find common ground and share experiences. Don’t be afraid to show your personality, showing who you are is the best ‘sales’ tool you have.
Try not to hard sell on social media, especially sticking to just latest listings as some agencies do. No one likes adverts and this includes on social media, so think more towards releasing content that will attract people to you and then once they are engaged with you then you can start to release some sales messages and even then, keep it light sales over boring direct updates.
Don’t sell. People will buy if they like you, trust you etc. but you need that relationship first. Demonstrate your expertise by sharing information on the things you do to make people see and understand what you do. Work hard at building your audience and engaging with them.
Tell … dont sell!
Thank you to Sam Ashdown, Andrea Morgan, Michael Day and Christopher Watkin for contributing to the questions above. For readers who want to find out more about those who answered for us, then please see below:
Sam Ashdown: http://www.home-truths.co.uk
Andrea Morgan: http://www.citruscontent.com
Christopher Walkey: http://www.twitter.com/chriswalkey
Michael Day: http://www.integra-ps.com
Christopher Watkin: http://www.landlordfarming.com