Social media has been around for nearly twenty years, but only recently have folks seen the advantages outside personal use. Real estate agents and brokers, in particular, have dodged their invites and are late to the proverbial party.
With the recent explosion of personal brands, savvy entrepreneurs and small businesses are starting to see the value and embrace the inevitable: consumption of social media is exponentially growing.
Before quarantine, according to Visual Capitalist, just 15% of Americans worked from home. Now, over half do. In their 8th edition of Data Never Sleeps, we learn what happens every minute on the Internet in 2020—and it’s mind-blowing:
- Facebook users upload 147,000 photos
- Instagram users post 347,222 stories
- YouTube users upload 500 hours of videos
If 2020 has taught us anything, life can turn on a dime, and the combination of technology and social media has allowed us to pivot collectively much quicker than before. The real estate industry has witnessed this firsthand, and things don’t seem to be changing anytime soon.
But the challenge to embrace technology and social media as a way of doing business isn’t where the opportunity stops. Those tools can positively alter the way agents and brokers build their businesses as well.
Why Real Estate Agents Need Social Media
In the race to rise above the competition, real estate agents and brokers are beginning to leverage the power of social media to ensure the best possible experience for potential buyers and sellers.
Here are three reasons why social media is a crucial element and should be foundational in any real estate marketing campaign:
1. The competition is using it.
In an ESPN interview, former NFL linebacker Shawne Merriman was asked why he spent so much time working out. Nicknamed “Lights Out,” he was a formidable player, and his response came as no surprise:
“If I’m not in the gym working out, my opponent might be.”
On the surface, that might sound a bit tongue-in-cheek. But when you look past Shawne’s dedication and intense work ethic, you can start to see what he was trying to say.
If your business is not on social media, it should be. Not only are you choosing to remain idle and conceivably missing out on future clients, but your competition might also be pushing the accelerator and stealing them in your absence.
Want to be stronger and faster than your opponent? Hit the gym regularly.
2. The results are immediate.
Traditionally, when you think of content, the idea of long-form copy comes to mind: blog posts, articles, essays, and whatnot. They are the cornerstone of longterm SEO, which usually requires a substantial amount of time to bear fruit.
Social media thrives on immediate interaction. Whether it be graphics, video, or even audio, technology enables creators to go from content creation to content consumption in no time at all.
The definition of results is somewhat subjective. Is it a page like? A shared post? Did someone buy your product or subscriber to your service?
Real estate agents should diversify their content marketing efforts by spending time on social media and writing informative material on their website. It’s a failsafe way to cover both short term and long term strategies for procuring business.
3. It can build relationships with prospects.
Social media is an excellent tool for getting noticed. In just a few short moments, you can capture a prospect’s attention and get them interested in learning more.
That’s just the beginning of the customer journey, though, which means you have more work to do before your effort pays off. Thankfully, the next step is relatively straightforward: Get them to become an email subscriber.
A study by McKinsey & Company revealed that email marketing is a significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media—forty times better.
Inboxes are sacred ground, and according to marketer Ann Handley, the only place where people (not algorithms) are in control. Email is personal and your best chance at communicating and connecting with prospects.
The formula is simple: Social media plus email marketing, not in place of it.
From there, you have a much better chance of developing a longstanding relationship that can turn into multiple real estate transactions.
Words of Warning: Digital Sharecropping
It would be remiss of me not to take a moment to pass along a few words of warning regarding social media: Digital sharecropping.
New York Times bestselling author Nicholas Carr coined the term, digital sharecropping, back in 2006. Digital sharecropping is the cultivation and harvesting of content on a property not owned by the person or people creating it.
Examples of digital sharecropping properties are Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and yes—even TikTok. In other words, just about every social media platform falls into this category.
“It’s a sharecropping system, but the sharecroppers are generally happy because their interest lies in self-expression or socializing, not in making money. Besides, the economic value of each of their individual contributions is trivial. It’s only by aggregating those contributions on a massive scale—on a web scale—that the business becomes lucrative.”
The problem with digital sharecropping is that at any given moment, the overseers, as Carr calls them, can change the rules and completely wipe out your harvest. (Eg. Mark Zuckerberg changing terms of service on Facebook, or Twitter suspending your account without any notice.)
Even though there is an inherent risk with digital sharecropping on social media platforms, they provide real estate agents and brokers opportunities to build and grow their business.
It is wise to refrain from relying exclusively on these platforms. Instead, use them as distribution channels or accelerators to send buyers and sellers to the place that matters most: your personal website.
Because that’s where the magic happens.