With the rapid growth of new technology, the way people shop for homes seems to be constantly changing. The wealth of real estate websites available to buyers has made information that was once held exclusively by real estate agents available to the masses. Still, the Internet has not at all rendered real estate agents irrelevant. In fact, The National Association of Realtors' 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers found 87 percent of recent home purchases were made through an agent or broker.
What has changed is the exact role a real estate agent plays in the home buying process, as well as the best ways for an agent to reach and engage with clients. Social media has become a key tool for brokers to gain new clients and maintain the loyalty of previous ones. Of course, to have a successful social media presence you have to know how to use each platform effectively.
How to use social media to your advantage
Social media has changed marketing in several ways. Customers now expect to feel emotionally connected to their favorite brands and businesses through sharing, liking and commenting. They don't want to see stale, static advertisements on your pages.
The main social media sites on which all businesses should build a presence are Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. But simply having these accounts and writing up a post every once in a while isn't enough. A major advantage to social media marketing is it gives you an opportunity to get personal with your clients. Doing so will help you collect a large fan base and accumulate page followers. From there, it is easy, efficient and free to communicate important information to a large audience.
To reach that point, your pages should be engaging and updated consistently. They should involve pictures, videos (like virtual tours on YouTube) and links to articles and events. Variety is a good way to keep people interested.
RIS Media said that while it is important to provide basic information on your pages, such as local listings of the latest available properties, it is also important to include more engaging posts, such as links to how-to articles, pieces of advice and information on local events.
Point Drive suggested taking your posts even further to cover information beyond real estate sales that is relevant to potential homebuyers. Consider posting on saving for a down payment, top restaurants in the area or tips on home maintenance - anything to make your client feel thought about and taken care of.
Another way Point Drive suggested to engage with clients: start a conversation. Social media's liking, commenting and sharing tools give clients an opportunity to become active participators in your social media campaigns. Ask questions about their own favorite tips, tricks and designs to keep them even more absorbed by fostering a discussion-based community through your business.
While basic social media marketing is free, you can also pay to boost some of your posts, which guarantees it will be seen by many people and will help drive more traffic to your page. Even more, you can direct your boosts toward very specific demographics and target people based on age, gender, interests and location,
When to use social media
The important thing to remember is being consistent; Post often and regularly. RIS Media suggested scheduling a specific amount of social media posting time into your daily schedule so you not only remember to do it, but don't spend too much time on it. Just 10 minutes or so at the beginning and end of the day should do the trick.
There are also days of the week and times of day that are better than others. A Microsoft infographic posted by Business Insider showed Thursday and Friday to be the optimal days of the week for posting on Facebook, and Monday through Friday to be best for Twitter. The best time to post on Facebook is between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., with even better results when posted between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. It is also important to note that you can set up a separate page for your business rather than using your personal page.
For Twitter, the best times are between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. as well as 6 p.m. According to a January 2015 study by Frederator Networks, optimal times for posting YouTube videos are as follows: between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Thursday and Friday are the best overall days to post a video.
If these days and times are not ideal for you to be sitting in front of your screen or tapping away at your phone to post, there are many platforms that allow you to schedule your posts in advance. Hootsuite is one such site that allows you to manage all of your social media pages in one place and schedule posts to go up whenever you need. You can also use it to track the success of your posts so you can see what does and doesn't work.
Real estate agents are as important as ever in an age where we are flooded with endless amounts of information. It is easy for homebuyers to feel overwhelmed. They may not know where to start or which websites to trust. Let your social media pages act as guideposts that sift through the information for them and display what is truly important. Doing so will keep them loyal and will help ensure that when they're ready to start the paperwork, they'll come to you.