Miranda Fair, MBA Candidate
In the fall of 2016, Hurricane Matthew struck North Carolina. Chris Williams was left stranded in his home as flood waters were rapidly rising. There seemed to be no hope. Nevertheless, he was able to send S.O.S messages. How? Facebook Messenger and Twitter. This is one of the opening stories that Greta Van Susteren tells in her book, Everything You Need to Know about Social Media (Without Having to Call A Kid), to demonstrate how social media is revolutionizing the world.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat have revolutionized the way we communicate, share news, and even advertise products. Having a working knowledge of how to use a variety of social media platforms can be useful to keep up with news, family, and friends. But as a real estate professional, understanding how to use social media can have positive impacts on your business.
In her book, Greta Van Susteren, former host of shows on FOX, CNN, and MSNBC, provides “everything you need to know about social media.” Whether you are a beginner or an expert, the book has a tip for you. Essentially, the book covers five of the major social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snapchat. She provides an in-depth tutorial of how to use each site, with additional ways to “level up” if you already have a decent bit of knowledge about these platforms.
Each social media platform is unique and allows you to achieve a different goal. Facebook is great for sharing information. Instagram is perfect for photos. Twitter is designed for short updates. Snapchat provides followers with a behind-the-scenes look. To maximize efforts on these platforms, think of telling one story in several different ways. In other words, each platform gives you an opportunity to show a different side of the same story. Your story might focus on featuring the unique aspects of the community in which you list homes. Maybe these include new local restaurants, small business successes, or influential community members. On Facebook, you might share a recent review from a client who happily moved into their new home. On Instagram, you might share a picture from the local Christmas parade. On Twitter, you might remind followers about an open house. On Snapchat, you might give a video tour of a new listing. These all fit within your story, but each provides followers a unique look at the community.
THINK POINT #1: Facebook for Real Estate
After providing the basics, Van Susteren gives advice for Facebook users who want to “level up.” First, make sure to have a separate personal and business pages. A personal page will be where you connect with family and friends and share photos. A business page will be more professional—a place where clients and potential clients come to gather information about your services.
To make the most of a business Facebook page, consider sharing photos, videos, and new content. For example, for new listings, post photos and home specs to your page, and consider showcasing a video tour of the home. Highlight client reviews and your business’s specialties to show followers you are credible and respected. Do you have an area of expertise? Showcase it on your page. Followers may also appreciate information about going through the purchase process (i.e. What does the homebuying process look like? How does one prepare before engaging in the process? Which are the most important qualities to look for in a home?). Other posts might feature up-and-coming neighborhoods, fun restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries, or local businesses near your listings.
Van Susteren reminds us that social media should be interactive, so be sure to interact with your followers when they comment or like your photos and posts. Additionally, always put the most important information first. In other words, make sure key information—your specialties, contact information, etc.—are listed at the top of your page.
Know what matters to your clients and capitalize on it. Which photos and posts do they like or share? What questions do they ask? If they show interest in a certain post or topic, continue building on that topic.
Finally, consider upgrading your password. Van Susteren recommends using a password that is a string of random words, keeping in mind any length requirements. For example, brownies/boxes/horsepasture/montana/calligraphy. In addition, she recommends using a separate password for each social media application to keep all accounts secure.
THINK POINT #2: Twitter for Real Estate
As previously mentioned, Twitter is beneficial for sharing shorter messages or updates. As with any platform, be sure to link Twitter to your website. To “level up,” be sure to tweet during rush hour (Twitter rush hour, that is). This maximizes the impact that your tweets have on followers. Do most of your clients or prospects work 9-5? Maybe they are on Twitter right after work before dinner. In this case, a good time to tweet might be between 5:00 and 6:00 pm.
Next, tweet strategically. Be cautious about over-tweeting. Refrain from bombarding people and creating so much noise that they simply don’t listen to you. Choose your tweets strategically so that every message has an impact.
Van Susteren mentions that celebrities like Kim Kardashian (who has 54 million followers) can have significant marketing power if they were to retweet you. Your tweet being retweeted by an influencer like Kardashian would make a much larger impact than a $100,000 advertisement. It may not be necessary or attainable to seek a retweet from someone like Kardashian, so look into your local community. Are there local influencers? Are there organizations, like remodeling groups, that have clients who might one day be interested in your services? Perhaps there are popular coffee shops or boutiques with followers who would make good prospects. Building social media relationships with these local entities might help broaden your reach on Twitter.
Van Susteren also discusses Tweepsmap, a free tool that shows where followers are geographically located. Do you have followers in your area, or are your followers from across the country? Think of ways to build your base and broaden your reach, while tailoring your posts to fit your audience.
THINK POINT #3: Instagram for Real Estate
In a society that values images, Instagram allows you to use photos to engage your followers, clients, and prospects. When posted strategically, photos can have a big. Instead of putting every photo of a listing on Instagram, choose one that creates intrigue. A sparkling backsplash. Iced tea on the back porch. Original hardwoods reflecting the light of a Christmas tree. Choose an image that has emotional value, add a filter to make it shine, and post it with a sentimental comment. Give followers a glimpse at what it would be like to live in a particular home or neighborhood.
Like with Twitter, post on Instagram during “rush hour.” Generally, across Instagram users, the site is most heavily trafficked at 2:00 am and 5:00 pm. These busy times may be different for your clients, though, so post when you will get the most exposure.
When posting photos, expand your reach by using #hashtags. These tags categorize photos into topics, allowing anyone searching for that topic to see your photo. As a real estate professional, consider using hashtags such as #realestate, #newhome, #newlisting, or #realtor. You may also develop your own hashtag with your company’s name.
In addition to posting select photos from listed homes, consider how to continuously share your story. Some ideas include posting pictures of a latte from a nearby coffee shop, a picture from karaoke at the new food spot, or a picture from a community park. Highlight draws to certain neighborhoods or anything that makes the community unique. Use Instagram to create emotional connections, to showcase things that make each community unique, and to draw homeowners to communities in which you have listings.
THINK POINT #4: Snapchat for Real Estate
Snapchat is quickly becoming a go-to platform, especially for younger demographics, and it is a great way to provide your followers with a behind-the-scenes look. Take followers on a tour of new listings, or partner with contractors to provide behind-the-scenes looks at remodeling efforts. Give followers a first look at new restaurants or parks located near listings.
Another important aspect of Snapchat are filters, which are graphics and special effects that users can overlay onto their photos. You can purchase personalized filters that will appear when users open Snapchat while in certain geographic locations, and users can use your filter when posting their picture. This is a great way to increase advertising and marketing efforts in areas that potential clients might frequent, like hip areas of town, restaurants, or art galleries.
By using social media, you can engage followers and prospects through the story of your community. Share content, post information, connect with people, and take advantage of the power social media has to expand your reach and positively impact your business.
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Van Susteren, Greta (2017), Everything You Need to Know About Social Media, New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.
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About the Author
Miranda Fair, MBA Candidate
Miranda spent ten years dancing professionally both with The Walt Disney Company and in New York City. During her dance career, she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Liberty University with Bachelors Degrees in Finance and Psychology. She also worked as an event producer for Flash Mob America and led the social media campaign for the election of the Lieutenant Governor in North Carolina. Miranda is currently pursuing an MBA with a concentration in Economics at Baylor University and plans to pursue a career in economic development.