Written for Daily Hive by Conner Galway, President at Junction
When social media started to take over the marketing landscape, the first industries to take it seriously were the ones who were already committed to community and relationships. Fitness and health, hospitality, and some particularly hilarious food brands are now reaping the benefits of the investments that they made in those early days. But what about the most relationship-based industry of all: real estate?
Social media platform Sprout Social, who regularly looks at activity across all industries, found that the real estate industry responds to only 11% of its incoming messages, and was ranked as the #4 “most annoying industries on social media” (behind only government, banks, and marketing agencies), yet the entire real estate business is built on the relationships between buyers, sellers, and their agents.
The study looked at all industries, regardless of price point or purchase journey, so I thought: maybe real estate is unique. Perhaps that’s the one industry where a flip phone and a business card are the only tools required to build a strong business. That was just over a year ago when I had been leading social media workshop for brands and I had noticed a steady increase in interest from realtors.
They were telling me that their traditional ads just weren’t cutting it, and that they saw social media as the way that they could deepen their relationships with their clients and drive more referrals. But they also said that most of the tools and strategies that they were finding were too general to be useful for them. So I went digging to see what they were talking about. What I found was a gap that is deeper than I could have imagined.
The first thing that I found was that the way we search for homes has changed. According to a study by the National Association of Realtors, 94% of millennials and 84% of baby boomers used various websites to search for their future home. That same study showed that, in 2016, 88% of buyers worked directly with an agent when it came time to make a purchase.
That means that nearly the entire market is using the internet as a resource in their house-hunt, and when it’s time to make a purchase, they’re reaching out for help. The internet hasn’t replaced the agent, it’s just created better informed buyers and sellers who are actively searching for people to help them out.
Down the rabbit hole we went, and we found a surprisingly small number of agents taking advantage of social media to build their businesses, but the ones who had made the move were reaping the rewards. Agents like Jessica Edwards in North Carolina who built an entire office off the strength of her YouTube channel, which is simply she and her iPhone giving relevant, timely advice about the market.
Or, Kate Rumson who has used Instagram to build her design, development, and real estate investment business with an audience of 1.7 million followers that, according to her, has led to major brand partnerships and made her one of the world’s most sought-after design influencers.
So we reached out to everyone we could get ahold of in the industry, gathering feedback, experiences, and ideas, ultimately compiling all of that information into a one-day workshop built specifically for real estate professionals who want to take advantage of that gap.
Real Social runs twice per year and the support from the real estate community here has been outstanding. My goal is to fundamentally shift the way that Vancouver’s industry markets itself and builds relationships, so in order to open up the opportunity to more people, I’ve expanded the workshop size, adding more seats and sessions, and partnered with Daily Hive to offer a 20% savings for the upcoming November 21 workshop.
Click here to take advantage of this offer.
My goal doesn’t extend only to the people who are able to attend the workshop, so I’d like to share a few of the takeaways that we’ve found can positively impact anyone’s real estate business:
1. Be your own media
Buying bus and newspaper ads is just a simple exchange of your cash for the attention that someone else owns. You’re paying for access to a captive audience, but why not build your own? Investing in a well engaged audience is about a lot more than likes and followers. When done right, every one of your posts, ads, and communications can have a snowball effect, growing your audience while getting your brand’s message out there and driving business.
2. Own something
The best social brands in any industry are not the ones who are good on all of the channels, they’re the ones who are amazing at one. The #1 thing that you can do to improve your social media strategy today is determine what the most important channel is to you and dedicate nearly all of your marketing efforts to creating a channel there that people can’t wait to follow.
3. Social ads are your friend
Advertising on social has no minimums, and also no maximums, so it means that any sized budget can fit. The major advantage for real estate is in the targeting – rather than appearing for a general audience of thousands of people who live in Yaletown, you can build an ad that consists only of people who live in one postal code, who are recently engaged, are between 30 to 35, and work in a fast growth industry. The ads that we can create for the second audience will be dramatically more relevant and more likely to grab attention.
4. Create a story worth sharing
In the social media age impressions are bought, but attention is earned. Our brand, listings, and ads all have the opportunity to be tagged, forwarded, or shared. Before you post another piece of content to your social media, ask yourself: why would my followers share this with their friends? If the answer isn’t obvious, then take a step back and ask yourself how you can create a story worth sharing.
Conner Galway is the President of Junction, a Vancouver-based digital training and strategy agency. He has been working with universities to develop and deliver social media curriculum for the past five years. When his students were telling him that realtors, the professionals responsible for the most important purchases in most of our lives and didn’t have the resources they needed to build a strong social media presence, he listened.