As a real estate agent, does the below description sound like your general social media strategy?
- Occasional posting to Facebook and Instagram.
- Averaging of four or five likes on each post, most of them by fellow real estate agents.
- No plans, no goals and no real direction for growth.
Let’s be honest: Most real estate agent’s social media marketing strategies are a train wreck, myself included. So, why do I feel qualified to share best practices for succeeding as a real estate agent on social media? Well, first of all, I am a real estate agent in my 20s, so I grew up in the world of social media. From YouTube to Triller, I have spent far too many hours on these platforms. I actually was an early user of TikTok, where one of my videos went viral and gained millions of views. I have also taken college level courses in public relations and marketing.
I want to keep this article (somewhat) short. It is not made as a step-by-step guide to become the next celebrity real estate agent: No one can guarantee you that. What I will explain are the basics of gaining exposure in the world of social media. Then, I will show you how to apply these concepts to your real estate social media strategy. Let’s get started.
The Three Principles to Gain a Following on Social Media
Chances are, if you are reading this article, you want to find leads through social media. Whether a prospect is a buyer, seller or renter should not radically change how you advertise. What does matter is that you understand what attracts attention in the world online of marketing.
I am basing my theory on that of basic psychological research. Two books,The Tipping Point, by Malcolm Gladwell and Overcoming Unwanted Intrusive Thoughts…, by Sally M. Winston and Martin N. Self. Fortunately, you do not have to read either book to understand the core concepts. However, the Wikipedia entry for The Tipping Point is a good place to start. Here is an oversimplification of the main ingredients necessary to make content go viral:
- Connectors – Your social media posts need to be seen by those who will share them with others.
- Stickiness – Your posts need to be memorable. They need to evoke emotions that will compel someone to share them.
- Context – Your post needs to be timely and relevant.
The above tips are geared towards making content go viral. Therefore, since you are not looking for a one-off success, but a continues source of leads from social media, I’ll add fourth and fifth points: Your post needs to be formatted correctly and you need to post on a consistent schedule. I often see real estate agents get the former point wrong. For example, an agent will share a virtual tour of a home that is simply a slideshow of pictures from it. Newsflash; slideshows have been mostly irrelevant for the last decade. People’s attention spans are short, far too short to sit through a Ken Burns zoom of pixelated kitchen photos. The other concept, consistency, is self-explanatory: You need to post regularly to see any sort of results.
In reality, if you can apply these concepts to your posts on social media, you set yourself up for success. If we combine all of the points together, the general guideline is that you need to remain authentic. The internet is a big place, with lots and lots of content. The real estate field is one of the most saturated niches of them all. People crave authenticity far more than they do expensive production sets and high definition cameras.
3 Top Real Estate Agents Using Social Media Successfully
1. Graham Stephen – YouTube and Snapchat
Graham is an agent on the West Coast, and I always recommend his content to newer agents. Some of his videos are clickbaitish, but his general advice is spot on.
2. Ryan Serhant – TV and YouTube – Ryan is an agent in N.Y.C. He was on Million Dollar Listing, New York. He was one of the first bigtime agents to shift onto social media a few years back, and did a collab with Casey Neistat, before Neistat left N.Y.C. for good.
3. Justin Trevino – TikTok – Justin has some cool TikTok videos and is a rising star on the platform. I’m not convinced TikTok is a feasible way to acquire leads, but he’s done well on it.
One important thing to note: Agents who are building their brands on social media are not only trying to sell homes, but also products to their audiences. If that is what you want to do, great, but most agents are simply looking for some online exposure. Also remember, for the most part, the larger an agent gets in the online world, the more diluted their actual content becomes. In other words, just because someone has a following, does not mean what they are saying is credible.
Social Media Tips for Realtors
You need to know approach your audience with clear goals. Are you trying to gain leads, keep in touch with old clients or become the next real estate agent with a television show? After all, you can be a jack of all trades, master of none.
My advice is to start with your current sphere of influence. If you have a list of 250 past clients, friends, acquaintances, etc. try to get up to 250 followers across all of your social media platforms, then grow from there.
Remember this, in the 2020s, social media is an extremely competitive field. There are far more creators than even five years ago. You cannot simply make a run-of-the-mill post, walk away, and expect anyone to read it. If you want to reach new audiences, you need to be authentic. Show pictures of a recent walk through, videotape a segment from a home inspection, etc. People follow you because they want to see YOU.
On Real Estate Social Media Marketing Agencies
Here is one of the daily emails I recently received from a marketing company:
Bleh! The truth of the matter is this: There is no easy to way to grow your brand on social media. If you do not want to put in the hard work, you are not going to find success online. It is true that on super rare occasions, something someone posts does go viral. However, that’s like saying if you send out scripted letters to a zip code, you might get a $3,000,000 listing? Sure, it’s possible, but not probable. It’s a bad bet.
Do not outsource your social media strategy. In fact, many of these American companies further outsource your account to third-world countries. People half way around the globe know little about real estate, and they certainly will not come across as genuine to your followers.
Here’s some good news for you: I have given away two free articles for your real estate agent blog. You don’t have to pay one cent for them, and with the time saved, you can create your own content. Because after all, that is what you should be doing.
Social Media Content for Real Estate Agents
Let’s talk a little bit about the different types of content you can post.
Real Estate Agent Post Example for Social Media
Here are two Instagram/Facebook posts my team put online about six months apart. Use the slider to shift between them. Please excuse the black boxes that are covering semi-private content.
Certainly, the post on the right is better: It includes our photo, phone numbers, etc. Here is an interesting fact: Both templates came from Coldwell Banker’s head marketing office. Here is another interesting fact: Both posts are absolutely atrocious. At least one study showed that the average Instagram viewer spent less than ten seconds looking at each post. Anecdotal experience tells me the real duration is far less. The post on the right takes longer than ten seconds to view, while the one of the left’s styling is of poor quality.
Below is an Instagram/Facebook post we made earlier this year that got 30+ likes and produced one lead. I designed it myself in Photoshop in about 10 minutes. A great free tool for agents to make graphics like this is Canva. It’s user-friendly and if you do want to upgrade to the paid plan, it’s affordable.
This post is:
✅ To the point
✅ Has a Clear call to action (DM us)
✅ Is Eye catching.
Consequently, this post was one of our best performers. But while this photo was eye catching, I should have followed it with a quick video where I talk about the property. Ohh well.
Real Estate Agent Marketing Giveaways
Some agents have had a lot of success with mini raffles and giveaways. For example, one agent who had a $5,000,000 listing offered to give away a Mercedes Benz A-Class sedan (It may have been a C-Class) to the agent that sold their home. The catch? To enter the giveaway, that agent would have to first attend a broker open house at the house. Guess who had the most talked about open house for the next six months and a spot in the local paper?
If you do go down the giveaway route, make sure you follow all appropriate laws.
General Real Estate Agent Social Media Strategy Advice
I often hear agents say they have nothing to post online. Not true! You have a lot to post about. Say you are grocery shopping at the local supermarket, here are a few post ideas:
- Take a photo of the building and add the caption, “Whole Foods in Mill Town. They have a great coffee bar.”
- Ask one of the longtime employees, who you know, for a photo. Add the caption, “With my friend Joe at Whole Foods. I’ve been coming here for 20 years and he has always been so helpful.”
- Take a photo of the floral section of the store. Add the caption, “Great selection of flowers here at Whole Foods in Mill Town. My happy place.”
See, not that hard? You can also tag the local store, say @wholefoodsmilltown, and then add a few hashtags like #MilltownRealEstate, #MilltownLife, etc.
If you currently have no social presence, I would suggest starting with Facebook and Instagram. You can connect your two profiles so that every time you post to Instagram, the same post is automatically uploaded to your Facebook profile. Two for the price of one.
Try to post at least a few times a week. Put reminders in your phone. Try some funny posts, serious ones, and some in-between ones. Switch between videos, photos and text posts. See what your followers like. Take it slow and have fun with it. And of course, interact with other people on the platforms. Assess how things are going every three months. Once you figure out what parts of your strategy work, do more of it and consider trying some advertisements.
Why Some Agents Should Avoid Social Media
So, why am I giving away all this information for free? In reality, I have no interest in becoming a real estate agent social media star. See, the goals of agents in L.A. like Graham Stephen or N.Y.C. like Ryan Serhant, are to become personalities. A social media personality’s salary can easily eclipse seven figures. Consequently, their objectives are completely different than the vast majority of agents, who are focused on selling homes. My team’s modest social media strategy is far different than theirs. We simply post to keep up with past clients and promote ourselves locally.
Perhaps the most important reason why you will not become the next famous agent is because most people do not care about your local market. Unless you live in a major US city, your municipality is boring. Few everyday folks care about the real estate market in Marfa, Texas or Toledo, Ohio. In such cases, you may want to focus your online presence with staying in touch with past clients and their acquaintances and showcasing your city or town. Social media is just one way of connecting with your leads. You should also be sending out email campaigns, periodically calling past clients, etc.
Another important fact: Social media advertisements (and posts) have to abide by Fair Housing laws. Facebook, and other sites, usually makes that pretty easy by giving us agents a checkbox to tick off when creating an advertisement. Doing so prevents us from further defining our intended audience based on many demographics, such as geographic location. Since my team only works in a small area (one city), if we make an advertisement, it shown to people far outside of our working range. Consequently, we do not advertise on social media, as the cost benefit just isn’t there.
The last thing to understand is that the golden age of the internet is over. Back in the day, it was much easier to get leads online. Pretty soon, tech gurus (and tech giants) cottoned on to the fact that there were agents spending $50 on ads that converted into $25,000 commission checks. These days, there are many companies trying to get leads from online sources and repackage them to us agents. Remember, the barrier to entry on the social world is low. People from all over the world, from the outskirts of Bangkok to Silicon Valley, are competing with real estate agents for leads. With every passing day, the competition gets smarter.
Conclusion – Real Estate Agent Social Media Marketing – How to Win
Now that you have a better understanding of the world of social media, use your skills to create meaningful content. Create authentic stories that people will learn something from. Give more than you take. Evoke the emotions of your followers so that they will interact and share your content. Above all, stay professional and post consistently.
For many real estate agents, social media is never going to be their forte. That’s ok. It is only one tool to gain leads and interact with your sphere of influence. However, all real estate agents should do their part to remain relevant. A clear social media strategy is one way to do that.
Many homeowners and buyers are now looking for an agent online. As we all know, it takes a lot of trust from a buyer or seller to choose an agent to walk them through the largest financial decision of their life. If a simple Google search of your name produces limited results, adding social media profiles will boost your credibility.
Creating a thoughtful post that can be shared to social media once a week only takes a few minutes. The potential returns certainly warrant doing so. Have some fun with it and enjoy the ride.