The real estate sector has been in the midst of digital transition over the last several years as more buyers begin their pursuit of a dream home or an investment property online.
For many agents, this shift meant realigning their marketing strategies to suit changing buyer behaviors – and research has shown that among the most effective ways to achieve this is by building their online presence.
A 2019 study by the US National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that 88% of all buyers use the internet to search for homes. In terms of age groups, millennial and Gen Y buyers rely on online research the most, with 92% opting to start their property search via the internet. The report also revealed that internet usage decreased with age, with only half of the silent generation, or those aged 73 to 93, going online to look for properties.
“If you’re not using social media, you’re at a disadvantage, because your competitors probably are,” wrote DP Taylor, business software expert, in a blog post for The Blueprint. He cited that same NAR study, which found that 77% of realtors use social media in one way or another.
“Being a successful real estate agent is all about building your brand, and one of the biggest benefits of social media is that it is ideally suited for doing just that,” Taylor added. “But social media for realtors doesn’t just increase brand visibility – it also makes it easier to network, which is another critical aspect of selling in real estate.”
What are the best social media platforms for real estate marketing?
According to the NAR study, 97% of realtors picked Facebook as their preferred social media marketing tool. This was followed by LinkedIn at 59% and Instagram at 39%. Only a third of respondents chose Twitter as the top platform for online marketing. Other social media channels that agents can use include YouTube, Pinterest, and Snapchat.
Most property agents choose Facebook as the primary social media tool to market their business – and it does not come as a surprise. Facebook’s strength lies not only in its features, but also in the platform’s user demographics.
“The social media landscape has changed a lot over the years, but Facebook remains the king when it comes to real estate,” Taylor wrote. “A Facebook business page is a must for realtors, not just because of the capabilities of the platform itself, but also who’s on it.”
A large chunk of Facebook’s target audience belongs to the millennial and Gen Y bracket, or the age group that is most likely to be earning an income and capable of buying a home. The platform also boasts multiple business features that allow users to publish listing-related updates and content, communicate with clients, book appointments, and curate reviews.
Additionally, Facebook’s ad feature enables agents to directly target users who are showing an interest in purchasing a property in a particular area.
Taylor gave three best practice tips for agents using Facebook to market properties: respond to comments to increase engagement, be generous with photos and videos, and keep content locally focused.
LinkedIn is another platform dominated by the millennial, Gen X and Gen Y demographic. Although it is not typically a channel used by agents to find clients, LinkedIn is an effective tool for building a network with other real estate professionals.
Realtors can also use their digital resume to demonstrate their industry experience, which is a great way to build their online presence.
To maximize the use of LinkedIn, Taylor advised realtors to set up a profile and keep it up to date, engage with other industry professionals, join professional groups, and share industry news.
Instagram is the perfect platform for posting images and videos, which help attract potential buyers. For this reason, many luxury or boutique real estate businesses consider Instagram as a primary rather than a secondary social media marketing channel. The tool’s Instagram Stories feature allows agents to post quick and personalised updates about their property listings.
“Instagram works great for real estate agents because it is all about images and video – the two things that every realtor needs to share to get interest in their listings,” Taylor wrote. “Scheduling Instagram posts on a regular basis that are targeted to your locale will help you increase awareness of your brand as a realtor.”
Realtors often use Twitter to find and follow current and previous customers, and other real estate professionals who they can interact and share personalized content with. Twitter also allows users to share images and videos.
How can real estate agents build their social media presence?
According to Taylor, one of the biggest mistakes realtors make is prematurely giving up on social media when they find the platforms do not yield the expected results.
“Many professionals struggle with it,” he wrote. “Realtors create accounts and post occasionally, but when they fail to get traction, they give up and focus on referrals and other types of marketing. But that’s a mistake. Growing your business with social media is a marathon, not a sprint.”
He listed three strategies to maximize the impact of social media platforms on the growth of a real estate business.
1. Post great content.
Sharing important, relevant, and attractive content is one of the most effective ways to boost social media presence. This includes high-quality images and videos of the properties listed. Presenting interesting facts and features about a property can get potential buyers talking and increase engagement.=
“You won’t grow your social media presence without great content that will keep people interested, so take lots of high-quality photos and videos of the homes you want to showcase,” he wrote. “Focus on interesting quirks and features about a house that will get people talking, like a cool mosaic tucked in the back of a breakfast nook or a uniquely shaped pool in the backyard.”
2. Take advantage of hashtags.
Hashtags make it easier to discover posts centered around a specific topic. Taylor added that the use of real estate or property hashtags can help customers find listings on a specific location, so it pays for agents to incorporate these in their social media posts.
3. Grow your network.
When used the right way, social media can help realtors establish a good reputation within the real estate circle and open opportunities to connect with clients and other professionals, according to Taylor. He added that realtors must always remember that the primary purpose of social media is to build a solid network – selling a property is often a result of the strong connections and relationships established through these platforms.