Back in the day, home buyers used to peek inside Realtors’ store front windows at the latest listings. They’d drive through town looking for “FOR SALE” signs or even flip through the classifieds in the Sunday newspaper searching for their dream home. Maybe some people still use these tactics, but thanks to the explosion of the web, that dynamic has drastically changed the real estate industry, as well as, the way Americans look for homes (for the better). And for the large part, the real estate industry is failing on Facebook and other social media sites.

The stats for online real estate search are in… and the results are ­pretty amazing. Currently, 94% of all home buyers are using the web to start their hunt for the perfect home. Ninety-four percent. Talk about a turbocharged home search! It’s no surprise that social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram, have taken the world by storm; they have changed the way people connect, share information and do business every single day.Real Estate Inudstry

And although the real estate industry is one of the most socially active (they’re talking loud); agents, brokers, developers and property managers have the least engagement (no one’s listening). Realtors are opting to post on social media more than they are to post a “for sale” sign in a front yard. Surprisingly people are ignoring them.


The Peer Influence Factor

Social media is an incredibly valuable asset to the real estate industry because of the power of influence. From searching for local listings in a specific school zone to taking virtual home tours; it’s all possible at the simple click of a mouse. Not only are home buyers fine tuning their online searches, they’re also leaning (heavily) on referrals from Facebook friends to influence their decisions to buy a home and find a trusted realtor.

A new paper released by the National Bureau of Economic Research recently revealed a link between a person’s social networks and their housing investments. They found that home ownership experiences from Facebook friends can directly influence an individual’s home-buying and selling decisions. They’re more likely to buy a larger home, more likely to pay more for a home and more likely to make a bigger down payment when their friends are making similar, successful investments. Talk about influence!

Taking advantage of this ‘peer influence factor’ on social media sites is a vital tool in any Realtor’s arsenal. The more engagement real estate agents can generate among potential home buyers, the bigger the ripple effect amongst others in their social networks.

Using Social Media to Market Real Estate

This surge of endless social influence and readily-available online information has solidified the importance for an agent to market their services on social media. Research shows us that 84% of real estate professionals are on social media. However, only 55% of them actually feel “comfortable” using social sites, like Facebook and Instagram. It’s clear that not enough of them are speaking their customer’s language.

Real Estate Inudstry
Unfortunately, it seems all too many realtors and brokers are still struggling to adapt to this (not so) new way of online marketing. Cutting through the clutter and trying to stand out from their competition. Why such a gap in communication? One reason could be because of the generational differences between realtor and client. The average realtor is 57 years old. Yet, the largest demographic of home buyers are the Millennials (who also happen to be the demographic dominating social media). These 29-year old’s simply do not respond to old-school marketing tactics.

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Realtor’s Biggest Untapped Resource: Content

In a recent nationwide survey conducted by Post Café, an online social media and content-generating tool for real estate agents across the country, only 33% of realtors are posting on their social channels daily. Yet, when it comes to reaching new home buyers, staying connected with past clients is critical. A strong social media presence can help with that.

Real Estate IndustryQuantity isn’t the concern, however. Particularly because of- yet another- new algorithm change, Facebook needs to be the channel for posting prime real estate (pun intended) content. To reap these brand-building benefits on social media, the key is for agents to develop quality posts that engage customers. After posts from friends and family, Facebook will prioritize posts that “inform” and posts that “entertain.” Which means realtors could actually be penalized for posting their listings on Facebook.

What Are Realtors Posting Each Week?

We discovered in the Post Café study that almost 75% of realtors are still publishing their house listings weekly. Sure, that’s great that they’re active. However, it’s obvious that Facebook is telling us that’s not really the platform for a hard sell. Only 1 in 10 are connecting with their audience on a personal level, such as showing behind the scenes action. While less than 20% are taking advantage of blogging.

What’s an agent to do?Real Estate Industry is Failing on Facebook

It’s time realtors start beefing up the areas that are getting a lot less focus.

Instead, of saturating news feeds with house listings, realtors need to establish authority by posting exciting new content. Whether it’s for entertainment, educational or social purposes, they should include interesting articles that make them a much more valuable “go-to” resource for their fans. Certain topics vary from client to client. Food, home and lifestyle topics generally work well. In fact, they account for 85 percent of the world’s most shared content.

Real Estate IndustryThen pepper in their hot listings and save the fluff stuff, like silly memes or #throwbackthursdays, for faster moving networks like Twitter or Instagram.

Holy Grail of Realtors: Referrals, Connections and Customer Service

Hold tight…there is a light at the end of this tunnel. One super-charged way that social media has been huge for realtors is by helping them stay connected. The Post Café study revealed that a whopping 71% of realtors polled keep in contact with past clients via social media (trumping phone calls, mailings and even in-person meetings). And staying connected is obviously an important piece of the referral puzzle.

With over 25 years of experience in the market, Lucy Korzelius a RE/MAX Real Estate Ltd. Agent from Wall, New Jersey, shared her secret to getting referrals on social media from previous clients is by being responsive, responding to comments and staying connected on all social media channels through relevant, authentic and professional posts. “Say what you mean and mean what you say. Respect, respond and reap referrals.”

Real Estate IndustryPrioritizing customer service and satisfaction is Bonnie Ambrosia’s focus. Ambrosia, who has been a Realtor for almost 20 years is now with Kevin Murphy Realty. She says, “My past business always helps me to get present and future business. I always try to exceed their expectations with service!” She says she also tries to make sure they have some fun in the process!

Korzelius utilizes word of mouth, internet, direct mailers, phone calls and social media to reach customers daily; staying connected through every mode of communication she possibly can. She still finds time to coordinate several charity fundraisers for the Children’s Miracle Network.

For social, she places herself directly where all the buzz is happening; including on Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, YouTube, and Periscope. But all of that can get overwhelming, “sometimes it just feels too busy to post when I have to focus on business.”

However, Korzelius revealed that posting has proven to be a lucrative marketing tool; clients have been contacting her directly on Facebook about house listings, “I have received responses, besides just Facebook “likes,” that result in a dialog about a house listing. And in the last month, it has been pretty successful.” So successful, it has even directly resulted in a sale.

She maintains a regular posting schedule that she manages herself. Scheduling posts in the early mornings and later evenings to capture her audience. To stand out from her competition and get noticed, Korzelius says she posts industry related and relevant information to her social media sites. “I don’t post fluff; otherwise, why would they be looking for me?”

Looking at the Big Picture

While real estate is one of the more active industries on social media, it’s really quite shocking how much more they can be doing to get people talking about listings. From tapping into the power of influence to sharing (the right) content, realtors have the potential to position themselves as the expert and dominate social media.

Late to the Facebook game? Not to worry, Realtors can still successfully make the plunge into social media. The most successful Realtors on Facebook are those that eschew the practices of the past few years and adopt a more 360-degree, hybrid approach. Publishing an engaging mixture of house listings, testimonials, educational content, blog posts, humanizing personal and behind the scenes snippets, along with relevant local information are the ones that saw the most success in 2016.

While this sounds intimidating, there are many tools out there to help Realtors up their game. These include getting organized with a content calendar, staying up to speed by creating industry related Google Alerts, sharing best practices with other agents on LinkedIn groups, and simplify their posting life with tools like Post Café that will generate, schedule and post content directly to Facebook for them. In short, the Realtors that position themselves as essential information resources online are the ones experiencing the biggest impact online. It’s time to rethink your social strategy.