MARKHAM – Here in Ontario, real estate has changed drastically over the course of the last couple of decades. With the addition of helpful web-based MLS tools like Realtor.CA, home buyers and their real estate sales representatives have many different GTA property listings at their fingertips.
Here’s something you might not have known: when you start to build your own real estate brand, your online efforts don’t begin and end with great listings! In an increasingly popular real estate market, social media outlets such as Facebook, LinkedIn or YouTube – some of which you might even be on already! – are equally important as branding tools.
It’s been a big month for social media and digital channels, especially with Twitter’s recent IPO causing quite a stir – which will likely lead to more opportunities for advertising and engagement on that platform. For the latest edition of our Real Estate Careers feature we thought we might share some of our best tips for beginner real estate brand-building on the web.
1. Choose Your Channels
There are literally dozens of popular social media channels out there, but if you devote your time and energy to every single one, guess what? You might not get a whole lot of results out of any. It’s better to focus your efforts on several core channels that provide a healthy audience, while allowing you to showcase your talents.
There are a few really important (and relatively beginner-friendly!) platforms that no realtor should be without:
- Facebook: One of the leading brands in social media, Facebook allows you to build a business page – separate from your existing personal one – and populate it with brand-related content for your network of clients and colleagues.
- Twitter: A mostly text-based channel that restricts your messages (known as “tweets”) to 140 characters, Twitter recently introduced an image preview functionality that can really help your tweets come to life.
- LinkedIn: This social network is targeted towards businesses and professionals, but don’t let that dissuade you. On LinkedIn, “Company Pages” allow you to connect not only with your brokerage, but also other key contacts like development companies and mortgage brokers. LinkedIn also provides a good venue to connect with affluent potential clients and investors.
If you’re good with multimedia, there are lots of other great channels to consider as well. Pinterest and Instagram are good for sharing photos of listings, locations and property, whereas YouTube and Vimeo can be used to share video files such as video testimonials or virtual tours.
2. You are Not a Robot – Be Friendly and Genuine!
Many social media accounts are set up to automatically post when you’ve put up a new listing, for example, or a blog post on your web site. That’s not a bad thing, but don’t make the common mistake of letting this be your only activity on social media.
With online communities, you get out of it what you put into it. Check in on your feeds when you get a spare moment – you might be surprised to note that people have been interacting with your content while you were gone! When someone makes an effort to connect with you, make sure you acknowledge that by thanking them and confirming that the lines of communication are open – you never know when they may be able to help you out or vice versa.
It’s especially important to reply promptly if someone uses social media to ask you a question, or inquire about your services. In these cases, you might have a new lead on your hands! If you act quickly to respond, that makes a great first impression and gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge, value and likeability.
3. Have a “Backbone.”
Don’t get offended – we’re not calling you spineless! By “backbone,” we mean that it’s always more effective to be on social media channels if they all point to the same strong web site – the primary support for your core business, ergo, backbone! Your core web site will have the key contact info and helpful resources (such as brokerage info, featured listings, or a brief bio) that serious customers are looking for when they go online to research brokers and sales representatives.
Think of all your social media channels as the “spokes” of a wheel and your core web site as the “hub.” The site should link out to your various accounts on YouTube, Facebook, and so on, but it’s also crucial for those accounts to link back to the main site. By having a central web site set up, you can demonstrate that you are professional and web-savvy – key assets in any 21st century real estate pro.