Real estate professionals are independent businessmen and women; each is like a self-contained small business. Agents function as their own sales, marketing, and accounting teams in addition to helping consumers buy and sell property.
As such, critical functions that grow business, like brand development and lead generation, take on a much more personal feel - and are a continuous obligation.
In other words, each agent is sort of like a stage performer in all those old TV variety shows who spins a dozen plates on top of a dozen sticks, furiously moving from plate to plate, keeping each one turning with enough velocity to avoid shattering it on the floor.
The unfortunate result of being so busy across many business functions is that some vital activities only get the minimal attention necessary to keep them moving.
Nowhere is this more evident in real estate than with social media marketing.
Too often, REALTORS® "post for the sake of posting," blasting out a one-way stream of content that may or may not be hitting the mark for brand building and lead generation.
This hurried posting without regularly engaging other users or followers puts agents on a "one-way street" to nowhere regarding growing their business via social media.
Most importantly, it also causes agents to spend lots of unnecessary money on other digital marketing methods that are considerably less effective than a well-run social media marketing strategy. 💸💸💸
That means these agents grow more slowly (if at all) and spend more money over time to get consistently disappointing results (and fall behind competitors!).
Social media is the only effective, low-cost way to grow real estate leads
REALTORS® are always - always - chasing new buyer and seller leads. The word "leads" is probably one of the most commonly-uttered words in the profession.
And rightly so.
Agents and brokers must continuously fill their sales pipeline with new clients to achieve sales success of any magnitude.
The primary ways agents add new leads are (in no particular order of effectiveness):
- Cold Calling
- Social Media
- Email Marketing
- Direct Mail
- Open Houses
- Paid Advertising
- Content Marketing
- Local Events/Sponsorships
- Door Knocking
- Signs and Posters
- Real Estate Websites & "lead buying" Memberships (e.g., Zillow, Realtor.com, HomeSnap, etc.)
- Real Estate Listings Services
- Real Estate Magazines & Newspapers
- Community Outreach & Involvement
While some mix of all these things in the right balance is desirable for every agent, nowadays, an emphasis on digital lead generation methods is more crucial than ever.
With everyone on their phones at all times, internet marketing is everything. Mining the web and social media for leads is the most critical source of revenue for REALTORS® now and in the future.
In fact, most mid-sized and large companies spend 10-15% of their total budgets (or more!) on digital marketing.
Yet most busy agents opt for the "low-hanging fruit" for digital marketing.
The vast majority of agents will do the following:
- Pay someone to build a website for them or stand up a DIY site.
- Buy Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services to get seen in Google Search.
- Run paid search ads to drive traffic to their websites.
- Buy leads from a lead generation service or one of the big membership providers like Zillow or Realtor.com.
- Spend money on print, local "outbound" ads (e.g., billboards or bus signs).
Even though this strategy is often hastily adopted as a quick, conventional "means to an end," it's always costly.
Plus, it can't be relied upon to deliver a great return on investment (ROI).
That's where social media shines: growing leads with a higher ROI and lower ongoing lead acquisition costs.
In other words, you can spend $0 on social media marketing and still grow your business consistently.
When done correctly, social media marketing for real estate agents can become a primary source of new leads.
But only when done correctly:
1. Understand Your Target Audience: Knowing who you target with your content is critical to creating compelling social media posts.
2. Engage with Your Followers: Answering questions, responding to comments, and interacting with your followers will help build relationships and loyalty.
3. Use Visuals: Incorporating visuals into your posts can help make them more engaging and exciting.
4. Track Your Performance: Use analytics to measure the success of your social media posts and adjust accordingly to optimize performance.
5. Be Consistent: Consistency is vital in social media. Post regularly, and post quality content relevant to your target audience.
6. Leverage Influencers: Working with influencers can help you amplify your message and reach a larger audience.
7. Promote Your Products: Remember to promote your products, services, and promotions to your social media followers.
8. Pay Attention to Trends: Pay attention to the trends in your industry and use them to create timely and relevant posts.
Over the last decade working in my day-to-day role as leader of my marketing agency that helps REALTORS® digitally market themselves, I've seen clients who follow a well-defined, planned, and consistent social media strategy grow their businesses 2X-4X+ annually.
I'll say that again, 2X-4X+ annually.
To really bring that home, let's say you're selling one house per month at $300K with a commission of around $9K. Doing great social media marketing can drive extra annual growth of between $108K to over $400K!
Sadly, only some real estate pros put the relatively little time and energy required into these items to reap the big lead generation rewards.
Most notably, very few agents and brokers execute on what is the single most crucial aspect of social media lead generation: engagement.
Engage on social media, and you will grow - guaranteed
The whole point of this article is that agents can treat social media as a one-way street, blasting out uncoordinated posts to anyone who may happen to see it with a "this is something I have to do" mindset, OR they can make it a purposeful, planned part of weekly marketing activities as a low-cost way to grow clientele.
Now, doing the latter sounds easier said than done, but there is a simple way to start that takes up very little time, can become an easy-to-maintain habit, and will grow your business:
- Make a weekly plan to post content: Nothing good happens without planning and preparation. Each week, lay out a specific topic or set of topics important to your local real estate consumers to post about on social media (e.g., mortgage rates, new local communities, events, home improvement, home tips & tricks, etc.).
- Develop a brand personality - and always be helpful: If you have a niche, always present yourself on social media in ways that singularly support it. For example, if you focus on selling golf community homes, be that gal or guy who talks about that domain. Being interesting is important, but always, always, always strive to deliver something of value to the audience you want to reach in just about every post.
- Never get political and keep it positive: We're more polarized politically than ever in the U.S., so the quickest way to disaffect a potential client is to say something they may disagree with politically or culturally. Keep it positive and human, but always keep your beliefs and points of view close to your chest. Social media missteps can harm your business (or, in some cases, kill it altogether!).
- Link to your website and have a "call to action" (CTA): You don't want every post to have a link to your site, but you do want to mix in a healthy percentage of posts that, for example, link to your recent blog post, a listing, or landing pages. Also, ask your audience to take action, such as "Sign up for my weekly blog to get great FREE home improvement tips!" or "Join my email list to get weekly notifications about available homes in new construction communities."
- Explore your local market, follow, and reach out: Real estate is almost always hyperlocal, so making yourself visible to followers and finding local influencers to connect with is essential. For example, Facebook has many local group types you can join to start following others with large audiences you'd also like to reach. Groups types like:
Local Business Networking Groups
Community Events Groups
Local Interest Groups
- Engage with the content others post: As you follow and connect with others on social media, comment and engage. Engaging with others is the most essential part of using social media. It's right there in the name: "social" media. Real estate agents who regularly engage with other local users generate more leads than those who don't.
- Reply to all likes, comments, and messages: When others with whom you have connected reach out to you, share your content, or like what you post, it's vital to reply and keep the conversation going.
- Make it a planned, "must-do" habit: Using social media to build your client base only works if you practice it regularly. Again, most agents "fire and forget" to check the box that they're "doing social media." If you're doing that kind of social posting, it's better not to post at all.
To help you with getting started, here's a weekly sample plan for you to follow using Facebook (the top social media channel for REALTORS® to farm local leads):
- Gather interesting ideas for the week's topics: For my clients, I set up alerts at https://alerts.google.com for all the things real estate folks would care about and their local areas, such as home improvement, home ownership, interior design, mortgages, architecture, weather, and community groups. Daily, I get email alerts about the latest content published on the web for these topics, so it's easy to find inspiration for posts. Each week, pick at least two or three topics to focus on.
- Note down your topics for the week to keep you focused: I use Google Sheets to create a spreadsheet that holds my social planning for each week of the month, so I keep the topics and the posts right next to each other.
- Write three posts for each topic: Create at least one post with a link/URL to, let's say, a blog post on your website, then do the rest with just your words (and maybe an image or video). If you want to avoid writing your own posts (or having trouble creating content for social media), you can use an AI tool like ChatGPT to build your weekly posts in seconds with easy, quick prompts that tell the AI what you want to write about. You can quickly learn how to do this by reading one of my recent articles here. Building a week of posts for your topics takes less than 30 seconds and comes complete with emojis and hashtags.
- Schedule your posts for the week ahead: I use SocialChamp, which has a free plan, but you can also use Buffer, Hootsuite, or one of the many products out there. Once you connect your Facebook account, these tools post for you via a recommended daily rotation, or you can set it up for the days and times you want to post. The key here is to use a tool to save time and set up your posts for the week (or longer) upfront.
- Follow at least ten local users a week: Focusing on local influencers and accounts relevant to homeowners with sizable followings is the best course of action. For example, you might seek out local builders with many new homes and subdivisions, area tradespeople and contractors, restaurants, schools, sports teams, charity groups, churches, or community organizations.
- Engage with users at least twice daily: It takes little time before your day starts to check your Facebook feeds or notifications to find something you can comment on. Weigh in with positive comments or helpful remarks, and always make sure your responses keep your brand in mind. For example, a local high school sports team might announce a fundraising drive in a post. That's an excellent opportunity for you to jump in and send your support (or a donation), wish them well, or perhaps share a tip about a charity event you were involved with for your business. Asking questions is also a great way to get that "two-way" communication going. Remember, social media engagement is about communicating and creating dialogue, not just posting information. When people engage with you, they remember you when they need your services. Also, be sure to "like" and share other users' posts as part of your engagement.
Once you do this a few times, you can complete it in half an hour per week (or less).
As you post and engage, your following will grow.
When your following grows, you have more daily opportunities to reach new, additional people.
When you can get your message and brand in front of a continuously growing local audience, you increase your chances of generating leads and gaining more recognition for your services in the local community.
When this happens, that means more clients and more dollars for you.
By doing social media this way, the return on your invested time (and zero dollars) can be huge. The key is to be consistent over time. If you don't, you won't get the payoff.
Thirty minutes of your time each week can turn into tens of thousands (or more!) of extra dollars a year for you. I'm not just blindly suggesting something; I see it work every single day.
Seems worth it to me.