Social media in real estate part 6: adding value for your followers

Returning readers should already know by now that the most common mistake real estate agents make with their social media strategy is to just blast out their listings over their social media channels. What works in print media, doesn’t work with social media, because social media should be a two-way conversation - especially social media in real estate.Social media in real estate is not about marketing or advertising, it is about relationships. When engaging with your fans and followers through your social media channels, you build relationships (and in turn your brand) by offering something useful and something that in some way adds value to the people at the other end. When people engage with your social media channels, they are looking for social interactions and for you to add value to their lives in some way.People don’t want to be advertised to on their social media accounts because they get enough advertising in every other media they come across every day. If they wanted to see your listings (which is your advertising), they’d go to a real estate portal or your website!

There are four easy steps to ensure you are adding value to your fans and followers on social media:

Step 1 – Identify what interests your fans and followers

You now know that people do not want to be advertised to online, so why would someone start to follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebook if not to see your listings? Let’s think about this logically. You are a real estate agent/agency. I think it is safe to assume that your fans and followers are looking for quality information about the real estate market, especially in the areas you service. You shouldn’t assume, however, that this is all your fans and followers are interested in. Remember it is social media, and you should be engaging with your fans and followers to find out exactly what interests them, and what they want.The best way to find out what your fans and followers want is to ask them! People love the opportunity to win something, so use a prize as an incentive to getting feedback from you fans and followers. Put out a status/tweet that says “We want to know what you want from us! Best response gets a double movie pass!” Listen to your audience online. See what they are posting to their profiles, and target your message to their needs and wants.

Step 2 – Identify your style

In my opinion, there are three different styles of posting content to you social media accounts – Listeners, writers and those who do both.Listeners rarely, if ever, post their own quality content. They share/re-tweet useful and interesting content that other people have written. There is nothing wrong with taking this approach, especially if you don’t have a lot of time to invest in your social media strategy. Just make sure the content you are sharing with your fans and followers is useful, interesting and relates to them in some way.Writers are at the opposite end of the spectrum – they rarely share content from other sources and prefer to write the own content. This is where you’d be writing your own blogs and articles and sharing these through you social media accounts. Before you jump straight into this approach, you should be aware that writing blogs with quality content is a time consuming process. It takes me anywhere between four and eight hours a week to research and write the weekly blog for this series.I personally think that you need to adopt a combination style and share content that other people have written, as well as posting your own content. A combination approach allows you to demonstrate that you are an expert on real estate in your area, and that you are actively engaging with other real estate experts to keep your skills and knowledge up to date.Whether you are a listener, a writer or a combination of the two, if the content you are sharing with your followers is useful and interested, you are adding value to their lives and they will remember you!

Step 3 – Engage in conversation

It’s a no brainer really: To build a relationship and to build trust with someone, you have to engage with them over time. You don’t meet a stranger on the street and instantly become best friends. The same principle applies to your social media relationships. Just because someone becomes your fan or follower, it doesn’t mean you instantly have a relationship with them. You have to work at it and engage with them.Many marketers forget about the social aspect of SOCIAL media, and just advertise themselves and their products. I think that social media is a great way to build brand awareness for real estate agents/agencies, but it won’t be effective if your social media strategy is one-sided and you don’t engage with your fans and followers. Many large corporations including Coca-Cola, Red Bull and Ford are using social media to build relationships and in turn their brand with new and existing customers. This is because social media gives these companies, and YOU, the opportunity to communicate with your clients and potential clients in a quick, easy and free way.Initially, you won’t have many people commenting on your status updates on Facebook or re-tweeting your tweets on Twitter. Why? Well what have you done for them lately? Have you participated in their social media lives? With social media, as with life, you must give in order to receive.

Step 4 – Post relevant content

I keep saying that you have to post relevant content – some of you are probably wondering why. Posting relevant content will do three things for your brand:1. Add value to the conversationI’ve already established that you need to engage with your fans and followers – when you are posting content relevant to your fans and followers AND you are engaging with them based on that content, you are adding value to the conversation. When you are engaging with your audiences and adding value you build your brand. When your brand grows, so do the appraisals, listings and sales!2. Position your brand as a trusted advisorIf you the content you are posting is relevant and you are not inundating your fans and followers with advertising messages, you will eventually build up a level of trust with them. By ensuring your content is relevant, you are positioning yourself as a trusted advisor in the real estate industry, and specifically in the area you operate in.3. Makes you believableYou can be truly authentic with you social media posts but if you aren’t being relevant and adding value, your audiences won’t believe your message. This will result in a disconnect between you and your audience and they’ll either ignore your content or block you. Establishing trust and becoming believable takes time but is impossible to do if what you are putting out on your social media platforms is irrelevant to your fans and followers.Next week on the Rex blog…Before I sign off for this week: Don’t become irrelevant - You need to be posting useful, interesting and quality content, otherwise people will stop engaging with you online! Before you post anything to your social media accounts, you must ask yourself “Will my fans and followers find this interesting and/or entertaining?” If the answer is no, don’t post it.Next week I will be letting you know how to maintain your social media strategy.If you have any questions or comments on this blog, or indeed the blog series, leave a comment below and I will get back to you!

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