Social media in real estate part 5: what is the objective of your social media strategy?

The objectives of your social media strategy should be linked directly to the objectives of your agency. There's no point in saying "I want 1000 followers on Twitter" if that isn't going to help you build your business."Men are Moved by two levers only: fear and self interest." ~ Napoleon BonaparteFirst Sun Tsu on battle strategy, and now Napoleon? - I'm not crazy, promise. Napoleon's quote drills down to a vital component of any step you take in business - "what's in it for me"?There are two reasons you need to decide on the objectives of your social media strategy:(1) Your objectives will help to define the discrete steps and activities of your strategy(2) Your objectives will be the carrot on a string (the "self interest" bit) that keeps you on track when the going gets tough (or dull).Social media is a long, hard slog that requires perseverance. Knowing your objectives will keep you on a clear track with a clear outcome that justifies all the effort you will be going to.

Defining your social media objectives

Let's start first with your goals as an agent or agency. In any day, do you want to:

  • Get more appraisals?
  • Get more listings?
  • Get more sales?
  • Get more referrals?
  • Hire new staff?
  • See what competition is doing?
  • Make more money?

Let's be honest: We're all in business to make money. At the end of the day, if greater profitability isn't one of your business objectives, you have to ask yourself why you're in business at all. That said, it's easy to say, "I want my agency to make more money". How do you make more money? - You make money by listing and selling properties that belong to people who get to know, like and trust you.So to make more money, you need to sell more properties and to sell more properties, you need more listings and to get more listings you need more appraisals, more referrals and potentially more staff.How do you get more appraisals, referrals and staff? YOU NEED A BRAND THAT PEOPLE RECOGNISE. People need to know about you, like you and trust you - whether you are an agent, an agency or franchise group, you need to build a brand that embodies the qualities that your target market seeks out.In the information age, good agents that provide quality service are increasingly being drowned in a massive wave of information being presented to buyers and sellers. Using social media will help you re-take the initiative - used properly, social media can become a megaphone to broadcast and build your brand message; helping you avoid being drowned out in the information torrent of the modern age.If you remember my first blog in this series, I said that some of the biggest brands in the world (like Ford, Red Bull, Coca-Cola) are pumping millions of dollars into social media presence and marketing with a single aim: brand building. These brands are no different from you - greater brand awareness for Real Estate agents means more appraisals, more listings, more sales and ultimately more money! You have to remember that you won't make money on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter - you make money by selling a property.

The four steps to building a brand

Step 1 - Stop blowing your trumpet - no one is listening.

I want you to think about the relationships you have with your family and friends right now. Do you call them all up every time you get a new listing? I hope not, but can you imagine how they would react if you did? My bet is they would tell you to bugger off pretty quickly.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. They don't want be advertised to, which is exactly what you are doing if you a pushing out your listings, price reductions and sales through your social media accounts.If a person connects with you (a service provider) on social media, they will expect that you won't abuse the trust they are placing in you by opening up their personal lives to you. If you post your listings to Facebook and Twitter, you will just annoy people. Your posts will be blocked. By constantly advertising to these people, you are eliminating the trust they place in you. Once you lose trust, it is very hard to get it back.

Step 2 - Start building relationships. Right now.

Think about this: your aims in an appraisal or listing presentation are to demonstrate your skills and knowledge to the seller, to be likeable (if they don't like you, they'll list with someone else), and ultimately to have the seller trust you with the sale of their property.What you are doing in that appraisal is developing a relationship with the seller. If the first time they have really had any contact with you is at your listing presentation, it won't be easy for you to build the relationship you need for them to trust you with the sale of their property. The penny drops when you start comparing your position to that of the agent who sold them their own property a few years earlier.Now imagine this - a prospective seller is researching real estate agents in their area online because they don't know who to call and want to organise an appraisal. They come across your website and see that you are actively posting up-to-date and relevant content regarding the market in their suburb on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.They start engaging with your content online and lo and behold, they call you in to appraise the value of their property. Before you've even spoken with these people, you've started to build a relationship with them through your social media accounts. They know that you are up-to-date with technology and in touch with what is happening with their market.Before you even walk through their door to do the appraisal, you're a step in front of another agent who has not had any contact with the seller before their appraisal.Now let's say that you've sold the property for that seller. Obviously, you ask for a testimonial and referrals, but now that you're in the social media space, you also ask for a digital testimonial. Get satisfied clients to tweet about their experience with you - "Just sold my house through @AgencyName and they've done a fabulous job!" That tweet is now online for the whole world to see. In this digital world we live in, this tweet will hold more weight with many people than a typed up testimonial. The more of these digital testimonials you have, the better your brand looks! If your clients are really happy with your service, ask them for a digital testimonial on your Facebook and LinkedIn accounts as well!

Step 3 - Engage with and understand your customers.

Social media gives you a unique perspective into your clients' likes, hates, wants, needs and motivations. Through the simple act of befriending, connecting or following your clients through social media, you will get access to intimate information you'd spend years working up: their birthday, their marriage status, when they have children, when those same children graduate... Accessing all this information gives you the unique ability to engage with your clients on a personal level, helping you to start understanding their individual needs.Imagine seeing that one of the couples you sold a property to last year just posted photos of their newborn (second) child. Why not send them a card congratulating them on their lucky circumstances. At some point down the track (or maybe straight away!) when they're looking to move into a bigger home, they'll remember the agent who sent them a card!Another way to better understand your customers and their needs is to set up quick one or two question polls for your clients on platforms they access each day, like Facebook. One way to get more responses on these polls is to offer a prize to one (or more) of the people who participate. A double movie pass won't cost you the world, but can be a great incentive for your clients to engage with your survey, and for you to gather some great market research!The bigger your networks, the bigger the pool of information you can use for research and market analysis.

Step 4 - Connect with your peers, find out what everyone else is doing.

Social media gives you a ready ability to network with people in and related to your industry. These people can provide lessons and value for your business which you will find vital for your growth as an agent or agency. The people in your network will be adding value to you by providing you with useful information, which then helps you, as you can share this information with your network (helping with the brand building!)Networking through social media also allows you to be able to see what your competitors are doing, because if they have new and innovative ideas, they'll want to be sharing those ideas with their network so they can build their brand.Using LinkedIn for recruitment is also very handy tool, as you are able to look up candidates and see their experience and real life recommendations about them.

Next week on the Rex blog

I'll be discussing how you are going to add value for your fans and followers and explaining why this will help with building your brand...

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