Every agent I speak to says something like “we know we should be more active on Facebook or Instagram” but they often have no idea why. They either don’t use it themselves; don’t know how it works; aren’t sure how it can benefit their business or find the whole idea of it overwhelming. Wherever they stand and whatever they feel, the result is a social media presence that’s either non-existent, hit’n’miss, or full of the wrong content.
But what is the wrong content?
Well, filling your feed with new instructions just isn’t going to help you. People aren’t really searching for property on social media, so unless you’re selling homes of the rich and famous, your audience will be extremely limited. Usually new instruction posts are accompanied by a link to the listing on the estate agent’s website, which further reduces the audience because Facebook automatically demotes posts with external links. Ultimately, it’s a highway to being ignored.
Occasionally, out of desperation for additional content, agents share posts from the Facebook pages of local newspapers alerting people to, of all things, local roadworks and lost pets. I completely understand the mindset, which is at least trying to be helpful, but estate agent’s Facebook pages just aren’t where people go to for local traffic information or the latest missing moggy.
All this leads to estate agents feeling that social media simply doesn’t work for their industry, which eventually turns into less and less posts and a deepening sense of disappointment and wasted time. But it’s all down to aiming their content at the wrong people (buyers, tenants, pet owners), and accidentally ignoring the right ones (sellers and landlords).
Think about it: how many people do you know that don’t have any social media at all? Maybe a handful, but most do, and most use it. And look at how many businesses have thousands of followers, increasing their audience week after week and getting tons of likes, loves, comments and shares, even for posting a picture of pasta. And look at the amount of people in the world who make a living as an influencer with nothing more than an Instagram account and selfies. You don’t need to like anything they do – or be remotely interested in anything they say – to understand not only the power of the platforms, but also the audience, income and lifestyles they have given to people who use them effectively. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t be interested in having that for your business.
Well, the good news is that people actively seek out businesses that interest them and affect their lives, and that property is almost everyone’s obsession. I work with agents who’ve amassed thousands of followers, so get the content right and you’ll draw an admiring audience of local landlords and sellers to nurture, inform and inspire.
But what is the right content?
For most people their home will be the biggest asset they own and they will care deeply about its value, based mainly on knowing what else is selling in their street, building or neighbourhood. But things have changed around getting that information.
With the appearance of a for sale sign, people used to call the agents to find out the price. Back in the 80s we were trained to call them nosy neighbours and treat them accordingly, which seems just really bizarre now: why would we want to keep the price of a house secret from anyone?
Today, an owner can simply jump online and find out all they need to know, and stay up to date with that home’s progress all the way through its time on the market; from price changes to agent changes and, hopefully, an eventual sale. I don’t know how many actually follow that studiously – probably a change of agents sign or its status from for sale to under offer might get them checking again – but the fact is they can get that information online which leaves a lot of agents thinking they don’t have anything to say that people don’t already know.
But that’s not true. Yes, the information that people used to rely on estate agents for is now widely available online, but with social media agents have the ability to show people what they never could before. You can take everyone behind the scenes of your agency and out and about in your neighbourhood. People can literally see what you’re up to, where you’re going, how active you are and how you go about your day. You can bring them into your world and make them part of it; show them how great you are and turn them into fans, long before they ever meet you.
Facebook, Instagram and your website have effectively taken over the role of a window display and how you present your company to the landlords and sellers you want. And like a window display, if your social media looks uninspiring, out-of-date or unloved, that’s how you will be judged.
But your social media channels are so much more than a window. Passers by staring at A4 sheets of paper (and leaving fingerprints on the glass when pointing at a listing) aren’t really getting an insight into your agency. A shop window doesn’t give them that. It can’t come out with you on viewings and valuations; it can’t sit in on team meetings; it can’t accompany you to a photo shoot or local event.
It’s never too late to start or reignite your social media, and the easiest way is to have a system. There are lots of formulas for social media posting and my favourite is F.L.A.S.H. Each letter relates to a topic and saves you having to think of concepts and ideas on a daily basis.
F = follow us around (out and about with you on your appointments)
L = local life (what you’re doing and seeing in the neighbourhood)
A = archives and anniversaries (previous sales, lets and completions)
S = sneaky peek (an advance teaser image of a new listing)
H = home truths (useful advice and insight)
All of these categories are aimed at local sellers and landlords who can see that your estate agency is not only active, but also awake. They show that you’re consciously part of the neighbourhood; that you pay attention to trends in the market; and that you’re proud enough of your company and team to openly share about them. This builds trust and respect, leading to valuations, instructions and recommendations. And the brilliant thing is that you don’t need to do anything more than you’re currently doing: you simply need to share it.
If you’d like to talk about your social media or any aspect of your online marketing, give me a call on 020 8133 8733 or drop me a message here. I’d love to help you smash it.