Social media is a must – not a luxury – in your marketing mix
How important is social media to your marketing efforts? The facts speak for themselves. Social media generates almost double the leads of trade shows, telemarketing, mail and pay per click.1 A recent study from the Home Buying Institute noted that 78.6% of agents who used social media as a sales tool outperformed those who weren't using it. More than 40% of the agents surveyed said they have closed between two and five deals as a direct result of social media marketing.2
Reliance on social media in decision making will only increase as more millennials come of home-buying age. There are 72 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 right now – many at or nearing first-time home-buying age.3 This large millennial audience relies heavily on social media to become aware of new brands and products, and to closely follow their favorite brands; 63% stay updated on brands through social networks and 84% say "word of mouth" is the primary influencer for their purchasing decisions.3
Become part of the conversation – one step at a time.
It's true that social media feels like a moving target and that can be a little intimidating. Yet it gives you the power to do what other media can't – make relevant, personal connections with large numbers of people at the same time. The bottom line is that your potential buyers are already very busy in the social media space, using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and more to find, sell and improve homes. To connect with this high-potential audience, and "be where they are," it helps to take things step by step.
Know your customer base: You can't effectively appeal to everyone, so knowing your "customer personas" will help you choose and use your social media effectively. What market segments do you have the most success with? Do you know what they care about and what information is valuable to them? The answers to those questions can help you create engaging content and narrow down the social media platforms that will give you the best results.
Be clear on your goals: Identifying what you want to achieve from social media efforts is a crucial first step for novices and experienced marketers alike. Each social media platform can allow you to meet distinct goals. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ are great for networking and lead generation, but Instagram and Pinterest have high value for leveraging visual content that enhances other social media efforts. For example, tweeting the latest home prices and available properties in the area while featuring beautiful shots of those homes on Pinterest can be a powerful one-two punch.
We only mentioned a few of the major social media platforms here, but there are many websites that can help you learn what marketing benefits are offered by each. Make sure you understand what each platform offers, and it will be clearer how it may fit in your marketing strategy.
Focus and be consistent: Once you hone in on the social media platforms you feel can best help you meet your goals, you can begin to identify relevant content. Developing a content posting strategy and an editorial calendar will give your content structure and help you to develop a regular rhythm for your postings.
Using those platforms consistently and featuring current content will help you to see higher return from your social media efforts. Many experts recommend that you should have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn at a minimum, but it can help to focus on just one or two platforms in a way that lets you truly maximize the power of each social media channel.
Think locally, respond quickly: Whatever platforms you choose, a regular flow of meaningful information on all things local can establish you as someone who knows the community and the people in it, and can help build your local following. Sharing "hard news," including current local home prices and high and low rents in the area along with "softer" but relevant news about local events, school system ratings, and the best neighborhood pizza parlor, are all of high local value. When you get a response that has higher potential value as a lead or beneficial connection, try to respond within 24 hours.
Above all...don't forget to measure your success!
It's easy to skip the important step of finding out what is working for you and what isn't. Besides asking any callers how they found you, it pays to leverage some effective, friendly and often free tracking tools like Facebook Insights. There are also fee-based sites (sproutsocial.com and hootsuite.com for example) that will support most of your social media activities like posting, tracking and monitoring through a single tool.
We will delve more deeply into a number of social media topics in future issues – from ideas for content generation to the benefits of specific social media platforms. For now, review these "foundation steps" to ensure you are approaching your social media marketing logically and in a way that gives you the best return on your efforts.
Helpful social media resources: