Fans of “The Princess Bride” will remember the scene where the main character, Wesley, is hooked up to a comically elaborate torture machine that sucks away years of his life. Well, sometimes it can feel like social media is having the same effect on us. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Taking a more purposeful and effective marketing approach on social media was the theme of a panel discussion during the REALTOR® Broker Summit in Nashville, Tenn., on April 4. Brokers today need to have an omnipresent brand, said panel moderator Brian Copeland, chief engagement officer at Village Real Estate Services in Nashville. This includes social platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. But maintaining this can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t have an in-house marketing team to help you update your pages. Even individuals can get bogged down managing their personal profiles. Luckily, “you don’t have to be on all day long to make an impact,” Copeland said.
Fellow panelist Sean Carpenter with Coldwell Banker King Thompson in Upper Arlington, Ohio, recommended his “high-five” routine. Each morning he likes five posts and leaves five thoughtful comments on both Facebook and Instagram; tweets, likes, or retweets five times on Twitter; sends five text messages; and handwrites five notes. That adds up to 35 touches before 9 a.m. “Use more question marks and fewer periods,” Carpenter says. “Ask questions that are going to engage your recruits, your agents, and your community.”
Stefanie Hahn, vice president of operations at Coldwell Banker Hearthside, REALTORS®, in Collegeville, Pa., uses LinkedIn to give her agents “love” in the form of likes and comments on their posts. She engages with other agents and brokers from her market as well. She also highly recommends having a company LinkedIn page for your brokerage to showcase who you are and what your company is doing in the community. Her firm has been posting about leadership development efforts and blogging using LinkedIn’s in-platform publishing tool.
Coldwell Banker Hearthside, REALTORS®, has all but stopped its automated social media posts. Hahn said scheduling content wasn’t getting them far. “It might take you 10 percent of the way,” said Hahn, a panelist, “but it’s not going to work for you unless you’re having conversations.”
Last year, Hahn’s company took its $100,000 print advertising budget and, instead, spent it on weekly Facebook ads for every agent at their firm. They set up listing ads with a $25 lifetime budget targeting various geographic areas—and it’s working. When they survey open house visitors on how they found out about the listing, many now say Facebook, Hahn said.
But in addition to marketing listings, Facebook ads can serve as a successful recruiting tool. Hahn’s company targets its competitors’ agents with advertisements about its real estate and title companies. One of the best-performing ads for its title company featured a white fluffy dog in a t-shirt, which was intended to raise the company’s recognition, Hahn says.
Lists can be a powerful tool for filtering out all the noise on Facebook and tuning into the people you want to engage with and monitor closely. Carpenter advises brokers to categorize their friends into lists such as agents, rising stars, rookies, clients, colleagues, family, and friends. You can name the lists anything you want and add people without them ever knowing. The function allows you to filter your news feed so you only see posts from people in a specific list.
Copeland is a fan of using lists to track what his agents are up to and to make sure what they’re saying on Facebook is appropriate and ethical. “Brokers should be monitoring their agents online,” he says, and lists are an easy way to do that. But brokers should also be actively monitoring real estate groups on Facebook of which their agents are members. Often, agents are getting advice from other people in those groups, Copeland says, when they should be bringing their questions to you—their broker.