On a warm Florida winter afternoon, William A. Labbancz, CRB, SRS, sits outside Starbucks at a bistro table with his cell phone sitting next to his coffee. He scrolls through to a recent Facebook post that garnered favorable engagement statistics. “Here it is,” he says. “The post did really well and we were able to gain a couple of leads from the comments.” The post, a video of one of his agents at a local event, drummed up quite a bit of activity and the comments section was ripe with questions directed toward real estate.
If there’s one thing Labbancz, broker-owner at Sailwinds Realty in New Port Richey, Fla., understands, it’s the ever-changing marketing landscape. In order to stay up-to-date and make sure he’s able to train his team, Labbancz tries out multiple platforms and reads endlessly on how social media continues to evolve. For example, right now, he uses a popular platform called NextDoor, which recently released an update with a real estate section. NextDoor is a hyperlocal app designed so neighborhoods can access items for sale, local events, last-minute babysitting, and now local real estate.
Labbancz encourages his agents to at least participate in social’s big players like Facebook and LinkedIn. In order to do this, he assesses each agent’s comfort level with social media and tailors training to meet the individual’s needs.
Understand and Combat the Resistance
It’s no secret that Labbancz comes up against resistance when explaining the value of social media as a prominent marketing tool. He’s generally fighting two arguments: tangibility and resistance to change. “The big disconnect is that there’s nothing tangible for an agent when it comes to social media marketing. If an agent spends $1,000 on mailers, well, that’s a tangible use of their money,” he says. “Also, the people who resist social media have an established book of businesses and are resistant to change the way they do things. I get that.”
One way he combats resistance is relaying the truth about cost. “Most people can’t argue with free,” he says. Though Labbancz does invest in paid social as a marketing tool, he makes it a point to explain to his agents that social media profiles and pages across most platforms are free. With the right tactics—posting regularly, using keywords, uploading videos—a free profile has the power to garner much engagement with potential customers.
Relay the Differences of Each Platform
With so many social media platforms on the web, an agent might be easily overwhelmed. It is important to define the purpose of each platform and determine which would be best for a real estate agent to use. “We use Facebook because that’s where the majority of our customer base is,” says Labbancz. He also suggests his agents have a LinkedIn profile—“Facebook and LinkedIn are definitely necessary in today’s world.” LinkedIn is great for recruiting, he says, and to connect with industry professionals.
Start With the Basics
Setting up profiles on the most-used sites is an agent’s first step. Labbancz recommends his agents infuse their LinkedIn profile with keywords that will attract the right connections to them. For instance, keywords like “real estate” should appear several times within the profile summary; the agent’s location should be listed as well. It’s also important to mention the company name several times in a LinkedIn profile. “I make sure to update the profile on a regular basis. I also include any awards or recent accolades, and I encourage my agents to do the same,” he says.
For Facebook, Labbancz recommends each agent have a personal profile, but gear it toward business. “Facebook is a great way to foster a personal connection. A public personal page is a way to help the community connect with agents one-on-one.”
Once profiles are established, Labbancz teaches each agent how to use paid social media ads to generate direct leads. “We start off with something easy,” he says. “The ad we often generate the most leads from is a simple ‘What is your home worth?’ landing page.” The social media ad links right to the landing page where potential customers can enter their contact information, to which his agents respond. This simple, time-efficient, and cost-effective Facebook ad results in an average of 2,700 impressions, 16 responses, and two viable leads every time it’s used, Labbancz says.
The basics of social media marketing also include being realistic about the ROI. “It’s important for my agents to understand that social media marketing is a long-term game,” Labbancz says. “It might not generate a ton of leads right off the bat, but using social is a great way to make community connections and foster relationships, which will turn into business down the line.”
Give an Agent Autonomy Over His or Her Process
Rather than asking his agents completely change how they do business, Labbancz suggests adding social media to their marketing repertoire and continuing with the other marketing tactics that work well for them. Outside of having Facebook and LinkedIn profiles, Labbancz gives his agents the space and freedom to choose how they’d like to best implement social media as a marketing tool.
Labbancz makes sure he is always available when his agents want to try something new, though. “I’m always available for training,” he says. “If they want to get creative, I let them have that freedom. If they’re comfortable with just the basics, that’s okay with me, too.”