Can Realtors use Snapchat for business?

Snapchat is hugely popular among Millennials, and I’m increasingly getting questions from agents asking if this is a good social media platform for their real estate business. If you are a Millennial yourself and have lots of Millennial contacts, then it’s a great platform to promote yourself and your properties.

According to Statistica.com, Snapchat users are mostly young — 23% are age 13-17 and 37% are 18-24 — and while there are exceptions to every rule, this age group typically is not looking to buy or sell a home. 26% are 25-34, the higher end of which is certainly heavy with first-time homebuyers (the median age is 31). However, you still have to understand that 86% of the folks on Snapchat are 34 or younger. 23-age-13-17-37-age-18-2426-age-25-34median-first-time-home-buyer-age-31

That being said, if you’re an agent in your late-20s to early/mid-30s, you’re on Snapchat and you have lots of friends in that age range who are on Snapchat, it’s a great opportunity to connect with them. Real estate is inherently visual, and there are so many cool things you can do with videos and photography to snazz  up property photography and highlight key selling points. It’s also a great way to showcase the lifestyle of the area you serve.

There is, however, one big downside — snaps disappear once they’re viewed. But again, if you’re a devoted Snapchat user with lots of friends on the platform, you can still use it to market your business if you are willing to post in volume.  If you can get in the habit of posting multiple photos and videos daily, being creative about the things you post, and connecting with friends who are looking to buy or sell a home, Snapchat might work for your business.

If, however, you are not in this age range, don’t have tons of contacts in this age range and are just afraid of missing out on the next big thing, I would pass on Snapchat. It’s not the kind of platform where you can easily connect with people you don’t know. And the majority of buyers aren’t using it.

How to create a Facebook business page

One of the most common questions I’m asked when talking about social media for Realtors is: How do I set up a Facebook business page? If you already have a personal page, are comfortable using Facebook and are committed to using Facebook to build your business, then a business page is definitely recommended.

How to create a Facebook business pageCreating a business page is fairly simple, just click here to start the process on Facebook. Choose Local Business or Place, then choose Real Estate from the drop down menu and add in your contact information. I recommend using your branch office’s mailing address and your cell number.

Then just follow the prompts. For the web address, it’s best to choose your name or team name so it’s easy to remember and easy to find. For example, mine is facebook.com/jenniferathertonmcguire.  If your name is taken, try including a middle initial, middle name or maiden name. If you are setting up a page for a team, use the team name.

As with your personal Facebook page, it’s very important that you fill the About section out completely. The more information you provide, the easier it will be for people to find you. It’s all searchable, so use key words like “Atlanta Realtor”, “Atlanta real estate agent” and “Atlanta homes for sale”.

If you are still debating whether you need to create a business page or if your personal Facebook page is sufficient, Facebook makes a great case for using a business page. For real estate agents, see my post on the topic. To me, it’s a no-brainer — you need a business page.

However, if you aren’t committed to using Facebook to develop relationships, and you’re only doing this because someone told you to in a training class, hold off and think this through. Social media is only beneficial if you are active on it. Having an incomplete and outdated social media page is like putting a hand-written For Sale sign in a yard, which you would never do, right? I recommend only starting a page if you’re serious. It doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment, but you do need to make a commitment.

And if you’re not on Facebook at all yet, you are definitely late to the party, but it’s not too late. Visit Facebook.com and it will walk you through the steps to get started. Then take some time to fill out the profile as completely as possible, making sure to provide your email address, cell phone number and website. Add a picture of yourself for the Profile Picture and add another for the Cover Photo, and start connecting with the people you know. Once you are comfortable with how Facebook works and have connected with your sphere, then it’s time to open a business page.

Before posting properties on social media, follow this one tip

If there’s one thing Realtors love to do on social media, it’s show off their property for sale. And why not? It’s a free and easy way to spread the word about your exciting new listing. But this can get old really fast and make people tune out — or worse, unlike your page — if that’s all you do. Even when you do post a property for sale, there’s a boring way to do it, and an interesting way that will keep your followers engaged. Here’s the #1 tip for writing a property post that will get attention.

The self-serving words and all capped letters take away from this gorgeous photo.

The self-serving words and all capped letters take away from this gorgeous photo.

Choose a standout feature to highlight or focus on the lifestyle the property offers, rather than just saying, “Hey, look at my new property.” In the example to the left, the picture is absolutely stunning — what a pool! — but the words in the post look like a cheap advertisement. Don’t use all capital letters (the equivalent of screaming at your readers), don’t use so many stars, and definitely do use actual sentences. What works for the MLS does not work for social media and will come across more like an ad for a used car lot.

The example to the right does a better job by showing what it would be like to own this property. The experience is much more interesting to a potential buyer than a laundry list of facts. What horse owner wouldn’t love the idea of being able to ride all year long?

This post hints at what it might be like to live here, which is more effective.

This post hints at what it might be like to live here, which is more effective.

Focus on the lifestyle the property provides, or a specific aspect of the property like how fun it would be to cook with the kids in the gourmet chef’s kitchen, rather than just screaming: “I WANT TO SELL THIS TO YOU!” The first example is very self-serving and all about you and what you want, which is a turn off. The second example is all about your readers and what’s in it for them, which is always going to be more interesting.

 

I recommend following Coldwell Banker on Pinterest to see some good examples of pinterest2this type of post. In this example to the left, you can just picture having a backyard BBQ with kids running around in the back yard. You want potential buyers to be able to  picture themselves living in this home, and this type of social media posts immediately puts that image in their mind. And it’s much more interesting than the example with the gorgeous pool!

 

How to be interesting on social media

Who would you rather chat with at a cocktail party — the guy who has an interesting comment on just about any topic, or the lady who drones on and on about one thing? One mistake I see real estate agents frequently make on social media is posting only one type of content. Even $30 million luxury beach homes will get old eventually if that’s all you ever post. Like they say, variety is the spice of life, so mix it up and follow the 30-60-10 rule of social media:

30% Owned — This is the original content you create, such as photos, videos, links to your blog, and yes, your property for sale.

60% Shared — Share links to social media content that someone else created, for example, linking to a blog post you found interesting, to a video your brokerage shared, or retweeting a news item from the local paper. The key to successfully sharing content is to add your perspective. Never just RT or share it on your page — you should always add a comment offering some insight on why you find it interesting, relevant or entertaining.

10% Call to Action — This is where you ask for the business and offer your services. Ask questions like: Do you know anyone planning to sell a home? Are you looking for a vacation property? Are you curious what your house is worth?  Do you know anyone who is relocating? This is where you ask for referrals, invite followers to an open house, and offer your services. Make sure to include a compelling photo or video with it.

Follow this simple rule, and followers will be interested in your posts instead of getting bored and tuning out.

9 social media mistakes to avoid

Social media can provide an excellent opportunity for real estate agents to expand your sphere of influence, demonstrate your expertise and make a name for yourself, but making mistakes can derail your efforts. To get the most out of social media, avoid these 10 common pitfalls that many Realtors succumb to:

  1. “Friend” My Business – You don’t want a prospect to have to send you a friend request to see your Facebook page, do you? By using your personal page as a professional page, you also subject them to your privacy settings, your thoughts on last night’s reality TV and silly cat videos. Instead, create a business page that focuses on building your business and not your personal life, then invite your friends, clients and prospects to like it.
  2. Have You Seen My New Listing? – Or this new listing? Or this one? Pages quickly get boring if all you do is post about listings. Do incorporate listings into your posts, but make sure that’s only part of your overall content and not your only content.
  3. Let’s Talk Politics – No, let’s don’t. Agents who discuss – or worse, rant – about a politician, party or political decision not only risk alienating a large percentage of prospects, but they also look unprofessional. If you’re using your page for business, leave the politics out. The same goes for any topic that is controversial or polarizing. I know it’s hard not to jump in and offer your two cents during an election year, but it’s best to resist the urge.
  4. Negativity Town – Never post anything negative or critical against your brokerage or a competitor. It looks unprofessional and will not win you any friends.
  5. Old Page Better than No Page – Actually, that’s not true. Having an old profile that hasn’t been updated or posted to in months or even years sends the message that you are out of touch, or worse, out of business. It’s best to take it down and start again (click here for directions), then make sure to post at least 3-4 times a week. Use a free tool like Hootsuite to schedule posts in advance, so you can keep fresh content coming without spending a lot of time.
  6. Mr. Roboto – Social media is all about engaging with real humans, so be
    Automating posts from another social media profile, vendor or the MLS will make you look like a robot. And that's not good. (Photo Credit: Kopf odor Zahl/Flickr)

    Automating posts from another social media profile, vendor or the MLS will make you look like a robot. And that’s not good.
    (Photo Credit: Kopf odor Zahl/Flickr)

    one. Don’t automate your posts from another social media profile, a vendor or the MLS. You’ll look like a robot, and what’s appropriate for one social media platform may not be appropriate for another.

  7. Privacy, Shmivacy – You would never run a picture of a client or their family in an advertisement without their permission, so don’t do it on social media. Respect their privacy, ask for permission to use their photo and get it in writing before posting.
  8. Hang Your “Open” Sign – Don’t leave the big image at the top of Facebook (called the Cover Photo) and Twitter (Header Photo) blank. That’s like a shopkeeper forgetting to light the “Open” sign in the window. Show followers that you are open for business by choosing an image that represents your niche, community or business.
  9. Borrowing Images – While a quick Internet search may present thousands of entertaining photos to share on social media, that doesn’t mean you have permission to use them. Avoid a costly lawsuit by:
  • Sharing links to websites
  • Using photos from Flickr Creative Commons — they’re free, just make sure to give a photo credit to the owner
  • Purchasing inexpensive images through sites like shutterstock or istockphoto
  • Taking your own photos

If you follow these rules, you’re on your way to an engaging real estate social media profile that will help you accomplish your business goals.

Tips for finding the right audience on social media

Not all social media are equal — they’re actually very different, particularly in who you connect with and how. Because real estate agents don’t have time to build a presence on several social media platforms, it’s important to understand the differences so you can pick the ones that work best for you and what you want to accomplish. I’ll post more on the differences, but one of biggest things that makes each site unique is who you can connect with and how.

facebookUse Facebook to connect with people you know, whether you know them well, knew them several years ago or they’re acquaintances. Friends, family, neighbors, college buddies, friends from high school, clients, and real estate agents or employees at your brokerage are an obvious place to start — people you know, see regularly and already have a relationship. But you can also connect with acquaintances, such as agents, appraisers or mortgage brokers you’ve done business with, and people you’ve met at networking events. But it’s considered intrusive to send a friend request to someone you haven’t met, so it’s not recommended.

twitterTwitter is my favorite social media platform because it’s easy to connect with people you don’t know, but with whom you share a common interest. Follow the same people you would on Facebook who are on Twitter, and then expand your sphere by following people you may not know but would like to build a relationship with, like your local real estate reporter, business owners and even celebrities. I actually know a Florida Realtor who sold a property to Rosie O’Donnell for $5 million, and then turned around and sold that same property for Rosie two years later for $5.3 million, all because she connected with Rosie on Twitter!

pinterestOn Pinterest, it’s less about making connections and more about sharing pretty pictures. But it’s through your gorgeous property photos that you can connect with potential buyers. If you use the right search terms in your posts, such as dream home, family home or beach house, along with the location, you’ll start to attract followers who might be potential buyers. Just make sure every property photo is linked to that property on your website, so they can find it online if they’re interested.

instagram-icon-circle-vector-logo3Instagram is also about pretty photos, but it’s very different from Pinterest. Instagram is used more to show off personal photos that you take, rather than photos you find online or from another source. Use the “Find Facebook Friends” and “Find Contacts” functions in your Instagram settings to connect with people you know. Then follow people you’d like to connect with. Most importantly, use lots of hashtags on Instagram in your posts to attract the people you want to follow you, like #SarasotaHomesforSale, #AtlantaProperties or #beachhomes.

youtubeYouTube, while technically a social media site, is viewed by most people as just a place to post videos and use the links in other social media. However, if you really love making videos, it presents a great opportunity to build your sphere and influence. Check out what Jessica Riffle Edwards has done on YouTube. With more than 400 videos, she has amassed a following of 3,800+ subscribers and has received almost 1.2 million views. If video is not your passion, then use YouTube as a place to post what videos you do make, and then share a link on your other social media and your website.

linkedinLinkedIn is all about business and is set up for you to connect with people you know or have done business with, like other agents, mortgage brokers and bankers, appraisers, plumbers, landscapers, Chamber of Commerce members, clients, etc. If you want to connect with someone you haven’t met, you can ask for one of your connections who knows that person to introduce you through LinkedIn. For example, if you want to connect with a city council member and one of your clients on LinkedIn knows her, you can ask your client to introduce you through LinkedIn.

googleplusIt doesn’t seem like Google+ ever really took off like Google had hoped, but it does enjoy a dedicated, if somewhat techy audience and you can use it to boost your website’s search engine optimization. You can connect with people much like you do through Facebook. The advantage of Google+ is you can arrange those connections into “circles” (friends, agents, family, etc.) and share posts that are only visible to a specific circle. So you can easily share vacation photos of the kids with your family, and keep more business-appropriate posts for your clients.

So pick the social media platform or platforms that work best for you, then start connecting!

4 Tips for a Winning Social Media Profile

One of the most important pieces of the social media pie – and often one of the most overlooked – is having a complete, engaging and searchable profile. Here are four quick tips for creating a profile that will help you attract new followers and build your business.

  1. Call Me, Maybe… – You want prospects to be able to contact you easily, right? Don’t make a prospect have to look too hard for your contact information, or they may give up and go to your competitor. Instead, post full contact information in your profile so interested prospects can easily reach you by phone, email or your website.
  2. Searching for Mr./Ms. Right – When writing your profile, include key search terms that prospects might use to find an agent just like you. By using terms like “Miami luxury real estate,” “Baltimore real estate agent,” or “Atlanta homes” in your profile, you will come up in search results when prospects search using these terms. Also, what you name your profile photo is searchable, so calling your picture “Suzy Seller Realtor” will be better than “IMG_0554.”
  3. Say Cheese! – People want to interact with real people, not a logo, so show them your biggest smile in an updated photo. Avoid using props like sunglasses, pets or cell phones, which can look cheesy and distract from your professional appearance. Remember, saying cheese is good, being cheesy is not.
  4. Who Are You? – Fill out your profile completely to show prospects who you are and how you can help them. Facebook’s “About” and LinkedIn’s “Profile” pages allow you to fill in a number of fields – the more you have filled in, the easier you make it for friends and acquaintances to find you. Twitter and Pinterest “Profiles” both limit you to 160 characters and Instagram allows 150 characters, so choose your words wisely, use key search terms and don’t forget to include your website. YouTube’s “About” allows 1,000 characters: Click here for tips on how to create a winning profile.

Follow these easy tips and you’ll be on your way to attracting an audience.