Social media marketing for real estate is about more than just promoting your listings, blog posts and website — it’s also about engaging with your customers and industry peers.

Beginner real estate agents might not realize this at the start of their career, but networking with industry peers (other agents, mortgage lenders, appraisers and inspectors) is one of the best ways to grow your business.

Of all the places to network with these individuals across the Web, groups and online communities (especially those on Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn) are some of the best. Although LinkedIn was the first social network to offer the opportunity join both open and closed groups with your industry peers, the practice has grown to other platforms that create tight integrations with these like-minded professionals.

One fairly new entry, Google Plus, isn’t dead. Google Plus’s algorithm is based on circles rather than nodes like most social networks, which creates an opportunity for agents such as you to discover other agents with shared professional and personal interests.

All of these destinations for groups and communities help members create healthy relationships with each other by offering a real-time resource for answering questions, sharing resources and brainstorming ideas for growing your real estate practice. Being alone as a real estate agent can be scary, and no one wants to admit they’re struggling with a certain aspect of their business.

By opening up in these groups, where most members won’t be competing in your market, you can bring real advice to the table and get the help you need.

I’ve created a list of 20 educational and engaging real estate groups. I’ve broken them up by groups focused on real estate marketing and sales advice, housing market news and trends, and business best practices for agents, as well as general networking and Q&A.

Unfortunately, there will be the inevitable spam posts in many of these groups. Why agents post local listings to communities dedicated to conversations about the industry and their careers, we’ll never know, but it happens often.

Open real estate social media groups are open to everyone, and private and closed groups on social networks can be joined only by requesting an invite from an administrator or group member.

And remember: Though these online communities are a great place to gain new real estate agent knowledge and connect with like-minded pros nationwide, they’re also an ideal place to identify locals working in your market and with your niche audience.

Real estate marketing and sales advice

1. Real Estate Plus (Google Plus — Open/Ask to Join)
Membership: 17,000-plus

Description: Whether you’re a real estate agent, an investor, a homebuilder or other industry professional, this Google Plus community offers an array of resources to help you become more informed about the state of the market and how to improve your craft. There are multiple sections, each of which features real estate marketing ideas, including those for improving search engine optimization (SEO) and customer relationship management (CRM).

2. Real Estate (Google Plus — Open/Ask to Join)
Membership: 19,500-plus

Description: Social media tips, advice on short sales and foreclosures, legal issues facing real estate agents and lead follow-up techniques are a small sample of the many topics covered in this community headed by Massachusetts-based Realtor Bill Gassett. Head to the Discussion section to enter into various ongoing conversations regarding the latest real estate news stories, reports, trends, and best practices for new and experienced agents.

3. Real Estate Marketing (Google Plus — Open)
Membership: 6,300-plus

Description: Notable agents, firms, bloggers and brands post to this intriguing community, which covers real estate marketing topics and tactics from blogging and social media to websites and lead generation. Arguably the most interesting conversations focus on bettering one’s approach to promoting your business and listings, such as how to avoid using software and gadgets that don’t really help with prospecting and ways to craft compelling website forms.

4. Real Estate Marketing and Branding (Google Plus — Open)
Membership: 9,800-plus

Description: How you brand your business is a significant factor in how well you do with your real estate marketing and sales. Thankfully, plenty of agents are willing to share their secrets to success in this educational community. Get the inside scoop on how to improve your direct marketing tactics, search strategy, video marketing and real estate blogging by combing through the numerous subcategories in the group.

5. Best of Real Estate Video (Google Plus — Open)
Membership: 3,800-plus

Description: It’s fantastic when industry pros who specialize in a particular marketing or sales tactic share their knowledge with others who can benefit, but it’s also great to see their tactics in action. This Google Plus community reveals the latest tips and tricks in video marketing as well as actual examples of real estate videos that prove it’s a worthwhile marketing method. Head here to view professionally shot listing recordings and other intriguing clips while picking up some advice for your own video efforts.

6. Photography for Real Estate (Google Plus– Open)
Membership: 2,800-plus

Description: In a similar fashion as the video-oriented community, this photography resource can come in handy for new real estate agents looking to get basic advice and experienced pros searching for new tools and tactics. At the very least, you can garner some inspiration from the interior and exterior pictures of homes for sale posted routinely to the group — even drone shots (though it takes a lot to get approval to use those until the Federal Aviation Administration uniformly approves their use in real estate marketing).

Housing market news and trends

7. National Association of Realtors (NAR) (Facebook — Closed)
Membership: 13,400-plus

Description: This official account from NAR is one that features many intriguing conversations — and networking opportunities — for those who participate in threads. The trade association has proven to have this social media thing mastered, especially on Facebook and Twitter, so rest assured you can find the info and answers you’re looking for by posting to this group.

8. Realtors (Google Plus — Open)
Membership: 18,700-plus

Description: Though not an official NAR account, Realtors will find plenty of quality posts here, including ones featuring national and international real estate news, marketing and sales tips and tricks, and mortgage and financing updates and trends. In particular, the “Business Tools” section offers posts from agents relaying the best apps and software to use for tasks such as creating fliers and infographics.

Know any other real estate social media groups that are great places for agents to engage with fellow pros and consumers? I’d love to hear some of your suggestions in the comments section below.

Look for the “20 best social media groups for agents: Part 2” on Friday.

Frederick Townes is the co-founder and chief technology officer of Placester, the fastest-growing real estate website provider in the U.S. You can follow him on Twitter (@fredericktownes) and read more of his thoughts at

Email Frederick Townes.

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