When was the last time you sold a house for $135,000 above the asking price? An Australian man recently made headlines by doing just that: selling his home on Twitter.

With the help of digital marketer John Newell and real estate agent Hocking Stewart, Kurt Oprey was able to sell his home in Northcote, a Melbourne suburb, for $135,000 above the asking price by employing social media in the six weeks leading up to its auction. Though his strategy was a bit more complicated than the headlines suggest, it’s definitely simple enough for anyone with basic social media competence to employ and illustrates the future of real estate marketing in action. Here are six lessons “the Northcote house” can teach you about using social media to sell a home.


 no. 6 image via shutterstock

1. Start by targeting specific keywords. Oprey’s first step was to determine the keywords that would be “perfectly aligned with the most common search phrases used by people searching for real estate in Northcote.” He and John decided on “Northcote, house, sale, auction” and used those everywhere, including the URL for the property’s WordPress blog, www.northcotehouse.com.au. The reason this is important is that all of the content that is created surrounding this online marketing campaign needs to be aligned with the consumer in mind. This is SEO 101.

2. Create a microsite on WordPress. A microsite helps you tell a unique story and serves as a platform for search engine optimization (SEO) and lead conversion. WordPress is one of the most flexible and widely used platforms out there; it allows you to quickly create a professional-looking website. It’s SEO-friendly and it also supports all types of media, including images, video, documents and social media widgets.

3. Build campaigns for every major medium and service. Oprey didn’t stop at a Twitter account and blog. He also created a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, and Flickr, Picasa and Posterous accounts for the Northcote house. By creating multiple sources of photo, video and written content, Oprey ensured that the Northcote house would show up in any kind of search and on just about any website or service. Oprey also devoted enough time to each channel to make sure they all ranked No. 1 for his keywords in Google.

4. Collaborate to make it personal. Traditionally, sellers and buyers are discouraged from personal contact in order to prevent any interactions that could jeopardize the deal. But social media provides a certain amount of distance between people, allowing you to use a more personal touch in highlighting the features of a property. The agent took advantage of this by working with the owner to capture personal stories about the home for use on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and the blog.

This made the house stand out and gave the campaign content that the agent would have been hard-pressed to create on his own. A blog post was created, with the title: “Why you might want to live here by people who have,” and the owner’s personal stories, photos and videos about the Northcote house were also posted.

This communication with the owner allowed him to share what he loves about the house: inside, outside, what’s great about living there, the change of seasons, what’s nearby, the community — everything from the owner’s point of view. The house, in this way, can become more than a collection of rooms — it becomes a home in a buyer’s eyes.

5. Share and Share Often. Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” When talking about social media, I think “80 percent of success is being consistent.” Posting regularly helps you build interest and followers over time, and ensures you remain at the top in searches for your keywords. Oprey, for his part, posted stories daily “on a range of subjects designed to inform potential buyers about the house and increase their interest in the property.”

6. Don’t do this alone. Owners might be tempted to think that they don’t need a real estate agent, and agents might be tempted to think that they don’t need marketing help. Oprey worked with an agent and a marketer on the Northcote house for good reason: Creating compelling content on multiple platforms is a time-consuming endeavor and needs to be agile to be effective.

The future of real estate marketing will have all parties playing their part in the process: owners sharing stories to personalize and add emotional content about their home; marketers tying the online efforts together in ways that drive interest and leads; and the agent, orchestrating the entire process, connecting all the right dots to serve the customer and bring a successful deal to a close.

If this seems like a lot of work to you, it is. But it’s no different than the mountain of work that you are already doing to sell a house. It’s just a matter of focusing on where the customers are spending their time: online. Use these six steps as a checklist.

And look at your latest listing. Have you done what it takes to get an offer well above the asking price? Tell us about your own special tricks by commenting below.