Bill Best photo 002-1.jpgThis guest post was written by Bill Gassett, a Realtor with Re/Max Executive Realty who has been helping people move in and out of the MetroWest Massachusetts area for the past 26 years. Connect with him on Google Plus.

As a real estate agent, your job is just as much about marketing as it is about actually showing homes. If people don’t know a home is for sale, then there is a very small chance it will sell. So what can you do? Of course, you can do all of the traditional marketing techniques like direct mail, open houses and pounding the pavement, but wouldn’t it be easier (and more cost-efficient) to be able to sell a home from the comfort of your office?

With the ever-increasing clout of social media, this is no longer just a dream. If you play your cards right, it can surely become your reality. In fact, I know because this is a BIG part of my business. My blog is the hub of my business, but it is the social media tools such as Google Plus, Facebook and a few others — along with search engine optimization — that allow me to be in front of more people on a daily basis.

The two giants

When it comes to social media, there are two platforms that are no longer optional: Facebook and Google Plus. Yes, Twitter is cool and Pinterest is fun, but they can’t do for your real estate business what Facebook and Google Plus can — at least not yet.

Why? Because they just don’t have the activity, interaction and importance that these two social media must-haves do. Pinterest however, is growing very rapidly and bares watching. The fact that real estate is so visual opens up plenty of opportunities for a Realtor to capture business on Pinterest. In fact, Google Plus and Pinterest work well for real estate in combination with each another. Take a look at the article and see how a Realtor can use these social platforms in unison.

You probably know that Facebook has the most users among all of the social media sites, but you may be surprised to learn that Google Plus comes in second place. Each day, according to popular news source Social Media Today, 665 million people are active on Facebook and 350 million are logging in to Google Plus to share and view their content marketing. Sure, there is some overlap, but if you do the math, that’s more than 1 billion people you could be interacting with and building relationships with — and 1 billion people who will probably need to buy a house sooner or later.

What’s even more exciting is that the key demographics for the two sites are completely different, which means there is probably less overlap than you think. Even if you do have some people following you on both sites, that just gives you more chances to build trust and develop lasting relationships.

Facebook’s largest audience (30 percent of its users) is the 25- to 34-year-old range, and they are mostly female. On the contrary, more than half of Google Plus users are 45-54 years old, and they are predominantly male. (Helpful side note: You should probably make a note of these demographics so you can target your posts accordingly.)

Which one is better?

If you are worried about which one can make the biggest difference on your home sales, then Google Plus takes the cake. However, Facebook still has its merits and it’s worth your effort to maintain it. Let’s look a little deeper into why Google Plus for real estate agents is so important for growing your business and your brand.

  • You get more visibility, faster. When you post something to your blog, it can take  weeks or months for it to show up on Google’s search rankings. But when you post something to your Google Plus page, it shows up almost instantly. This is because Google indexes anything that is posted into Google Plus very quickly.
  • You rank higher. Not only will your actual posts show up in the search rankings sooner, the links in them will get a nice little boost on their search position. Plus, the more people who click on your link, share your link or possibly “+1” your link, the more Google thinks it is credible and worthy of the elusive top ranking on the search results. In fact, over time when people link to your content because they believe it is exceptional, your Google Plus profile authority can grow increasing the chances you will show up in search. As Mark Traphagen points out in his brilliant article, there are not many who truly understand that Google Plus is far more than a social platform because of its unique ability to effect search results.
  • You can get your picture next to your post. Without a Google Plus profile, you can’t take advantage of the Google Authorship program. This program links your blog posts directly to your Google Plus profile, which puts your Google Plus picture next to these posts in the search results (so you better make sure you use a good headshot!). Why do you care about a picture? Well, it makes you a real person, not just some random name on the computer screen, which directly equates to a higher click-through rate. But above that, it makes everything you post on your website rank higher. Google is a give-and-take kind of company. If you support it by using Google Plus, it returns the favor by giving your posts a little boost.
  • You will show up higher in the search results for people who you are connected with. If you thought it couldn’t get any better, you were wrong. Not only does Google pay attention to the fact that you have a Google Plus profile and that you use it, it also pays attention to the people you are connected with. When these individuals search certain keywords, if they are logged into their Google account (which can just be Gmail), Google will realize that they already trust you (since you are in one of their Circles), so Google will boost you up in the rankings when you would have otherwise been obsolete.
  • Cook up a Google Plus post daily. In order to keep your profile fresh and your connections growing, you should try to post something at least once a day. There are many Google Plus users who opt for far more than that, but having at least one article posted will keep you fresh in the minds of those who have circled you. Most of the content on your profile should surround your topical authority, but also feel free to be human as well. There is nothing wrong with sharing other things that interest you. In addition, remember that if you really want to be successful, share other members’ content as well. This is how you build lasting relationships with others. Keep the social in social media and your efforts will be a far more successful endeavor.

Helpful tips for your Google Plus profile

By now you are convinced that you need a Google Plus profile. Good. But just setting up the profile isn’t going to be enough. Here are a couple tips to get you on your way:

  • You have to make it a personal experience. Yes, there is tremendous value in posting links to your website on your Google Plus page, but if that is all you do, you will have missed the mark. Google Plus is also about building and maintaining relationships with people. The majority of your posts should be engaging and offer value. You can post home design ideas, information about local activities, or even funny memes. If you think your target audience will enjoy something, share it. And then, every once in a while (a few times a week max), add in a post with a link to one of your blog posts or home listings.
  • Keywords are a must. Your entire Google profile is evaluated for keywords. Google wants to know what you do and what you offer so it can make sure to show your posts to people who are looking for you. The “about” section of your profile should be clear, concise and keyword-rich. The first sentence of each of your posts is also part of the title tag (which gets more clout in rankings), so never post something without the keyword or phrase right at the beginning.

What about Facebook?

Even though Google Plus may help your rankings, and therefore sales, more than Facebook, that doesn’t mean Facebook should be ignored. After all, it does have almost twice as many users. Here are some things you need to know about Facebook:

  • Be social. Just like Google Plus, it’s all about engaging with your followers. It’s not called a social network for nothing. If someone comments on your post, say something back. Go ahead and self-promote yourself once or twice a week, but doing so any more than that may hinder you instead of help you. For some reason, real estate agents love to post things about their business that are meaningless to most people.

For example, what does telling the world that you are out showing homes today do for you? Do you think people are looking at this and saying to themselves, “Boy, that Sally is one busy beaver — we will need to hire her when it comes time to sell our home”?

Folks, this is the WRONG way of going about using Facebook. What’s the right way? How about posting something of value that either a perspective buyer or seller would say to themselves, “Wow, that is great information.” For example, an article on staging tips to help get the most money for your home.

  • Post a variety of ways. Facebook may not use EdgeRank anymore to determine who sees your posts, but that’s only because it is using something far more complex (there are more than 100,000 factors in its new algorithm). Facebook still looks at how current your post is and how much interaction it is getting, but it is now measuring which types of posts each person prefers. For example, if one of your followers seems to “like” only posts with images, that is all Facebook will show them. Post a combination of pictures, videos, links, and text-only posts to make sure each and every one of your followers will see something you put out there.
  • Be visually appealing. The saying a picture is worth a thousand words couldn’t be more accurate on Facebook. Great visual posts, in my experience, do far better than a link to an article does.

Who can find my content?

Frankly, the one issue I have with Facebook is who can see your content. One would expect that anyone who follows you should be able to see your content, right? Unfortunately, this in not the case! If you follow social media like I do, you may have noticed some of the articles lately that have been taking pot shots at Facebook. Essentially, the uproar is due to the fact that Facebook has been really trying to monopolize the site. It wants you to pay to play. It is getting harder and harder for the people who matter to see the content you are producing. This, of course, has brought a lot of anguish for those who use Facebook for more than just keeping up with friends.

If you like to market your exceptional real estate content like I do, you may need to spend a little money to get your articles in front of more of the people you really want to see it. Lately, in order to accomplish this, I have been biting the bullet and sponsoring some of my content. While it is relatively inexpensive — currently $6.99, for a sponsored post — it begs the question of how many people will eventually get sick of Facebook altogether and start using Google Plus more for their real estate business.

Parting social media advice

Remember that social media is about being social! Use Google Plus and Facebook to drive visitors back to your website or blog. Make sure that once they are there you have the content to keep them there and wanting to come back for more. Do this and Google Plus and Facebook will be great tools to your success as a Realtor.

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