Real estate social media and technology company Roost has launched a premium version of its social network marketing toolkit, the company announced last week.
The Roost Social Media Toolkit includes a Facebook publishing scheduler, Roost Publisher, and a Facebook "Real Estate" tab that allows users to display local market data and listings. The free application now has more than 25,000 users, the company said.
In the premium version of the "Real Estate" tab, users can now include local market data for up to six cities or ZIP codes; the free version supports one geographic area. Premium users will also be able to post and manage an unlimited number of listings on their tab; the free version supports up to four listings.
The premium tab includes a lead-capture function: real estate agents or brokers can include text that advertises more information, and requests that consumers fill out a form that includes their name, phone number, and e-mail address.
In addition, for those real estate professionals with IDX (Internet Data Exchange) search functionality on their blog or website, the premium tab includes a property search button that connects back to their site.
The premium toolkit costs $24.90 a month.
"Roost’s model is a ‘freemium’ model, so we want to build killer free stuff" and support those free services and grow the company with paid, premium products, said Brad Selby, Roost’s head of product.
The premium tab launched at the National Association of Realtors’ annual conference in New Orleans at the beginning of November, but the company didn’t announce the launch on its blog until Nov. 30. More than 200 people signed up for the product before the official announcement, the company said.
Roost also launched another tab, "Roost Academy," at the conference. The tab includes webinars, how-to videos, and FAQs about how to use social media for real estate marketing. Roost Academy is free to all users.
"Long before you’re in a position to get a premium Roost account, you’ll need to get the basics down, so it’s in everybody’s best interest (for Roost) to help," Selby said.
This week, the company will release RoostBar, a feature incorporated into Roost Publisher. A banner with the brokerage’s name, picture, and a "Like" button will appear at the top of any link an agent or broker posts via Roost Publisher. The purpose will be to try to turn Facebook "friends" into "fans" and help promote the brokerage’s brand.
Later this month, the company plans to roll out various new features. These include color palettes for the toolkit (several of them based on the brands of major brokerages) and a tool called "Content to Publish" that can pull in posts from an agent’s blog.
Another product, called "Listen," will allow agents to watch their top prospects "like a hawk," the company said. Agents will be able to create a list of their most promising leads and see everything they post in one place.
"More akin to an inbox than a feed, (agents) will be able to easily figure out what is going on in these peoples’ lives," Selby said.
Rather than following multiple threads as they occur in Facebook’s status feeds, agents will be able to conduct very focused monitoring of select individuals, Selby said. Users will also be able to remove posts they’ve already read and "favorite" posts they find most interesting — features not currently supported in Facebook’s "Friend List" product, Selby said.
Within the next month or two, the company also plans to launch an analytics tool that will allow users to find out how many people shared, commented on, and "liked" individual posts.
The toolkit has attracted interest from industries related to real estate, including mortgage and insurance brokers, said Derek Overbey, Roost’s senior director of marketing and social media. "We’re definitely thinking about (expanding beyond real estate)," Selby said.
Nevertheless, Overbey added, "We really want to concentrate on the real estate industry right now. We think we can bring a lot of value there. That’s one of the advantages that we have had, that real estate agents have grabbed on to social media so aggressively."