Marketing

Shannon Milligan: ‘My last 4 or 5 clients came directly from Facebook’

Social media all-star talks about how to make friends and influence people

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Age: 38

Years in real estate: 5 years licensed, 10 years counting back-end support

Job title: Associate broker, Realtor and president of the RVA Home Team with Keller Williams Realty

Location: Richmond, Virginia

Hours per week spent on social media: 15-plus

Social media accounts: Five or six, including LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter  

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Target demographic: Homebuyers and sellers aged 25-57

Average number of posts per day: Varies

Shannon Milligan's cell phone home screen.

Shannon Milligan’s cellphone home screen.

Which social channels do you work more?

I focus on Facebook, as I find it to be the most social relationship-building platform that also isn’t a huge time-suck. I post on Twitter; however, I find 140 characters limits my ability to work on other things. You can engage in a conversation on Twitter, yet you can be there for hours on end.

How many friends, likes and so on do you have?

I have 677 friends on my personal Facebook account and 556 likes on my business page.

Does that number matter to you?

Not really. I am not what one calls a “friend collector,” so the people who are on my personal page are people I actually know one way or another. I am constantly receiving friend requests, but I am pretty picky about who I allow on that page. As for my business page, it matters a little; however, I prefer quality to quantity.

Do you ever give it a break?

On some platforms I do, but I am always checking Facebook — numerous times a day. I check it when I wake up, at lunch, in between meetings, after dinner and right before I go to bed.

I make sure to keep a balance between personal and business posts on both of my Facebook accounts. No one wants to constantly see pictures of your listings. I talk about my kids, my husband, my dogs, my listings. I make it a point to engage in other posts and keep up with my friends’ lives. When I meet someone in person and mention something they wrote, they are often surprised that I actually read it. Again, relationship-building.

People just want to know they have been seen, that they have been heard.

Does social help your business, and how?

Absolutely! It reminds friends and acquaintances that I am a Realtor. I recently started working with a client who I met at a mother’s club years ago when I lived in another part of the state. We were Facebook friends, and when she needed to move, she contacted me. As a matter of fact, my last four or five clients came directly from Facebook — people I don’t hang out with but have built relationships with over the years online.

What’s your goal for your favorite social channel?

I want my Facebook pages, personal and business, to foster relationships and demonstrate that I am the expert when it comes to their real estate needs. I also want it to show that I care, because I do!

What’s your strategy to achieve it?

To remain active on the platform every day, and to make others feel important. The saying is true: At the end of the day no one will remember what you said or did, but they will remember how you made them feel.

Is it worth it, why?

Without a doubt it is worth it. We are living in a tech world. Tech dominates. Just go to a restaurant and watch how many couples or families are on their smartphones while enjoying “quality time” together. It is sad and also the reality of today. If I am not engaged, someone else will be. (Side note: This is something I am very guilty of and am working on putting the phone away at the dinner table. I am not sober just yet, but I am working on the addiction. I say that with sincerity — it truly has become an addiction in our society.)

What’s your craziest social media-related story?

I don’t really have anything crazy, like a big faux pas, but I did have something very cool happen. I was in Mexico on vacation with my husband, and we had been climbing a ruin. When we returned to the resort, my Wi-Fi turned back on, and my phone started beeping uncontrollably. I had 73 messages and thought for sure someone had died back home!

As it turns out, Inman had published one of my articles (“Do you have – gasp! – HGTV syndrome?”), and the messages were from friends in the industry who read it before I even knew it had been featured. That article had more shares, retweets and reblogs than I can count. It was an amazing experience, and dinner that night in Mexico was a fun celebration! It was nice to be recognized for my effort!

What actions do you take that have gotten the most results?

First, when I post a link, I make sure to delete the link once the picture or video shows up. Although there are no real character limitations such as Twitter, this makes for a much cleaner presentation. It shows a potential client I care about the details.

Second, I share posts from other businesses, and they, in turn, sometimes share mine. Win-win!

Third, I will run a contest from time to time, which is always fun and encourages engagement.

Finally, I will boost or sponsor a post. I have recently begun to sponsor ads for my listings when they first come on the market. I spend $20 per listing, select a target audience and get in front of 5,000-plus potential clients for a very little cost.

Is this more about “social” or about business?

I don’t see a defined line between the two. These truly are “blurred lines.” (You are welcome for the earworm!) Think about when you go to a party and meet a new person. What is one of the first questions they ask? “What do you do for a living?” Talking business in your personal life is being social!

How do you monitor the channels? Do you use software or apps to manage your account, and if so, which ones?

Everything is done organically. I don’t use any apps or software to manage it. I have my admin post things that she finds interesting, and I always add my own posts. I feel like one can tell when it is scheduled, and that is not relationship-building in my book. I am rather tired of the photos saying, “Which bathroom do you prefer?” as it is very canned.

Maybe that was effective when only a handful of agents were paying for services that post for them, but now it is diluted, and the consumer can tell. I know because I am also a consumer.

How many hours per day are you on social? Do you check it daily? Multiple times per day?

I am on Facebook about two hours a day, every day, and I probably spend an hour a day on other channels posting a link to Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus, ActiveRain and so on.

Do you ever think of retiring?

Every night, and then every morning I am ready to go again. I have a very hard time turning off for the evening, so I work some very late nights. It is not uncommon for me to be texting a client back at 11 p.m. answering a question. It isn’t my preferred way of doing business; however, my personality doesn’t allow me to just shut off the phone. I am very instantaneous!

Do you consider yourself an influencer?

Sure! I am in sales, and to be good at sales, you have to believe you are an influencer. Among my peers, I do believe agents are taking notice of what I am doing, and I have been happy to share my knowledge. I have taught many blogging classes over the past two years, and I am really proud when I see someone implementing what they have learned!

Are you social in real life?

I go to both extremes. When I am at a party, you will always find me in the thick of things and not sitting at a table by myself. However, when I am home or in a class, I tend to turn inward and need some downtime. It is exhausting being “on” all the time, so it is important to take a Zack Morris moment and call time out. (You know you are my age when you get that reference!)

What did you do with your time before?

I was on the phone a lot more, and I was constantly attending networking events. I still network, but mostly one-to-one, and they are oftentimes the people I have met on social media! My favorite fellow Realtor I met on Twitter, and we will get together every couple of months to bounce ideas off of each other. It comes full circle.

How do you leverage your prominence or influence on social media?

I make sure potential sellers understand my social reach and how it directly benefits them when they hire me. With 92 percent of buyers starting their search online, it is more important than ever to be active on social media.

Last year, I posted a new listing on Facebook. Another agent saw it there, set up the first appointment of the day — and BAM!, we were under contract within hours. Had it not been for Facebook, they may not have seen the listing for days, or maybe the listing would not have had everything that their search criteria was set up for.

But, the power of Facebook worked in bringing together two interested parties. Needless to say, we had very happy clients on both sides!

Do you have someone helping you?

I have an administrative assistant who will post things from time to time on Facebook, but I make sure I do my own posts, as well. She also handles my Pinterest account, as she is good at it and I find it overwhelming with all the other things I have going on.

Who do you follow and why?

I follow local businesses so we can scratch each other’s backs, I follow news organizations like Inman and ActiveRain for the latest on all things real estate, and I follow vendors, as they often share great tips that my clients need to know.

Where do you find the content that you put out?

Everywhere! I create a lot of my own content through my blog, which focuses on listings, local communities and events taking place around the Richmond metro area.

What has been your all-time hit share?

I had a luxury listing come on the market at the same time the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was in full effect. I decided to accept the challenge with a twist in order to gain exposure for the listing and help the cause with a substantial donation. It received 12 shares from my business page, 36 from my personal page, and I have no idea how many from my other platforms, as I don’t monitor them like some think I should!

That may not seem like a lot, but for me even one share can make an impact. I do know that the message got out to the masses, and it was a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

Are you a social media all-star who’d like to participate in our profile series? Email amber@inman.com.