Marketing

Sylvie Zolezzi on how hyperlocal content results in a thriving social media presence

Decker Bullock Sotheby's agent knows Marin County like the back of her hand

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Age: 59

Years in real estate: 9

Job title: Luxury Residential Specialist

Brokerage: Decker Bullock Sotheby’s International Realty

Location: Marin County, California (north of San Francisco)

Hours per week spent on social media: I am not sure; I don’t time block for social media

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Social media accounts: Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google PlusInstagram

Target demographic: Marin and San Francisco residents

Average number of posts per day: one or two on Facebook page, one on Instagram, 20-40 pins/repins on Pinterest, and occasional Google Plus and Twitter posts.

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Which social channels do you work more?

I use them very differently. I spend the most time on my Facebook business page. I like how interactive it is. I like and comment a lot on other people’s Facebook feeds. I have also been increasing my presence on Pinterest to build a more lasting presence through content that has a longer shelf life, and to which I can refer my clients. Facebook and Pinterest both drive good traffic to my website. Of late, I have been more consistent with Instagram and have been posting on a daily basis.

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

I have 7,080 likes on my Facebook page; 481 friends on Facebook (I am very selective and like to keep my personal life fairly private); 801 followers on my real estate Pinterest account and 930 followers on my personal Pinterest account; 655 on Twitter; 801 on LinkedIn; and about 150 on Instagram (it is a fairly new platform for me — my kids encouraged me to join).

Does that number matter to you?

Of course, but what I monitor much more closely is the engagement of my followers so that I can stay relevant to them.

When I started my Facebook page, I did what the majority of agents do: I asked my friends to like my page and posted my listings, open houses and some real estate articles and was rewarded with total silence from my few followers and zero engagement. Over 90 percent of homebuyers may be going online to search for homes and educate themselves about real estate, but let’s face it, they weren’t flocking to my Facebook page. So I tried a few different things. I had the most success when I posted my own unique content, and more specifically, hyperlocal content in the form of beautiful pictures of Marin County. I always have my camera with me, and take up to 100 photos a day sometimes. I have a library of about 20,000 photos of Marin I have archived and classified by community, season, activity, and so on … (See my Pinterest page, where I have posted many of them.)

In addition to beautiful photography, my page is about the Marin lifestyle: gorgeous scenery and beautiful homes. I work hard at keeping the right balance between posts about community news and events, local restaurants, boutiques, a few carefully curated articles about the Bay Area and real estate, my blog posts, my market reports and a sprinkling of personal stuff. I do post my own listings and also highlight other agents’ listings that I photograph on brokers’ tour — I have had Marin agents ask me to feature their listing on my page several times.

Do you ever give it a break?

Yes; I never take my phone or iPad to bed with me. I also totally unplug from everything — social media, email, texts, phone — when I walk my dogs; I do use my phone to take pictures of them, though, which I often post on my page.

Does social help your business, and how?

Definitely; it has greatly improved my marketing reach. It is actually rather mind-boggling: My listing videos on Vimeo get about 1,000 times more views than my colleagues’.

What’s your goal for your favorite social channel?

Social channels have become an increasingly important part of any business marketing strategy, and they are an integral part of mine. Time spent connecting online, whether for business communication or personal interaction, continues to grow at a lightning pace, and we are all constantly bombarded by an avalanche of content. The challenge is to consistently provide truly valuable content that stands out.

That’s my goal. I want my followers to look forward to my content, and I would like to increase their engagement. I have met several of my Facebook followers in person, and would like to meet more of them. Social media is a great first step in building relationships; sitting across from someone is the best way to cement these relationships.

What’s your strategy to achieve it?

Being consistent with the frequency of my posts, being authentic, and staying away from negativity, politics and religion. Continuing to fine-tune my content and engaging more with people who comment and share my posts. Last year I conducted a survey of my Facebook followers, and I had a lot of very useful feedback about what they would like to see on my page that I have acted upon.

Visual data has proven to be the best way to share information on all social channels, and I am planning on using more infographics to present market data.

Finally, I want to increase my use of video beyond the marketing of my listings. Facebook has been making a big push for video content: It hit 1 billion video views per day, and people are currently posting 75 percent more videos to Facebook than they did a year ago. No wonder! Facebook videos are reported to be getting more engagement than YouTube videos posted to Facebook, probably thanks to the auto-play feature.

You can see why video is at the top of my social media/marketing to-do list for this spring to further increase the engagement of my Facebook followers. :)

Is it worth it?

Absolutely. It is helping me reach a huge audience on a daily basis. I cannot think of any other medium that could help me achieve that. Furthermore, I am having a lot of fun and really enjoying social media; it is not a chore for me. I strongly believe that’s the key to success in social media. It’s like going to the gym. If you don’t enjoy it, you cannot stick to it for the long term and get results.

What’s your craziest social media-related story?

I don’t know if this qualifies as “crazy,” but last summer I received an offer on one of my listings from a Facebook follower who saw the video of the listing on my page. What’s amazing is that she was not looking to move, but she fell in love with the home after watching the video. It is very much about a certain lifestyle that really appealed to her and her husband. That’s what my page is about — the Marin lifestyle — because that’s what real estate is about.

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

The local, unique content produces my best results, especially stunning photography.

Is this more about “social” or about business?

Social! Being social is just as much an essential ingredient for success in real estate on social channels as it is in real life.

Social media is about being authentic. I am building my brand by sharing my genuine passion for Marin and its community, my love of photography, my ability to showcase beautiful homes, and my knowledge of the market to build trust and relatability. That is who I am in real life, and who I am on social media as well.

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

I monitor the channels mostly on my phone. I used Hootsuite for a while but did not like it. I prefer to interface directly with each platform.

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

I am not sure, but overall I am probably on social one to two hours a day. I check my accounts several times a day.

Do you ever think of retiring?

Absolutely not!

Do you consider yourself an influencer?

I never thought of myself as such, but from a social media point of view in my community, maybe. I have taught several social media classes to other agents, and my clients are generally quite impressed by the size of my network.

Are you social in real life?

Yes. I like smaller settings, and I love to entertain at my home.

What did you do with your time before?

I wrote more blog posts. And my goal this year is to go back to writing more Web content: I often get calls or emails about blog posts I wrote several years ago. Developing that long-lasting, searchable content is still very important.

I also spent a lot of time (and money) on more traditional marketing tools, including mailing a monthly market report and postcards.

Staying in touch with my sphere of influence before took much more time and more of an effort. Now, social media allows me to stay connected more easily and efficiently, but I am making a point of not letting it replace in-person meetings with clients and friends. These face-to-face encounters are so important and I do so enjoy them.

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

I use it in many different ways: to support local businesses, friends and the charities with which I am involved. It has also proven very beneficial for my clients because my network helps me to expose my listings to a targeted audience of people who are interested in Marin County real estate and its lifestyle.

Do you have someone helping you?

No, not with social media.

Whom do you follow and why?

I follow businesses in my community, local and national news outlets, and quite a few real estate and social media influencers/bloggers. I use Feedly Pro to help me keep track of them on both my computer and my iPhone/iPad.

I also follow real estate agents from other markets and have built digital relationships with several of them. I find it very interesting to see how they are using social media, and it keeps me apprised of what’s happening in the industry outside of my market. As a bonus, I have exchanged referrals with some of them.

Where do you find the content that you put out?

My content is primarily my own: mostly photos of the Marin community, of homes/listings, restaurants and so on. I post all my blog posts, including my monthly market report. I also occasionally repost carefully curated articles I find through other news or real estate sources I follow or through Google Alerts.

What has been your all-time hit share?

I have had over 500 likes a few times, and over 100 shares. But what is most meaningful to me is the comments. Recently, I was very happy to have 215 likes, 15 comments and 15 shares on my Happy New Year post on Dec. 31. The comments were especially heartwarming. Here is an example: “I always look forward to your pictures, thank you so much for sharing! I dream daily of moving to Marin County. You are very blessed to live there! Wishes for a happy and successful new year!”

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