In this monthly advice column, the Marketing Mastermind answers three burning questions. This month’s topic: how to effectively reach your audience.

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In this monthly advice column, Marketing Mastermind Christy Murdock Edgar answers three burning questions from the real estate industry at large. This month’s topic: leveraging the media. 

I recently had the opportunity to meet with the Young Professionals Group at Bonita Springs Estero Realtors in Bonita Springs, Florida. It was a great opportunity to talk with agents both new and experienced and see how they are reaching out in their community to connect and serve their clients.

Here are some of the things we discussed.

1. Should I pre-schedule social media posts?

There’s no doubt that it can be efficient to pre-schedule social media posts, and there are plenty of platforms like HootSuite and Buffer that will allow you to do so. This is especially popular with folks who don’t like social media or who want to outsource their social media management.

There are a couple of drawbacks, however, to take into consideration if you are pre-scheduling your social media content, especially if you are scheduling it several weeks out.

Loss of spontaneity and energy

Part of what works for the best social media engagement is the energy and immediacy of an impromptu post that really shows what your life is like. Seeing where you are that day, what funny things happened, and, yes, even what you had for lunch can be a great way to connect with your audience and give them a glimpse into your life.

When you are pre-scheduling your posts, or having an assistant do so, you may end up with some lovely photos on IG or some useful information on Facebook, but it will feel less personal  and ultimately less interesting – than something more authentic and timely.

Of course, there will be times that pre-scheduling your posts makes sense, and you should feel free to do so. Just don’t be entirely dependent on these – change them up with occasional spontaneous glimpses into your day to keep things interesting.

Possibility of unintentional insensitivity

If you’re pre-scheduling your posts days or even weeks out, it’s easy to forget the details of what you posted and when you scheduled it for. This can create an uncomfortable situation if an event occurs that seems to connect to your post.

For example, imagine you pre-scheduled a post for 3 p.m. on April 15, 2019 about how the spring market is “HOT, HOT, HOT.” Maybe it was on Instagram and showed a background of flames or the fire emoji. That post would have dropped right in the middle of the Notre Dame fire, and it would have seemed horribly insensitive given the context.

While pre-scheduled posts can be incredibly convenient, you need to be sure that you are revisiting them from time to time and that, if a major event occurs, you check your schedule to ensure there won’t be an unintentional overlap that could cause you embarrassment.

2. Is IDX a must for my real estate website?

This is a question I’m getting more and more as I talk with agents about their website needs. The answer usually comes down to how you plan to use your website and what your expectations are.

If you are adding an IDX integration to your website because you think you will become the local go-to search engine for homebuyers, you’ll probably be disappointed. Your website is not going to compete against Zillow or realtor.com for traffic, and people are not going to search it out to begin their real estate search.

If, however, your goal is to bring people into your digital landscape and keep them there as long as possible, IDX can be a useful way to do that, when it is part of an overall content marketing strategy.

If you are creating blog posts or videos around specific neighborhoods, listings or home types, then driving traffic to that content effectively with social media shares and email blasts, you can link from that content to your IDX to keep people within your site longer.

Although they might not come to your IDX for their first search, they might hang out longer if you make the connection between your content and specific listings.

One caution: Many IDX systems have integrations for lead capture that require visitors to enter their contact info to access the listings in your feed. This may mean that those visitors simply click away to the larger MLS portals where they are not required to provide information.

It’s important for you to decide what your goal is with an IDX integration: to capture emails or to keep people on your site longer, where they might then reach out to you voluntarily.

If your main purpose is to have a place to host your content and info about yourself, you might not need an IDX integration at all. Especially if you are a young or new agent bootstrapping your operation, this is an expense you can probably forego.

3. How can I leverage community and industry connections to promote my business?

Being a real estate agent means that you are often working with a variety of other professionals in your market. This provides you with a wealth of opportunities for mutually beneficial cross-promotion.

Consider the following possibilities:

  1. A young entrepreneur’s mastermind
  2. Credit recovery workshops in cooperation with a lender or financial adviser
  3. First-time homebuyer workshops in cooperation with lenders or title companies
  4. Home staging and home improvement workshops with local contractors
  5. Packing tips with local moving and storage companies
  6. Monthly or seasonal homeowner guides with local contractors
  7. Charitable drives or fundraisers in cooperation with local business owners
  8. Hosting an event or booth at a local fair or festival
  9. Sponsoring little league teams or school sports teams with fellow business owners
  10. Real estate investor workshops with guest speakers from the industry

Thinking of yourself as a small business owner, then finding ways to work with other business owners and event planners in your area — inside and outside of the real estate industry — will help you network with your fellow professionals and bring value-added services and content to grow your potential client base.

Remember, a workshop no longer has to mean renting out a room at the local community center or hotel conference space. You can create virtual how-tos and workshops through your live video feed, through an online Ask Me Anything event, or as part of a series of blogs or vlogs. That gives you the opportunity to promote and even repurpose the content you generate for ongoing engagement.

Do you have any questions for the Marketing Mastermind? Shoot us an email. 

Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate in Alexandria, Virginia. Follow Writing Real Estate on FacebookTwitter or Instagram

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