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Over the past two months, the world has been shocked by the global COVID-19 pandemic. With shelter-in-place orders across the United States, many real estate agents are seeing that their standard ways of generating new business are drying up.
No more events to network at. No more open houses. No more coffee chats. What’s an agent supposed to do? It’s important to note here that within every problem lies an opportunity. The same exact circumstances that are bringing such chaos to “standard” real estate practices are also creating an incredible opportunity for agents accustomed to working in the digital space.
As of right now, hundreds of millions of people are at home, staring at their screens. According to Social Media Today, people are spending up to 70 percent more time than normal on Facebook and Instagram.
Combine this with the fact that so many small businesses have stopped advertising, and we start to recognize that visibility online using paid media channels such as digital advertising hasn’t been this inexpensive in years.
But before we start to talk about leveraging paid traffic for your business, let’s go over some simple organic digital strategies you can implement.
Optimize your social media profiles
First, make sure your profiles are optimized to communicate that you are a real estate agent and that you’re still accepting new business.
On Facebook, you’ll want to make sure that you link your business page to your personal profile in your “about” section. You’ll want to use your personal profile bio to communicate what you do as well. Having a profile picture that shows your face is important. This can either be a professional headshot or a casual business photo, depending on how you want to present yourself.
Work on your Instagram profile as well. Make sure the clickable link in your bio goes to your website and that your bio communicates that you’re an agent in your area.
On LinkedIn, you’ll want to take advantage of your bio to let people know what you do and where. Leverage your “about” section to highlight some of the recent successes you’ve helped your clients achieve.
Post helpful content and updates
On all three platforms, you’ll want to post content about your local market, showcase properties, share helpful information on what people need to qualify as well as share updates on the changing landscape.
Have lending requirements changed? Tell your audience! Is there a new virtual tour available on Matterport? Exciting! Let your community know. Are you in a state that has real estate classified as essential and you can still do showings after lender pre-qualification? Your audience may not know this. Tell them.
Share helpful insights about your real estate market. Overemphasize that you’re able to offer virtual showings using video walk-throughs or that you’re able to offer showings that are no-contact and fully sanitized (after a prospect has been pre-qualified).
The more you show you care, the more your potential buyers will trust you. You can do this on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube — whichever channel you already have an audience built with.
Use geotags and local trending hashtags
In terms of building an audience on Instagram, make sure to use geotags and trending local hashtags in your posts and stories, create video content showcasing properties, and share breaking industry or local updates as they happen.
Geotags are relatively straightforward. You can tag each post or story with your city or neighborhood. If you want to find local trending hashtags, one of the quickest ways to do this is to look up your city and find what hashtags people are consistently using. Then, use those hashtags.
For example, I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The University of Michigan football stadium is lovingly titled “The Big House.” So if I wanted my Instagram posts and stories to show up in Ann Arbor, I would tag them with #thebighouse and geotag my posts with Ann Arbor as my location.
This is just one example of a local trending hashtag. Think about local slang for your area, and see if people are using those hashtags on Instagram. This is a great way to get in front of targeted locals on an international platform.
For Facebook and LinkedIn, video (live or prerecorded) content as well as longer written posts will perform well. Your role across the board is that of a trusted adviser. Be of service. Pinterest is another highly visual channel you may see progress on using targeted local search terms.
Take advantage of search keywords for SEO
To expand on the targeted local search term theme, when doing SEO for your website, make sure to check what search terms people in your market are looking for, and add those terms to your website, metatags and descriptions.
You can do this using a free tool like Ubersuggest. Then, type in your area, and see what terms people are searching for when you combine your city, real estate and terms like “buying a house” or “selling a home.” You can also write helpful blog posts, and add them to your website and Google My Business listing.
Dive into digital advertising
And now we get back to the biggest opportunity at the moment. Speed wins, especially in this market. One of the fastest ways to generate high quality leads online is with digital advertising.
As I mentioned above, ad costs have dropped significantly due to so many small businesses pulling down their ad spends, as well as so many more viewers online than normal. This creates an incredible opportunity for you to leverage digital advertising.
So, what are some best practices?
First, we generally see it’s much more effective to run buyer campaigns rather than seller campaigns. A reasonable amount of buyers are also sellers, giving you access to new off-market listings while still being able to focus your budget on the cheaper buyer leads. According to the National Association of Realtors, 48 percent of buyers have owned a previous home.
Next, you’ll want to advertise listings in your ideal target range. You’ll do this by identifying the preferred value of homes you’re looking to market, whether your own listings or listings from the MLS where you would represent the buyer.
Then, you’ll advertise these on your preferred digital network. We personally are big fans of Facebook and Instagram since they are such highly visual platforms for ads.
Once someone clicks on the ad, you’ll want to run them through a quick qualifying survey rather than just a lead generation form. This allows a higher response rate since people won’t stall out on a long form, while also allowing you to gather more information about your prospects well before you ever make contact with them.
Link this up to your CRM with some text message and email follow-up, and you’re in business. You’ll want to have both automated campaigns for right when a prospect opts in. Then, based on how they engage, you’ll want to segment them into different buckets for long-term marketing follow-up. I’m a big fan of Contact Smarter for lead generation and follow up, though many of the resources provided by your brokerage may have these tools as well.
Every problem creates an opportunity. The more you make yourself available for your community, the more you lead with service. The more aggressive you are in building your database, the more prepared you’ll be for success throughout this pandemic and the economic recovery period that follows.
Elisha Israel is the founder with Escrow Leads, an AI Digital Suite LLC brand. He travels full-time, providing real estate marketing services to clients anywhere in the United States.
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