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Although almost every real estate agent has once set goals to build a personal brand and increase their online presence, most will see their commitment taper off if there aren’t concrete steps set forth to make that happen.
The industry term “secret agent” is frequently used to describe agents who work hard and put in the hours selling houses but, due to a lack of social media savvy, fail to get the visibility they deserve. To avoid falling into that trap and facing a stagnant career, a solid social media game is a must.
“I was a secret agent in that I was doing work but not putting out content, not being consistent in my business and knowing nothing about what I’m doing to make business happen,” Sotheby’s International Realty agent Liz Vaynerchuk-Novello told the audience at the “Building Your Brand: How to Maximize Your Online Footprint” session at Inman Connect Now. “I knew that a lot of things had to change, and one of them was that I need to put myself out there.”
Here is how you become more visible online in five simple steps:
1. Be authentic, but don’t overshare
The trend right now is for agent influencers to be as “real” possible — pictures of kids and pets, posts about how much one loves everything from chocolate to a particular sports team, and even vacation photos are often oh-so-carefully interspersed with listing photos and market updates.
Although there is nothing wrong with being “real” and sharing parts of your day, your primary focus always needs to be real estate and value for clients. When homebuyers know that they can come to your Instagram and find pictures of newly listed homes, they are much more likely to stick around than if they see that along with 10 cat photos.
“I might talk about the Bucs because they won, and they were my hometown team. But if you want sports, you go to Mr. Benson,” RE/MAX agent Sue Pinky Benson, who brands herself as “Pinky Knows Naples” told the audience. “That’s not my forte, and I’m not going to pretend that that’s who I am.”
2. Document your day-to-day activities
Trying to come up with interesting content is one of the biggest hurdles that agents describe in their struggle to building a successful personal brand.
A simple way to start is by “documenting” what you’re doing throughout the day (touring homes, featuring specific listings) before eventually making the leap to “creating” content such as market analyses or deep dives of local neighborhoods.
The panel emphasized that people love a sneak peek. They want the behind-the-scenes scoop, and providing that on your social media feeds is also a savvy way to gently remind people of what you do.
“You just need to start to put your face in front of the camera,” Benson said. “It doesn’t have to be all day long. It can just show little snippets of how things are going in your life.”
3. Don’t get hung up on finding something ‘super interesting’
As Vaynerchuk-Novello pointed out, one of the biggest worries agents have is that they are “not interesting,” and they spend days trying to think up posts that will outdo competitors and wow their audience.
In reality, the best marketing strategy isn’t to come up with a show-stopping post but rather to put up interesting content consistently — what might seem to you like “just another listing post” could be of immense value to someone who is looking to buy that type of house or wants to know more about local life.
“I would take that equation out,” Vaynerchuk-Novello said. “Everybody’s life is interesting, and it’s often nice to have a sneak peek. That’s why we want to go to open houses — we want to be nosy and see the house.”
4. Don’t just post, analyze
When agents do make the leap and start posting on Instagram and Twitter regularly, they often get caught up on posting without checking whether their content is resonating with the audience. Instead of simply keeping on and hoping your following explodes, Benson suggests taking some time each month to look at your last 10 posts and finding commonalities.
Are there too many market updates? Not enough strong photography? Taking a longer view is often extremely beneficial in seeing what you’re doing right and what you could improve.
“Going back to look at these posts, what would people be able to gather from them?” Benson asked. “What would they be able to take away? Would they know you’re a dog-lover? Would they know that you have children? Do they even know that you’re a real estate agent? What does the story tell?”
5. Let go of fear
So much of social media (and being an agent in general) comes down to bravery — taking risks to get yourself noticed, score a client and get a home sold. Being prominent on social media often comes with looking out there and the occasional negative comment, but as both Benson and Vaynerchuk-Novello pointed out, the reward for letting go of fear and going forward far outweighs any pushback you’ll encounter along the way.
“You can’t focus on that one person,” Vaynerchuk-Novello said. “That person’s behind their keyboard and probably in a bad place. Focus instead on all the positive things that you’re doing.”
Another pro tip from Vaynerchuk-Novello: Don’t watch yourself. Not watching yourself keeps you from overthinking your content. Get out of your head, and just make it happen.