In March’s Marketing and Branding Month, we’ll go deep on agent branding and best practices for spending with Zillow, Realtor.com and more. Top CMOs of leading firms drop by to share their newest tactics, too. And to top off this theme month, Inman is debuting a brand new set of awards for branding and marketing leaders in the industry called Marketing All-Stars.
This article was last updated on Mar. 24, 2023.
Now more than ever, building and maintaining an online presence is crucial for real estate agents. Prospective clients are more likely to search the web as the first step in finding and vetting an agent.
“Your digital footprint, aka online presence, has never been more critical than it is right now. The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) 2020 homebuyer and seller research found that an all-time high of 97 percent of buyers used the internet to find their home, and 77 percent of sellers only contacted one agent before hiring them,” Jimmy Burgess wrote in an Inman column titled “Is your online presence on point? Here’s how to find out.”
After all, this is one of the most significant transactions most people will make in their lifetime, and they want to be confident in their agent’s abilities.
And with those statistics, it’s pretty clear that you’re going to have to start earning potential clients’ trust and building relationships online. How can you do that when you’ve never even met? Here are a few tips to help ensure that when your ideal clients search for a real estate agent, they’ll find you.
1. Become besties with Google
First things first: Google yourself. A simple search on both your desktop and mobile device will tell you exactly how others see you when they search your name.
Although it’s great for clients to see some of your personal sides, the first few search hits should pertain more to relevant information on your real estate business and less about your Pinterest board dedicated to cute puppies.
How do you change the search results if you don’t like what you see? Add real estate-related content to your social media platforms, blogs and sites.
By adding more real estate-related content to your online platforms, you can change the conversation on search, so you appear on the first page of search results.
2. Expand your online presence
Think you have to create your own website to stand out online? Think again. Various real estate websites allow you to complete an online profile on their respective sites.
Check out the following how-tos for further instruction on setting up your profiles and expanding your digital footprint:
- How to use Zillow to grow your business in 2023
- Inman Handbook on realtor.com
- Inman Handbook On Getting The Most Out Of HomeLight
You can add a bio, professional social media links, client testimonials, and active listings that communicate your experience to prospective clients. These digital resumes not only make you more “discoverable” online, but they also add to your credibility because you are associated with a trusted, recognized and heavily trafficked entity.
3. Be selective on social media
When you’re starting out on social media, it’s best to stick to one platform and grow from there. We encourage our agents to start on LinkedIn because of its professional, business focus. When you branch out onto other platforms like Instagram or Facebook, decide if you want to manage one account or separate personal and professional accounts.
Facebook Business and Instagram Business accounts are advantageous because they provide helpful engagement analytics, such as views and follower demographics. They also allow you to place ads that will reach your target audience.
When using an Instagram Business account, you can engage with followers directly using polls, Q&A sessions, fun quizzes, and more.
Like real estate websites, social media platforms have a bio section where you can add details about yourself and contact information.
If you are driving people to a central website that forms the base of your online marketing efforts, use a link shortener like Bit.ly or TinyURL. Or, if you want to share all of your essential online links, try LinkTree; agents can personalize and customize web pages that house all the vital links you want to share with your audience.
4. Create a content calendar
Now that you’ve set up your social media accounts, it’s time to start engaging. The best way to do that is through content that is interesting and useful to your followers. We’ve found that developing a content calendar is a great way to make sure you are posting regularly. You can split up content into categories, such as:
- Upcoming events
- Listing updates
- Client testimonials
- Inspirational quotes
Many agents like to split up their content with a different theme each day. Find what works for you.
There are many free social media design templates available online that will help you create dynamic, eye-catching posts — we happen to be big fans of Canva. You can also automate the posting of content with tools like Hootsuite or Sprout.
5. Put the ‘present’ in your online presence
Now that you’ve put the work in and optimized your online presence, be sure to be present! Online marketing is not a “set it and forget it” initiative that you can sustain with cookiecutter content.
Don’t waste your time by not working these channels. Otherwise, you run the risk of becoming stale and stagnant. Although a potential client might overlook these qualities, a lack of online activity can make you less relevant in search queries. Actively monitor your sites and respond to comments. See what’s working and what’s falling flat. Make adjustments based on the relationships you are building.
As with most things in life — and real estate — there’s no silver bullet when it comes to building an online presence. Yes, it takes time to curate online relationships, but it’s time well spent in building your business.
Mary Hind Long is the director of marketing with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Advantage Realty in Hawaii. Connect with her on LinkedIn or Facebook.