This April, one of Inman’s most popular recurring theme months returns: Back to Basics. All month, real estate professionals from across the country share what’s working for them, how they’ve evolved their systems and tools, and where they’re investing personally and professionally to drive growth in 2022. It’s always smart to go Back to Basics with Inman.
In an age in which social media rules everything, from our cultural trends and politics to what we eat and where we travel, its growing influence on where we live has become evident, forcing us to rethink our relationship to these platforms.
As with any relationship, it requires work, tenacity and a lot of heart.
I started my real estate social media journey over a decade ago, in a process that has proven to be fun and rewarding. Here are five tips to keep in mind, whether you are just starting your social media journey or looking to elevate your presence on existing platforms.
1. It’s about you
It is very easy to look at what others are doing on social media and compare ourselves to their projected success. But as with everything in real estate, our success depends on our ability to genuinely connect with our audience and build long-term relationships.
I have yet to find a more efficient and cost-effective way to communicate our value propositions and brand identity than through social media channels.
Of course, it’s good to be inspired by others, but make sure to tell your story in your own way; it’s not just about being authentic, but also being real. Your audience wants to get to know you and is interested in a behind-the-scenes look at how you do things. It’s imperative to not only communicate your success but also the process of how you got there.
Most of the time, we are very good at showing only the positive things or end results, but we fail to give a transparent look at how we achieve these milestones. Social media provides us with an incredible tool to tell the whole story.
In my experience, the more you articulate what you do and how you do it, the more opportunities you create for your audience to fall in love with you and your business.
2. Bigger is not always better
We can’t all be TV stars and have millions of followers. And guess what? That’s perfectly OK. It is not about how many followers you have. In my experience, it is about who your audience is and how you allow them to connect to your business.
Real estate is extraordinary in the sense that it provides opportunities for everyone who wants to dive into the field. However, to capitalize on this opportunity and see results, connecting with your client base is a must.
To put this into perspective, treat your social media channels like a storefront; make it a place where your prospective clients can see who you are, what you do and how you can serve their needs.
Personally, my interest has always been in organic growth for my audience. It might be taking me longer to grow my follower base, but I am able to genuinely connect with those who do.
In my opinion, a deeply engaged audience far surpasses the quantity of your audience. Knowing that my followers are genuinely interested in what I am doing and that they are ready to support what happens with my business, truly makes all the difference.
3. Location, social media location
With so much social media activity happening around us, sometimes it’s hard to figure out what the best approach for us individually is. It can be confusing. Should I do dance videos on TikTok? What about my YouTube channel or my Instagram stories? Where do I start, where do I end?
My experience has taught me that none of this really matters, as long as you are where your clients are. Even though it’s my story, when it comes to the specific social media tools, I am only interested in the platforms where my clients are most active.
For instance, my team has tried a variety of platforms, but about three to four years ago, I started to see better responses through Instagram and LinkedIn. I discovered that’s where my audience is most responsive and where they spend most of their time, so that’s where I put most of my efforts.
I am aware of how successful some agents are in other services or social media platforms, but I have learned to identify the ones that work best for me and my business. I stopped seeing social media as a popularity contest and began to figure out how, within the context of my own business, I could create a pipeline for lead generation.
I feel strongly that all you need is proficiency and excellence in one, but make sure that whatever it is, it’s where your audience lives.
4. You are drenched in content
Do you take photos for your listings? Most likely, yes. Well, that’s endless content, and that same set of photos can be repurposed for several posts. For example, a new listing announcement can be followed a few days later by themed posts with captions like “kitchen dreams” or “bathroom goals” — you get the point. In addition, those same listing photos can become a series of videos by using the right app or even your swanky smartphone camera.
As real estate professionals, we are already producing content daily that can be used on social media. You don’t have to have a crew following you around taking photos of you or shooting mind-blowing videos. Every home you visit with your buyers, every walk in the park, every rainy day through your favorite street is an opportunity for content creation. It takes minutes. You just have to do it. Practice creates mastery.
My daily postings are now part of my daily routine, and just like going to the gym, I struggled with it but got used to it over time. Those who know me will have a good laugh; I love to talk, but I never liked talking on camera. Guess what? I had to get over it and do it. Now, I am waiting for my Oscar or a Daytime Emmy.
Don’t let the noise turn you off from getting started or from continuing to develop your social media marketing strategy. Start somewhere comfortable for you and build from there.
5. Get it done
If you have been in the business long enough, you might remember the days of not having your own agent website. I actually didn’t have one until five or six years into my career. I thought it wasn’t necessary; I had postcards instead. I disagree with my younger self. I wish I had the foresight to get that website done ASAP. It is the first thing our prospective clients look for. They google us, and they find it.
Social media is the contemporary equivalent. After they Google you, they look for you on Instagram or any other platform. They find you, your business and your practice. And that is not going to change.
Regardless of how it makes you feel, social media is a powerful tool. It tells your story, it promotes your business, it can create a pipeline, and it’s a strong lead generation tool.
To incorporate it into your business strategy, it takes an open mindset to embrace it, and you can do so on your comfort level and on your own terms. If one thing is certain, its value and marketing relevance will only continue to grow. Make sure your business grows with it.
Ricardo Rodriguez is the principal of Ricardo Rodriguez and Associates at Coldwell Banker Realty, Boston. Follow him on Instagram and LinkedIn.