The majority of real estate companies are going about their social media strategies all wrong, or not at all. I talk to dozens of companies a day, and when I ask about their real estate marketing and social media culture, the main answer I get is, “What’s that? or “We don’t really ‘do’ social.” Even when a company does use social media, I’m often told, “Marketing handles that,” or “We work with an agency.”
I’m talking about real estate companies that range in size from three to 500 agents. What gives? If social media is about interacting with people, doesn’t it make sense to have the people in the business participating in the conversation? This seems like a no-brainer, but I keep finding that my question falls on deaf ears.
Here are some of the potholes I’ve uncovered:
1. Each person has their own idea about social, and there isn’t agreement or buy-in from everyone (from the boss to the admin).
2. People in the organization don’t understand how great content can drive revenue for their company, nor do they share an understanding of how one goes about participating in social.
3. Companies and agents are generally afraid of sharing their expertise. The fear is that if they share it, customers will have nothing to pay for, or else their competitors will copy all their best stuff.
4. Agents and employees don’t realize that they have the skills and the knowledge to create fantastic content.
5. Everyone thinks that someone else is handling the marketing, and therefore social (whether it’s the marketing director, the SEO guy, the agency, the big boss, etc.)
This has got to change.
My list of roadblocks could go on for pages. But the reality is that it’s not that complicated. You don’t need a social media expert to participate on the Web in a meaningful way. The people in your organization have the knowledge and the skills to be a part of your social media strategy. But before we get into the details, let’s talk a bit about content marketing and its importance.
Think of content as the answers to the questions that people are searching for or the bits of entertainment that keep people engaged on the Web. OK, so what is content marketing and how does it help business? Here’s Wikipedia’s take:
“Content marketing is an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation and sharing of content in order to engage current and potential consumer bases. Content marketing subscribes to the notion that delivering high-quality, relevant and valuable information to prospects and customers drives profitable consumer action. Content marketing has benefits in terms of retaining reader attention and improving brand loyalty.”
A mouthful, yes, but that’s it. You provide really useful information to your desired audience on a consistent basis, and make it easy for them to access and consume it. In turn, you build trust, brand loyalty, and warm leads for your product and service.
People visit the Web for three reasons: (1) to get answers; (2) self-promotion; and (3) entertainment (not necessarily in that order). You don’t have to provide solutions to all three. You just need to provide the answers to the questions that your customers are asking, and this is why your team is qualified to participate in your social media efforts. If anyone in your company has ever answered a customer question, then guess what? They’re qualified.
So let’s start the clock ticking on social media boot camp:
Session 1. Once the boss or CEO has agreed to transform your company into a content creation machine, set aside two back-to-back days for social media and content creation activities.
Session 2. Gather everyone in a room. Make your impassioned case for providing valuable information to your customers and the concept of content marketing. Ask everyone to give it their all for the next two days.
Session 3. Go over examples of successful content marketing. Show some examples from the Content Marketing Institute or HubSpot, or search out your own.
Session 4. Brainstorm. With everyone in a room, get a bunch of sticky pads and start asking about the “silly” questions your customers ask. (Why silly questions? Because they’ll break the ice and get the ball rolling.) Write one question on each note and stick it to the wall. Keep writing down customer questions until the wall is filled. Make sure to pick nonparticipants out of the crowd and elicit some answers from them. I’m sure everyone has fielded a seemingly silly question from a customer.
Session 5. Rank the questions in some order of frequency, with the most asked questions at the top. Combine any duplicates.
Session 6. Starting with your most asked questions, do some role-playing with your team to start thinking about answers. The idea is to show the group that everyone in the organization has expertise in answering customer questions.
Session 7. Compile the top 100 questions. These will be your first 100 content topics. Give everyone a pad of paper and ask them to brainstorm some answers to the top questions.
Session 8. Make sure you have a Q-and-A for each session above.
Session 9. The last session of Day 1. Discuss individual brand building and the value of each team members personality. The more they engage with their customers on the Web, the stronger the relationships they can form with their clients and customers. Homework: Have each team member list five areas in which they feel they could provide the best answers to customer questions.
Session 1: Review the previous day’s sessions and provide lots of time for Q-and-A.
Session 2. Divide everyone into teams and see who can come up with the most blog title ideas. Use the same process we used in Session 7 of Day 1.
Session 3: Time to play with video. Have each team produce their own videos answering some of the top questions discovered on Day 1. Use iPhones, iPads or portable cameras. We aren’t looking for TV quality. We’re getting people comfortable with using video as a content creation tool. Make some videos serious and some humorous. Don’t try to exert control over the output.
Session 4. Review the videos as a group. Have fun. Vote for the funniest, most memorable, most convincing, etc. Award prizes.
Session 5. Review the last two days. Let your team know that from now on your company is going to be the thought leader in your market, providing excellent answers to your customers’ questions.
Creating useful results and engaging your team
- So, now you have a shared roadmap. Everyone understands how they can participate. You also have some immediate tangibles:
- An exhaustive list of customer questions, ranked in order of frequency.
- A list of the top 100 content topic ideas.
- Some keyword phrases to research based upon the most asked questions. If you answer those well, you can start ranking for those phrases.
- A rough blog piece from each team member. You now know who can write.
- An exhaustive list of blog title ideas, which you didn’t have to pay an agency to come up with.
- The names of team members and the expertise the feel they can share. These are your content creators.
- Sample videos. You may even find some you can post on your YouTube channel.
The transformation has begun
Most importantly, your social media culture is no longer segmented. Everyone knows the vision and the importance of sharing valuable information with your target audience. You also have a shared language with which to discuss your strategy and tactics. Now that it’s not foreign, your team will want to participate. Let the fun begin!