Over the past few months we’ve been presenting a series of digital marketing workshops for one of Australia’s leading real estate franchise groups.
What was surprising to me was that no matter what part of the country we were in, real estate professionals are having the same challenges when it comes to digital marketing. The same questions came up over and over again.
In this episode of Real Estate Pros, we’ll explore the top five questions real estate professionals are asking when it comes to digital marketing in 2016 and some helpful tips from those who are succeeding to grow your business online.
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Over the past few months, we’ve been presenting a series of digital marketing workshops for one of Australia’s real estate franchise groups. The feedback from attendees has been truly humbling to me personally and it’s been rewarding to see so many amazing examples from attendees of the action they took immediately following our time together.
During each six-hour workshop, we covered everything from why your real estate website should be central point of everything you do on the web, to content marketing, Facebook marketing and how to use all of these amazing channels to establish yourself as the leading informational provider on real estate in your local market.
But what was surprising to me was that no matter what part of the country we were in, real estate professionals are having the same challenges when it comes to digital marketing. The same questions came up over and over again so this week I’d like to share with you the top five questions real estate professionals ask when it comes to digital marketing in 2016 and some helpful tips to apply in your business.
When it comes to Facebook for individual agents or property managers, should I have a professional page, a personal profile or one of each?
The answer to this question is going to different for everyone – and for some agents, there are many reasons to separate personal from professional – I’m sure you know what I mean by that so I won’t go into detail.
My own personal belief – which you might not agree with – is that we are who we are because of the relationships we have personally and professionally. For me personally, I am no different personally than I am professionally and I have one Facebook profile. Most of our clients here at Stepps are all friends with me on Facebook and they see everything from what’s happening with my son, to family BBQ’s to where I might be travelling from one week to the next. My personal life and professional life is kind of one in the same. I get to know our clients on a much deeper level and vice versa by having one personal profile – and this is how some real estate professionals treat their Facebook presence as well – and that’s ok.
The advantages of having a personal profile on Facebook are that you’re clients can get to know you on a much deeper level if you’re willing to let them into your personal life – even if it’s just a little. This is the strategy for many top performing agents around the world.
The disadvantage of having a personal profile is that you don’t have access to all of the extremely powerful advertising resources that Facebook provides to professional page owners. Meaning, if you don’t have a professional page, you cannot advertise on Facebook. But if you’re strategy is simply to use a personal profile to build relationships with your clients and prospects, and let them get to know you personally, it might not matter that you can’t advertise.
If you want to separate personal from professional and have a profile for personal posts and a page for professional posts, that’s fine too. There is no rule. It all comes down to how you want to be perceived by your clients and prospects and what your business goals are.
I need on social media because everyone else is. Where should I start?
The so-called ‘social media gurus’ who stand on stage at the next conference you go to will probably try and convince you that need to be on social media. I’m here to tell you that you don’t – necessarily. Let me share a story with you to explain.
I recently met with the owner of a large property management company located in the eastern suburbs of Sydney and the business owner said to me, “I know I need to be on Facebook because everyone else is, but I don’t know where to start.” After profiling the local market – using tools like Audience Insights inside the Facebook Ads manager platform and looking at the type of client this agency represents – we quickly discovered something very interesting. Their clients and prospects weren’t on Facebook.
After profiling the local market – using tools like Audience Insights inside the Facebook Ads manager platform and looking at the type of client this agency represents – we quickly discovered something very interesting. Their clients and prospects weren’t on Facebook.
This particular business managed over 700 properties with an average rent of around $1,200 per week so they are dealing with very exclusive property and a unique clientele who are rather private people. The overwhelming majority of the people most likely to employ this agency are not on Facebook. Therefore, it makes very little sense to spend time, money and effort on Facebook. Instead, this particular agency invested more in their offline marketing efforts and on other platforms where they would receive more effective results.
Just because everyone else is on Facebook, doesn’t mean you need to be as well. A quick way to work out who is using Facebook in your local market, search for Facebook Audience Insights on Google and use this free tool to very quickly identify if it’s a platform you should be pursuing for business purposes.
Do I really need a real estate website in 2016?
The answer to this questions is very simple – yes, you absolutely do.
A website is the only platform on the web that you own and can control. Platforms like the major real estate portals and social media giants like Facebook and Twitter are all businesses just like yours and they can change the rules at any time.
If realestate.com.au decide to put up their prices, they can. If Facebook decides to stop providing free access to the people who like your page, they can. If you’ve spent years building a loyal audience on Facebook and they shut down tomorrow, there is nothing you can do about it – you would lose access to that audience right away.
Instead, think of your website as the central hub and your social media channels, as well as the portals, are spokes and every chance you get, you should be turning someone else’s audience into your own – thus converting your website traffic into email subscribers for your blog or newsletter and leads for your sales and property management departments.
Your real estate website and email subscriptions are the biggest asset to your online marketing today because they are the only platforms that you own and can control. On every other channel, you are simply renting access to the audience and those channels can change the rules of the game any time they want.
What content should I be posting online?
By a quick search on social media specifically, you’d be led to believe that all agents post is their latest reviews, just listed, just sold and rented. Now while that content would be helpful if someone was deciding to employ you as an agent, there are far more people not in the market to sell, buy or rent right now. So what content are you giving those people?
Put yourself in the consumers shoes for a moment. Do you wake up in the morning thinking “I can’t wait to see what my local real estate has posted today”? I highly doubt it.
During these recent workshops, I challenged everyone to take off their real estate hats for the day and instead think like a media company – companies like Red Bull – yes, Red Bull. They are a media company – even though they sell a small can of energy drink, many experts are predicting that inside the next few years, Red Bull could generate more revenues from media opportunities (including content sales, events, content syndication and more) than from beverages.
Red Bull understand that if all you do is market your products and services, you’re no different to any other business. But by building an audience around highly engaging content, you can drive far more revenue than simply shouting at people to buy what you sell.
What would you do if one of your competitors started a website today with no listings whatsoever, but instead had answers to every real estate related question you could possibly think of and entertaining content around the local community? These kind of websites already exist in marketplaces all over the country – possibly even in yours. These businesses are creating content that people actually need, instead of what we typically do in real estate which is create content that we think people want.
By thinking like a media company, our focus immediately shifts to building an audience instead of shouting how good we are. What are people talking about or caring about in your local market right now? Create more content around that and less of the stuff that isn’t working.
How do I keep up to date with digital marketing trends let alone how to implement it all?
First of all, you don’t need to know how to do all of this stuff. Simply being open minded and curious is all you really need to be.
Find the right people who can help you implement your ideas is far better than trying to be all things to all people. The moment you shift your focus away from what you’re paid to do – such as listing and selling houses – the less effective both areas of your business will be.
Instead, find the right people who are best at what they do to allow you to do the same.
Secondly, there are plenty of podcasts and training videos online to keep you motivated. A few of my favourite resources include:
- Social Media Marketing podcast with Mike Stelzner and his website at Socialmediaexaminer.com.
- Content Inc. podcast with Joe Pulizzi.
- Craft of Marketing podcast with Seth Price
All of these you can find on iTunes and the best part is, they are all free.
While none of these relate directly to the real estate industry, they relate to real estate in a big way. By looking outside of what just the guy down the road is doing and instead looking at what other companies in other industries are doing all around the globe, it’s such a powerful way to apply other successful marketing strategies that most likely no-one else in our industry has thought of – this strategy alone has definitely worked in our favour on many occasions.
So, there you have it – my top 5 digital marketing questions from real estate agents. Did any of them resonate with you? Or do you have another question you’d like answered? We’re always looking for ideas to write about in our blog so please send me an email with your question, and we’ll write a post about it.
I’d like to thank everyone who attended our recent Digital Marketing Essentials Workshop for their amazing feedback and for those of you listening, thank you for tuning in. I hope 2016 is the year that you take your marketing online from good to outstanding.
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