It is no longer possible for people in the business of real estate to ignore the proliferation of social media – a powerhouse of engagement and connection at the world’s, and your customers’, fingertips.

This is the overarching message we received when we conducted our Real Estate Industry Social Media Marketing Report.

In this episode of Real Estate Pros, we look at the results of our research and the state of social media marketing in the real estate industry – from the perspective of real estate professionals themselves.

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It is no longer possible for people in the business of real estate to ignore the proliferation of social media – a powerhouse of engagement and connection at the world’s, and your customers’, fingertips.

This is the overarching message we received when we conducted our Real Estate Industry Social Media Marketing Report in late 2015. But what really shines through in the data collected from real estate professionals throughout Australia, is that while the industry is well aware of the need to start – and continue – conversations with customers using social media, very few know how to focus that conversation on business outcomes (that means revenue) or better yet, how to measure the effectiveness of social media.

Most real estate agents agree that social media will play a huge part in their ongoing marketing plans, but few understand exactly how that will happen, and how to tweak their strategies to ensure they get a solid return.

What we aimed to do with our Real Estate Industry Social Media Marketing Report was shine a light on where the industry is sitting in regards to social media use and effectiveness, and the results are both captivating and herald a way forward for the industry.

This scenario is repeated hundreds of thousands of times across Australia every morning.

Your phone’s alarm goes off and instead of rolling over and hitting the snooze button, you slide the lock across your phone and delve into your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media app that feeds you all the photos, status updates, videos and other content you desire.

That routine – of instant content gratification delivered to the palm of your potential customers’ hands – is what your real estate agency is up against in the social media marketing world.

It’s no longer you versus your competitors – it’s you versus your customers’ friends, families, funny cats, babies, and the rest of the seemingly endless content that goes along with it.

Data from our Real Estate Industry Social Media Marketing Report found that the majority of respondents – the agents, property managers, service providers and principals – want to create a marketing stronghold out of social media, and believe the various platforms, from Facebook, Youtube and Twitter to Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat, are important spaces in which to have a marketing presence.

85% of real estate professionals said they were using social media to market their businesses, and a total of 78% said they either agreed or strongly agreed that social media marketing was important to their businesses.

85% of real estate professionals said they were using social media to market their business.

Download a copy of the report here.

Among everything else that demands the attention of real estate industry professionals, 70% of respondents said they spent between one to five hours a week using social media for business purposes. Another 16% said they spent six to 10 hours, and nearly 6% spent a whopping 11 to 15 hours a week using social media for their work.

Not only are real estate professionals dedicating a fair chunk of time to their social digital offerings, but they are spreading that time far and wide across many of the social media platforms available.

The State of Social Media Marketing in Real EstateIt may come as no surprise that Facebook is the big winner for real estate professionals, with 95% of respondents using the platform to engage with their potential or existing clients.

What is more revealing is that LinkedIn comes in second place, with 65% of respondents using the platform. It is clear that video and images are becoming a more important platform for real estate professionals, with Youtube and Instagram building solid user bases within the industry.

The increase in Instagram use is an interesting development for real estate professionals because the demographic for the platform is a young one, but suggests those managing social media and utilising it as a platform are using a long-term strategy to stay front-of-mind when this audience reaches the property-buying stage of their lives.

When asked what type of content was most important for their social media strategy, nearly 59% said their original written content was the single most important in their social media marketing followed by original video content at 25%. With the recent addition of Facebook Live video to company pages and groups, we believe it’s only a matter of time before original video content takes over as the most important content type for agents.

It goes without saying that social media has the word social in it for a reason. It wasn’t built for brands, it was built for people.

Social media can be a lot of fun on a personal level, but you are in business. Some of the so-called ‘social media gurus’ might not agree with what I’m about to say, but if social media isn’t giving you a return on time or money spent – or worse you don’t know if it is – then I believe it begs the question as to why you would spend your time there over other marketing channels.

For every dollar spent in the marketing department, real estate professionals demand to see a solid return for the time, efforts and assets used to drive leads and sales. Despite what some say, managing social media is not free and you should monitor the amount of hours spent using it for your business to assist in calculating a genuine return on investment.

Despite the digital world offering a seemingly endless number of ways to measure how customers interact and make decisions online, 54% of respondents admitted they were uncertain about how to measure the return on investment in their social media activities.

54% of respondents admitted they were uncertain about how to measure the return on investment in their social media activities.

These statistics provide a captivating argument, because even though more than half of the respondents said they were unsure about measuring a return on investment with social media, a massive 78% said they either agreed or strongly agreed social media marketing was important to the future of their business.

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Real Estate Industry Social Media Marketing Report 2016 © Stepps 2016

In short, real estate agents know social media is the way to go, they just don’t know why – in a business sense.

Nearly everywhere you look, people have their heads down and their mobile devices up, accessing the information and content they want, when they want it.

The battle to be part of that conversation is only going to get tougher, and real estate brands and professionals have to get creative to take advantage of it.

And the data in our report shows they know this.

Nearly 75% of respondents said they planned to significantly increase their social media marketing activities in 2016 and only 4% said they had no plans to utilise social media marketing whatsoever.

Our Real Estate Industry Social Media Marketing Report spells it out plainly: Real estate professionals have embraced – or plan to embrace – social media marketing in a big way.

With more than half of respondents using social media to spread original content, attempting to analyse it and seeking to know more about how to measure it effectively, there is no doubt the shift to social media has already happened, with the next phase being as much about education as it is about learning how to generate a solid return on investment.

Perhaps the most telling statistic from the report is that real estate industry professionals, on the whole, said they planned to spend more time on social media and more time creating the content to feed it.

So, the questions now for our industry are:

  • How do you stand out from the crowd and win attention over people’s family and friends?
  • What will it cost businesses that ignore social media marketing?
  • What should you be measuring to determine what’s working?
  • How can you drive more than just engagement or more ‘Likes’?

Because when all is said and done, you can’t walk into the bank and deposit your Facebook ‘Likes’.

That is the reality.

When you’re next thinking about marketing yourself or your business on social media, I want you to remember one thing:

It doesn’t matter how many followers you have on social media, it’s how many that care enough to drive actual business outcomes. That’s what really counts.

Good luck.

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