A digital transformation is well underway in the residential real estate industry, as companies invest more resources into new technologies as a way to build their brand, connect with customers via new channels and enhance their sales models. We’re not just talking about online listing services like Zillow, either; real estate companies are fundamentally challenging their longstanding business practices to adapt to a new market reality. But, what’s intriguing about this shift is the fact that it’s not the industry itself that’s that’s driving this change – it’s the consumer.
Even in a passive sense, today’s consumer expects relevant content to be conveyed in real-time; ultimately, they want to develop real connections with products or services that support and enhance their own lives. The best businesses have a clear social media strategy that powerfully humanizes their external-facing communications as a way to create connections, build and increase brand awareness, generate leads and sales, and position themselves as thought leaders.
In the real estate world, all it takes is a quick perusal of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, and you’ll find real estate brokers and other service providers who are leveraging social platforms to increase their brand presence. Social media was cited as the best tool for generating high-quality leads among REALTORS®, actually outpacing the multiple listing services (MLS) that have long dominated an agent’s sales pipeline. 85 percent of brokers and real estate agents use Facebook for their social media marketing efforts and 87 percent indicated that social media efforts generated more exposure for their business. And, among those REALTORS® who use social media, the most popular network cited was Facebook at 97 percent, followed by LinkedIn at 59 percent.
Looking at a generational customer base, millennials now make up 66 percent of the market for first-time homebuyers, and 98 percent of those looking for homes cited using the internet to research properties. 81 percent of older millennials, 80 percent of younger millennials and 78 percent of Generation X found their home on a mobile device compared to 68 percent of young boomers.
That’s a big market, to be sure. So, how do firms stay competitive so that they can reach these buyers? That’s the tricky part. 46 percent of all real estate firms, 44 percent of commercial firms, and 40 percent of firms with at least three offices cite keeping up with technology as one of the biggest challenges facing their firm in the next two years. In today’s technology-driven climate, it’s crucial for real estate firms to remain active on social media in order to reach new prospective renters and buyers, cater to audience needs, nurture interest in properties, and position themselves as industry thought leaders.
Each social media platform attracts different audiences for different reasons and it’s important to understand these differences and leverage them accordingly. Here are some ways in which residential real estate businesses can utilize each platform.
Facebook is the world’s largest social media platform. Throughout the world, there are 2.7 billion users and this number is constantly growing. Facebook is the network where most businesses can build an organic customer base and brand loyalty. Businesses that consistently provide valuable content will increase exposure to potential customers, gather more leads, build a loyal follower base, and increase web traffic. It’s also a great platform through which businesses can pinpoint audiences via cost-effective paid ads. Facebook is one of the most targeted forms of advertising in existence, where businesses can segment audiences based on age, interests, behavior, location and more. Not only does it help to tailor audiences, but the platform also enables you to retarget people on Facebook who have visited your website, and, conversely, drive traffic to your website from your Facebook audience.
When your ad campaigns are strategically designed and executed, they can drive revenue, sales, and leads. A thorough social ad strategy requires a deep-rooted understanding in the targeting metrics at your disposal as well as which business goals and objectives can be – and should be – supported with social media advertising. Aside from content, targeting and posting, a well-rounded strategy also includes trend monitoring, measurement against benchmarks or KPIs, analyzing ad performance and making adjustments to optimize performance and reporting the value of your efforts to company executives and stakeholders funding the campaign.
There are 321 million users on Twitter. Twitter is great for businesses to echo the brand they’ve established offline to engage and inspire new followers. There’s tremendous value in aggregating feeds through keyword targeting and advertising. Aside from brand building, Twitter can boost website SEO, drive website traffic, and monitor brand reputation, and it allows real estate businesses to receive instant feedback in real-time. At Antenna, we specifically create campaigns with keyword targeting, which is a precise way to attract specific audiences who have demonstrated intent on Twitter. This gives us the ability to target people who have used a specific word or hashtag in their Twitter update (or people who have interacted with tweets containing those words) – a feature not offered by Facebook.
Twitter also gives businesses the ability to target every Twitter user who follows specific accounts with our Twitter ads through a service called Tailored Audiences. Pretty crazy! This is similar to Facecbook’s Custom Audiences, but what makes Twitter superior in this case is that, in order for Facebook’s Custom Audiences to work, users need to have the email address or phone number of the people they want to reach. On Twitter, you can target the followers of any other account on the platform.
LinkedIn is more than just a page for professionals to showcase their resume or business profiles. For residential real estate businesses that adopt a strategic social marketing plan, LinkedIn can help generate inbound leads and expand your network.
When it comes to lead generation, the objective isn’t to generate more leads, it’s to generate the right leads. With a strategic LinkedIn Campaign, businesses can capture qualified leads that ultimately close faster and generate more revenue at a lower cost per lead. LinkedIn is also a great tool to reach community members through targeted groups that showcase members’ personal and professional interests. Membership in these groups grants you access to other users where you can start conversations, answer questions relevant to your business, and expand your professional network.
Instagram is the platform where visual content is king. Its primary value in real estate is to curate photos that focus on lifestyle aesthetics and showcase listing photos that will grab the attention of a buyer or renter – whether or not they’re looking for a new home. The best real estate-related content on Instagram is a combination of personality and product. Having a distinct visual identity helps real estate businesses establish a sense of familiarity – and ultimately, trust – with potential clients. This platform is key for generating leads, sales, and referrals. Aside from organic posting, Instagram is great for businesses looking for direct responses. Its highly visual static ads and video ads can drive traffic back to landing pages. Instagram offers an easy way to communicate brand messaging and sales.
The key to a successful social media campaign is to develop a strategy, define specific audiences, create short-term and long-term content calendars, and collect and respond to insights that dictate campaign performance to properly optimize ongoing campaigns and improve performance in the future. It’s also essential that the person who is dictating your ad spend and budget has a deep understanding of your business, its audiences and your goals so that they can properly weigh in on which platform is best-suited for your objectives and the best way to leverage each channel.