Social media is where people immediately go to for recommendations for anything and everything, from eateries to vacation spots to even real estate. As a service-oriented business predicated on spheres of influences, social media is more relevant than ever for this industry. Real estate is all about referrals and who you know...which, if you think about it, is what social media is all about.
Information overload is what most people feel when researching real estate. It's overwhelming the amount of data available on the internet. Some of it is junk, some of it is advertising, and a lot of it is just wrong. People are starved to get quality reliable information they can trust. So consumers gravitate to sites and communities that shared their interests and points of views. Sites like Yelp, Facebook, Branch Out, Twitter exploded because they satisfied this need. Knowing what their peers think and find interesting helps shape a consumer's opinion. People are not looking for just info anymore, they are looking for recommendations. It's the power of feedback. The testament of a testimonial. It helps them edit down their choices.
Real estate used to be a private transaction between a Realtor and client. However, it is increasingly now a shared social experience for a community. Open house visitors upload photos of what they saw, buyers blog about their inspection, sellers search Twitter streams for mentions of their house, agents get rated online. Today's buyers and sellers rely heavily on social media. Yet this is lost on many of my colleagues who cling to an era when agents were the gatekeepers of info. Tsk tsk.
So, next time you interview a real estate agent, ask them:
1. What are your strategies for marketing my property?
If they just mention fliers, open houses and website, tell them this ain’t the 1990’s! If they cite social media as part of their plan, ensure they really possess the social media savoir faire to meet your needs. (ie, Posting once a month on their facebook business page doesn't cut it. They obviously have a facebook page for the sake of having a facebook page, which is useless to you as a client).
2. How big is your social following?
If an agent has 10,000 twitter followers who hang on to their every word about real estate, that is 20,000 eyeballs on your listing. That’s more exposure than any flyer or open house will get you. One tweet to plug your home and it is on the radar of thousands of people.
3. Who follows you and how engaged are they?
Perhaps your agent's online tribe isn't the largest, but it may be an active targeted demographic. It’s a good sign when local businesses, past clients and even other real estate professionals are fans of a Realtor. (You can tell a lot about how engaged an agent is by reading their online chatter with other followers.) These people who have “liked” the agent’s page actively chose to read what that agent posts. They clearly expressed an interest in your agents business and want to keep tabs on their local market. With any luck, they will share/viralize your property to their sphere as well!
Bottom line: The traditionally stodgy real estate industry is finally catching on that social media can't be ignored. An agent with strong social media savvy can command a lot of attention towards your house for sale. The more people who are aware of your listing, the more likely someone will write an offer. In this market, a seller can not afford to lose out on any marketing edge, especially when Gen X/Y and Millenials are driving the market now. And guess what, they live on social media. Select your agent representation accordingly.
Real Estate Expert Herman Chan is a videoblogger, speaker, and writer whose social media savvy has made him an authority on branding and cementing one’s online presence. Check him out on www.habitatforhermanity.com or follow him on Twitter at @hermanity.