SOCIAL AND COMMUNITY management is neither cheap nor easy, and it cannot be ‘KPI-ed’ into submission with a basic equation of time spent = listings garnered. You need to understand social media content is a reputation tool and reputation is something that can be directly linked to sales outcomes.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS increasingly the first point of contact your community of clients will have with you. They’re more likely to research your brand than call you up, gauging your influence, professionalism and capacity via your online storefronts. Many principals still consider social content to be an ‘and/or’ option, something unnecessary or superfluous. This is usually because they themselves don’t use the medium or understand it – and often don’t respect its power or fear poor customer feedback in an open forum. To minimise costs, they’ll ask a junior staff member to ‘pop a few things on Facebook or Twitter, new listings and sales results’.
This casual approach to social media is negligent and dangerous to your brand for several reasons. Firstly, the tone and content of your social content needs to be both consistent with your brand voice and values whilst being genuinely interesting. Does your junior have excellent written expression? Can they use social media appropriately, creating bespoke images to entertain whilst simultaneously branding? Have they used social media as a business tool before, or merely as a personal communication portal? Do they understand your brand values, and are you happy to have them represent your business at the cold face? Can they transmit messages across various social platforms effectively, as each platform has its own idiosyncrasies, which must be taken into account for maximum effect?
Secondly, a casual approach to social media often results in ugly, boring content which reiterates to your market that estate agents are only interested in talking about themselves – and quite often in poorly crafted, embarrassing ways which make businesses look like ‘Ma and Pa Kettle’ corner shops. Your social media must be as impeccable and creative as the best of press releases or promotional collateral. It must be professional, strong, confident and engaging. Social media is a serious business, so think carefully about who you appoint to be the voice of your brand, your first point of contact. Outsourcing this essential service is worth thinking about.
ENHANCE YOUR SALES REPUTATION
Social media content is truly the ‘good fairy’ of your brand. It is reputationenhancing rather than sales-focused. Clients use social media as a tool for gathering information, for pleasurable relaxation, for entertainment. As with a real-life pal, no-one wants to be friends with a social media brand that talks about itself all the time, creating visually jarring, rubbishy content that gives nothing back. Our advice? Take off that relentless KPI hat, and think about how you can use your networks to create great outcomes for your community. By using your social media pages as forums for your community – like carefully-edited pinboards – you’ll not only build fan numbers with greater ease, you’ll be developing real-world advocates who will associate you with kindness and generosity.
Such goodwill can’t be won by crowing about Robbo’s biggest month of commission earning; it is slowly built through ongoing interaction and a sharing of ideas, themes and events that your core market will appreciate. Have a landlord, vendor, tenant or staff member who has a great project, which needs support? Talk about that! Is there a business opening in the neighbourhood? Create feature content promoting them! Be a good citizen, and think about time spent investing in social media as time well invested in the community. Forget measurables and focus on finding out how you can help your online communities.
Concerned you don’t have the time or skills internally to build quality social content? Think seriously about outsourcing your social media and community management to a company that specialises in both your category and in developing bespoke social content.
Blogger outreach is used routinely by most consumer brands and is either contra (i.e. an experience in exchange for content involving your brand in some manner), or paid. Incredibly powerful and still very innovative in the real estate milieu, this is a space where you can develop new advocates and fans by thinking creatively about interaction.
Have a big auction coming up? Invite influencers you are aware of to attend and cover what it’s like to be at an auction, including a morning in the suburb where your business is located, shouting them a breakfast and a voucher to spend in your neighbourhood. Not only will the influencer help raise awareness about those businesses; it’s a great way to build natural content and reach new audiences. Seek influencers in your own communities and you’ll soon have real news worth talking about!
Social media and community-building pairs neatly with your essential prospecting activity, as latent tools to remind clients of your brand values, of your very existence, and of your commitment to servicing your locality. It is a way to develop brand advocates in unexpected markets, to entertain and to be a part of your clients’ consciousness in a positive way. As important as print media or any generic newsletter you might produce, agencies who hope to remain influential will need to think deeply about social media and community management in a more holistic fashion as we enter an almost totally digital era of marketing.