Do you utilise Facebook or LinkedIn to their fullest potential? Is communicating via tweets all it’s cracked up to be? Are you confident discussing the attributes of Twitter and YouTube, or are you still a social media novice, unable to tell your blogs from your wikis? Kelly Millar takes a back-to-basics look at social media for property managers.
The continuing rise of social media is changing the way real estate professionals are marketing their businesses, and this is nothing to be scared of. We all know that effective marketing is essential for a winning real estate business and social targeting is now vital in this mix to help you communicate successfully with your clients and customers.
In general, people are far more likely to respond positively to marketing messages received through their friends and acquaintances rather than through the mass media, and this is where social media comes to the fore.
Now, before you assume that social media is the domain of tweens and teens, think again. According to a recent report by eMarketer, this year an astounding 60 per cent of internet users aged 35 to 44 – and one-half of those in the 45 to 54 age group – will use social networks at least once a month.
The report also estimates that 57.5 per cent of all internet users – or 127 million people – will use a social network at least once a month in 2010. It goes on to predict that nearly two-thirds of all internet users will be regular users of social networks in 2014.
The most common social network is Facebook. Launched in 2004, Facebook has snowballed to huge popularity across many age groups as a way of keeping in touch with friends and colleagues – and it now boasts a community of 500 million users.
It offers huge potential to enhance your real estate marketing campaigns and has features that allow your customers and prospects to connect with you and each other. What’s more, top advertisers are spending 10 times as much with Facebook as they were last year – and in some cases, 20 times as much.
The applications that Facebook provides include chat functionality, email and posting, as well as messaging. What’s particularly useful to you as a property manager, however, is the ability to network, establish groups and create “like” pages.
You can also share information on clients and colleagues who have joined your company’s “page”, recent real estate news and commentary, create rental discussion boards, as well as highlight properties through the use of videos and images.
You might say that you already offer this functionality on your own website, but does your website allow your clients to share this information, make comments and engage opinion shapers and makers, such as friends and family? This is where social networking and e-mail connections propagate, by benefiting from the rapid distribution of information. This is a very powerful tool.
Your social media options do not end with Facebook. Your own personal profile – as well as those of your employees – can be promoted through LinkedIn. It operates as an online professional networking site and allows you to place your résumé into a social forum and connect with other real estate colleagues and friends. You can give recommendations and obtain them from your real estate co-workers and friends, as well as join interest groups related to the real estate profession.
Another valuable way to promote your expertise as a real estate professional and expert is through creating a “blog”, which can develop and enhance your own as well as your business’s reputation and following. “Through your blogs, you can share your vast knowledge of the property management world, real estate trend information, suburb profiles and highlight feature properties.” You can also share local events and happenings. This will definitely aid in positioning you as the “expert” in your area. Remember though, blogs require a regular writing commitment if they are to succeed and flourish.
Twitter, another social media behemoth, on the other hand, is likened to a cocktail party. It allows you to “tweet” messages instantly, for example, details of the latest property available, open for inspection times and upcoming events. Twitter conversations can range from the banal to the highbrow – and your next lead could evolve from a quick tweet. Sometimes considered a time consumer, it is well worth exploiting this powerful and instant social beast.
Essentially, social media reaches today’s customers in ways they want to be reached – and informed – and as people get even more discerning about finding real estate solutions, it is an imperative tool to include in your marketing arsenal. Your clients want to digest this word-of-mouth peer marketing information provided through social media channels and this will often prompt them to call or email you.
While social media is often perceived – erroneously – as a preserve of the youth market, do not limit your options – always be prepared to think outside the square regarding which demographic markets should be targeted. Social media is embraced across all age groups.
“Never forget, social media is all about the sharing of information – good and bad – among various communities.” It is an essential marketing component that should be harnessed and utilised by all real estate marketing professionals, both in sales and property management.
Kelly Millar is the CEO of SOBOX. She recently joined the business following five years experience in online real estate marketing. Kelly was Consumer Marketing Manager Aust/NZ for realestate.com.au and also held international marketing roles in the REA Group. Previously she had a long and successful career in advertising communications.