Since opening up to the public in 2006, Facebook, and the wave of social media platforms that followed, have completely transformed how we conduct our social and business lives. It’s permeated everything from how we receive and deliver news, to how we plan our parties. In the real estate market in particular, social media is at the forefront of communication, amplifying messages and connecting people.
That’s right: Your real estate agent can now use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to make home buying or selling easier.
How real estate agents are using Facebook
Most real estate agents are using Facebook as a main marketing channel. They introduce new listings, advertise open houses, and share news and tips with current and prospective owners. It’s much more than that, though. For Juan Andricain, a real estate agent with the Kevin Phillips Team at Keller Williams in Baton Rouge, La., Facebook is where he fosters relationships. ‘Real estate is built on relationships,’ says Andricain. ‘Using social media can help create a relationship where one doesn’t yet exist.’ To that end, when Andricain moved back to Baton Rouge from South Carolina after a decade’s absence, he used his personal Facebook page to reach out to old contacts, and build up his network.
‘Real estate is a referral-based business,’ he says. ‘You can spend tens of thousands of dollars on brand recognition, but the best business is a referral business, because there’s an implied trust in a referral.’ Andricain continues to use his personal Facebook page to talk about real estate, but focuses less on sales, and more on relevant information about what he sees in the market. He leaves selling to his team’s Facebook page, which is a straight-up advertising space for listing houses, supplying vendor information, and generating leads.
How real estate agents are using Twitter
Twitter is also being used by real estate agents, but in a different way. The 140-character limit on tweets makes Twitter a better news feed than relationship lab. The top real estate agents on social media are using Twitter most effectively to post newsworthy information and to link to content they’ve created, like videos and blog posts. They may tweet an open house invite, or updated listing information, but since Twitter feeds move so rapidly, it’s not the best place to advertise new home listings.
How real estate agents are using Instagram
While most home buyers are in their late 30s to late 50s, real estate agents wanting to reach a younger demographic are turning to Instagram. Instagram’s mobile picture-sharing/video-sharing platform lends itself to the marketing needs of real estate, where visual images are paramount. Twenty-six percent of American adults use Instagram, and the vast majority of them are under 35. Real estate agents are leveraging Instagram to advertise homes, but also encouraging followers to download apps to access more information. They’re sharing homes and communities with video, and using hashtags to curate content for specific market segments.
Use social media to find or sell your next home
How should you use social media to find a home? Andricain recommends using social media to find a real estate agent first. The right agent makes your search easier by sorting through all the listings to find you the home that fits your life. ‘The job of a real estate agent is to really understand you as the buyer, understand your needs and wants today, and how those needs and wants will change over time,’ he says. That requires building a relationship, and finding someone whose values match up with yours. ‘Follow real estate agents on social media,’ urges Andricain. ‘And not just their business page, but their personal page. Because a business page is their best foot forward. Their personal page shows their true character.’
Selling your home is more about marketing basics than a relationship. But the agent is still key. You want to list your home with a real estate agent who uses social media effectively. That means they have a good base of followers, and are well-connected to other real estate agents. They understand the local marketplace and use photos and language to highlight the best features of their listings. Do your research. Follow the business pages of realtors to see what techniques they use to bring in buyers, and how they convert that into sales.
Regardless of whether you’re buying or selling a home, you can use social media to your advantage. Use it to focus your search, but not just — or even mostly — on home listings. Rather, focus on the professionals — and find the right real estate agent to lead you through the process.
For more advice on your home, visit our Homes & Real Estate section.