Facebook, Twitter and Blogging, do’s and don’ts for the real estate agent!

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Over the past year or so we have seen the rise of Real Estate Agents using Facebook to promote their business or personal profile. The best of you continually add informative and fun content to your page and have seen a steady rise in fans. But there is a disturbing trend to this and this shows complete mis-understanding of how to market yourself online.

If you are a real estate agent who has a page on Facebook and you are reading this, I am going to give you some advice, and some of this will hurt a little, but here goes.

Preaching to the converted

Let us say you have a fan page on Facebook and you update this page daily, you deserve a pat on the back and get one social strategy point, however if you have a website and do not do the same, you lose that point, why? Because you are preaching to the converted on Facebook, they are already a fan. Your first strategy should always be on your own website, this is where the whole world is waiting to connect with you and my guess is that your advice is not the most amazing real estate advice on the planet, where all of your fans spread your word and get other people to join (this is the holy grail of social marketing). The only true way to build your Facebook page is through your own business or personal websites blog and then to select appropriate articles to post onto your Facebook page.

Rachelle Hirt
Rachelle Hirt Real Estate Agent Miami Beach Florida

We recently built a site for a local agent in Miami, Florida. Her name is Rachelle Hirt and she wanted a site to market celebrity style homes in and around the Miami area. She has only just started, but she has the right strategy and will learn quickly from any mistakes she makes, but off the bat, she has the right strategy.

Her Facebook Page is here (you must be logged into Facebook) and I advise to follow her, just to see what she does and the content she publishes on both her website and Facebook Page.

Her site is fun and bright and she posts regularly and doesn’t push everything to her Facebook page, she selectively chooses what to post and push.

Note: The website cost just over $1,500 including theme, setup and design elements. Talk to your web developer about doing the same.

Different strokes for different sites

Another thing you must understand is content, if the only thing you post are ‘amazing new homes’, ‘get in quick’ and feel good market news, then you lose another point. The one true reason people will choose you to sell their home, is that they see you understand the local market, you understand technology, they trust you and most of all they like you.

Understanding the local market
Post local sales information and try to break it down as best as possible by property type, bedrooms etc. The more it relates to people the more they will trust that you understand the local market, Talk about property types that are selling well and ones that are not, give people advice on how to get their homes ready for a sale, smart renovation techniques that buyers are looking for. You understanding the local market gets your foot in the door.

One thing to avoid is ideology posts or comments, unless your market is mainly conservative or progressive, do not risk it. Stay away from horoscopes, and religion too. In most cases these only impress the minority, and just alienate the rest.

Understanding Technology
If you think it is cute to tell your potential vendors that you are a technophobe, then get with the program, you are and will be left behind. You dont need to know quantum physics to understand how a browsers works or how to resize an image, there is a world of information online that can help you to better understand the business you are in and the technology that you use. Spend some time online learning how to get the most out of your web browser, mobile phone, tablet device and computer. Understanding and possibly helping vendors out will impress them in more ways than you think. This is your business now, get it!

Trusting you
Start being honest on your website and Facebook page, display content that helps and hinders you, good or bad, thin or flush, this content makes a trust difference between you and your competitors.

You as a consumer would know that good advice is brutally honest advice. If you believe it when the salesperson tells you every dress you try on you look fabulous in or that Donald Duck tie you wear to work makes you look windswept and interesting then you are naive and in the case of the donald duck tie – an idiot 🙂

But tell me, how many vendors are easy these days? Very few! In most cases vendors are well armed with a good dose of information and an equal distribution of mis-information. You need to be honest and tell them what will work for them and what will not. You need to also post information on your website and Facebook profile that works against you selling more homes and always make a corresponding comment with bad news.

This comment should not be that you always disagree and why (you must always give a valid reason to disagree), but should be informative and sometimes brutally bad for your own motives.

Liking you
You are awesome right? You mum and dad thinks the world of you, you can do no wrong, in fact you dream of receiving the greatest person of the year award each year. Here is one lesson you must learn when publishing to any website or social media platform. People love self deprecating humor, it gives you a human side to your electronic life. For me, luckily it comes naturally. There are two types of self deprecating humor, the first is first person and this is where you let people know your stuff ups and remind them of this on occasions in the future.

Some of the readers may remember when I got ‘done’ big time years ago by a member on this site on April Fools Day. My default position was to try to repair the embarrassment, but I learned a long time ago (2001 to be precise) – this only makes things worse, so I embraced the fact that I got caught out and just went with it. The lesson from this is always to distrust your own motives and just let the world know that sometimes you stuff up.

The second variety of self deprecating humor and a great example of this type of person is Sam Newman. Yes, there are people that dislike him (most of whom rarely watch or engage with him), but overwhelmingly he is liked.

Sam Newman says some of the most ridiculous offensive things and should be “banged to right” on occasions, but one thing he does magnificently, is when someone makes fun of him and his positions, he laughs, he doesn’t fight back, he doesn’t get angry or show negative emotions, he laughs at himself!

So when people make a comment on your website or social profile (that is not overly abusive) display it publicly, laugh it off, or at least explain why you do not agree. If you are one of these people that blocks or deletes negative comments then you are already a failure and need to get over yourself or your business.

Finally, enjoy your social profile, don’t treat it too seriously, make sure you mix the informative with the fun.

Different Content – Different mediums

Your final strategy should be to not always post information to both mediums (blog and social) keep the mix a little different, otherwise why would they follow you on both your website and social platform? Keep the social posts a little more fun with articles from across the spectrum, if you do post funny stuff, make sure it will appeal and not offend (you can save the offensive for direct messages on Twitter – Anthony Wiener tells me it is very hard to get caught out with this strategy).

So post regularly and make 100% sure your website blog is the king when it comes to your marketing strategy! Make sure your title of your post is informative and describes exactly what the article is about, this is important for subscribers as they scan for articles that interest them.

Titles are everything

Given that we use technology differently today than we did even a year ago, speaks volumes in how we must communicate effectively. Today we are overloaded with so much information, that we care more about the time it takes to scan and read, be it your Facebook News Feed or your blog Feed, titles are everything and if you use Facebook, you should already know this. I cannot emphasize how important titles are. Here is good and poor example.

Poor: Property prices continue to rise. Comment:For who, for what? This is not personal or direct at all.
Good: Mosman, Neutral Bay Sydney see steady rise in apartment sales. Comment:This is going to appeal to homeowners or potential buyers in this area. It mentions location and property type.

How to get the ideas and motivation for writing articles

I use Google Reader (help here) to subscribe to hundreds of different websites. I create folders for these subscriptions. Here are some examples of these folders. Apps, Client, Company, Design, Style, Real Estate News, Technology, WordPress, Social, Travel.

Everyday hundreds of new articles from all of the sites I subscribe to come into my reader. I do not need to waste time jumping to each article. I scan them for ones that interest me and this is usually in the title. Sometimes I write an article about this news, sometimes it inspires me to write something else. The great thing about Google Reader is that it saves me so much time and if you organise it well, it can also save you money (daily deals etc).

If you havent got Google Reader (or similar) then you are missing out on a great little program.

Footnote: One thing that always amuses me is friends on Facebook who ‘accidentally’ click on what is obviously adult spam on Facebook. These are little posts on your news feed with images that have titles that are of the erotic nature, that one of your friends ‘accidentally’ clicked on.

What is more amazing, is that they do not know how to delete this immediately and leave it for me to ponder why this married man (or woman) of three is doing looking at this stuff anyway. Human nature is a wonderful thing isn’t it 🙂

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  • Trish van Tussenbroek
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:31 am 0Likes

    Some great points Peter!

    Can I please also add that if you are simply tweeting from your CRM “Just Listed” properties, people will view your account as spam.

    Social media is social and all about engagement. So if you tell people that you are on twitter but are not actually on twitter, you will lose face very quickly.

    There are a number of agents that we see on Facebook and Twitter who are doing nothing more than exporting to these spaces from their CRM and not engaging at all. (Or even replying to mentions or DMs). It’s really not working for them at all.

  • Greg Vincent
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 10:53 am 0Likes

    Great article Peter. Like you, I’ve seen a lot of agents making some huge mistakes in this space and many struggle to understand how they can get the best ROI from it.

    Social Media is one of the most powerful marketing tools on the planet. It is changing countries. It changes buying behaviour.

    Here are just a few ways that it can help agents.

    Building Trust Online, Become seen as the Trusted Advisor, Networking, Becoming more visible on the web so that potential clients can find you, Getting recommended, Building you brand, Increasing your database, Communicating more effectively, Leverage, Saving Time, Spreading the Word via Word of Mouth on Steroids, Lead Generation, Having a Point of Difference…just to name a few.

    Peter with the change in the market, I’ve lots of agents & trainers talking about going ‘Back to the Basics’ but instead agents need to “Move Forward to the Fundamentals.”

    The fundamentals are that customers don’t walk into the office or call the offices like they used to. (tenants still come walking in for the rental lists, but I understand that’s happening less & less now too).

    Agents, most of your customers are now online.

  • Sal Espro
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 11:30 am 0Likes

    Peter, don’t you find those WordPress sites just seem to ‘go-on forever’? Do you think they would be better with a focus so the user doesn’t feel like they’re swimming in a huge pot pourri of undirected information?
    Ps Has that Miami agent only got 3 listings, Peter? There doesn’t seem to be a search(?)
    PpsGotta laugh, Peter. I felt a little ‘sneaky’ clicking on that Miami agent’s ‘come hither’ pic that you linked to her website – A bit like the example you gave of the porn spam on Fbook pages 🙂

  • Mike Salway
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 1:48 pm 0Likes

    Great points Peter, as well as from Trish (hi Trish!) and Greg.

    I’m covering a lot of these do’s and dont’s (as well as some others) during our Social Media Seminars that we’re doing for RP Data customers around Australia at the moment.

    Like Trish, most of what I see at the moment is agents trying to use Facebook and Twitter like a listings portal. It’s the fastest way to get ‘unliked’ or ‘unfollowed’.

    Participate, engage, be a real person. On social media, it’s not always about YOU! And don’t try and SELL!

    It is great though, that we’re seeing so many agents trying to take the leap into social media. They know they need to start, but aren’t sure where to start.

    Mike Salway
    rp.connect Product Manager, RP Data

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 2:35 pm 0Likes

    Thanks for the comments guys. Sal. In USA listings are everywhere and you can buy properties from any agent, not like Australia, where if you as an agent – you list you sell. It is a completely different market.

    So the focus for Rachelle is on stories particularly in the high end market, celebrity homes etc. Her strategy is to build her personal profile, not listings. There is a big difference.

    As for WordPress, you can build and display a site however you like, you dont have to follow any formula. So to say that they are all the same (and I understand where you are coming from) is off the mark.

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 2:37 pm 0Likes

    Mike, thanks for the comment, you are right, personal websites for agents should all be about information and information that is relevant to the target audience.

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 2:39 pm 0Likes

    Greg, again valuable input, and I should have added some of that information to the post 🙂 Maybe a follow up post from you on this subject 🙂

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 2:39 pm 0Likes

    Trish, excellent point, we should also note, that you should never do this from your personal profile 🙂

  • Edward Crompton
    Posted June 20, 2011 at 9:21 pm 0Likes

    Check out the free publication from Glanton – I came across this recently. It’s free, easy to read and aimed at the business user trying to understand how best to use Twitter to promote their company and brand

  • Rocky Mackintosh
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 6:11 am 0Likes

    Terrific article Peter. I’m a land and commercial real estate broker/developer in Frederick Maryland … active for 37 years … just jumped into the web with both feet about 16 months ago. You have hit on all the points here. Very nice work on the Facebook and web pages for Rachel. I look forward to reading more of what you have to say!

  • Stuart
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 8:02 am 0Likes

    Real estate agents might like using these stickers I make: have your twitter/facebook/youtube username printed on stickers then delivered to you, let me know what you think, I call them “Follow Me Stickers”

    Try http://www.follmesticker.com

    The latest ones have QR codes, so you can put them on envelopes or other materials to not only increase local social network connections but engagement and trackable interaction with your work as well. Please let me know what you think.

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 9:22 am 0Likes

    Stuart: When doing a little self promotion, best to actually get your domain name correct 🙂


    Please do not continue to post promotional stuff here. I allowed it, because it is a little relevant to the post – but no more ok?

  • Carbonite Australia
    Posted June 26, 2011 at 8:25 pm 0Likes

    Working out whether to start and what to do with a blog, a Twitter profile and even a FaceBook page is something many large and small businesses are tackling. The challenge with these forms of communications is that they are relatively unknown for most and if you aren’t playing with them personally (after hours) then many find it hard to bring them into their workplace and make them work.

    The second thing is the effort involved. All of these mediums will require just as much effort as traditional marketing. In fact they may take even more give that people expect that you are live and accessible most hours of the day through them.

    Yes they can be worth it and yes the world around us is using them. So start to take the baby steps to understand them and how you can bring them into your marketing and communications plans.

  • Clare Verrall
    Posted June 28, 2011 at 1:30 pm 0Likes

    Fantastic post Peter. I particularly agree with your comments about posting different content on the different mediums. I wrote a blog post a few months ago about Estate Agents in the SM space a few months ago as I wanted to highlight that SM is a fantastic way to build new connections with people & build your personal brand however if used incorrectly SM can do a great deal of damage. http://bit.ly/jfmim5

  • Lewis Nelson
    Posted July 3, 2011 at 3:43 am 0Likes

    Please STOP promoting the concept of Social Marketing on Facebook or Twitter, etc. without first disclosing the major problems these site create for business.
    1) These Sites will own premium search positioning on your name, often with entire first page of the search never showing your own main url.
    2) Content you upload to these sites is then their’s. They own it and can do as they desire with it FOREVER
    3) You have no way of knowing who is viewing your postings, who is watching your business or who is collecting information about you and your business
    4) Once these sites become holding to shareholders, business users of these sites will be forced to pay for use.
    5) You lose all opportunity to generate revenues from the traffic you drive to these sites

    6) FINALLY-your blog, your email, your client contact, your tweets should all be exclusively posted on your own url. You can monitor and track visitors and have complete security for sensitive client data you may post (ie interior photos of their home). On your own site you hand over no copyrights to anything you post.

    People are in business for a long time. Solutions based on short term thinking or new exiting mediums often have not long term sustainability functions built in. If you are advising businesses on marketing you must at least inform them of the downside or limitations inherent in any new technology.

  • Igshaan
    Posted June 19, 2012 at 3:07 am 0Likes

    Very informative article coupled to a nice real estate site. So many realtors miss the point when it comes to online presence. Whatever you publish online, should add to your character and give you personality, else you are just another face and phone number doing real estate.

    Great article.

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