I remember the first time my husband and I wanted to buy a home; we had no clue where to begin. It was 1997, and we knew we needed a real estate agent to assist us, but we weren’t sure how to find one; neither of us had family nearby, so we couldn’t try using their agents. In desperation, my husband did the only thing we could think of: He whipped out the Yellow Pages and called three real estate agents. I don’t recall how he chose those three out of the pages and pages in the phone book, but I do know that:
- One never returned his call
- One called and left a message on his voicemail
- One called and chatted with him, then showed up at his work an hour later with a big book of house listings and an eagerness to make us her clients.
Guess who won our business?
Fast forward nearly 20 years, and agents are no longer toting around huge, 2” thick volumes of homes for sale. Clueless 20-somethings are no longer flipping through the phone book to select an agent nearly at random. Agents who used to be bound by telephone and in-person visits for instant contact are now able to quickly connect via Redfin, DocuSign, e-mail, Instant Messenger and Google chats. However, the newest opportunity for agents to make contact with potential and existing clients is through social media: Once a tool for young people to chat and express themselves, social media is now a white-hot market for advertising, networking, and connecting with buyers on a grand scale.
Understanding how these social media platforms function is a vital step in creating a highly successful marketing plan. For example, Facebook can be more than just a place to post a “Sold!” photo; similarly, Pinterest is more than just a hobbyist’s bulletin board. You can use both of these platforms, as well as many others to connect on a more personal level than any Yellow Page ad ever could, and their reach is extensive. Functioning like a web, they have the capability for your posts to travel well beyond the initial audience to capture the attention of a much wider group and create dialogue. For agents looking to maximize their opportunities for creating new contacts, developing the contacts they have into client relationships, and maintaining those relationships long-term, social media is a tool that offers great returns on investment.
It’s also important to recognize that competition is nearly as thick on social media as it used to be in those 500-page phone books. With the right knowledge and skill, however, agents can ensure that their posts and information are the ones that actively engage potential clients, much like the agent who drove across town to my husband’s work to introduce herself and bring him what was the “state of the art” tool for house-hunting at the time. Except using social media will take significantly less time and no gasoline.