The first way to earn leads is by using your sphere of influence through social media. Social media is a really good way to tap into a lot of leads quickly and stay perpetually in front of them.
If you want to build up a community on social media, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- The first is to work your sphere of influence as it already stands by communicating with them, engaging with them, and in general, just staying in front of them. Social media is probably one of the most effective ways to strengthen and build that personal relationship between you and your prospects.
- Another tip is to use the social media platforms you love and enjoy. Make sure you are accessible (as in, don’t make your accounts private). You're in the business of communicating with people and building a relationship, so be public with your accounts on Instagram, Facebook, etc.
With those boxes ticked off, it’s time to go out and find your past clients on social media. If you have their phone numbers or email addresses, most of the time, you can pop them into Facebook, for example, and easily connect with them. You can friend them or follow them and engage them by doing things like commenting on their posts. Hopefully, they'll follow you back.
Once you are connected with your sphere of influence on social media, you want to engage with them as much as possible: Post comments, like their photos, send them messages, etc.
Let's say they post a sunset photo: You can comment something like, “Oh, that looks so cool!” — you know, a natural comment you would probably leave on any other friend’s post. If you start pushing your brand or sounding like a troll, you’ll get unfriended. Be genuine, and use common sense.
Facebook is a great tool you can use to not only stay in touch with your sphere of influence and everybody you know, but it's also a really good way to bring in new leads. There are a lot of different ways to do this. You can join local Facebook groups, comment on posts from local stories or local businesses, or you can engage with people you know are in your community.
Let’s say, for example, that you know wealthy people are eating at Ruth's Chris Steak House and they all live at the beach. You can go to that Ruth's Chris's Facebook page, and you can start engaging with all of the people who are commenting. You can start trying to build a relationship with individual posters. It can be a little weird if you approach this the wrong way, so make sure you comment naturally and don’t jump into promoting yourself.
When you're posting content to your own Facebook account, you can integrate your business into that content. You can post information about your listings, reviews from customers, pictures with you and other agents in your brokerage, or pictures with clients getting their keys. When you post a picture, tag the people in the photo so their friends and family know to come to you when they want to buy or sell a home.
This is a really good way to not only show the people with whom you're working that your business is thriving but to also show their friends and family that you're making things happen. If you get a review from somebody on Zillow, Yelp, Google, etc., you can post that, as well. You can post helpful resources like housing stats. If you have a flyer with listings, a book, or a brochure, you can post that there and offer it out for free.
A lot of the real estate agents who use the books from Authorify post their book covers on social media and say, "Hey, do you know anyone who could use a book about selling their home for top dollar? If so, message me, and I'll happily give them one." There are a lot of different ways you can engage with people on social media and get more business.
Here are some key pointers:
- Keep your page up to date. Make sure your contact information (including your website) are all relevant.
- Keep fresh photos in your albums, as newcomers to your page will want to see photos. Offer photos of recent listings, as well as recent homes sold, if you have them.
- Don’t be afraid to ask clients if you can post a happy photo of them in front of their new home.
- Come up with a posting schedule. Yes, Facebook will allow you to schedule posts for the future, but many agents still prefer using programs such as HootSuite, SproutSocial or Buffer to manage multiple accounts.
- Make sure your posts are varied. Instead of always sharing a motivational meme, for example, opt for several kinds of content, including survey questions, photos, links to your own blog or website and links to articles about the real estate industry.
- Give shout-outs to other businesses when you can. Not only does this help you build relationships, but it gives you more visibility. Did you recently have lunch at a local taco spot with a client? Tag that establishment. Did you stage a home recently and borrow furniture from a friendly business? Give them a mention on your page.
Instagram is simpler than Facebook, but there are still multiple ways to use the platform to your advantage. Obviously, you can take anything that you're doing on Facebook and simply repurpose it for Instagram — or vice versa. In fact, most of the things I just talked about for Facebook, you can replicate on Instagram.
Additionally, Instagram Stories are really popular, and there are a lot of different ways to get conversations started and engage with people. Using the right hashtags in your posts is a great way to connect with other people who are interested in the same topics.
Here are some key pointers:
- First, opt for an actual business account, rather than a personal account — they’re slightly different. Your business account should be focused on real estate, so keep your family and travel photos on another feed. Make sure your bio and profile picture are related to your business, as well, and most definitely include your website!
- Since Instagram is visual, it doesn’t hurt to have a color scheme, “style” of posting and “mood” that suits your business. Are you coastal and casual? Luxurious? Bohemian? Let that shine through your posts.
- What should you post? Decide ahead of time what content will work best. Attractive photos of listings or homes you recently sold are an obvious choice, as are “Stories” (short videos you can post to run on your profile for a set amount of time). You can show clips of home tours or record short videos inviting people to your open houses. Always use the best photos you have — nothing blurry, grainy or dull. Try out the built-in filters to enhance photos, but don’t go overboard. Your “Story” should drive viewers to your feed as much as possible and make them curious about you.
- Aim for a few photo posts a week, and try to post as late in the day as possible, or even in the evening, when more people are scrolling through and likely to see your post. Stories can be posted more often, and should be, since they last only 24 hours.
- Use the “Insights” feature to gain knowledge about your followers, such as their ages, locations, genders and times of day they visit your feed.
- “Regram” posts from influential people in the industry — or anyone you think is worth a follow — and give them a shout-out in your caption. People will likely return the favor.
- Talk to your followers as much as possible. Ask questions and invite comments to photo threads.
- Contests are a great way to engage with followers. Come up with a catchy hashtag for your followers to use and ask them to repost your content for the chance to win. Or ask people to comment on a photo and pick a winner from comments. When someone wins, share their profile on your feed and let your followers know.
- Use Instagram’s fun filters and effects when you post a story. Add music, locations, hashtags and even ask questions to encourage your followers to engage.
YouTube and Video Creation
You might not think of YouTube as social media, but there are multiple ways to use YouTube as that kind of platform. Videos can be cross posted on other platforms, as well. For example, if you record a video for your listings, you can easily post that on Zillow and Facebook and YouTube.
Once your video is on a platform, you can tag the local area, or you could put “Home for sale in [neighborhood name]” as the title of the video and get some local people to visit the page. If you're optimizing the video for the right keywords, chances are good that local residents will find it, especially if there's not much competition in that area.
The best part is that you can create great video content on your phone. We use a smartphone gimbal for our Facebook Live videos. It has a little light and microphone and stabilizes our video shots. It only costs between $100-$200 and makes our videos much more professional.
This is a great option if the home isn’t expensive enough to justify hiring a professional videographer. With the gimbal setup, you can just do it yourself. It's easy to carry it in the car — it fits right in the glove compartment. Just get in the habit of doubling back through the house filming as you go when you’re done taking listing photos.
Here are some key pointers:
- Once you’ve uploaded video, you should tag it with all sorts of local information. This can be as simple as mentioning an event that's happening in the neighborhood. If you properly optimize your keywords for that local community, you will catch the attention of a lot of people in that area. You can start building relationships that way, especially if you do a subtle pitch at the end of the video.
- Your YouTube channel shouldn’t just be home listings or tours. If you're out attending a local event, make a video about it. “Hey, this is Calvin from Smart Agents, and I’m at the air show today. I wanted to show you all these awesome planes that are flying over my head.” Anything like that will work because it will get people to connect with your channel even if they’re not searching specifically for real estate content.
Let's talk a little bit about LinkedIn. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven't done a great job with it. However, I've heard from a lot of real estate agents and other people in the business that LinkedIn is really powerful. Obviously, it's hard for anyone to be the best at everything, so pick the social networking platforms you gravitate toward, or at least pick only the ones you think you'll be best at or the most excited about.
LinkedIn is a really good way to connect with local influencers because it's viewed more like a business platform. Let's say you're dealing with an affluent home seller: you can connect with him on LinkedIn and then potentially get him to recommend you in your industry and then possibly earn other recommendations.
While a lot less people are active on the platform than on Facebook, 77 percent of users are 30 years old or older and make household choices. In fact, studies show that 90 percent of users on LinkedIn make household choices.
According to the NAR®, the median age of first-time buyers is 32 years, and the typical homeowner is 55 years old. Even though only 29 percent of people use the platform weekly, that 29 percent is likely to be made up of people who will be interested in your services.
Here are some key pointers:
- Join real estate groups and real estate referral groups on LinkedIn. LinkedIn has incredibly valuable groups that every agent on the platform should join. Here are a few of the best ones.
- Optimize your personal page and keep it up to date. This is where you show off your real estate expertise. It doesn’t have to just be a formal resume of your accomplishments. Add some personal information, as well, just like you would on your website.
- Make your profile a custom URL. There’s an option to the right of the banner on your profile to do this. If you don’t, you’ll have a long drawn out string of characters for your profile’s URL.
- Reach out for skill endorsements and recommendations. When you list your skills, people can endorse them to give you more clout. Reach out to your colleagues and past clients for these endorsements. Also, ask for recommendations from past clients — there’s a section for this, as well.
- Add local content or repost it from other sources. Keep your profile active by posting relevant content that doesn't necessarily have to do with real estate. It can be something you created or shared from another source. Keep it local if you can, or keep it relevant to the connections you've made. This is a good way to ensure no one unfollows you for flooding them with strictly real estate content.
- Make local connections. You should send 10 or so connections a day. Use the “suggested connections” feature. Once you’re connected, users will be subscribed to your feed and you’ll have the ability to message them.